Willamette Valley/Metro – More reports of spring chinook are coming in from the mainstem Columbia. Although far from good fishing, good water conditions, great weather and angler effort is contributing a perceived increase in angler success. The trend is likely to continue as we near mid-March and higher concentrations of mostly Willamette bound chinook enter the mainstem Columbia and Willamette itself. Anglers are also taking better numbers of steelhead along lower Columbia beaches as we near peak migration for late winter run steelhead.
Water flows at Willamette Falls are decreasing daily. Readings have dropped from 13,300 cfs to 11,200 cfs in the first five days of the month. The water temperature has been fairly steady in the high 40s. Fishing would improve with a little warmer water. McKenzie flows have been stable this week. Few hatches are occurring save for the occasional Blue-Winged-Olive appearance. North Santiam flows have been on a steady drop this week and this trend is forecast to continue until the next front passes through. Water levels are low and running clear on the Clackamas River. As a result, winter steelheading slowed over the past week although anglers have hooked fish on occasion. The Sandy River has been running clear but not as low as one might expect given the lack of rain recently. As of Thursday, March 5th, it is still just over nine feet and about 1,350 cfs at the city of Sandy. The winter steelhead return at the hatchery is up to nearly 1,000 fish.
Northwest – Steelheaders continue to ply the waters of the NW district and are coming up with fair catches of late winter steelhead despite low water conditions. It appears as if the low, clear flows will continue to persist in what has been an unusually dry winter.
Catches are certainly sporadic but anglers working the lower reaches of many of the north coast systems are finding fresh pods of fish entering the system. The Nestucca and Wilson are still harboring hatchery fish options while the mainstem Nehalem and Trask remain top district options for wild fish.
The offshore conditions should again permit saltwater anglers to pursue rockfish, especially lingcod and sea bass. There has been some phenomenal saltwater action in this underutilized fishery thus far. Ocean crabbing continues to disappoint. Estuary crabbing is even more dismal.
Offshore chinook season is approaching with final seasons set to be adopted in the coming weeks. More good action is expected this spring and summer for both chinook and coho. Chinook will be most easily targeted south of Newport.
Southwest – Charters out of Depoe Bay over the past weekend enjoyed friendly seas and ling cod anxious to devour offerings. Boats launching out of Newport or Depoe Bay should have no problem getting offshore over the coming weekend and beyond. This time of year, temperate coastal lakes are warming to the point that warm water gamefish become active. Many of the south coast winter steelhead have spawned by now so catches will contain at least some ‘kelts,’ or fish that nave spawned and are heading back down river. Crabbing has improved at Winchester Bay. The Umpqua system which has been flowing not just low but also cold, has slowed.
Fishing for redtail surf perch has been good and is expected to improve off beaches near Gold Beach. Following a flurry of activity early this week on the Rogue from the freshet resultant of rainfall over the past weekend, waters have once again dropped and cleared. Last weekend’s rain did little for skinny flows at the Chetco, which have only continued to deteriorate. The Elk and Sixes are too low and clear which means they are not fishing well.
Not only is the surface of Diamond Lake free of ice, the banks are free of snow according to a report on Wednesday this week. Fishing is slow to fair with very little pressure.
Eastern – Blue Winged Olives will remain the predominant pattern for redsides on the clear waters of the lower Deschutes.
Fly fishing is expected to be good on Crooked River in March with Blue-Winged Olive patterns, orange scuds and midges.
Harriet Lake has been producing good catches of trout.