Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update

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Ocean Coho Cools Along With the Pacific; Columbia River Summer Steelhead is Back!

Willamette Valley/Metro – Most would have given up on Willamette River spring Chinook by now, and many have, but catches are still coming for the fishery that just won’t quit. Although creel programs are “wrapped” for the year, Portland Harbor trollers are still out in fair numbers, catching some fish in the dawn’s early light. Avid angler Lee Richie reported catching 2 natives and a jack on Thursday (7/16) and saw another 5 or 6 caught for about 50 boats. He put in at 4:30 a.m. so you can see how the early bird gets the worm.

There’s still a few shad and salmon anglers in the downtown and Oregon City area, both are catching an occasional springers and shad.

Mainstem summer Chinook fishing has remained most productive in the Bonneville reach and summer steelhead action opened back up today (7/16) and will continue through the end of July. Just in time for a nice set of tides this weekend. Catches for both species are less than impressive. Sockeye salmon retention remains CLOSED.

The Clackamas remains bleak, your chances are much better on the Willamette River, and that ain’t sayin’ much.

HERE is the state-wide status list of open and closed state parks. The map is getting more green and less red on it. We’re coming out of lockdown!

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN reports, “Hello All.  This week’s report has some nice springers being caught still in the mid and upper river. Oxbow park and Dodge park have been the most productive areas when targeting springers. The river is at summer time levels and will drop another couple of inches over the next few weeks. The current level is 8.2ft and will more than likely drop below 8ft. There isn’t a lot of current so look for areas that have deep pools and areas that will have broken surface tension. There is some steelhead still available and the best place to find them is upper river. With the warmer weather you can expect to see more rafters and swimmers on the river. So wishing you the best of luck and tight lines.”

See the full version of Jeff’s, Tim’s and Bob’s reports by becoming a paid member here. It’s just $0.50 cents per week!

North Coast Fishing Report – After a blistering start for ocean coho out of Astoria, action has slowed following limit fishing last week. When the normal trade winds started back up again a few days ago, ocean water temperatures dropped significantly, and fish scattered. Reports from this morning (7/16) were dismal, with guides reporting few bites and looking for bottomfish to fill their fish boxes. Despite great tides for bottomfishing on the south and sunken jetty, it was also challenging for some on Thursday. Winds were calm on Thursday, but it’s been a rough few days this week, keeping many from traveling to long-away places, particularly for bottomfish south of Tillamook Head. The Chinook bite off of the Long Beach Peninsula remains non-existent. One guide reported one bite on Thursday morning, after a pretty significant effort.

Catch and release sturgeon fishing remains excellent from the Astoria/Megler Bridge to Miller Island. We had excellent action earlier this week for fish in the 4 – 6 foot range at “Millpond,” which is close to the Oregon shore just upstream of the East End Mooring Basin. Fresh anchovies is really the only option for anglers, and they are available in Astoria bait shops. World Class Fishing in the West End Basin is where I get my bait (503-741-1407) call before 2:00 p.m. the day before your fishing trip!

Salmon fishing out of Garibaldi has been slow but Winchester Bay, Newport and Depoe Bay (in that order) has been producing good catches of mostly coho, but some Chinook as well. The collective quota south of Cape Falcon was at about 20% on the 14th, around 56% for the North of Falcon fishery (out of the mouth of the Columbia).

Bottomfishing remains excellent for most coastal ports and to prove it, ODF&W just expanded the ocean catch limits to 7 for rockfish, in addition to your two lingcod. China, quillback and copper rockfish must be returned unharmed now however. HERE is the official press release.

Ocean crabbing is excellent, but many of the keeper-sized crab are in a softshell state. Be choosy on the crab you retain. Bay crabbing is producing better catches of quality crab, just not as many. Tillamook and Nestucca estuaries are productive, Nehalem somewhat too.

And speaking of Nehalem, Chinook are being caught in Nehalem Bay as the summer Chinook run gets underway. The mouth is producing the better catches on these soft tide series, but Wheeler has also booted out a few nice Chinook to trollers working the area.

Tillamook springers are done, and freshwater fishing is challenging with the low, clear and warm water. Summer steelhead numbers have been low in the Wilson, Nestucca and Siletz systems and spring Chinook are about done for the Trask and Nestucca systems. The Siletz does have some fresh-run Chinook around, but it too is challenging fishing.

Sea-run cutthroat trout should be available in nearly every estuary and tidewater, but few fish for them anymore.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports – From our friend Tim Moran:

Tim’s report is the same as last week, as Tim prepares for knee replacement surgery this week. We wish him a speedy recovery!

This weekend I was in Central Oregon and hit a few places and talked with some of the local guides and fly shops.  It was an amazing week with cool mornings and really moderate temps in the 70’s.  Perfect fishing weather (and the wind finally subsided).  I personally fished my favorite river in summer, the John Day, Crane Prairie and Fall River.  Meanwhile over on another great western trout stream…

 Metolius River – Fishing is good but crowded. PMD’s, late afternoon BWO’s, some Mahogany Duns, Yellow Sally’s, Golden Stones and plenty of Caddis. Rusty Spinners at dusk.

Lower Deschutes –  Caddis patterns dominate most of the day, but PMD and Pale Evening Duns will intermittingly be what the trout want.

Upper Deschutes – Fishing has been good but very crowded.  This little stream is getting too much pressure so I’d give yourself and the fish  break and stay away for awhile. 

The Middle Deschutes – from Bend to Lake Billy Chinook  – Caddis and mayflies (PMD, PED, BWO) will be your dry fly hatches. Top Middle D flies (dry) for this time of year are X caddis, Renegade, Purple Haze and small Parachute Adams.

The McKenzie is one of our guiding hot spots all summer and fall and our guide team has been seeing very good fishing over there using a combination of Dry/Dropper, match the hatch dries (PMD, Epeorus, Caddis, Stones, Terrestrials), Nymphs and Euro Nymphing techniques.

Crooked River –  It’s running high and we don’t know why…300 CFS. The CR usually doesn’t fish well in higher flows due to the moss getting stirred up and making the fishing tough.  I’d watch the flows here and wait for them to slow down.

The Fall River – We fished the river for a few hours on Saturday and picked up a few nice fish on small (18 and 20) dark colored nymphs and flashback PT’s. It was getting busy by 9am with people even walking in just below and above us so rather than get pissed we went looking for quieter water…there were at least 2 cars in every pullout by 10am so we punted and went in search of breakfast and a Bloody Mary!  It was a holiday weekend so no use in getting upset.  I wanted to go back in the evening and for the  BWO, Caddis and spinners but a steak and a couple bottles of red wine shut down that craving.  

Crane Prairie – Everyone told me that it had sucked for almost a week due to strong winds but it was calm and beautiful Sunday and we caught a bunch of fish on damsel nymphs and small leeches in maroon and black/brown.  I stopped in at Stillwater Fly shop in Sunriver and had a great visit with the owner, Brett Dennis.  Bret is as passionate about fly fishing as anyone I’ve ever met. He’s also friendly and isn’t shy about sharing info on all the lakes and rivers in the area.  The shop has the best selection of rods and reels I’ve ever seen and his prices were really competitive. If you’re looking for gear, information or a guide for the area Brett is someone I’d talk to.  Stillwater Fly Shop 541-598-7322. 

Hosmer – After 10 am it has been taken over by the paddle boat navy so fish it early (sun up to 10am) or after 6pm to dark. 

East Lake – Good this week again with Callibaetis and beetles and ants. Leeches, chironomids and prince nymphs all work great here too but if you can catch them on top Why not! 

John Day River – We drifted it Thursday and Friday and it was nice to see that with flows dropping to under 1000 cfs, the hordes of rafters were gone.  We actually got a parking spot at the Clarno bridge!  Fishing was really good on rusty brown and green buggers.  The Smallmouth were gorging on crawfish and you could see them puking out the shells on the way to the net.

Lake Billy Chinook – Kokanee are deep and downriggers are the best way to get to these fish.  Got a report that Smallmouth Bass fishing was very good.  pitching small crankbaits, twister tail grubs and flies into the rocky points and banks was really good.  So was trolling these same areas with a little twitch now and then.

Don’t forget that the smaller towns in Central /Eastern Oregon need your business so buy local if you can – even if it’s a little more.  I always try to get a hat, some flies or a tippet, anything while visiting the fly shops.  All of these guys are small entrepreneurs and your purchase means a lot more to them than it does to the big box chains.  Have a great week of fishing and stay safe and healthy! 

If you have a report you’d like me to share you can email it to me at tim.moran18@gmail.com 

Good luck everyone! 

ODF&W reporting for SW Oregon –

3 places to catch trout this weekend:

  • Fishing at Floras and Garrison lakes continues to be good. 6/24/20
  • The higher elevation lakes along Hwy 140 such such as Fish Lake and Four Mile Lake, Willow Lake near town of Butte Falls, or Howard and Hyatt in the Rogue, offer scenic and more tranquil fishing experiences. Howard Prairie currently has all bag limits for all game fish being suspended due to low water. 6/24/20
  • Diamond Lake continues to produce good numbers of trout including some larger than 20 inches. 7/15/20

Where water temperatures have gotten warm enough, fishing for bass and other warmwater species has been improving.

Water temperatures for many of the area lakes in the Coos, Coquille, Tenmile District are in the lower 70s. Largemouth bass and bluegills are in their summer patterns, which means fishing will be best in the mornings and late evenings.     

Places to fish for bass this week:

  • Anglers wishing to catch some bass can consider Garrison or Floras Lakes. These lakes don’t have large populations, so anglers will have to work to get a bite. 6/24/20
  • Places like Ford’s Pond and Cooper Creek Reservoir remain good options for bass.  7/15/20
  • Bass fishing at Lost Creek and Emigrant has been very good. Lost Creek will be great through August.
  • The South Umpqua is a great place to fish for smallmouth bass.  There is no limit on this species here and fishing can be fantastic. 7/8/20
  • Summer Steelhead fishing is a great time in the North Umpqua. Fly anglers have been hitting it hard for a chance at these fun fish. 7/15/20

Anglers have a couple options for fishing on south coast streams and rivers. Anglers looking for spring Chinook should start look to the Rogue. Summer steelhead should be in both the Rogue and North Umpqua.

Anglers wishing a little solitude can walk one of the smaller coastal creeks fly- or spinner fishing for coastal cutthroat. Water temperatures are still good in most small to medium-size streams, but conditions may change as the summer progresses and water levels drop and temperatures warm.

All tributaries to larger river systems such as the Rogue, Applegate and Illinois are closed to fishing, unless noted in the regulations exceptions section of the SW Zone.

Rivers and streams to fish this week:

  • Rogue River bay is starting to put out some chinook for anglers trolling anchovies.
  • Anglers reported good trout fishing on the West Fork Millicoma and other streams in the Elliott State Forest over the weekend.
  • The Rogue River and tributaries above Lost Creek Reservoir should be a good place to target trout throughout the summer. Trout are stocked weekly from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
  • Summer steelhead are starting to pick up in the Rogue as 112 swam into the hatchery last week. It’s a bit slower than the last four years, but it is still early in the run. Only adipose fin-clipped trout and steelhead may be harvested this time of year on the Rogue.
  • Thanks to new temporary regulations in Coquille River system, anglers can now use bait, spears and spear guns to harvest smallmouth bass. This unique fishing opportunity is one of many efforts to reduce the impact of illegally introduced bass on Chinook populations. 7/15/20

SW Washington –  Terry Otto has put together another smashing report for SW Washington. What you will read below is an abbreviated version of what Terry’s “FULL VERSION” report will look like in the months ahead. Sign Up for Terry’s PAID version that started last week. With this level of detail, you won’t want to miss a single week! It’s JUST $0.32 cents per week! Here’s Terry’s summary for this week. SUBSCRIBE to the full SW Washington version HERE!

Covid-19 Update

Anglers are still being asked to follow state guidelines and health advice for the COVID-19 pandemic by fishing in their local communities, traveling only with family or other members of their immediate household, and practicing physical distancing by keeping six feet apart.

For updates on the pandemic, check the WDFW Covid-19 webpage HERE.

Ocean salmon photo by Terry Otto

Vancouver Metro area

On July 15th the states decided to keep the Columbia River mainstem open to the retention of hatchery Chinook and steelhead until the end of the month. Only one steelhead may be kept within a two adult daily limit.

Anglers have had less success for Chinook lately, as most of the run has now passed through. Anglers did well by employing fall Chinook techniques, such as stationary fishing with plugs, wobblers, and Spin-n-glos tipped with coon shrimp. Trollers have had much less success. Steelhead fishing has picked up in some tributary streams, most notably the Cowlitz.

According to the WDFW, trout fishing in the lowland lakes is over, but high elevation lakes and the reservoirs are still producing nice trout. Bass fishing is very good in Carlisle Lake, Lacamas Lake, and fair in Silver Lake.  Yellow perch and other panfish are biting well in Lacamas and Silver Lake.

Lewis and Washougal River Fishing Report

Steelhead fishing has improved some on the North Fork Lewis River over the last two weeks, but is still rated poor to fair at best.  The most recent creel survey had 19 bank anglers striking out, and 3 boats/8 rods keeping three steelhead and releasing two jacks.

There has been little change in the Washougal River Fishing. Only a few fish are being taken by anglers that know the river well. There may be a slight improvement this week, since other tributaries are seeing an influx of fresh fish.

Merwin and Yale kokanee Fishing Report

Fishing pressure remains high at Merwin for kokanee, and the fishing has suffered some overall as a result. The WDFW reports fishing is fair, with some anglers still finding some very nice-sized fish, but limits are taking longer to collect. Cody Clark of Bob’s Sporting Goods in Longview, (360-425-3870), said that some anglers are reporting that the fish have moved deeper in the water column. Merwin was also recently stocked with large rainbow trout and those fish are biting well.

The pressure at Yale is less, and although the kokanee there are typically smaller than at Merwin, the fishing is still reported to be good. 

Swift Reservoir

Trout and salmon fishing continue to be good at Swift. With trout shutting down in the lowland lakes, reservoirs such as Swift and Mayfield will be the go-to areas for trout during the summer months. Fishing should remain strong through the fall.

Mayfield Lake

The lake has been well stocked with rainbow trout and is fishing very well. It should fish well all summer.

Longview Area

Cowlitz River Fishing Report

Steelhead fishing improved quite a bit this last week, with Dave Mallahan of Dave’s Guide Service (360-201-9313), reporting that catches were markedly better. He was getting 5 to 7 fish a day through last weekend. “During the week the fish were all spread out,” said Mallahan. “You could go to any hole and feel confident to hook one.” Fishing is definitely better above the I-5 Bridge. The most recent WDFW creel survey had 42 bank anglers above the bridge keeping 10 steelhead, and 12 boats/30 anglers kept 26 steelhead. Below the I-5 Bridge 91 bank anglers only kept 5 steelhead.

Kalama River

Catches slipped a little over the last week in the Kalama after a better bite the week before. However, the Kalama has disappointed all spring. The WDFW creel surveys this past week posted no fish.

Carlisle Lake

Largemouth bass fishing is very good in this small impoundment.

High country trout photo by Terry Otto

Columbia River Gorge

Panfish and bass are biting in the many backwater lakes along the Washington side of the Gorge, and should provide excellent action through the summer months. Smallmouth are also available in these underfished lakes. Some of the better opportunities can be found in Rowland Lake, Tunnel Lake, Ash Lake, and Grant Lake, but all of the backwater holes will produce.

Drano Lake, Wind River, and Klickitat River fishing report

Fishing continues to be slow in Drano Lake and the Wind River. Pressure is also very low. The WDFW weekly surveys found no catch for only three anglers. A few summer steelhead are showing in the Klickitat River. However, hot weather will bring poor conditions this week, and that could affect the bite. 

Goose Lake

Trout fishing remains excellent at Goose Lake, especially in the morning. Both bank and boat anglers are getting their share, with fish being caught with dough baits such as Berkley Powerbait fished on the bottom or spinners and flies casted or trolled. 

If you like what you see, send it to your friends in SW Washington! You can email us at bob@theguidesforecast.com or Terry at orotto@wavecable.com. Your SW Washington fishermen can sign up for our FREE reports HERE or become a paid member to get even more quality fishing information HERE.