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Willamette Valley/Metro – Anglers remain focused on the Willamette River system, as we enter peak season for spring Chinook. Catch rates took a nice bump following the last river rise, and boaters from Oregon City through the Multnomah Channel scored fair to good results.

A new season structure goes into effect starting Monday. Here is the official press release:

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Tucker Jones, (971) 673-6067,
John North, (971) 673-6029,
Rick Swart, (971) 673-6038,

May 4, 2017

Chinook fishing days, bag limit reduced on lower Willamette

CLACKAMAS, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife today announced that salmon and steelhead anglers will be limited to a three-day-per-week schedule and a one Chinook bag limit in the lower Willamette River, effective Monday, May 8.

Under the new rules, until further notice Chinook and steelhead retention will be open three days a week – Thursday, Friday, and Saturday – downstream of Willamette Falls, including the Multnomah Channel, Gilbert River, and the Clackamas River downstream of the Highway 99E Bridge. The daily adult salmonid bag limit is two hatchery fish, but only one may be a Chinook. The department did not modify current rules that allow the two-rod angling validation and use of barbed hooks.

The reduced season structure was implemented as a cautionary approach to managing the fishery in the face of continued low passage of both steelhead and Chinook salmon, according to Tucker Jones, ODFW’s Ocean Salmon and Columbia River Program manager.

As of May 3, only 51 adult spring Chinook had crossed Willamette Falls compared to the 10-year average of 7,558 Chinook; with a previous low passage at this date of 416 in 1993. To date, winter steelhead passage is 721 adult fish, compared to the 10-year average of 5,163.

“The cumulative passage at Willamette Falls is substantially lower than anything we’ve seen before,” said Jones, adding, “Water temperatures should be increasing and we hope to see passage improve dramatically. If this happens, and other signs improve, we might loosen restrictions but if poor counts continue, an outright closure might be warranted.”

Current regulations for the Willamette River and tributaries upstream of Willamette Falls and Clackamas River (upstream of the Hwy. 99E Bridge) remain unchanged. Chinook and steelhead retention remains open under permanent rules, and the previously adopted two-rod angling validation remains in effect.

For more information, visit ODFW’s online Willamette Zone Regulation Update Page.


Passage at Willamette Falls remains dismal, although there was good fishing in Oregon City on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Sturgeon fishing in the Willamette is still a strong option, and will likely remain that way from Milwaukie through the harbor, through the spring months.

The Columbia remains closed and passage remains low here as well.

Sandy and Clackamas River anglers still have a bit longer to wait before hopes rise for spring Chinook and summer steelhead. Although it’s certainly not too early for a feasible attempt, river levels remain high due to snow melt on the Sandy, and the Clackamas River run seems to be peaking later each and every year. Anglers should expect some fish in these systems, just not enough for a reasonable expectation.

There will be a lot of trout planted this month in the district, you can find the stocking schedule here.

An upper basin report is unavailable this week, due to writer Michael Teague on medical leave for a short period of time. With Willamette Falls fish passage so pathetic, there really aren’t pursuable fish in the McKenzie or Santiam River systems. That is of course, unless you’re in pursuit of trout.

Northwest – Spring Chinook have made a surprisingly early showing in the district. Catches in the upper bay (Tillamook) were decent last week, and fish moved into the Trask although only nominal results are being reported. There is a growing interest at the Hatchery Hole, where anglers are only allowed to use bobbers in this reach.

Tillamook Bay itself is switching to a softer tide series, so interest should shift to the lower estuary this coming weekend. The ocean looks “iffy” for offshore recreational opportunity this weekend. The halibut opener is just a week away. Charter boats did get out earlier this week, and reported good catches of sea bass and lingcod.

There may be an occasional summer steelhead available in the Nestucca and Wilson Rivers. Water conditions are ideal; catch rates are not.

A busy week of trout stocking here too. Go here to find the district’s schedule.

Crabbing both in the estuary and in the salt is becoming increasingly more challenging.

Southwest – A SW region report is unavailable this week, due to writer Michael Teague on medical leave for a short period of time.

Eastern – An Eastern Oregon report is unavailable this week, due to writer Michael Teague on medical leave for a short period of time.

SW Washington – From the WDF&W web site:

Cowlitz River – Fish are still being caught throughout the river. 75 bank anglers kept 11 adult and 1 jack Chinook and released 1 steelhead and 1 sturgeon. 20 boat anglers kept 2 jack Chinook, 1 steelhead and released 1 cutthroat and 4 sturgeon.

Mainstem and North Fork Lewis River – Little to no effort during the current hatchery steelhead season. 1 bank angler had no catch. A dozen hatchery summer run steelhead had returned to the facilities through April 26.

Washougal River – No report on hatchery steelhead angling success from the Mt. Norway Bridge downstream. However, 4 hatchery summer run steelhead had returned to Skamania Hatchery through April 22.

Wind River – Light effort and catch. 12 boat anglers had no catch.

Drano Lake – 167 boat anglers kept 21 adult Chinook and released 2. About 40 boats here last Saturday morning.

Klickitat River – 1 bank angler kept 1 steelhead.

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