Willamette Valley/Metro – Clackamas and Sandy River anglers are gearing up for better catches in the coming weeks. Steelhead on both systems are starting to show with more frequency with some quality fish over 10 pounds coming from both river systems recently.
For the Clackamas, anglers should focus on the river downstream of Barton Park. The Sandy should have hatchery fish from Cedar Creek to Lewis and Clark Park, with the best action happening from Lewis and Clark Park upstream to Oxbow Park. Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN guide service reports, “I hope that everyone is doing well and that you had the opportunity to get out and do a little fishing. My report is that the Sandy River is fishing slow. I had the opportunity to get out and fish last week and all I can tell you is that we had one take down on a plug and we couldn’t put in the boat. There is little boat action from Oxbow to Dabney Park. Just a heads up Dabney Park will be closed for the next couple of days due to a few trees that had blown over in the park and in the parking lot. The most action has been from fly guys in floating from Dodge to Oxbow Park with a few fish being caught and bank guys up near Cedar Creek area.”
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!
River levels have fluctuated within reason, keeping both systems fishable for the foreseeable future. The weekend should hold promise, although we’re still a few weeks away from more consistent catches. As a general rule, higher flows call for larger offerings, lower flows require a more subtle approach.
Plunkers working Meldrum Bar should see improved catches in the coming weeks with a few upper Willamette bound wild fish also in the mix.
Northwest Oregon – Despite some early hiccups, the online licensing system seems to be functional at the moment. Convenience is certainly a nice feature, as I had the pleasure of tagging my first steelhead of the year, a 10-pound hatchery hen taken from the Wilson River on Saturday. The fish took a yarnie and small egg cluster just downstream of the Wilson River RV Park in ideal (but cold) conditions in the late morning. There was surprisingly few boats on the river for a Saturday.
Effort on the Nestucca jumped last weekend, with numerous boats in pursuit of that river’s hatchery quarry, but success didn’t quite justify the effort although conditions were ideal for a float here as well. Quality hatchery fish are being caught on both the Wilson and Nestucca systems, but better success rates are just around the corner.
The Trask is also putting out a few fish, mostly wild, for those willing to work for them. Higher flows justify a float higher in the system, such as Stone’s Camp to the upper Peninsula drift, but it’s highly advisable that first timers go with someone in the know before attempting this float on your own. You’ll find fewer people fishing here, but far fewer hatchery opportunities as well.
Hatchery workers continue to report low run sizes for early season streams such as the North Fork Nehalem and Three Rivers systems. Steelhead in these systems will start to be more interested in the spawning cycle than feeding, further compromising catch rates. In another few weeks, they’ll be more “bitey,” but they won’t be a high quality eating fish as most of their energy will go toward gonad production. Late-spawning bright hens are often caught without any eggs, but their flesh is still orange however.
Crabbing remains fair in Netarts Bay, more challenging in other estuaries as fresh water inundates the larger river fed waterbodies.
No sign of subsiding seas, where ample numbers of lingcod and sea bass await motivated anglers. Commercial crab gear is now officially deployed and the fleet is picking their bounty. Early indicators show slower catches than last year, not a big surprise.
Central and Eastern Oregon – From ODF&W
A few winter steelhead are entering the Hood River. While the run won’t peak until March, anglers can expect a few bright fish as early as this month.
Rainbow trout broodstock have been stocked in North and South Twin lakes recently, and anglers report excellent fishing in South Twin.
Trout fishing in the upper ends of the Deschutes and Crooked River arms of Lake Billy Chinook is typically good in the winter months.
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.
Ice fishers have found success at Kinney Lake catching rainbows up to 16-inches.
Trout and whitefish fishing will be good on the Wallowa River throughout the winter.
Trout anglers should check out Willow Creek Reservoir, which typically stays ice-free and offers some good mid-winter trout fishing.
The Klamath River below Keno Dam remains the best bet in the Klamath Basin.
Rainbow trout are being caught in the Ana River.
Anglers are targeting hybrid bass on Ana Reservoir.
Yellow perch fishing has been fair on Dog Lake, where there are reports of 4.5 inches of ice. But it’s still early in the season, so please use extra caution when venturing out on the ice.
Ice fishing is underway on Pilcher and Wolf Creek reservoirs, where anglers are catching trout in the 10- to 15-inch range.
In the Hines District, anglers are taking advantage of good ice conditions on the Burns Gravel Pond, Chickahominy Reservoir and Malheur Reservoir. Anglers are reporting catches of some fish up to 18-inches on the Malheur R.
Southwest – From ODF&W
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.
Half-pounders are worth targeting on the middle Rogue throughout the winter from Lathrop downstream to Graves Creek.
The first winter steelhead of the season has shown up at Cole Rivers Hatchery on the Rogue. While the fishing will really heat up in February, there are early fish in the system and each rain pulse will put fish on the move.
There are winter steelhead throughout the mainstem Umpqua and the river might just come into shape for the weekend.
Anglers are catching hatchery and wild steelhead in the Coos and Coquille basins.
Reports of ice-fishers having some success on Diamond Lake. Always proceed with caution when venturing out on to the ice.
From Pete Heley at www.PeteHeley.com
Crabbing at Half Moon Bay continues to be better than expected.
The South Jetty continues to fish well when conditions allow anglers to fish it.
Recent rains have ensured that virtually every coastal stream has fair numbers of winter steelhead in them.
Tenmile Lakes seem to be the best winter largemouth fishery, but it is winter – a bass of less than three pounds was the heaviest bass landed in a recent bass tournament.
It will be several more weeks before lakes in our area start receiving trout plants – but if someone needs a quick “fix”, they might consider Junction City Pond, an eight acre pond located on the west side of Highway 99 just south of Junction City.
Washington – No new info from WDF&W, but HERE is the December 18th report.