Early winter steelhead return

Willamette Valley/Metro Water level of the Willamette at the Falls is likely to be rising over the coming weekend. Try for sturgeon in the muddy water.

Despite rainfall in the area, the McKenzie River, which has been steadily dropping since the first of the month, came up only a little in the last couple of days and is in good color.

While the North Santiam is forecast to be virtually unaffected by rain this week, the South Santiam will rise a little over the next day or two, then settle right back down. Waters of the Clackamas are on the rise today but are forecast to start a drop, the trend of which is predicted to continue over the coming week. No winter steelhead catches have been reported.

Sandy River levels which have been a roller coaster since the first of December, are expected to continue in that manner. Cooler temperatures should equate to good water color, however. No winter steelhead catches have been reported.

Northwest – The early returning winter steelhead run is underway. The North Fork Nehalem hatchery is reporting good numbers of steelhead in their trap and success has been fair for the anglers working the hatchery reach of the North Fork. Although we use the North Fork as a gauge since fisherman put out an intense effort near the hatchery and the hatchery trap is often an indicator as to how many fish are around, other nearby streams will often mimic what we see at this facility. We’ll have a detailed description in our full-length version.

Chinook are still around the Tillamook district but given the unsettled weather in the region, there hasn’t been intense pressure pursuing them. It will mostly be steelhead from here on out although there should be another shot of chinook opportunity when Wilson and Trask River flows subside.

Big Creek, Gnat Creek, the Klaskanine and Necanicum Rivers in Clatsop County are strong steelhead options this week. The North Fork of the Nehalem, Wilson, Kilchis, Nestucca and Three Rivers will top Tillamook district streams for prospects.

A winter storm coupled with a high water event may knock out many north coast estuaries for crabbing but the lower Columbia still has some good options for keepers, amongst the commercial crab gear even.

Southwest– Rough ocean conditions have kept boats at bay recently and the forecast indicates there is little hope for improvement in the coming week. Grey whales will be making their annual migration over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays; get over to the coast to view these magnificent critters if you’re able.

Tenmile Lake has continued to produce table-quality coho. The wild coho fishery will remain open here through December 31st. Ocean crabbing opened on December 1st and despite high hopes for commercial crabbers, has been slow off the southern Oregon coast. Coos Bay is expected to continue to produce limits or near-limits of Dungeness despite rainfall this week. The Coquille River has started producing winter steelhead. While the Rogue River is currently rising, it is supposed to fall over the coming weekend. Winter steelheading is expected to be fair on the lower river. The middle and upper Rogue should produce fair to good summer steelhead catches. Chetco River anglers have been catching a mix of late-season Chinook and early winter steelhead. The freshet this week will facilitate the transition into winter steelhead season as Chinook jet upstream to spawn and additional winters enter the system.

Eastern – Steelheading is slow to fair on the lower Deschutes although the fish hooked are often large as there are B-run fish in the river. Trout fishing is slow. Winter kokanee fishing has been slow at Green Peter although kokes can be seen jumping in many places.