Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update

North Coast Rivers Primed For Early Steelhead, Metro Rivers Still Need More Time

Willamette Valley/Metro –  With the Willamette out of shape, metro anglers are looking to the Sandy and Clackamas to cure their cabin fever. There are some sturgeon available, but with the flows high and the water colored, it’ll be a while before any desirable fishing takes place here. Meldrum Bar may boot out an early Clackamas bound steelhead when the river clears, that but looks like it’ll be a while from now.

On the Clackamas, the coho run is largely over and with the current high water event, even passage has slowed for the late-run coho. Steelhead is on the minds of many Clackamas River anglers, but it’ll be another month before fishable numbers show.

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN reports from the Sandy River, “Hello All. I want to wish you and your families a very merry Christmas and please be safe. The fishing report for this week was that there was some fish caught early last week with a mix of hatchery and natives. The river started to rise last Friday and then it blew up to over 18ft on Sunday and has started to slowly drop into shape. The current level will be around 11.5 ft. on Thursday and could be fishable and by the weekend, the river should drop into the upper 10’s and then jump back up over a 11ft. The temp is going to drop with the freezing level also dropping but you will have to deal with the wind.

North Coast Fishing Report – Reports following the current rain freshet aren’t all that encouraging coming from the NF Nehalem hatchery. Hatchery workers reported “A few fish” on Wednesday and Thursday, with the hopes that the mother lode is coming any day now. It’s definitely peak time for these early returning fish.

The Necanicum, Three Rivers, Big and Gnat Creeks and the Klaskanine are also early season steelhead streams that should be fishing good right now.

The Wilson and mainstem Nestucca will see the higher quality broodstock fish return next month but a few wild fish are entering the larger systems now. The Dam Hole on the Trask should be productive in the higher flows this weekend, especially for an occasional wild fish.

There’s another week of Chinook fishing left, but few anglers in pursuit.

Bay crabbing was reportedly fair earlier this week on Tillamook Bay. Netarts and especially the lower Columbia should remain productive when weather and tides are favorable.

There was a brief window of ocean opportunity on Tuesday, but no reports of anglers/crabbers taking advantage of it. The next window is nowhere in sight.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports – From avid angler Tim Moran:

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!  Hopefully a new rod, reel, a box of flies is under your tree – maybe some new spinners or the new Spin-fish is in your sock!  This week is shaping up to be a pretty good one by late December standards.  The most important thing to remember when fishing east of the mountains in winter is – Sleep in a little, have a nice breakfast and wait for that thermometer to inch up a little. 

There are plenty of good options for fishing this week and next as we march through the holiday time and into the New Year. (Don’t forget your 2021 fishing license)

We checked in with our favorite fly shop The Flyfisher’s Place, in Sisters and they reported that the Metolius is always on their Christmas list. The area from Allingham to Gorge, the Canyon Pools, Wizard Falls to Bridge 99 and Bridge 99 to Candle Creek are good places to access the river now. Normally below the hatchery would be snowed in by now. But so far, low elevation snow has been fleeting and driving to Bridge 99 is a snow free event.

The Crooked has been quite good for the last couple of weeks. I’d say that is mostly because it has been balmy for December and the water temps are fine for good action (ie. bug drift, metabolism).

Fall River has been pretty decent. There are some afternoon BWO and Midge hatches going from about 11 to 3. 7X is a boon to your success.

The Lower Deschutes in the Warm Springs area has been good for Trout and Steelhead. Nymph rigs are definitely your best bet, but I have heard on some days of a BWO hatch coming off and bringing fish to feed on the surface.

The Middle Deschutes is running high and cold. I am not saying it is a total no go, but it certainly won’t be on my to do list until about February when I might check it out again for the Little Black Winter Stone hatch.

Meanwhile the best and brightest Star for bank and boat guys trolling or still fishing has been Prineville Reservoir!  Trolling a wedding ring and a piece of worm behind a flasher in is catching really nice rainbows to 20 inches. 

Further east things are not looking too good for the weekend – The Imnaha, Grande Ronde and Wallowa rivers, which were slushy last week and muddy this week with a slight warm up.  Clear skies may help but then more snow is expected.  There are still some steelhead around but picking your day will be the key to success. 

SW OregonFrom avid angler Tim Moran:

Down in the SW corner of the state The Elk and Cheto were waiting for rains to improve conditions for both winter steelhead and late fall/ winter Chinook. As we turn the page into the new year both of these rivers should fish well especially for steelhead.

There are fish entering the Umpqua river too but fishing is just beginning to pick up.  Again, January fishing for winter steelhead should be excellent so make your plans! 

Diamond Lake as of a couple days ago was not fully iced over so it’s not going to be fishable until it ices up solid.  When it does, fishing through the ice is always fun and can be productive!   Enjoy your holiday and hopefully you can get out and enjoy some winter fishing after Christmas (or maybe on)!  Stay safe and warm!

Small stream winter steelhead-Terry Otto

SW Washington –  Terry Otto has put together another smashing report for SW Washington. What you will read below is an abbreviated version of what Terry’s “FULL VERSION” report will look like in the months ahead. Sign Up for Terry’s PAID version that started last week. With this level of detail, you won’t want to miss a single week! It’s JUST $0.32 cents per week! Here’s Terry’s summary for this week. SUBSCRIBE to the full SW Washington version HERE!

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Steelhead numbers are slowly ticking up, and winter trout are going strong

Vancouver Metro Area

Local tributaries were getting a sprinkling of winter steelhead before the heavy rains pushed many streams to the point of flooding. The high water should bring more fish up into the rivers, but it may still be too early for the steelhead to show in strong numbers. At least with dry weather expected for the next few days, most rivers should come back into shape enough to offer some Christmas fishing. Smaller streams, such as the Washougal or the Elochoman, should provide the best action this week, although heavy rains are forecast for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which could push the rivers out again. 

Trout are biting well, even in some of the lakes that have yet to be stocked. There are plenty of big trout out there right now, as well as plenty of catchable sized trout, and don’t forget Christmas kokanee.

Lewis and Washougal Rivers Fishing Report—The Lewis River rose from about 12 feet to 15 feet following the recent rains, and the water has been a little bit dirty as well. Before the river rose winter steelhead were showing up in the catch, and while the fishing was not hot, it was picking up. There were a few fish being caught every morning at the hatchery by bank anglers, and a few were being taken by boat anglers from the hatchery down to the Lewis River Golf Course. Plunking, drifting and bobber and jig is working well for bank angler’s, while bobber and jigs, and pulling plugs is working for boat anglers.

Before the Washougal River blew out, anglers were finding a few winter steelhead, according to John Thompson of Sportsman’s Warehouse in Vancouver, (360) 604-8000. Most were taken with drift gear, and most of the fish were caught in the lower three river miles. The river has already come back into fishable shape although it is still high.

Merwin and Yale Lakes Fishing Report—Both lakes are reportedly fair to good for kokanee, although the water in Yale Lake has become dirty with the heavy rain. The fish are holding near the surface, and anglers are flat-line trolling baits fished well back of the boat. Orange and pink are good colors for hootchies, and corn has been the best bait.

Anglers are having to spend a little time searching for the schools each day, and the bite has been somewhat inconsistent from day to day.

Local Lakes Fishing Report—The lakes that were stocked for Black Friday, Klineline Pond and Battle Ground Lake, continue to do well, and both have been stocked recently. Lacamas Lake and Icehouse Lake have also been well-stocked and are fishing very well. For the latest trout stockings, check the WDFW stocking webpage HERE. 

Longview Area

Cowlitz and Kalama Rivers Fishing Report—The Cowlitz River is fishing slow for steelhead, and a few dark coho are still coming to hand. The recent rains blew out the lowest sections of the river, and it may take some time for those lower reaches to come back into shape. Below the I-5 Bridge 23 bank rods, one boat/two rods had no catch. Conditions are somewhat better in the upper river, where in the latest creel survey, 17 bank rods kept one steelhead and released three coho, two jacks and one cutthroat. Two boats/seven rods kept four cutthroats and released one coho and two cutthroats.

Dave Mallahan of Dave’s Guide Service (360-201-9313), fished the river twice recently and hooked no steelhead, although a few have reportedly been caught.

The Kalama River has seen some winter steelhead return to the hatchery, although few anglers have been fishing the river since it blew out following the recent rains, so there are no reports from anglers on techniques or baits. There is a small early run of steelhead that return to the Kalama, but few have been taken by anglers as yet.

Local Lakes Fishing Report—Silver Lake is still fishing well for crappie and yellow perch. Lake Sacajawea in Longview was stocked with nice-sized rainbows on the 16th, and anglers are already catching fish. Powerbait fished near the bottom is the preferred method, although spinners will work, too.

Mayfield Lake is fishing well for rainbows, and Riffe Lake is good for trout and coho. Horseshoe Lake and Kress Lake are also fishing well for trout.

Columbia River GorgeLocal Lakes Fishing Report—Rowland Lake continues to fish well for trout, and some exceptional sized fish have been caught this year. In addition, Icehouse Lake, at the Washington side of the bridge of the Gods, has been well stocked over the last two weeks. The fish in Icehouse will take spinners, cocktail shrimp, Powerbait, and worms. Little Ash Lake has also been stocked and is fishing well.

Be sure to become a paid subscriber and get TWICE the information as you see here in the abbreviated version. Terry produces a weekly FORECAST, detailing how the fishing will be this weekend and into next week. You don’t want to miss this valuable information for just $0.32 cents per week! SIGN UP NOW!

Webinar Driftboating and bank fishing the Wilson River with Pro Guide Bob Rees January 20th