Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update January 4th, 2019

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For those having trouble tagging fish with the new ODF&W app, an update is available, go HERE to find more info.

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. It’s easy to forget the new year requirement, especially if you haven’t been out for a while.

Flows on the metro rivers are finally starting to subside, with steelhead season underway on both the Sandy and Clackamas Rivers. The Sandy saw a fair amount of effort over the last few days, with a few wild steelhead falling to anglers working jigs or casting flies. There have not been any measurable numbers of broodstock fish returning just yet, but it’s good to go out and get the kinks worked out before the main run shows later into January through February.

The Clackamas remains a fair bet, but like the Sandy, more reliable numbers will show come February. Clackamas anglers should focus their efforts downstream of Eagle Creek. As flows drop, so should the size of your offerings, be it bait or soft beads. Both should produce consistent results when fish show up.

Plunkers should have a fair option as Willamette flows drop at Meldrum Bar, just downstream of the mouth of the Clackamas. Bright colors and well scented lures such as spin-n-glos work best under these conditions. Tipping offerings with sand shrimp is also a good idea in more turbid water.

Sturgeon will remain a great option in the Portland Harbor with frozen anchovies, herring or smelt working best. Fresh sand shrimp are always a good option.

District lakes remain a good winter break option for youngsters to participate in. Be sure to bundle them up well so they don’t have bad memories of what winter fishing is all about. Better winter steelhead fishing is just around the corner.

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN guide service reports, “Hello all,  I hope that everyone was able to survive New Years Eve. This week’s report has some positive news. I floated the river on the 1st and we had one take down on a plug. We floated the river from Oxbow to Dabney and the river was at perfect height and color. The river took a hugh jump on Saturday and climbed to 13.84ft and the next couple of days, the river dropped with cool weather and on the 1st, the river was running at 10.85ft. Just before the jump in the river, the lower river had produced a few nice natives and one good-sized hatchery fish. There is fish spread throughout the river.

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!

Northwest Oregon – Some fine broodstock steelhead showed up for a few select anglers on the Wilson River on recently. Water conditions were ideal and fish into the mid-teens were caught. It’s a good sign for this early in the season as interest and success will grow into late February here. Pro guide Rob Gerlitz (503-812-4950) is averaging 2 to 4 chances on every trip, bobber-dogging soft beads for winter steelhead. Here is one of Rob’s clients with a Wilson River broodstock fish from January 3rd:

Don Van Wormer of Portland with a Wilson River broodstock steelhead from 1/3/19

The Nestucca wasn’t as productive, but both broodstock steelhead destined for the upper reaches of the Nestucca, and early season returnees headed for Three Rivers make the Nestucca a fair bet over the holiday break too.

Early season favorites such as the North Fork Nehalem remain disappointing. Hatchery workers have only seen around 100 fish to the trap so far this year. We’re in peak season for this system, so it’s as good as it’s going to get for fresh fish anyway.

Seas remain too rough for a bottomfishing option and the commercial crabbing fleet has dropped their gear for the season opener. Bottomfishing will be excellent when seas subside.

Whale watching is in full bloom right now. It’s a magnificent time of the year to visit the ocean beaches.

Lower Columbia River – Crabbing remains excellent if you get to the middle of the Columbia north of the buoy line on Desdemona Sands. That may change when the commercial crabbers drop pots in just a few days.

Steelheading in Clatsop County remains poor.

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.

Best bet in the Klamath Basin is the Klamath River below Keno Dam.

Rainbow trout are being caught in the Ana River.

Anglers are starting to target 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.

There is currently enough ice for ice fishing to be underway on Pilcher and Wolf Creek reservoirs.

From our friend Tim Moran:

Metolius River – Colder temps mean smaller windows but there are always a few fish to be had here in the winter. Bull trout continue to be the story on the Met. I’ve seen some recent fish tipping 12 lbs.

John Day River – I haven’t heard anything lately on the JDR. Fish are spread throughout but I’m guessing that like every other river in the basin, this one is not going to see the same numbers as years past. Definitely would be worth it though on a cloudy day!

Crooked River – Temps this week will keep the fish lethargic until the afternoon but we should get some decent fishing from 1 to 4 pm. Small dries with a small nymph dropper and double nymphs set up Euro style should take fish.

Fall River – The temps this week are cold and the ice will be forming in your guides so sleep in a little and have breakfast before you head out. Fishing will be best from 11am to 4pm.

This is the time of year where the best news is.. there isn’t much pressure on your favorite streams so get out there and get em!

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 be coming into shape for the weekend.

On the North Umpqua, winter steelhead picks up in January, though some fish are already being caught.

Anglers are starting to catch hatchery steelhead in the Coos and Coquille basins, but look for another rain to bring more fish into the river.

And on the ocean, bottomfishing should be decent if the ocean lays down.

Bottomfish anglers may now fish at all depths for the remainder of the year. Fishing for lingcod and rockfish has been good when the ocean is calm enough to fish. The daily bag limit for marine fish is 5 plus 2 lingcod. The retention of cabezon is closed until July 2019.

Anglers may also choose to fish the offshore longleader fishery outside of the 40-fathom regulatory line, which is open year round.

2019 Stocking schedule and STOCKING MAP

From Pete Heley at www.PeteHeley.com

The fish trap just below Eel Lake on Eel Creek was checked last week and had about 35 adult cohos and 50 jacks in it, most of which were quite dark. These salmon had to ascend Tenmile Creek for about three miles before heading up Eel Creek (which was virtually dried up a month ago). The salmon in the Eel Creek trap did not have to continue up Tenmile Creek, but easily could have reached the lake – an indication that some non-hatchery cohos did enter Tenmile Lakes this year.

Although the season is winding down, there are still some late-run fall chinook in the Elk and Sixes rivers and Floras Creek should have a few chinooks in by now as well. A 45-pound fall chinook was reported caught on the Chetco River two weeks ago.

Recently, the key to success on these streams has been hitting them when stream conditions are such that they are at their most fishable. The same can be said for any winter steelhead stream.

Wild (unclipped) steelhead will be legal to keep on several south coast streams with a daily limit of one unclipped steelhead and a seasonal limit of three unclipped steelhead. These streams are the Elk and Sixes rivers, Pistol and Winchuck rivers.

Crabbing has been surprisingly good in the lower portions of Coos Bay and the Umpqua River.

The ocean has been open to recreational crabbing since December 1st, but weather and bar and ocean conditions have not allowed many crabbers to try it.

Washington – No new info from WDF&W, but HERE IS the December 18th report.