Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update December 14, 2018

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Willamette Valley/Metro – Anglers continue to wait for metro angling opportunity, the Sandy and Clackamas Rivers are still weeks away from kicking off.

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920)  of O2BFISHN Guide Service reports “Well, this week we saw the first real good rainfall of the year. The river is slowly climbing with this week long of rain. The forecast is for the river to max out about 12.2 ft by the weekend and then will begin to drop over the week and level out about 10ft. The river was low and clear for most of the week running at 8.6 ft and was ideal for fishing. With this large bump, it will bring in some fresh and new fish. There were a few fish caught last week and it was in the upper river because the lower river had lots of wind and made it difficult to fish.” PS I have had some readers call about booking trips with me and I had saved your info to my phone and my phone crashed and I lost your contact info. So please call me so I can get your info to book our trips and put it on my new list of contacts.

You can see more of Jeff’s report and an upcoming forecast for the Sandy River and Northwest Oregon by becoming a paid subscriber HERE. Paid subscribers get on average, about FIVE TIMES the amount of information for fifty cents a week!

This is the time of year when the 2019 salmon predictions are just coming out, with stakeholders meeting early this week to discuss what the options may be for spring, summer and likely fall Chinook. The numbers released were not surprisingly optimistic, but they are not disastrous either. Managers are likely to take a precautionary approach with this year’s fisheries, but undoubtedly, anglers are going to have to work hard for success.

Spring Chinook, no matter what the returns are, come with low expectations and high reward. It often takes several fishing days before an angler gets an opportunity for a fish, but anglers are willing to put in the time for the reward that follows. Willamette fish are the first to enter the Columbia. Termed “snow-bellies,” the glaring white undersides of these fish indicate their final destination versus the “dusky chinned” upper Columbia bound springers that also carry a deeper red flesh, more savory for sure.

This year’s predicted Willamette River spring Chinook return is just over 40,000 adults to the mouth of the Columbia River. The 2018 actual return was 37,400 so anglers should expect catch rates similar to what was experienced last spring. The Columbia River spring Chinook forecast is for just over 99,000 returning adults, far from the lowest on record, but one of the lowest in the last 15 years. This will certainly limit opportunity as managers need to ensure proper escapement to upriver spawning grounds and tribal fisheries which are governed under U.S. law.

The summer Chinook run is also depressed, with just about 36,000 fish predicted to return. This fishery peaks in late June and early July, and there’s likely to be some opportunity, but far from robust.

Seasons will be crafted in January and February, but likely not adopted until March. Until then, these fisheries will prosecute under permanent rules so check regulations if you’re so inspired to angle for sparse numbers this early in the season. It’s a very rare year when spring Chinook are caught before February.

Northwest Oregon – It’s a sad day when crabbing outshines fishing opportunities in Tillamook County, but winter steelhead continue to be elusive in the early-season streams. The North Fork Nehalem continues to report slow fishing, with very few fish in the holding trap. This is the week when we should start to see winter steelhead pop in this system, as well as Three Rivers, a tributary to the Nestucca system.

The Wilson, Nestucca and Trask Rivers should also have a few winter steelhead available, but catches will remain sparse for a few more weeks.

Paul Curran of Beaverton with a large north coast steelhead taken on a soft bead.
Paul Curran of Beaverton with a large north coast steelhead taken on a soft bead.

Crabbing in Tillamook is excellent and great tides will persist into the weekend. The expected rain shouldn’t damper success too much, but it may become a factor the following week. Netarts remains a good option too.

Lower Columbia River – Crabbing remains an excellent prospect on the lower Columbia River and with the commercial season further delayed, success should remain good for several more weeks.

Central and Eastern Oregon –  From our friend Tim Moran –

From ODF&W

While winter conditions are limiting access and opportunities to many popular lakes and ponds, many of the areas rivers offer good trout fishing opportunities throughout the winter, including the Crooked, Deschutes, Fall and Metolius.

Anglers report good trout fishing in the Metolius River.

Snow gates on Cascade Lakes Hwy west of Mt. Bachelor and on the road to Newberry Crater have been closed for the winter, limiting access to some popular locations.

Winter conditions are limiting access and opportunity at many area lakes and reservoirs. Many are iced over but the ice is too thin for ice fishing.

The Ana River is spring-fed and with its constant water temperature is a great late fall and winter destination.

Southwest – From ODF&W

There is snow in the forecast and that could limit access to some higher elevation lakes. Check ahead for road conditions, and be prepared for sudden changes in the weather.

Lost Creek Reservoir will be the premiere trout destination in the Rogue Valley throughout the winter.

A few winter steelhead are beginning to slip into the Umpqua and look for numbers to increase throughout December.

Arizona Pond will be stocked this week – just in time for the school winter break.

Half-pounder steelhead are worth targeting this time of year on the middle Rogue from Lathrop downstream to Graves Creek.

This is probably the last week to target hatchery coho on the upper Rogue.

2018 STOCKING SCHEDULE and STOCKING MAP

From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com

Quite a few lakes in western Lane County will receive their first trout plants for 2019 during the first week in February and 2019’s first trout plants for Coos County will take place in Mingus Pond and Powers Pond during the fourth week in February.

Some cohos are still being caught in Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes and a few of them are not dark. Most of the Tenmile Lake coho run is still in the lagoon where some of them are turning dark.

Small to mid-sized streams along the south coast offer anglers their best chance for late-run fall chinook.

By mid-December most of the streams in our area will have some winter steelhead in them, but Eel Creek, the major tributary of Tenmile Creek does not open for hatchery steelhead until January 1st.

Recreational ocean crabbing has been legal since December 1st and fairly productive when conditions allow ocean access.

Dock crabbing has been fair, at best.

SW Washington – No new info from WDF&W, but HERE IS the December 7th report.

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