Scott and Dave of McMinnville, OR with 2 of their 3 hatchery steelhead caught on a Tillamook County River last weekend

Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update for April 5, 2019

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Willamette Valley/Metro –Unprecedented opportunity for spring Chinook has yielded high effort and fair results in the recent week. Catches are tracking ahead of the 5-year average and in the lower (Multnomah Channel) and middle (Portland Harbor) reaches of the Willamette, catches almost tripled from the previous week. Realistically however, catches are still only averaging a spring Chinook for every 11 rods of effort for any specific day. Precipitation has changed the dynamic in the Willamette however.

By the middle of next week, the Willamette should be fishing good again, and catches should steadily improve in the coming weeks. Trollers will continue to work herring in the middle and lower reaches of the Willamette, and prawns, sand shrimp and back-bounced eggs should produce fair results in the upper Willamette near Oregon City. Bank fishing has been slow in the relatively low flows we’re experiencing this spring. There are a surprising number of wild spring Chinook showing in the creel census and summer steelhead are starting to show in the Oregon City area for a few lucky boats. Wild winter steelhead counts at Willamette Falls are nearly DOUBLE what they were in 2018 at the same time. It’s amazing what removing a dozen California sea lions at Willamette Falls can do for extinction prevention for this dwindling return of adults.

Steelhead fishing in the Sandy River remains fair, with the bulk of the fish of wild origin lately. There are a few summer steelhead being reported as well.
Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of reports, ” The Sandy this week was still producing some good to fair action depending on who you talk to. Most of the action was taking place in the Oxbow Park area, from the boat ramp down to the flood plain area. Most of the action was done by fishing beads in size 10 or 12 mm soft beads and diver and bait. The bank guys were fishing nightmare jigs under a float and were also having success and well as drift fishing eggs. The river was on the rise over the last couple of days and it’s expected to get up as high as 13 ft with large amount of rain and snow melt. The river is running at 43 degrees and should only get warmer with more spring rains and lower level snow melting.

The Clackamas saw a flurry of activity last week for steelhead, but has since cooled for the later returning broodstock fish. Some summer steelhead are also entering this system but springers are still a month away and the return is likely to be dismal again this year. Columbia River spring Chinook anglers aren’t putting a hard dent in the mainstem quota just yet although catch rates are improving. The season is slated to last through April 10th, depending on catch rates. Bonneville fish passage is improving daily.

Northwest Oregon – Late season steelhead are making a fair showing on the Wilson and Nestucca systems recently. Boats working the late afternoons have been pleasantly surprised. Both systems should continue to produce good catches of steelhead for the next ten days and the current string of wet days should draw new fish into all north coast systems for weekend anglers.

Spring Chinook season opened on April 1st for fin-clipped salmon in the Tillamook district. Catches won’t improve until mid-May but April steelheaders sometimes get surprised. Summer steelhead are also starting to show in the Wilson and Nestucca systems.

Charter boats brought in large lingcod and canary rockfish from recent calm ocean waters. The deep reef opportunity has been extended through the month of April and will continue to produce great catches of bottomfish.

Columbia River sturgeon – Fishery managers adopted another limited season for catch and keep sturgeon running from May 13th – June 5th or the fulfillment of a nearly 3,000 keeper quota. High, cold snow melt may prolong the season if we see a repeat of last year.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports – From Tim Moran

Deshutes River – Spring is finally here and the big D is coming into perfect shape right now! Fishing is reported good from Macks to the locked gate and beyond. Nymph fishing is consistent throughout the day with those big stonies starting to crawl around. 

Metolius River –  BWO’s and midges will still be the story on the surface here for a little while longer. Fishing nymphs are going to be your best bet most days.  The big news here is that ODFW is set to release Chinook fry in the river in the coming days so that should set the Bull Trout fishing on fire! 

Crooked River – The big news on the Crooked is flows…they are going up or are up to 350 CFS and my climb to 500+.  The river will be fishable at those flows as long as they’re stable. 

Prineville Reservoir – It’s about 70% full but fish are being caught.  Worms, powerbait, and spinners are all taking fish near the dam. 

I saw some drone footage of the high Cascade Lakes and it’s still winter up there.

There was still lots of ice and snow at Wickiup and Crane.  I’m sure a lot will change in the next three weeks and they’ll be fishable but I think we’ll have a lot of snow around.  It will be interesting to see how Wickiup fared with the low water.

From ODF&W

Anglers have been catching legal-size bull trout in the Metolius Arm of Lake Billy Chinook.

It’s springtime on the lower Deschutes River and trout fishing should be good from Mack’s Canyon to the locked gate.

A push of winter steelhead has entered Hood River. Fishing should peak in the next couple of weeks.

Trout fishing should be good on Bikini Pond, Taylor Lake, Pine Hollow Reservoir and the Prineville Youth Fishing Pond, all of which were stocked the week of March 18.

With the area steelhead rivers blown out due to rain and warm temperatures, an angler’s best bet will be trout.

This is a great time of year to fish Willow Creek Reservoir, where the fingerlings stocked last year should be 10- to 12-inches.

Hatrock, McNary and Tatone ponds are all scheduled to be stocked with trout this week.

It will be a while before some parts of the SE zone thaw out. That’s good news for ice fishers on Phillips, Pilcher and Wolf Creek reservoirs, where fishing has been good.

Best bet for fishing in the Klamath Basin remains the Klamath River above the Powerhouse or Klamath Lake.

Krumbo Reservoir is ice-free and anglers report catching trout up to 16-inches.

The ice is also clearing from the Powder River below Mason Dam, allowing for some good early season trout fishing.

Ana and Priday reservoirs were stocked with rainbow trout last week.

Southwest from Pete Heley at

Dwayne Schwartz of Reedsport reported having fish bite two of the large Berkley Gulp worms in half while fishing for lingcod off Winchester Bay’s South Jetty. When he fished the same spot three days later, he caught a 22-inch ling that had both of his bitten-in-half worms in the back of its throat.

Larger lingcod are currently present as a 32-incher was caught from the South Jetty last Sunday.

Smaller waters in Jackson and Josephine counties have already graduated to decent topwater fishing for largemouth bass. Roseburg-area waters should offer similar fishing, but fisheries near the Oregon coast will most likely need a few more weeks of decent weather.

Something that southern Oregon’s outdoor enthusiasts should be aware of is that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has recently seen an increased number of confirmed and suspect cases of canine distemper virus, especially in red foxes, in northern California.

Southwest – From ODF&W

This last weekend had beautiful weather and good ocean conditions, however many anglers reported very slow fishing for rockfish, with more deacons than blacks. Lingcod fishing also has been slow with many released fish just shy of the legal limit. Limited success was reported by trying a variety of areas and lures.

Ocean salmon fishing is open for Chinook salmon from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt from March 15 through April 30. Chinook must be a minimum of 24 inches in length. The ocean is close to coho salmon.

Historically, this is the peak of the steelhead season on the Rogue, so don’t put your gear away just yet!

Steelhead fishing has been good on the North and South Umpqua.

Bass and other warmwater fishing is picking up in response to recent spring temperatures.

Several Spring Chinook have been caught in the mainstem Umpqua.

The fishing dock at Eel Lake is a great place for kids to fish for bluegill and crappie.

Keep an eye on surf conditions and when conditions allow, plan to hit the beach for surfperch fishing. Spring and early summer fishing can be excellent.

Waterbodies scheduled to be stocked this week include Garrison Lake, Marie Lake, Plat 1 Reservoir and Cooper Creek Reservoir.

Trout fishing closed on many SW streams from April 1 through May 22, consult the regulations.

2019 Stocking schedule and Stocking Maps

SW Washington – No WDF&W updates since March 20. Here is the archive: