Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update December 28th, 2018

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Willamette Valley/Metro – Anglers are reminded to purchase their 2019 Oregon fishing licenses and tags before heading out on their next fishing, crabbing or clamming adventure. The new online licensing system makes it pretty easy to get the appropriate paperwork without even having to go to a retail store for purchase.

High water and inclement weather didn’t inspire many steelheaders for the brief window of opportunity anglers had over the weekend for holiday chrome. Early season steelhead are hard enough to come by, let alone catching them in less than ideal conditions.

The Clackamas has shown some early results for steelhead, but in recent years, it’s been the Sandy that has produced the most robust steelhead catches. Flows peaked on Monday, but if the weather trend remains accurate, anglers could feasibly see some good water conditions prior to the weekend. Both the Sandy and Clackamas Rivers should have steelhead available. Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN guide service reports, “I hope that everyone had a great Christmas and was able to spend time with family and friends. I was visiting the river and the water was ideal and was holding steady. The current water height is 10.46 ft and is forecasted to jump up to 10.73 ft by Sunday. The water temp is at 42.5 degrees and should stay at current temp until the weather either drops or warmer weather drives the temp up or down. There were good numbers of people on the river with sleds in the lower river and lots of drift boats and rafts from Oxbow down.  There were a few fish caught over the  last couple days in mid river Oxbow Park area.” Clackamas River anglers should focus their effort downstream of Eagle Creek, while Sandy River steelheaders should work the water from Dodge Park downstream. Bait such as egg clusters or sand shrimp often produce the best in higher flows, while jigs and soft beads produce better in low flows. Soft-bead side-drifting is still popular in high water, anglers just use a larger sized offering in cloudy water conditions.

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!

The Willamette is high and colored, and will remain that way for a short while. Once flows crest, and the river comes down and starts to clear, likely by the weekend, plunkers working Meldrum Bar should have a better chance at December steelhead destined for the Clackamas River. Like the smaller systems, use bright colored spin-n-glos and tip your gear with egg clusters or shrimp tails.

The Portland Harbor will continue to produce good sturgeon catches, but it might be best to wait for wood debris to wash through the system for safer boating conditions. Sand shrimp and frozen herring would be best.

Although there may not be any active trout stocking going on this week, there should be ample numbers of stocked trout still available in multiple water bodies over the holiday break for kids and families to catch. Check the ODF&W web site for recent stockings and opportunities.

Northwest Oregon – The North Fork Nehalem continues to disappoint. The fishing hotline reports a slow start, but this will be peak week for fresh fish in the system. Many of the early season stocks on the Nehalem, Three Rivers and a few on the Wilson have not shown strong returns in recent years. These systems still provide the best Christmas break option for steelheaders however.

The Wilson River will remain the best option over the break, with a mix of a few early season returnees, but what most are hoping will be a good return of broodstock fish. Some broodstock fish have already been caught, along with some early wild returning fish, but action improves dramatically by late January. There were fair numbers of fishermen, and some quality broodstock fish taken Thursday morning, including this nice 16-pounder by pro guide Rob Gerlitz (503-812-7701).

Russell Crape of Bay City with a large broodstock steelhead from 12/27, Wilson River, Oregon

Lower Columbia River – Crabbing remains epic for boats that can fish the deeper water off of Chinook. Commercial gear may go in as early as January 1st so success will likely slow.

Gnat and Big Creek as well as the Klaskanine and Necanicum Rivers have been slow for steelhead despite good water conditions and timing. It’s been a challenging start to the steelhead season.

Central and Eastern Oregon –  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 are closed for the winter, limiting access to some popular locations.

Anglers have been catching some steelhead on the Grand Ronde, John Day and Wallow rivers. Keep an eye on ice conditions and water levels and try to hit the rivers as water levels begin to fall after rain events.

Trout and whitefish fishing will be good on the Wallowa River throughout the winter.

Ice conditions are still iffy on many waterbodies – recent rains haven’t helped. Always use caution when venturing out on the ice.

Best bet in the Klamath Basin continues to be the Klamath River below the powerhouse.

The Ana River offers fair to good fishing throughout the winter.

Anglers are starting to target hybrid bass on Ana Reservoir.

Southwest – From ODF&W

Bottomfishing should be decent if the ocean lays down.  Ocean salmon fishing is closed.

Beginning Jan.1, there will be a new steelhead bag limit on rivers where wild steelhead harvest is allowed.  Check the 2019 Sport Fishing Regulations for details.

There are winter steelhead throughout the mainstem Umpqua and the river might just be come into shape for the weekend.

On the North Umpqua, some of the best winter steelhead fishing of the year can occur in late December. The runs usually peaks then, and the largest steelhead are usually the first to arrive.

Anglers are starting to catch hatchery steelhead in the Coos and Coquille basins.

Arizona Pond has been stocked recently – 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.


Washington – No new info from WDF&W, but HERE IS the December 4th report.

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