Willamette Valley/Metro – With the Willamette finally clearing, anglers were out in force this week, with high hopes of spring Chinook success given the prefect water conditions and prime run timing. Many were rewarded with quality springers from St. Helens to Milwaukie as it’s clear that the run is well underway.
Not surprisingly, trolled herring stole the show, but plugs and prawns played a role in success as well. The water remains a bit too cold for spinners just yet, but that will change when the Willamette reaches 57 to 59 degrees in the coming weeks.
Oregon City was surprisingly slow to start, but given the long period of time that the sea lions were unable to feed in the turbid river, fish were running for their lives with no inspiration for taking an angler’s bait. As the water cleared, and the pinnipeds headed for the falls, success rates jumped this week, from the West Linn Bridge to Meldrum Bar.
Sturgeon fishing remains excellent in the lower reaches of the Willamette, but no catch and keep season is on the horizon.
Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920), of O2BFISHN Guide Service reports, “The river should only get better with fresh rains and the water temp is running around 48 degrees. The one thing that you want to look out for is the swimmers and sun bathers that are turning up with the warmer weather. I also had a client who hooked their first springer only to have it come off. There are springers all throughout the river.”
The Clackamas is much the same, with some summer fish, a few late run winter steelhead and a rare spring Chinook. Catches should improve in the coming weeks, but a significant bump in water levels is likely, following the unseasonably warm weather we’re currently experiencing this week that will certainly melt low-level snow.
Counts are starting to bump at Bonneville Dam, but passage remains depressed here. That said, catches in the Sunday test net fishery downstream are very encouraging. There seems to be a lot of fish in the lower reaches that are slow to migrate upstream. That should change in the coming weeks. There’s still no hope for additional time until half of the run passes Bonneville Dam so managers can get an accurate idea how robust the run is coming in at.
Northwest Oregon – Last week, I reported the winter steelhead run to be over on the north coast. The few motivated anglers fishing proved me very wrong.
Late season steelheaders on the Wilson and likely the Nestucca found a strong surge of winter steelhead late last week. One boat reported double-digit success with a 6-fish limit in no time on Thursday. All the action happened between Mills and Sollie Smith Bridge with most fish between 7 and 9 pounds, but fresh from the salt. That late surge has to be the last of the season, but summer steelhead and spring Chinook shouldn’t be far behind.
The offshore weekend weather forecast looks friendly for saltwater anglers seeking bottomfish. Lingcod success is starting to taper, but sea bass action is fast and furious. Charter operators are mastering the offshore long-leader fishery that enables anglers a 10 rockfish limit for a select group of slope species.
Halibut seasons were set at the Friday commission meeting in Salem, but commissioners went off the rails with a proposal to re-open mainstem Columbia gillnetting for summer Chinook this year, contradicting the already adopted and very publicly vetted policy currently in place.
Central and Eastern Oregon – Our friend Tim Moran reports:
Tim Reports, “Wickiup is slow but the kokanee are big, 16 to 22 inches. Most are fishing all day for 4 to 6 fish. We picked up two in four chances this morning and got two more this evening. The biggest was 18 “. All the fish have come trolling with no weight 100 feet behind the boat. Bladed flashers with hoochies tipped with white corn are drawing the strikes. Trolling for brown trout has been good in the mornings and evenings. Fish are averaging 18 to 20 inches. Trolling Rapalas is the ticket.
Fishing has been good at south Twin. Lots of limits. Trout are running 10 to 14 inches with the occasional brute! Worms and power bait were taking most of the fish, they are suspended just off the bottom.
As I’m up at the lake I haven’t gotten any reports from my other sources, so that’s what I know!”
Southwest – From ODF&W
Weather this last couple of weeks has prevented most anglers from fishing for bottomfish. Reports from the last week prior to the series of systems moving through indicated that the lingcod bite had slowed somewhat, but many anglers were still able to get their limits. Rockfish fishing had been a lot more hit and miss with anglers spending more time to catch close to their limit. Reminder that as of Sunday, April 1, the bottomfish fishery is restricted to inside of the 30 fathom regulatory line.
Recreational Pacific halibut fisheries begin opening on May 1. Reminder that similar to the bottomfish fisheries, descending devices are mandatory when fishing for or retaining Pacific halibut. Additional information and details can be found on the 2018 Halibut Season map. https://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/finfish/halibut/seasonmaps/2018_halibut_map.pdf
The Family Fun Day, including a kid’s fishing event, at Upper Empire Lake will happen this Saturday, April 28 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Kids age 12 and older will need a fishing license to fish at the event.
During the shoulder season between winter steelhead and spring Chinook fishing, turn your attention to trout and warmwater fishing in area lakes and reservoirs.
Hyatt Lake and Howard Prairie Reservoir both will be stocked with 7,500 legal-size trout this week.
With the onset of warmer temperatures, look for warmwater fishing to take off in places like Johnsons Mill Pond, maistem Coquille, Tenmile Lakes, Fords Pond, Galesville Reservoir, Agate Lake, Applegate Reservoir, Emigrant Reservoir, Lake Selmac, Lost Creek Reservoir, Willow Lake and others.
The Smith River is one of the few places in Oregon to find striped bass. Patient and persistent anglers can look for the bite to pick up as spring progresses.
Anglers have reported catching rockfish, greenling and striped surfperch inside Coos Bay near the north jetty and other submerged rock structures.
From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com
Spring chinook fishing has improved somewhat on both the Umpqua and Rogue rivers but no genuine lunkers have yet been reported on either river. Bank anglers casting large spinners for springers at Winchester Bay have yet to report any salmon taken. In the last two weeks most of the Umpqua River springers have been taken between Wells Creek and Elkton. Fishing is improving as the river drops and clears and shad could start biting at any time.
Smallmouth bass should start biting on both the Umpqua and Coquille rivers and muddy water can be both a blessing and a curse – limiting which lures are effective, but warming up much quicker than clear water. Smallmouths in Woahink Lake should be gradually moving into shallow water over the next few weeks as their spawn approaches.
It looks like its going to be two to four weeks before the coastal largemouths get serious about spawning, but largemouth fisheries in the Medford area should be in their immediate pre-spawn stage, while spawning largemouths in the Roseburg area will lag their Medford-area brethren by about a week.
Numerous lakes in our area were planted last week and cool weather limited fishing success, so there should be plenty of stocked trout left. The only lake in our area stocked this week is Upper Empire Lake which received 2,000 trophy trout and will receive 2,500 legal rainbows next week.
With a slightly lower quota than last year, all-depth halibut for the central Oregon coast is set to begin its 3-day openers this year on May 10th.
SW Washington – From WDF&W
Cowlitz River – From the I-5 Bridge downstream: 143 bank rods kept 1 adult spring Chinook and 6 steelhead and released 1 steelhead. 18 boat rods kept 2 adult spring Chinook. Above the I-5 Bridge: 195 bank rods kept 7 adult spring Chinook and 22 steelhead and released 2 steelhead. 91 boat rods kept 3 adult and 1 jack spring Chinook and 20 steelhead and released 1 steelhead.
Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 629 winter-run steelhead and 90 spring Chinook adults and two jacks during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. During the past week, Tacoma Power employees released eight winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and they released 66 winter-run steelhead and 23 spring Chinook adults into the Cispus River, near Yellow Jacket Creek. Tacoma Power also released 14 winter-run steelhead and 20 spring Chinook adults into Lake Scanewa near Randle.
River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 6,280 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Monday, April 23. Water visibility is five feet and the water temperature is 42.8 degrees F. Bank anglers should note the south side of the river from Mill Creek to the Barrier Dam is closed to all fishing from May 1 through June 15 per permanent regulations.
Kalama River – 29 bank anglers kept 1 adult spring Chinook and released 5 steelhead. 10 boat anglers kept 1 adult spring Chinook and released 3 steelhead.
Lewis River mainstem – 39 bank rods kept 1 adult spring Chinook. 16 boat rods kept 1 adult spring Chinook and released 1 adult spring Chinook.
North Fork Lewis River – 56 bank rods kept 1 adult spring Chinook 43 boat rods kept 7 adult spring Chinook and released 1 steelhead. Under current permanent rules, the Lewis (including North Fork) closes for spring Chinook effective May 1. Also, the area from Johnson Creek upstream to the dam is closed to all fishing during the month of May.
Wind River – 12 boat anglers had no catch.
Effective May 1 through June 30, from the mouth to the Hwy. 14 Bridge each angler aboard a vessel may deploy SALMON/STEELHEAD angling gear until the daily SALMON/STEELHEAD limit for all anglers aboard has been achieved. In addition, anglers with a Two-Pole Endorsement may fish for salmon and steelhead with two poles during the same period.
Beginning May 1, anti-snagging rule will be in effect from the Hwy. 14 Bridge upstream. When the antisnagging rule is in effect, only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained. Wind River from 100 feet above Shipherd Falls upstream to boundary markers approximately 800 yards downstream from Carson National Fish Hatchery (except closed 400 feet below to 100 feet above the Coffer Dam) –From May 1 through June 30, the salmon and steelhead daily limit will be a total of 2 chinook or hatchery steelhead or one of each. Unmarked chinook may be retained in this section of the Wind. Night closure and anti-snagging rule will be in effect. Only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained.
Drano Lake –2 bank anglers had no catch. 57 boat anglers kept 8 adult spring Chinook
Effective May 1 through June 30, each angler aboard a vessel may deploy SALMON/STEELHEAD angling gear until the daily SALMON/STEELHEAD limit for all anglers aboard has been achieved. In addition, anglers with a Two-Pole Endorsement may fish for salmon and steelhead with two poles during the same period.
Klickitat River – 5 bank anglers had no catch.