Free Fishing Weekend is happening over the President’s Day holiday. There will be numerous trout stockings this week so check the ODF&W web site for your best chances. It’ll take some kind of angler to get inspired if the weather forecast holds true.
Willamette Valley/Metro – After a prolonged period of dry, cold weather, rain has finally settled in and will change the springer friendly dynamic of the Willamette River. The river is well on its way to cresting, and with it, plenty of woody debris and turbid water. Spring Chinook fishing is on hold for the foreseeable future.
The John Shmilenko, Sultan of Sellwood springer count is one for 3 as of February 11th. I know of three spring Chinook total taken in the Sellwood to Milwaukie stretch on both herring and prawns. There have been a few steelhead taken around Sellwood Bridge on prawns here lately.
Steelhead action has remained sub-par for this time of year. Cold weather didn’t inspire the bite, but both the Sandy and Clackamas Rivers were shy of anglers and steelhead this week. The winds on the Sandy have been brutal and one renowned Sandy River steelhead guide claims it’s the worst season he’s ever seen so far. At least there aren’t many sea lions working the river.
Both the Sandy and Clackamas should drop into ideal shape by the weekend. If the weather cooperates, it should be a fair week for steelheaders on both systems, warmer weather will aid the bite as well.
Sturgeon fishing will remain a fair option in the Portland Harbor downstream of the Fremont Bridge. Frozen anchovies or herring should perform, sand shrimp too.
The big news out of agency headquarters is the banner fall coho return managers are expecting. Upwards of one million returning adults may come back to Oregon waters later this year, with a large percentage of them headed to the Columbia River and its tributaries. The Clackamas and Sandy Rivers should have robust opportunity come September.
Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) reports “Well I hope that everyone was able to deal with the snow and cold weather. Fishing has been so so depending on who you talk too. There were some fish caught in the lower Sandy River this last week and the river is dropping in temperature with this all the snow and rain. The river didn’t take a big bounce with the snow and rain. The freezing level has been down below 500 to 1000 ft out in the east county. There have been a few guys that have made the track and have found fish in the upper and lower river. Please be safe when you decide to head out and let friends and family members know where you’re going. I have a friend that went out yesterday and caught a real nice hatchery hen that went about 9lbs. I also heard of that the lower river below Dabney that there was a few fish caught in the lower section of the river.
Northwest Oregon – Steelheaders on the coast have been challenged by low, clear water conditions on all north coast streams. Furthermore, cold temperatures have kept steelhead down, but the recent rain freshet should reinvigorate the run just in time for the weekend. Most recent results indicate a flush of fish have moved in with good catches reported on the Wilson River Thursday (today). It’s likely the Nestucca fished well today too.
The Wilson and Nestucca should be receiving a good batch of fish for the Free Fishing weekend. All techniques should produce with bobber-dogging and side-drifting eggs and soft beads performing best. Plugs should become effective over the weekend as flows settle down and steelhead grow wary of a consistent offering of real and imitation baits. Pro guide Rob Gerlitz (503-812-4950) tallied 3 keepers for a short morning float on Thursday. I’ve been sworn to secrecy about his innovative technique, you may want to consider booking a trip! He got 2 hens and a BRUTE buck today, here’s the fish box selfie:
Smaller systems like the Kilchis, upper Trask and Necanicum River should have some fresh wild steelhead available for catch and release fishing, and there is likely to still be spawned out steelhead taken as they make their way downstream back to the ocean.
And speaking of the ocean, it’s forecasted to get big again so bottomfishing and ocean crabbing will be off the table for yet another weekend. Bay crabbing looks to be less than ideal as well, especially with the minus tide series we’re just coming into.
Central and Eastern Oregon – From our friend Tim Moran:
Deschutes River – Trout fishing is good in the Maupin area from the locked gate to Mack’s. This is a good time of year to fish a black or brown stone fly with a smaller nymph about 18″ behind. Fish these Euro style or under an indicator on the slower side of seam water.
Metolius River – The latest report from here (yesterday the 12th) was that fishing with nymphs was good. This is the time of year to fish small black stone flies. Like the Deschutes report above slow strip them back to you as they are deposited back into the “frog” water as trout will be looking for them on the move.
John Day River – This is usually peak season in the upper river but reports and fish are almost nonexistent. This run, like most Columbia runs was really depressed this year.
Crooked River – Another good winter fishery, the river almost always produces as long as the dam isn’t releasing a lot of water.
Fall River – with temps stabilizing a bit this week the Fall will be a good bet. Lots of big trout near the hatchery. As I’ve stated before, this is a river where stealth plays a huge role in your success. Stand away from the bank or on you knees and wear muted colors to have the best results.
Prineville Reservoir – The boys at COFR have been doing well on powerbait and worms here. It’s nice because it’s a good bank fishery so you can make an easy trip out of it.
Have fun everyone – I love fishing in the snow!
Redband trout on the lower Deschutes will start actively feeding in February. Anglers using nymphing techniques and large stonefly imitations will be most successful.
Anglers are reporting good afternoon trout fishing on the Fall and Metolius rivers.
Some steelhead are being caught in the Wallowa River, and there are steelhead throughout the John Day River.
Winter and early spring are best months to target trout on Willow Creek Reservoir.
Fly-fishers can target redband trout on the Blitzen River throughout the year. Large streamers and other nypmhs work well anytime. There also are periodic hatches, so keep a selection of dry flies handy.
Anglers are starting to target hybrid bass on Ana Reservoir.
The best bets in the Klamath Basin for Free Fishing Weekend on 16-17 February is ice fishing at Lake of the Woods or Trout Fishing on the Klamath River below JC Boyle Dam.
The recent cold snap has firmed up ice conditions on many waterbodies. Anglers have been on the ice and catching fish throughout the zone.
Southwest – From ODF&W
THIS WEEKEND IS FREE FISHIGING WEEKEND IN OREGON. During the President’s Day Weekend, Feb 16-17, you do not need a license to fish clam or crab in Oregon.
Bottomfish trips out of Newport last week were limited by unfavorable weather conditions, however, anglers reported rockfish catches had improved slightly and that lingcod fishing was still good.
The bottomfish fishery is open at all depths with a General Marine Species bag limit of 5 fish, and a separate lingcod limit of 2 fish. No cabezon may be retained until July 1. The longleader gear fishery outside of the 40-fathom regulatory line is open all year. Catches often consist of a nice grade of yellowtail, widow and canary rockfishes.
Lake Selmac and Reinhardt Pond will be stocked for the upcoming Free Fishing Weekend.
The upper Rogue water levels don’t typically fluctuate dramatically upstream of Elk Creek. So while the rest of the river is falling into shape after a storm, this is a great section of river to explore.
While cold water temperatures can slow the steelhead bite, there are winter steelhead to be caught in the Coos, Coquille and Umpqua basin. As one biologist put it, you can’t catch a steelhead staying at home.
Lost Creek Reservoir fishes well in the winter, and is a major draw for trout anglers in the Rogue Basin.
In places like Tenmile Lakes and Lake Marie, yellow perch can be first warmwater fish to start biting in late winter/early spring in Tenmile Lakes.
When the ocean swells are small, late winter/early spring can typically be good for surfperch fishing on Coos County beaches.
From Pete Heley at www.PeteHeley.com
The first Columbia River spring chinook was caught near Portland on the lower Willamette River on January 29th by Dave Frey. He was fishing by himself with a red prawn for bait. The springer was a finclipped hatchery fish of 16 pounds.
While Oregon’s first springer each year usually is caught in the Columbia or lower Willamette rivers the first springers taken each year on the southern Oregon coast are typically caught from either the Rogue or Umpqua rivers during the last week in February or the first week in March.
Crabbers wanting to use the crab dock just upriver from the Siuslaw River’s South Jetty, need to be aware that the road is closed for repairs near Beach 5 Day Use Area – which is about a half-mile before the crabbing dock.
Crabbing is definitely slowing down at Charleston and Winchester Bay, but is still somewhat more productive than it is at this time in most years.
Cold air and the resulting lower water temperatures will probably dampen the trout bite for the next few weeks, but with the number of trout planted so far in February in the Florence area (more than 10,000), when the water begins warming up, the bite should be very, very good.
Anglers fishing Eel Lake this winter have been catching fair numbers of small coho salmon that chose to remain in Eel Lake rather than swim down the Eel Creek outlet on their way to the ocean. Extremely low water in Eel Creek probably had a lot to do with them staying in the lake.
Young coho planted in Cooper Creek and Galesville reservoirs are legal to keep and are to be considered part of the five trout daily bag limit – and both these waters are included in the exceptions section for the southwest zone.
Northern California’s Clear Lake recently held a crappie tournament that was wildly successful. Entrants were allowed to weigh in a maximum of ten crappies – all of which had to measure at least 12-inches in length. The tournament had a full field of 50 boats and the tournament winner weighed in ten crappie weighing 21.42 pounds – or slightly more than two pounds and two ounces per fish. A very impressive average since the heaviest crappie caught during the tournament only weighed 2.68 pounds.
Washington – No new info from WDF&W.