Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update December 7, 2018

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Willamette Valley/Metro – Cold weather has gripped much of the Portland area, causing steelheaders to re-think their outing strategies, especially since it’s still early in the season. Steelhead are certainly present in the Sandy and Clackamas systems, a bitter east wind keeps Sandy River anglers especially cold given its proximity to the Columbia River Gorge. Catches have been light. Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHIN Guide Service reports, ”

Late morning and afternoon temperatures moderate, and better inspire steelhead to bite in the broken surfaced waters of the Sandy and Clackamas systems. The prolonged cold and dry spell calls for smaller, more subtle tackle to entice strikes. Single soft beads have really taken hold in recent years, and is the perfect go-to bait under the conditions we’ll be experiencing into next week. The river is forecasted to rise next week.

Peak season won’t happen for another 4 to 5 weeks on the Sandy and Clackamas systems, but quality steelhead can be found this time of year, with few other anglers competing for them.

Steelhead plunkers working Meldrum Bar should also start to see some action in the coming weeks. No one is certain of the number of steelhead returning to the Clackamas or upper Willamette Basins this year, but with the recent issuance of the section 120 permit for the removal of problematic sea lions in the Willamette Falls area, wild winter steelhead headed for the upper Willamette River will get a reprieve this year. A more comprehensive bill in Congress may be moving this week.

Sturgeon fishing remains good in the lower Willamette, with frozen anchovies, smelt or herring working well, fresh sand shrimp is always good too.

The Willamette and Columbia River spring Chinook forecasts are due out next week, anglers are always optimistic, but we’ll get the reality check by mid-month.

There should still be ample numbers of trout in the district’s lakes. Check the ODF&W web site under stocking schedule to see where the most recent stockings were.

Northwest Oregon – Steelhead season is underway on the north coast, with fish reported from the North Fork Nehalem, Wilson, Three Rivers and Kilchis River systems. It’s off to a slow start, but that’s not uncommon for early December. Steelheading should start in earnest this week, with success likely from the aforementioned river systems. The North Fork Nehalem and Three Rivers often provide the best access and success for early season steelhead.

Dropping flows will call for more subtle offerings and boaters are likely to encounter spawning Chinook coho and chum salmon too. Please avoid any harassment of these sensitive stocks of spawning fish, it’s been a tough year for them. The season does remain open in Tillamook Bay itself, but few are participating.

East winds often spell calm seas for bottomfish and crab this time of year. There was a small window early in the week, but seas are forecasted to increase into the weekend. Sport crabbing in the ocean re-opened on December 1st, bottomfishing and crabbing should be excellent if the weather cooperates.

Lower Columbia River – The lower Columbia remains excellent for crabbing, limits are common.

Gnat and Big Creek, as well as the Klaskanine and Necanicum Rivers should have winter steelhead present.

Central and Eastern Oregon – From Friend Tim Moran

Baby it’s cold outside! Single digit temps ant night in central and eastern Oregon have slowed the fishing and fishermen to a trickle. Those that are getting out are fishing mainly 4 streams.

Metolius River – Small olive and golden stone nymphs and a small trailer nymph are the go to’s here. I use 5X fluorocarbon tippets on the lower fly because if you go smaller you’ll run into a big bull and that will be that!

John Day River – There are fishable numbers of Steelhead in the John Day and most fall to swinging flies. This is a great spey rod stream and there are miles of great runs and pools.

Crooked River – Flows are low and with the single digit temps at night, the river is iced up in many spots. The fish are very sluggish in the cold water.

Fall River – the Fall river is actually fishing pretty good in the cold temps the spring fed stream is always cold and it moves enough to stay in liquid form most of the time. 11am to 4pm is going to be your best bet.

From ODF&W

Anglers are reporting fair fishing for lake trout on Crescent Lake, trout fishing on the Fall River has been good, and anglers are catching some bull trout on the Metolius River.

Steelhead are spread throughout the lower 100 miles of the Deschutes with anglers reporting fair fishing in the Warm Springs, Trout Creek and Maupin areas.

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.

Persistent anglers have been catching some steelhead on the Grande Ronde and Wallowa rivers.

Fishing on the Klamath River below Keno Dam has slowed.

The Ana River was stocked in late October and fishing has been fair.

Most Lake County waterbodies are frozen or are starting to freeze over.

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.

Steelhead fishing continues to be good on the lower Rogue thanks to an exceptional run of half-pounders and adults running upriver this fall.

Umpqua River anglers might consider the upper mainstem for hatchery coho.

Recent heavy rains have improved chinook and steelhead prospects on the Chetco, Elk, Pistol and Winchuck rivers.

Winter steelhead season is coming, and it’s not too soon to check your gear and be monitoring water levels.


From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com

We’ve had enough rain to get coho salmon into the three coastal lakes that allow fishing for them. Recently, Siltcoos Lake has been providing the best salmon fishing.

Tenmile has also been giving up fair numbers of decent-sized yellow perch and some of the more serious bass fishermen have been having fair, if inconsistent success, on largemouth bass.

South coast streams such as the Elk and Sixes rivers both have good numbers of chinook salmon in them and anglers familiar with these rivers adjust their fishing plans almost daily as the Elk River tends to clear more quickly than does the Sixes.

Recreational ocean crabbing is now legal and while crabbing in Oregon’s bays and the lower portions of Oregon’s coastal rivers is definitely slowing down, some decent catches are still being made.

SW Washington – From the December 4th WDF&W report:


Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 9 bank anglers released 2 steelhead.

Skamokawa Creek – No anglers sampled.

Elochoman River – 38 bank anglers kept 6 steelhead and released 4 steelhead, 2 coho and 11 coho jacks. 1 boat/2 rods had no catch.

Abernathy Creek – 4 bank anglers had no catch.

Mill Creek – No anglers sampled.

Germany Creek – 6 bank anglers had no catch.

Cowlitz River –

I-5 Br downstream: 14 bank rods kept 1 coho jack and released 1 steelhead. Above the I-5 Br: 6 bank rods had no catch. Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 691 coho adults, 273 coho jacks, 26 cutthroat trout, three fall Chinook adults and four summer-run steelhead adults during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. During the past week, Tacoma Power released 106 coho adults and 45 coho jacks into the Cispus River near Randle and they released 179 coho adults, 61 coho jacks and one cutthroat trout into Lake Scanewa in Randle. Tacoma Power released 34 coho adults and 44 coho jacks at the Franklin Bridge release site in Packwood and they released 189 coho adults, 119 coho jacks, one fall Chinook adult and five cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton. River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,740 cubic feet per second on Monday, Dec. 3. Water visibility is 11 feet and the water temperature is 49.8 degrees F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility.

Kalama River – No anglers sampled. Lewis River – 2 bank anglers had no catch. 2 boats/4 rods had no catch.

East Fork Lewis River – 7 bank anglers kept 1 coho. 1 boat/2 rods had no catch.

Salmon Creek – 41 bank anglers released 1 steelhead.

Wind River – No anglers sampled.

Klickitat River –No anglers sampled.

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