Winter Steelhead Peaking!
Portland/Metro Fishing Report – Columbia River anglers are still waiting for good numbers to show on the mainstem. Still no springers over Bonneville Dam.
When the rain ceases, it doesn’t take long for the Willamette to drop and clear into fishable shape. Anglers as early as Monday of this week were reporting fishable conditions and willing fish. Meldrum Bar near Oregon City has been putting out a few spring Chinook in recent days.
Trollers working the Portland Harbor and Multnomah Channel continue to come up light, but Oregon City catches are happening, albeit it’s still a needle in a haystack situation.
Clackamas River Fishing Report – After last weekend’s rain freshet, the Clackamas is just now coming back into fishable shape. Between a warming trend and rainfall, the river shot up pretty significantly over the weekend, but anglers in the know on how to target steelhead in high flows are in good position to take advantage of the peak season right now.
Sandy River Fishing Report – Avid angler Jeff Stoeger reports, “Hello All. Well this must of been a good week for fishing for there were lots of fish caught and the word had gotten out. I had a friend mention that he had seen lots of fish caught and there were lots of anglers like the old days, shoulder to shoulder. There were lots of rafts and drift boats from Oxbow to Dabney as it seemed like a freeway as my buddy counted at least 12 boats that passed him and he gave up counting.
Find the full report and forecast for Members on the Sandy and the Clackamas from this page here.
North Coast Fishing Report – Following the significant rain system last week, rivers took a hard jump up and a fairly rapid drop after that, exciting anglers to get out on the water in force last weekend. As predicted, swarms of boats inundated North Coast rivers, in particular the Wilson and Nestucca River systems. Those two systems along with the Siletz and a few fish on the Alsea as well as the North Fork Nehalem are the only late season hatchery options on the North Coast. Of course wild fish are available on nearly every North Coast river system.
It is clear by now that despite the fairly strong early season start, it is not going to be a banner steelhead season. It’s not overly disappointing, just not a banner year.
Nestucca River anglers had a few more days to take advantage of good water conditions compared to other North Coast systems. With such an expansive watershed, the river holds its flow and color for a bit longer than other rivers. Pro guide Kent Anderson (503-550-6303) has been reporting more consistent results later in the day and lower in the drift closer to Three Rivers area.
Other North Coast systems such as the Kilchis and Trask did have brief moments of opportunity on the early part of the drop last week. It is back to mediocrity with some smaller systems such as the Kilchis, Necanicum and North Fork Nehalem already low and clear. .
The mainstem Nehalem River is one of the better options under current North Coast conditions.
Bottomfishing was on the table this week, with some days best defined as “Chamber of Commerce.” Limits of rockfish and lingcod were not all that challenging to attain for those that know their way around the reefs. Pro guide Rob Gerlitz (503-812-4950) took his quick limits on Wednesday and Thursday and threw back a 20 plus pound Chinook that took a swipe at his bottomfish gear. He was fishing Three Arch Rocks out of Garibaldi.
Coastal estuary crabbing is also performing poorly, but maybe slightly better than the ocean crab fishery.
Surf perch fishing should also be coming on strong during the springtime months.
Herring are in Yaquina Bay with excited anglers taking their fair share of the spawning population off the docks and in the adjacent estuary waters.
See the full report and forecast for Members right here.
Central Oregon Fishing Report – Contributor Glenn Zinkus reports bi-weekly.
This past week was warm, then cold with snow midweek, and a warming trend starting today. Friday will hit 60, and stay that way in parts of Central Oregon for the start of the weekend making for comfortable fishing weather before the precipitation comes in again late Saturday and Sunday.
Chances of rain and snow in high elevations continue Sunday and Sunday night, with some warming temperatures and chances of rain showers next week. Highs through the region will rise into 50s Monday.
ODFW News – Angling Restrictions
Deschutes RiverMouth at westbound I-85 bridge upstream to the Pelton Dam regulating reservoir –
- Closed to all angling for and retention of steelhead from Jan. 1 to May 31, 2022.
- All other permanent rules for the Central Zone, as stated in the 2022 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations, remain in effect.
Lower Deschutes River: The Lower Deschutes has been dropping this past week – currently right around 5300 CFS at Moody and forecasted to remain steady into next week, perhaps bumping up midweek.
Temperatures on the lower portions of the river are in the 45 to 47 degree range. Best fishing continues to start during the late morning and continues through the afternoon up until sunset.
Fishing began improving during the prior couple of weeks after the river colored up. It is primarily nymphing now, with best bets being stonefly nymphs, Perdigons, and caddis pupa/larva flies in various green and brown tones.
Middle Deschutes River: The river level is up and is not dropping yet, but soon. The Skwalas should be making their appearances any day and the March Browns are still a few weeks out. This river will start to happen in the coming weeks.
Haystack Reservoir: Haystack is at 87 % full today. ODFW stocked Haystack with several hundred big rainbows (broodstock) in January, and several hundred more went in again during February. Warming temps this weekend will help the fishing after a couple of cold snaps.
Lake Billy Chinook: Bull trout season is on. However, it is still a bit slow for bulls. There have been some incidental catches while anglers targeted kokanee.
Best bets right now are to launch at the Deschutes ramp.
Kokes are down deep right now, all of the recent reports have them in depths of 100 to 135 feet. No reports from the last few days with the sub-zero temps, but anglers have been catching kokanee during the previous week. One common theme seems to be colors including purple and orange. Should start fishing well again as temperatures start to go up. Crooked River: Flows remain low and steady. Not many reports, and the river edges iced up during the February freezes. We have another Wednesday cold snap, so the Crooked may still remain the same. Water has been dirty.
Blue Wing Olive and midges will be the primary surface action, especially during the warmest time of day during the early afternoons. Most of the action will be on nymphing – Perdigons have been the ticket. Nymphing is consistent and anglers are catching redsides and whitefish.
Metolius River: The BWOs do come off during the early afternoon, around 1 PM. I did see some small gray caddis lower on the rivers upstream of Bridge 99, and there are some reports of a size 14-18 dark tan caddis. I saw some stonefly activity just upstream from Bridge 99 early this week.
Metolius bull trout fishing remains prime right now. If swinging flies for bulls with a trout spey Skagit setup with a white and olive Intruder style streamer with success.
The river above Allingham Bridge is now closed until May. Check out Glenn’s detailed reports and forecasts right here for Chinook and Steelhead Members both!
SW Oregon Fishing Report – Contributor Jeff Rome reports:
With some more rain in next week’s forecast, anglers are again hopeful for that “window of opportunity” – as the river is going down and a fresh bunch of fish have entered the system ready and willing. If it’s anything like the last one, it should be great again for the following weekend.
A little bit of rain went a long way to improve all of SW Oregon’s steelhead rivers last week. Reports of good to excellent catches of winter steelhead were had on the Chetco last Friday through earlier this week when the river level was low and clear again. Most of the pressure was on the Chetco, but those who did fish the Elk and Sixes were rewarded as well. Rain is expected back early to mid next week so conditions should be good again for the aforementioned for the latter part of the week.
Ocean fishing for bottom fish and nice ling cod has continued to be great since the weather has been cooperating . Limits have been the norm especially out of Brookings. Ling cod action has also been very good An upcoming front forecast for early next week might have this weekend’s ocean opportunity a bit iffy depending on what day and where. Crabbing has been poor to fair out of Brookings but is good to excellent up North towards Winchester and Charleston Bay.
The Rogue river got enough rain to “sweeten” up the water to spur on some steelhead catches on the mid section. There are fish around but you have to work to find them and then figure out what to throw at em to get a bite. Seems like plugs (Mag lips 2.5 -3.5) are the norm for current conditions. River flow has dropped back down but is still fishable for both bank and boat anglers throughout the system.
Lakes and ponds have been getting trout stockings- Central Point’s Expo Pond and Reinhardt Park Pond in Grants Pass, Lake Selmac in Selma and Lost Creek and should provide some nice Spring trout angling.. As the weather and water warms, bass and bluegill make for fun family outings for the kids to catch. Lost creek and Galesville lake, although low, are fishable for holdover trout.
The Umpqua systems saw “best of the season” steelhead catches following the last rain. Now they have dropped but should provide another….maybe even better chance following this next rain event later next week.
Best bet for this weekend is the mid Rogue from Rogue River on down to Grave Creek as fish are scattered. The Chetco might be ok for bank anglers, but boaters will have a bumpy ride again until later next week.
Don’t forget to “SPRING FORWARD” Saturday night so you won’t be late to meet up with your fishing partner or guide Sunday morning!!!
Jeff’s detailed report, multiple lake updates, and forecast in this week’s version for Members!
Huge Smelt run dampens the springer bite in the Columbia River. The tributaries are recovering from flooding, although steelheading has been a mixed bag. Trout is fair to good and improving.
Smelt dippers had a very successful day on the Cowlitz last Saturday, and there may be another dip soon. You can check the WDFW website for fresh info on smelt dips HERE.
Smelt and cold water are slowing the springer bite in the Columbia, and there were no spring Chinook found during Washington’s most recent main stem creel surveys. Look for this trend to end soon.
Trout fishing has picked up in local lakes, and walleye fishing is excellent in the Gorge pools. Watch for fresh trout plantings, as well as big broodstock trout and steelhead plantings HERE
Lewis and Washougal Rivers Fishing Report—A few steelhead showed up in the Lewis following the recent deluges, although the water is still dingy. The flows dropped from the 14-foot stage down to 12 feet over the week, making river conditions a bit better. There are still not a lot of anglers fishing the river, but with the spring Chinook ready to show any day now, some anglers are switching over to target them. Spring Chinook retention will be allowed through April 30, with a two fish limit, one of which may be a hatchery Chinook.
Bobber presentations and pulling plugs are what most boat anglers are trying, while bank anglers are tossing bobber presentations and sometimes drifting. The best action this week was from the hatchery down to the golf course.
Anglers also found a few late steelhead in the Washougal this week, but it sounds like most of the steelhead have moved up into the upper river, where there is little public access.
Merwin and Yale Lakes Fishing Report—Both lakes are still a bit dirty following the atmospheric river that passed through recently. Yale has cleared a little more than Merwin, although the bite was a little better at Merwin this week. Anglers are also dealing with some debris still, and fishing has slowed a little. However, most anglers are still getting their fish, it’s just taking a little longer than usual. The schools are in the top 15 to 20 feet of the water column, and taking the usual kokanee offerings. Most anglers are trolling kokanee dodgers ahead of spinners or hootchies tipped with corn.
Cowlitz and Kalama Rivers Fishing Report—Smelt dippers had an excellent day this last Saturday, with most folks getting their fish in just a few dips. However, there have been a number of instances where law enforcement has had to issue tickets for anglers keeping more than their limit. There were multiple reports of dippers hauling out full 5-gallon buckets, although the ten-pound limit translates to about ¼ of a five-gallon bucket.
Another dip is possible soon.
Steelheaders had a decent week, although fishing has been slow due to poor river conditions, according to Dave Mallahan of Dave’s Guide Service (360-201-9313). He reported that the water was pretty dirty, with about a one-foot visibility. Mayfield Lake may take some time to clear out, so Mallahan does not know when the river conditions will improve noticeably. Although fishing is fair, he said with the dirty water anglers have needed to put their offering right on the nose of the fish.
Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 154 winter-run steelhead adults and two spring Chinook adults over five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. During the latest WDFW creel survey above the I-5 Bridge, 63 bank rods kept 13 steelhead. 25 boats/88 rods kept 31 steelhead and released four steelhead. Most boat anglers are working the first few miles below Blue Creek, and bobber-dogging with bait or beads. Bank anglers are working the area just below the mouth of the creek with bobber presentations or by drifting.
Columbia River Gorge
The river above Bonneville Dam will not open for spring Chinook until April 1.
Little Ash Lake is fishing fair to good for trout, and Icehouse Lake has been good at times. It was also recently stocked.
The Dalles Pool will be open for sturgeon until April 1, and the John Day Pool is still open for sturgeon retention until the quota is met. There will be one more day of sturgeon retention allowed in the Bonneville Pool this Wednesday, March 16.
Walleye fishing is excellent in both The Dalles and John Day pools.
Check out Terry’s detailed report (he crushes it every week!) and forecast
in this week’s SW Washington Member’s version!