Ocean Coho Fishing Remains “Chill,” Summer Steelhead Catches Fair
Willamette Valley/Metro – With the Willamette River spring Chinook season starting to taper, anglers are looking to the mainstem Columbia to satisfy their needs. Counts at Bonneville Dam are improving for summer steelhead and summer Chinook and sockeye are still passing, but in dwindling numbers. ODF&W’s Jimmy Watts had this to say about last week’s lower Columbia River catch, “Last week on the lower Columbia, anglers made 7,165 trips and caught 663 adult Chinook (345 kept and 318 released), 964 summer steelhead (479 kept and 485 released including hatchery fish released prior to July 16) and 187 sockeye (released).” The interest is certainly there, and although far from explosive, catchable numbers are present for anglers to take advantage of.
It seems sturgeon are vacating the Willamette and the shad run is effectively over. It’s a water skiers playground now, at least until September.
The Clackamas continues to disappoint even though we’re in peak season for summer steelhead at this time. The problem is, there’s very few to catch.
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. I hope that everyone is doing well even with the pandemic still causing more problems and more outbreaks. The fishing news for the Sandy is that it has slowed down and that there is more people on the river due to the hot weather and it being summer time. The best time to fish is in the early morning for the river banks are loaded with rafters and swimmers. The one thing that has happened over the last week or so, was there was some areas that were barricaded by ODOT that has since been re-opened. The area that I’m referring to is that guard rail area just before Tippy’s. Most of the fishing has been Oxbow to Dodge and upriver with limited bank access. The river is currently running at 8.22 and is glacial green to glacial brown.”
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North Coast Fishing Report – This just in, the fishery from Cape Falcon to Leadbetter Point closes effective COB on Sunday, July 26th. Although there has been some explosive fishing south of the mouth of the Columbia, it cooled down somewhat in recent days, but limits are still coming off of several boats. The fish have been far south and weekend weather looks too rough to make that run for one last chance at ocean chrome. There has been intermittent catches of Chinook off of the Long Beach Peninsula, but that too will no longer be an option come Monday. The Tule strain of Chinook are beginning to show. Be sure to check the weather forecast before you commit, winds look wicked by Saturday and Sunday.
With the minus tide series we’re just coming off of, lower Columbia River steelhead anglers working the beaches and wing jetties have been finding fair success on what is supposed to be a depressed return. Some Chinook are still in the catch, but steelhead catches will dominate the catch for the coming weeks, with some of the larger “B” run fish beginning to show.
Catch and release sturgeon fishing remains excellent on the lower Columbia, with very few fish under 4 foot in length. Anchovies remains the bait of choice and fishing is good from the Astoria/Megler Bridge to Miller Sands.
Further south, the ocean coho quota remains intact as fishing isn’t nearly as consistent as it has been north of Cape Falcon. Garibaldi has been poor and Depoe Bay and Newport have slowed from early July. Catches were very slow last week. Only 20% of the quota has been taken.
Bottomfishing remains the staple and offshore conditions kept some boats from halibut fishing last weekend.
Freshwater fisheries remain challenging for summer steelhead on the Wilson, Nestucca and Siletz Rivers and spring Chinook fisheries are winding down.
Few folks remained engaged on sea-run cutthroat trout, but anglers are able to retain a couple of fish daily on many watersheds. Most of the quality fish are in tidewater or the estuary right now with few other anglers in pursuit.
Ocean crabbing is challenging and not just for the few number of keepers that seem to be available. Many of the larger crabs are in the molt right now as well. Bay crabbing is slightly better and should improve when the tide exchanges soften.
Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports – From our friend Tim Moran:
Hello everyone, Good to be back getting you a report, I was on hiatus with a vacation and then a knee replacement surgery but I’m almost a week removed from that and back in the saddle! Special thanks to The fly shops in Central Oregon for their up to date reports and especially to The Fly Fisher’s Place in Sisters. If you need gear or a guide…this is a great place to start. A shout out to my buddies who aren’t afraid to give me info even though they know I’m sharing it with the fishing world! This week I have some great reports from Wickiup along with my theory on why it’s not the disaster I and others predicted….I hope you enjoy it!
Metolius River – Upstream on the headwater section to about Gorge CG there are good hatches of Golden Stones, yellow sally, PMD and Caddis. Clark’s Stones and Norm Woods Specials close to the banks and also casting them around the upper river log jams has been good. Euro Nymphing has been very productive too.
The Lower Deschutes caddis hatch is great. It doesn’t always mean the fish are eating them on top, so prepare with the Pupa deep and just under the surface and have a selection of emergers and caddis adults for the dry fly times. The evening when the sun gets off the water at dusk has been especially good.
The Middle Deschutes is fishing well from just above Bend down to Steelhead Falls and below to Lake Billy Chinook.
Fall River lots of pressure plus clear skies and sun equal spooky trout.
The Crooked River is fishing well, mostly on nymphs, but as the afternoon shadows hit the water, the fish will move into the shadows and eat the hatch that appears to be just hatching in the shadows.
It’s mostly PMD, BWO and some midges now, but keep an eye on Caddis and Rusty Spinners in the evening to dusk.
Crane Prairie – It was really good until they let about two feet of water out. It bounced back later in the week and fish were caught on damsel nymphs, damsel dries, balanced leeches. Crane has been a fish factory this spring and early summer but it’s about to heat up so fish early and late and don’t stress these fish too much.
Wickiup – I got two separate reports with pics to match, of good kokanee fishing at Wickiup. Fishing with Paulina Peak dodgers on top with pink and orange hoochies and a tuna and kokanee killer brine on your corn in the morning and then going deep after 9am to about 20 to 30 ft. An ounce and 60 pulls at 1.3 MPH will get you in the area. Beware of stump islands that come up fast or you’ll lose a lot of gear.
East Lake was good this week. Callibaetis hatches are ongoing. Beetles are taking some nice fish along the shorelines.
Paulina Lake – Don’t automatically pass this lake on your way to East Lake. Black and Red Zebra, or a Red 2 Bit Hooker, Callibaetis Nymph and Olive Balanced Leeches are all working.
Hosmer is crowded. Go early in the morning or the last 2 hours before dark. Damsels, Callibaetis, Ants, Traveling Sedge and Caenis are all hatching. The Millenial paddleboard navy shows up after 11am so go early or late or you’ll be frustrated!
Three Creeks Lake Again The PBN has found this place so I wouldn’t bother until the air gets cooler!
John Day River – The crowds are gone and if you have a pontoon or small raft you can have the canyon to yourself again! The water is low enough that the bass will hit almost anything but I like #4 and #6 bead head woolies in rust and green or poppers tossed towards the bank. These are the times when you can get 100+ fish days! Enjoy!
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Good luck everyone!
ODF&W reporting for SW Oregon –
2 places to catch trout this weekend:
- 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
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:
- Places like Ford’s Pond and Cooper Creek Reservoir remain good options for bass. 7/15/20
- Bass fishing at Lost Creek has been very good and will remain so through August. Target the submerged flats and points, where the years of willow planting and habitat enhancement by local bass clubs pay off this time of the year! 7/22/2020
- A recent report from a Lake Selmac angler noted that largemouth bass has been good, and that weeds aren’t terrible. 7/22/2020
- 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:
- In Rogue River bay, anglers are catching Chinook by trolling anchovies. 7/22/20
- Anglers reported good trout fishing on the West Fork Millicoma and other streams in the Elliott State Forest over the weekend. Most of the trout caught are under 8 inches long but there is an occasional bigger fish spotted. 7/15/20
- 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. Target calmer pools and pocket water for resting trout. Stocking sites are from Woodroof all the way upstream to Minnehaha Creek. 7/15/2020
- Summer steelhead are starting to pick up in the Rogue as 88 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. Fly anglers should choose darker flies this time of year. Gear folks can do excellent drifting nightcrawlers, get started early on a “bug and bubble”, or plugs from a drift boat. Shady cove to Touvelle are excellent floats. 7/22/2020
- Thanks to new temporary regulations in Coquille River system, anglers can now use bait, spears and spear guns to harvest smallmouth bass. Anglers using spears had some success harvesting bass on the South Fork Coquille River this past weekend. This unique fishing opportunity is one of many efforts to reduce the impact of illegally introduced bass on Chinook populations. 7/22/20
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!
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.
Summer steelhead photo by Terry Otto
Vancouver Metro area
Columbia River anglers are still encountering biting summer Chinook and steelhead, although catch rates now seem better in the tributaries, in particular the Cowlitz. High country trout lakes are still shining, and warm water fishing is going strong in Washington’s Region 5.
The ocean salmon fishery in Marine Area 1, (Ilwaco), may close after this weekend. It has been surprisingly good, leading many guides to speculate that this year’s projection for a poor Columbia River coho return may be wrong.
Lewis and Washougal River Fishing report
Fishing for steelhead in the Lewis River has improved and is peaking right now. While the river is underperforming compared to years passed, anglers are now picking up some steelhead on most days. Pulling plugs, drift fishing, and fishing bait below a bobber have been productive methods. Bank fishers are still landing a few steelhead at the hatchery, and boat anglers are finding the fish in the lower sections of the river, and in the golf course reach.
According to John Thompson of Sportsman’s Warehouse in Vancouver, (360) 604-8000, fishing has picked up just a bit in the Washougal. It is still fishing poorly for most anglers, but the river is peaking for summer steelhead right now. Anglers in the lower 3 miles of the river are finding a few fish at Hathaway Park.
Merwin and Yale Lakes Fishing Report
Kokanee fishing in Yale is really good according to Stacie Kelsey of the WDFW Inland Fishes Program, while the bite at Merwin has slowed. Pressure still remains very high at Merwin, as anglers try for those larger sized kokes. The fish run a little smaller in Yale. Trollers have been locating the fish in 30 to 60 feet of water and are using a wide variety of offerings to draw strikes.
Swift Reservoir, Power Canal, and trout lakes report
Trout fishing has been very good in Swift Reservoir and the Swift Power Canal following recent stockings of rainbow trout. The canal received some of the large rainbows from the cancelled kids fishing event at Merwin hatchery, and they are showing up in the catch.
Cowlitz River Fishing report
The steelhead run is peaking in the Cowlitz River. Guide Dave Mallahan of Dave’s Guide Service (360-201-9313), reports that his most recent trip saw 7 fish hooked for two anglers, and four of those were landed. He said most boats did well, in spite of the river levels fluctuating quite a bit over the course of the day.
“it was decent,” said Mallahan, “it’s probably about as good as its going to get unless there were less boats.” Over 600 steelhead returned to the hatchery last week, with Tacoma Power recycling 539 summer-run steelhead adults down to the I-5 launch.
The steelhead are taking a variety of offerings from the bank, including drifted baits, and bobber and coon shrimp. Boat anglers are still mostly bobber-dogging with eggs or shrimp. The action has been best from the Blue Creek stretch down to the Mission Bar. In last week’s creel surveys downstream of the I-5 Bridge, five bank rods kept two steelhead. Two boats/four anglers had no catch. Above the bridge 24 bank anglers kept 7 steelhead. 20 boats/73 anglers kept 75 steelhead and released two.
Kalama River Fishing Report
Steelheading picked up again in the Kalama this week, according to Thompson. The fish are arriving in spurts, and the fishing is better if you can catch those new fish coming in. Bobber and coon shrimp, and pulling plugs seem to be the best bet. Bank anglers are doing well in the Canyon, and near the lower hatchery. Boat anglers are finding fish in most floats below the rustic launch at the Red barn.
Columbia River Gorge
Drano Lake and Wind River Fishing Report
Columbia River water temperatures at Bonneville Dam climbed to 69 degrees Fahrenheit during this last week, which should be pushing more steelhead into the colder waters of Wind and Drano, but creel surveys this week still showed no catch.
This lake is still fishing great, and Thompson reports that fishermen are taking rainbow and cutthroat trout on just about anything you want to fish with. Spoons such as Kastmasters, Rooster Tail Spinners, Powerbait, Berkley trout worms, and trolled baits are all taking fish right now.
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