Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update

Summer Blues in the Nearshore; Albacore Action is Improving

Willamette Valley/Metro – We’ve written off spring Chinook fishing, but last week, one reader wrote, “Glad the fish hanging out in the harbor this morning didn’t read this report. We caught 2 of em.” That came in on July 24th, shows you what I know.

But really, there will likely be more fish caught if the effort is put in, but it’s going to become even more challenging to expect success with warmer air and water temperatures, and the simple fact it’s time for these fish to get to their spawning grounds.

Summer steelheaders on the Columbia are finding some success as we near peak migration for upper basin bound fish. Over 2,300 summers passed Bonneville on Wednesday, but overall, only about 36,500 fish have passed altogether, over half of wild origin. With these numbers, anglers have had a hard time getting motivated to fish.

The summer Chinook run is waning as well but biologists have been pleased with the numbers. It’s making many of us think that the fall run may come in larger than expected as well. Canada’s COVID closures have apparently been good for Columbia River returns. Less sport and commercial effort on these fish may bear fruit for us after all.

Catch and release sturgeon fishing remains an option downstream of the Railroad Bridge by I-5 as well, but few are participating in this fishery.

The Clackamas has become more of a rafter’s playground than a fishing hole anymore. The warm weather has the raft hatch on full scale. There are some summer steelhead in the system, but very few anglers have them dialed in and even success rates for those elite is limited. We’re not optimistic that we’ll have much to look forward to during the coho run either.

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 and I hope that you and your family are doing well. This report is going to be on the short side. The latest info that I received from ODFW was that there is still fresh, bright springers showing up at the acclimation pond on the Bull Run and that the weirs on the upper river are showing bright natives entering them for brood stock program. The river is very low at 8ft and could drop into the upper 7’s. The river temp is running at 65 degrees and will only get warmer as the air temps climb. Spinners and bait have been the ticket as well as casting plugs. The water color will change as the day goes on. Make sure that if you decide to get out and fish, take some water with you so you can stay hydrated. Also when your out there if you see any garbage left by fisher people please take the time to pick it up for it will help with our cause to get access to private property. So wishing you all 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!

Brannan Hersh with a Buoy 10 Chinook coming in around 30 pounds

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North Coast Fishing Report – As freshwater fisheries (literally) dry up, anglers typically look west for ocean opportunities this time of year. We are on a short string of nice ocean weather days, but that doesn’t mean the fish will cooperate.

Starting with ocean coho, a bank of cold water continues to “freeze” inshore fish. Shoreline temperatures out of Garibaldi on Thursday (7/30) were a chilly 49 degrees. The trade winds that we’ve had the last few days are doing their job; providing good upwelling conditions, but slowing the metabolism of many fish species, making them largely unwilling to bite.

Bottomfishing remains strong out of most ports and the interest should be there. ODF&W bumped the daily limit to 7 rockfish per person and many people have been taking their limits without much trouble.

It was slow for halibut last week. Rough seas kept most anglers in port but there were a few fish for the brave souls that fished the all-depth and nearshore fisheries, but catches were predictably unimpressive. That should change this week with a nice ocean and hopefully hungry halibut.

Ocean crabbing remains fair with a bunch of molting softshells in the catch. It will be another 6 weeks before condition improves.

Nothing has changed for freshwater fishermen. Spring Chinook is effectively over, summer steelheading is challenging on the Wilson, Nestucca and Siletz Rivers and sea-run cutthroat opportunists are next to non-existent.

The best thing going may be Nehalem Bay, where the summer Chinook run is underway. Catches have been fair at best, but will improve in the coming weeks.

We know it’s not safe to assume, but anglers need to be reminded that the Buoy 10 fishery will NOT open up on August 1st, as is traditionally the case. We’ll have to wait until the 14th of August before we get a crack at them.

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

It’s been a hot week in the central and eastern part of the state and it’s also been pretty crowded with valley residents coming over to camp, fish and recreate.

Metolius River –  July and Early August are usually the toughest months of the year on the metolius.  The combination of crowds, fishing pressure and lots of sun on the water tend to put fish down and make them skittish.  This isn’t to say you won’t catch fish,  several anglers caught some real nice rainbows this week, but you need to work for them and figure your best fishing will be early and (especially) late. 

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

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.   

CrookedRiver –  It’s a good summer bet anytime!  Caddis, Renegades, midge, and mayfly patterns all work here.  Size is usually the most important factor and then color. 

The Fall River – It’s good but it’s been very popular.  Size 18 and 20 dark colored nymphs and flashback PT’s are taking fish. Evening  fishing is best with BWO’s, Caddis and terrestrials the top flies. 

Crane Prairie – It’s good.  I’d fish it early though as the water is going to warm up enough to make it dangerous to the trout if you’re going to catch and release them.  It’s just my opinion, but the trout seem to be of poor table fare in Crane once it gets warm. 

Hosmer – I’d skip this fishery – when it’s this hot it draws too manypaddle boaters.  If you fish it, fish the evenings. Damsels are active so nymphs are essential fish will crush adults.  Alder flies are hatching (Black Elk Hair Caddis is a good match) and Balanced Leeches are also a great bet at Hosmer.

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!   East should be a top pick this week with hotter weather down below.

John Day River -It’s low and ultra clear! It’s really beautiful right now and will remain so until a big thunderstorm drops a bunch of rain and muddy’s it up  Fishing rusty brown and green buggers and blacks too will be great. 

You can reach Tim by emailing him at: tim.moran18@gmail.com

SW Oregon – From avid angler Tim Moran:

The McKenzie We’ve been seeing very good fishing over on the “Mak” using a combination of Dry/Dropper, match the hatch dries (PMD, Epeorus, Caddis, Stones, Terrestrials), Nymphs and Euro Nymphing techniques. Fish early. It’s mostly over by 9am.

 Rogue River –  It’s officially summer steelhead season on the Rogue! This is our favorite time of year and the next 4 or 5 months are the best fishing we see here in beautiful southern Oregon. We are starting to see our first decent push of steel getting into the upper Rogue, and fishing will just get better and better thru November.

Umpqua River – Bass fishing is awesome right now throughout the main stem and the south fork. Flies with rubber legs, 3 and 4 inch plastics, small spinners and worms are all take bass. This is the time of year you can catch 100 bass a day!

Diamond Lake – Fishing has continued to be good at Diamond Lake. Bug hatches at times have been prolific, so much so that when they are it actually slows the bite as fish gorge on the flies.

Ten Mile Lakes – Bass are up on the shorelines early and you can reach them with spinnerbaits and topwater plugs.

Southwest streams – Steelhead are in the Coos, Elk, Sixes and Chetco along the other area streams and fishing for them is fair. There are also Sea Run Cutthroat’s in the systems too and they are fun to target by trolling or bobber fishing with a piece of sand shrimp.

Have a safe and enjoyable weekend everyone! And don’t forget, firsthand reports from you – the reader – are great and will be incorporated into these reports.

You can reach Tim by emailing him at: tim.moran18@gmail.com

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.

Summer steelhead photo by Terry Otto

Vancouver Metro area

The ocean salmon fishery in Marine Area 1 closed on Monday.

Saturday, August 1, has traditionally been the official start of the fall salmon season in the Columbia. Not this year however. Despite anglers catching good numbers of steelhead and a few Chinook, the mark rate for the steelhead has been a little disappointing. Bank anglers fishing off southwest Washington beaches are finding fish by plunking with standard fall Chinook fare, including wobblers, plugs, and Spin-n-Glos. Action in the tributaries continues to improve for some rivers, most notably the Cowlitz. Keep in mind however, that August 1st – 13th, from Buoy 10 to West Puget Island, all salmonid fishing is closed. The regulations are more complicated than ever before to be sure to check your reach of river BEFORE you go fishing, HERE.

Anglers looking for trout should focus on the big reservoirs and high-country lakes, while warm water anglers are doing very well in most local lakes with good populations of perch, bluegill, bass and crappie.

Lewis and Washougal River Fishing report

Fishing for steelhead in the Lewis River is peaking right now, although it is fair at best. Anglers are picking up a few steelhead 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.

The latest creel survey by the WDFW had three bank anglers with no catch. 8 boats/14 rods kept one steelhead and released one steelhead.

According to John Thompson of Sportsman’s Warehouse in Vancouver, (360) 604-8000, fishing in the Washougal has been all about catching the schools as they move in. Between these bursts the fishing has been poor. Anglers in the lower 3 miles of the river are finding just a few fish at Hathaway Park.

Swift Reservoir, Power Canal, and trout lakes fishing report

Trout fishing has been very good in Swift Reservoir and fair at the Swift Power Canal following recent stockings of rainbow trout. The canal received some of the extra rainbows from the cancelled kids fishing event at Merwin hatchery, and they are a nice sized fish. Trolling has worked well at the reservoir, while anglers have been getting trout by fishing Powerbait along the bottom at the canal.

Riffe Lake

Coho fishing continues to be good, and the fish are of nice size for landlocked salmon. Smallmouth bass fishing is now good for summer pattern fish. They can be found holding on deep water structure.

Merwin/Yale kokanee report

Anglers are having a tougher time getting their fish at Merwin, but the lake is still drawing crowds of fishermen every day. The fish have also been fickle, and anglers are struggling to find the right depths. According to Stacie Kelsey of the WDFW Inland Fisheries Program, anglers are needing to experiment each day to find the right depth, and even then, the fish sometimes will shift to other depths as they day goes on. 

Fishing is better at Yale, although the fish are not as large. The crowds are also a lot thinner at Yale.

Longview Area

Cowlitz and Kalama Rivers Fishing Report

Steelheaders are finding good success on the Cowlitz. Guide Dave Mallahan of Dave’s Guide Service (360-201-9313), reports that his most recent trip had his boat limited by 9 am. The river is also getting crowded, and Mallahan urges boaters to use caution. There was a boat collision on the river recently, and although no one was hurt, the accident highlights the dangers of fishing this water when its busy.

Fresh steelhead are still entering the river, and it seems to be peaking later than usual. Boat anglers are working the water by bobber-dogging small baits, and bank anglers are doing well fishing bobber and coon shrimp, or drifting baits. The schools are concentrating in the first few miles below Blue Creek, so that is where the anglers are concentrated.

Below the I-5 Bridge, WDFW personnel surveyed 31 bank rods last week that kept two steelhead. Above the I-5 Bridge 26 bank rods kept nine steelhead. 39 boats/139 rods kept 97 steelhead and released one jack and two sockeye.

Fishing in the Kalama is still only fair at best, but the run is peaking, so fishermen that know the river can pick up a few fish. The pressure is reportedly much less since the springer run has ended. Anglers are taking steelhead by pulling plugs, swinging spoons, and fishing bait or jigs below a bobber.  

Columbia River Gorge

Drano Lake, Wind River, and Klickitat River Fishing Report

Water temperatures at Bonneville Dam dipped early in the week, and that slowed the numbers of steelhead pulling in. Eventually temps rose to over 70 degrees F. Catches have remained low, and the fishing pressure has reflected that. It is a good idea to check the WDFW website for emergency rules changes and closures before you fish.

Steelhead are now entering the Klickitat River, but on hot days the river runs dirty and fishing is poor.

Goose Lake

No changes here. The lake is still fishing great, with fishermen taking rainbow and cutthroat trout on just about anything you want to fish with. Kastmasters, Rooster Tail Spinners, Powerbait, Berkley trout worms, and trolled baits are all taking fish right now.

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.