Coho Yet to Show; Managers Extend Buoy 10 Chinook Option, Expanded Coho Limit
Columbia River Fishing Report – Despite its abbreviated season, action continues along in the lower Columbia River with some bonus news coming in today. Managers on Thursday just expanded opportunity for the Buoy 10 fishery for both Chinook (2 days added) and an additional hatchery coho may be retained starting September 7th. Here is the actual verbiage:
Area: From the Buoy 10 line upstream to the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line Seasons:
Effective Saturday, September 5 through Thursday, December 31 the daily bag limit is two adult fish;
• Effective Saturday September 5 and Sunday September 6: retention of chinook and hatchery coho is allowed, 1 may be a Chinook. Release all steelhead and wild coho.
• Effective Monday, September 7 through Tuesday September 22: Up to 2 hatchery coho may be retained. Release all Chinook, wild coho, and all steelhead.
• All other previously adopted regulations apply. Retention of jack salmon prohibited until October 1.
Welcome news for estuary anglers. Upriver fisheries remained unchanged and you can review the complex set of regulations by clicking HERE.
As for how the fishing is, it did slow down a bit in the estuary, but Chinook are still making up a significant portion of the catch in the Astoria area. Pro guide Grant Putnam (503-784-1217) reported catching about 8 or 9 fish today, with 4 Chinook in the mix, harvesting just 2 hatchery coho. It’s been like that lately, certainly not limits for most guides still working the water. The Saturday Chinook option could be a game changer however. We’ll report more on that in The Guide’s Forecast section however.
Seals and sea lions have been voracious in the above bridge fishery, particularly on the Washington side of the river. That “action” drove me to leave the Astoria fishery and head down to Tillamook (See north coast fishing report for that info). With far fewer boats participating in the Buoy 10 fishery, those that still are, become a primary target for often multiple hungry pinnipeds working this area. You’re literally trailed by often more than one seal or sea lion. Anglers are angrily losing a lot of fish to these critters.
Bait is hard to come by in the Astoria area unless you pull into Illwaco and hit up the bait dock. You can get live anchovies there but many guides have strictly gone to 3.5 spinners and 360 Flashers. Check out our Fab 5 Special HERE. Spin-fish are also a hot commodity for guides still working Buoy 10. Both Chinook and coho are responding well to them. I tried Brad’s Super Baits with little success my last day, but they weren’t biting much of ANY of my gear that day so I don’t think that’s a good gauge as to how effective Brad’s Super Baits are, others are certainly having good success with them. If you’re planning on bait, call ahead to check availability or be sure to bring your own from your home town.
Most recently, the Oregon side, above the bridge, on the first part of outgoing tide (late in the afternoon) has been one of the more productive bites. Both Chinook and coho have been falling to small spinners behind 360 flashers or bait. The Buoy 10 bite, WA side from the Church to the bridge and the humps troll have all been sporadic and inconsistent, rather disappointing actually. That could certainly change anytime however. We’ve had some knock-down, drag out fishing for hatchery coho in mid-September before, even on mediocre returns like what we’re expecting this year.
Upriver, action has been good when it’s been open. Those fishing the above Warrior Rock to Bonneville reach have just 3 more days to do their damage (9/4 – 9/6). The fishing is likely to be good, and crowded. No word on a more liberal approach, but numbers are looking good at Bonneville Dam so let’s keep the hope alive.
Anglers in this reach are largely using 360 flashers and 3.5 spinners to entice strikes and it’s working. The wobbler bite has been a bit off but the current bigger tide series may change that this weekend. Bonneville has been particularly good lately, and there’s no reason why that should change in the near future.
The above Bonneville fishery will go through September 8th and should continue to produce good catches until the closure.
Crabbing in the lower Columbia, particularly behind the A Jetty out of Illwaco, has been excellent, especially if you have fresh salmon carcasses to bait your traps with.
We’ll talk above Wauna sturgeon in the next section.
The Guide’s Forecast – It should be an interesting weekend on the Columbia. With the estuary re-opener for Chinook, an expansion of the hatchery coho bag limit and the above Wauna sturgeon opener, opportunity abounds. Let’s start with the estuary fishery.
There are fish around, we just need a good tide to take advantage of it. A morning high tide would have made it really interesting, but high tide happens well before sunrise this weekend so anglers will still be in peak ebb come sunrise in the estuary. That’s too bad and will likely control harvest. That said, it would be wise to save your effort to take advantage of that first part of the outgoing tide, whether you’re on the Oregon or the Washington side. Lately, the Oregon side has been producing the better Chinook and coho catches, and is a little less inundated with stalking seals and sea lions. I would strongly consider fishing the anchorage on this first part of the outgoing tide. That will be late in the day, but could very well be the most productive period of the day.
Regardless, I have always preached that peak outgoing is a waste of time, and you’ll have plenty of that this weekend. The tides are just strong enough to make me think the tide will simply just be running too hard for productive fishing. The last part of outgoing tide has been producing fair catches in recent days, but good catches overall for much of the season. I don’t have high expectations over the weekend, but if you plan on fishing a full day in the estuary, this will be one of your better opportunities for catching Chinook, since it’s open for the weekend now. Again, spinners behind 360 flashers is a fine idea, but fresh, whole-rigged anchovies or herring isn’t a bad idea either.
The Hammond Hover or the bridge hover may be good producers as well this weekend, but in recent days, hasn’t proven overly productive. I’ll reiterate the late afternoon first trickle of outgoing tide should be looked at in all seriousness this weekend, in the anchorage, from the East End Basin to the Astoria/Megler Bridge in 30 to 40 foot of water.
Unless a rush of hatchery coho decide to show (and that could happen) I don’t anticipate the Buoy 10 incoming tide/first rip bite to happen, it’s been non-existent lately. If they do show, and a rush of them is due, the fishing should be real good. It’s always a wild card with these coho however, no matter what the pre-season prediction is.
Estuary crabbing should remain productive, especially if you can get your gear out of the stronger push of the outgoing and incoming tides.
Upriver, trollers fishing above Warrior Rock should have a good 3-day harvest starting tomorrow. Everyone has their favorite hang-out, but 360 flashers with small baits or spinners should put on a show with so many fish in the river. From Bonneville Down, and the pools all the way to the John Day Dam plugged with good numbers of Chinook, it should be a productive few days before the fishery closes. Well over 10,000 adults are passing Bonneville every day and that may not slow down for several more days. It’s peak passage time, with September 10th marking the mid-way run if you go by recent year’s history.
There should be some decent wobbler fishing as well, especially with the fairly strong outgoing tides we’ll see over the weekend. Stick to the deeper water, but watch that anchor rope when anchoring in or near the shipping channel.
Tillamook Chinook Starting to Show, Any Two Salmon Starts Friday
North Coast Fishing Report – Fall Chinook season is clearly underway, although anglers in most watersheds might argue otherwise. It’s still early, but Chinook are available in nearly every watershed, just not in great enough numbers to inspire a whole lot of anglers just yet.
Trollers working just outside of Tillamook Bay have seen some fair to good catches recently. Although Thursday didn’t produce much, earlier in the week, Chinook catches were robust the second half of incoming tide on the south side of the south jetty, and near red can #2 off of the north tip of the jetty. Guides reported several Chinook, a few coho, and even a few halibut for trollers working the bottom of the ocean in this area. Herring was the ticket in most cases.
We managed just a single Chinook on Thursday (for 4 rods), fishing 3 Pro Trolls with green label herring, and a single naked herring. Guess which rod went off… yeah, the naked bait. I trolled a Brad’s Super Bait too, no love however, except a derelict barnacle-laden crab rope that feels really good as it slides through your hands when trying to recover the likely sand-buried structure. Yakima Bait’s new Spin-fish has been working well for ocean trollers.
We started off in Tillamook Bay, at Bay City and the Ghost Hole, only to be riddled with seaweed the entire time. I had expected some brief reprieve at tide change, an opportune time to take advantage of a willing Chinook, but we really had NO break from the seaweed invasion. It was a futile effort battling the seaweed so far. I nearly called it a day at 9:20 a.m. until I called the US Coast Guard and they stated they just upgraded the bar condition to only restrict vessels 16 foot and smaller from passing over the bar into the ocean. I’m still not sure the bar was quite that friendly but my customers were motivated.
We dropped the crab pots first, to the north of the north jetty towards Twin Rocks. After a 5 hour soak using frozen salmon carcasses for bait, we only came up with 20 keepers from 4 pots, far from the norm I’m used to for this time of year.
After only seeing a single Chinook hooked, we finally came into our bite around 11:00 a.m. It was a hard-fighting 24-pounder that fell to the naked green label, whole rigged bait. No sign of coho, no sign of other Chinook and the ocean was a chilly 49 to 53 degrees that we were in for most of the morning.
The south side of the south jetty was too swelly (rough) to have fun out there. Plus, it seems that the bulk of the seaweed drifts down south too. We were surprised by the cold water in the nearshore, a chilly 48 degrees when we first entered the ocean, but it warmed to 52 degrees for the bulk of the time we were out there.
We ended the day with just one bite, one Chinook and only 20 keeper crab (some were soft too) for 4 pots, a 5-hour soak. We were forced to crab to the north however, when I prefer to crab to the south this time of year.
Reliable reports from another fishing guide stated that Monday and Tuesday had been pretty good at the mouth of the bay with multiple Chinook being taken, along with some coho and even a few nearshore halibut (which remains open). The halibut were hitting at the high spot, where breakers were happening for a bit of the morning when we were out there. It gradually laid down as the incoming tide progressed.
We finished the day out in the Ghost Hole, where a few other boats fought ample amounts of seaweed along with us. I heard of 1 Chinook taken in there on Thursday afternoon.
Nehalem Bay has been crowded. Trollers have been taking fish between the jaws and Nehalem, with mostly Chinook showing up, but a few hatchery coho as well. Overall, there’s been a lot of effort with little success as of late. Seaweed has been an issue in the Nehalem as well this week. Many anglers are working the 360 Flashers on this waterway. The stronger tides have dictated action and effort higher in the estuary, from Wheeler to the town of Nehalem, but a few fish continue to be taken at the jaws as well.
Other estuaries are just now starting to see a growing effort, yet peak season for them is still about 3 weeks away.
The Nestucca tidewater is starting to get busier with the bulk of the effort downstream of the Woods Bridge. These early fish seem to be a bit more aggressive, there are just fewer of them. The herring trollers are starting to congregate at the mouth of the bay entrance with some success, but again, weeds have been an issue lately.
The Salmon River is starting to show fish and crowds will start to gather at the bend just upstream of the Highway 101 bridge. Success is sporadic at best, but will improve.
The Siletz and Alsea often mimic each other and both have a strong history of productive catches. Both systems are projected to be down in numbers this year so don’t go into these fisheries with high expectations. So far, success rates are living up to the agency’s predictions, these fisheries are not off to a great start.
Halibut anglers have a lot to work with. With lumpy seas, effort has been down and quotaa remain robust. Nearshore anglers are picking away at it, but no one port is consistent. Newport and Garibaldi will likely continue to be some of the better producing ports.
Ocean crabbing out of Garibaldi hasn’t been as fantastic as it usually is and although the shells are toughening up, many of the crab remain noticeably light in meat content.
Bottomfishing was tough for the Garibaldi fleet fishing at Three Arch Rocks on Thursday. They’ve been cautious about traveling to their northern spots off of Arch Cape in the rough seas. There should be a return to normalcy this week as seas start to soften. There’s been an improvement in lingcod catches recently and the all-depth bottomfish fishery opened on September 1st, but few have ventured that far west. That will change this week, and catches should be good.
The Guide’s Forecast – It should be a good week for salmon anglers on the north coast. With the expansion of the “Any two salmon” fishery and more favorable tides for estuary anglers, coupled with the inching forward towards peak season, Chinook catches should improve and anglers are anticipating some large coho in the offshore fishery. Let’s look at these fisheries estuary by estuary for the most complete run-down, from best prospect to most challenging one:
Tillamook Bay – There’s a reason we’re calling this our #1 pick. Trask and Tillamook fish should start to show in good numbers in Tillamook Bay, and its adjacent ocean waters. Seas should be tolerable for the near future and anglers have the bonus coho opportunity on Fridays and Saturdays. Anglers will remain frustrated by the amount of seaweed inundating the bay during peak incoming and outgoing tides, there’s no way to combat that. The ocean will be the obvious best choice if for nothing else, to more easily avoid the seaweed issue.
Upper Tillamook Bay will also offer a sense of reprieve on the last half of outgoing tide and for some of the incoming as well. These early Trask and Tillamook fish are large and are in excellent condition and spinners, herring and the 360 flasher and small spinner rigs should all take fish. Chinook and some early hatchery coho should be in the Trask tidewater and the Tillamook tidewater as well for those comfortable fishing these areas.
For offshore coho anglers, target the 180 to 220 foot lines, paying close attention to which way the wind is blowing in case that’s a factor in your return to port. Trolled herring or anchovies should be a productive method, especially trolled behind a 360 flasher.
Nehalem Bay – Nehalem should continue to offer some fair Chinook fishing, and hatchery coho should also start to show although these hatchery coho aren’t known for being aggressive biters. Most anglers are converting over to the 360 flasher strategy, but the standard herring on the bottom will continue to take fish. Tides start to soften this weekend so effort will gravitate towards the bay entrance and the seaweed issue should become less of a factor for this reason as well. Be cautious if you’re going to cross the Nehalem Bay Bar, it’s a lot my dynamic than the deeper Tillamook Bay Bar.
Nestucca Bay – Nestucca estuary should start to produce more consistent action on the softer tide exchange this weekend. Tidewater trollers should start to find more consistent catches too, but keep in mind, we’re still over 2 weeks away from the traditional peak for Nestucca Chinook although action lasts well into October here.
Salmon River – The Salmon River has a short, but sweet return of Chinook, but that doesn’t make them eager biters. There will be a lot of effort expended for relatively low return on investment of time. That said, we’re building towards the peak and estuary trollers, particularly at the mouth, will start to see catches improve. Tidewater anglers will too but it’s easier to concentrate on willing biters if you have a boat fishing at the bay entrance. Bobber tossers will be using shrimp and eggs and some spinner casters will have success as well.
Alsea River – The Alsea will start to see catches improve, but as previously mentioned, returns will be down from the historical past so anglers will have to work harder this year. The soft tides coming up this weekend will draw interest and some degree of success to trollers working herring on the bottom at the mouth of this estuary. Catches will likely be fair to good for those that have mastered this fishery.
Siletz River – It’s still a bit early for consistent catches on the Siletz but catchable numbers will certainly be present. The upcoming tides are more conducive to herring trollers at the mouth and in the estuary, as well as lower tidewater trollers, but not many fish will get pushed into the upper tidewater reaches for trollers this weekend. It’ll be another few weeks before tidewater gets more consistent.
Necanicum River – There should be fair numbers of Chinook in the tidewater reaches of the Necanicum River. There won’t be much effort, but trollers working 360 flashers with spinners or bait certainly stand a reasonable chance at a unicorn Chinook here. There should be some sea run cutthroats in this gem of a system as well.
Ocean trollers seeking coho should find fair success this weekend with a quota of about 4,650 fish to work with. Newport and Garibaldi will likely be some of the more productive ports targeting coho in 180 to 220 feet of water. Flashers and spin-fish or spinner rigs that allow for chunk baits to be used should be productive. Although there’s not a ton of coho out there, they will be impressive in size as feed is plentiful this year.
Ocean crabbing will likely remain productive but many of the keepers still won’t be full so be prepared for that. Bay crabbing will offer a better opportunity for a higher quality keeper quite frankly, and we have a good tide series coming up for that this weekend. Hopefully, fresh salmon carcasses are on the menu.
There should be some good halibut opportunities as well this weekend. Bottomfishing too with deep-reef lingcod again on the menu. And as we reported on previously, bottomfish AND halibut may now be kept on the same fishing trip. What an opportunity!
Here is the ocean forecast:
TODAY S wind 10 to 15 kt. Gusts to 20 kt early in the morning. Wind waves S 2 ft at 4 seconds. NW swell 5 ft at 11 seconds. Areas of fog early in the morning. Patchy drizzle in the morning.
TONIGHT S wind 10 to 15 kt. Wind waves S 2 ft at 4 seconds. W swell 4 ft at 10 seconds.
SAT S wind 5 to 10 kt with gusts to 15 kt, becoming SW in the afternoon. Wind waves SW 1 ft at 4 seconds. W swell 4 ft at 10 seconds.
SAT NIGHT N wind 10 to 15 kt. Gusts to 20 kt after midnight. Wind waves N 3 ft at 5 seconds. W swell 3 ft at 10 seconds.
SUN N wind 10 to 15 kt with gusts to 20 kt. Wind waves N 3 ft at 4 seconds. W swell 4 ft at 16 seconds.
SUN NIGHT N wind 10 to 15 kt. Gusts to 20 kt, becoming 15 kt after midnight. Wind waves N 3 ft at 4 seconds. NW swell 5 ft at 7 seconds.
MON NE wind 20 to 25 kt. Wind waves 5 ft. NW swell 6 ft.
TUE NE wind 20 to 25 kt. Wind waves 5 ft. SW swell 5 ft.
Most albacore schools remain out of reach for the common offshore angler. Not sure if/when that will change this year.
Willamette River Fishing Report – No Willamette Report this week, but coho should start to show in the next few weeks, bolstering angler’s chances. More to come in the coming weeks!
Clackamas & Sandy Coho Starting to Show
Clackamas River Fishing Report – It’s still early for Clackamas River coho, but it won’t be long. Summer steelhead remain on the skids. Wild spring Chinook made an impressive showing this year, a sign of good things to come, hopefully.
The Guide’s Forecast – Still not worth the effort just yet, although spinner casters should be starting to work the mouth of the Clackamas River and just upstream of the Highway 99 Bridge in Oregon City.
Sandy River Fishing Report – Pro guide Jeff Stoger (503-704-7920) reports, “Hello All. I hope that everyone is doing well. I would like to give you some helpful info on a great reel repair guy. Mike Wardin used to work Ollie Damon, Shimono and Daiwa. I’ve had Mike work on a few reels and the work was fast and great. So, if you need any reels repaired, Mike will work on all brands of reels and he does fantastic work. His contact info is 360-606-4335 which is a Washington number, but he does repairs in Portland. Call to make appointment to drop off reels and you won’t be disappointed. Tell Mike that you got his info from Jeff at The Guide’s Forecast.
This week’s report is short and sweet. There has been reports that a few coho have been caught in the lower Sandy and that there are still some very nice late springers still being caught. The upper river has both Chinook and summer steelhead available from Cedar Creek to Oxbow. There will be lots of rafters and swimmers on the river over the next few days with temps hitting the upper 90’s. The river was running glacial green and will turn glacial brown with the temps taking a high jump over the next few days.”
The Guide’s Forecast – Jeff continued, “The best time to fish is early morning and casting spinner and spinners with hoochies. You can also cast twitching jigs to get all species to take your presentation. The water temp is running about 64 degrees and should hold until the temp jumps above 90 degrees which will raise water temps. The river is running at 7.78 ft and should hold until we get the next rain fall. So tight lines and the best of luck.”
Fires Devastate, Good Fall Fishing Ahead, When It’s Safe
|Avid angler Tim Moran writes: “Hello Everyone! What started out as a perfect start to this week – The wife and I put the sled in the Columbia Sunday morning and by 11am we had two kings and were heading back to Chinook Landing, turned into one of the worst weeks that I will probably ever have to report for TGF as the beloved McKenzie River drainage and the Santiam drainage have been devastated by wildfires. |
Monday’s high winds and heat and a spark of unkown origin turned the McKenzie ablaze. It will be days before we know the extent of damage and possible loss of life in the drainage. My son is a firefighter in Eugene/Springfield and he reports the damage to homes, property and the environment is truly catastrophic.
The Leaburg fish hatchery had to release all of its fish yesterday and abandon the hatchery. The Santiam is much the same with fire crews pushed out of Detroit by the flames and some heroic feats by fire and rescue personnel to rescue 70 inhabitants that were surrounded last night.
There is also a large fire burning on the north central coast near Otis that has blocked HWY 18.
The Metolius has been threatened by fire for the second time this year with the Lions Head Fire burning near its border and most of the campgrounds and roads in the area are closed. The best advice this week is to stay home and not risk your personal safety and stay out of the way of those who need the roads. I do have some info however, so that when things calm down (hopefully next week) you will have some options.
Metolius River – Fall is the best time to fish the Met. Lot’s of bug hatches, cooler weather, less people and big Bull trout have moved into the river to eat the spawning kokanee. Micro caddis in size #20 with a yellow and tan body, PMD’s, BWO and mahogany dunns will be go to flies. Big gaudy streamers will be the ticket for the large bull trout.
Lower Deschutes – trout fishing is good on the river with caddis, PMD’s, PED’s and rusty spinners, especially in the evenings when it’s calm. Trout are also being caught all day Euro-nymphing and using a nymph and indicator too. When the weather and fires calm down the river should fish well.
Lower Deschutes Steelhead – Got the first report of a caught steelhead in the Trout Creek area last week (Jeff at The Fly Fisher’s Place). Fish are in the river all the way up to Maupin in numbers with lots more to come. White river is blowing silt and muddying up the river below so again, a great weekend the wait for better conditions. The river will only get better as the run looks better than previous years and is just picking up steam.
Crooked River – It’s a bit more stable since we last checked in – Renegades, midge, and mayfly patterns on top are all working. Purple Haze is a great attractor pattern too. Size is the most important factor and then color. Another great fall river.
Crane Prairie – Fish near the Deschutes and Quinn River channels. Damsels, leeches and Chironomids are taking a lot of the fish. Casting spinners and spoons near the channel edges will produce here too.
East Lake – Paulina Lake – Fishing was good on both lakes last week. Ants and beetles along the shore and midge and chironomids in 15 to 20 feet of water. Stripping leeches or a leech with a nymph trailer on a sink tip is good here too. If you want to swing for the fences strip a large streamer along the shoreline drop offs early and late for huge browns or troll a big Rapala.
Wickiup Reservoir – No report but it’s low and the lake is closed above the markers at Gull Point and over on the Davis arm at the marker to protect spawning fish. There isn’t much of a lake left to fish and it will be not much more than a river until we get a snowpack next year. This will be the third straight year of almost no water…let’s hope she survives!
Prineville Reservoir – The COFR guys are smashing trout trolling on the lake. A flasher and worm or a flatfish is a good bet. Bass fishing is very good too with largemouth and smallmouth both being taken on crankbaits and curly tail worms.”
SW Oregon Report – Avid angler Tim Moran reports:
The McKenzie – There likely won’t be a report here for a while. The river and towns in the mid river section have been destroyed by wildfire. It was really fishing like the gem it is prior to the fire. Let’s hope it will be as resilient as it is beautiful.
Detroit Reservoir – Kokanee and rainbow fishing was good before the fires. I’m afraid of what might be left when the road opens again.
Rogue Bay – Fishing for Kings has been good in the bay trolling anchovies naked or on a spinner rig. Big crowds – but that usually means good fishing. The lower river should be going soon!
Winchester Bay – Chinook are moving through the bay and fishing near the jaws with herring is fair. Fishing is improving in tidewater trolling herring, spinners behind Pro Trolls and bobber and eggs. Bay crabbing has been good.
Coos River – The Coos estuary is the hot spot on the SW coast. The better guides are getting limits and extra hook ups. Fishing a herring 48 to 60 inches behind a short bus type flasher has been effective. Stage your rods so that they are fishing near the bottom to mid depth. for best results.