Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update

Buoy 10 Set To Explode, Halibut and Ocean Salmon Producing

Willamette Valley/Metro – Fall Chinook action is starting to heat up for metro area anglers. Although it’s likely the season will be closed before this mainstem Columbia metro fishery hits its stride, it appears as if the run is tracking ahead of last year, and even ahead of the 10-year average although it’s certainly early in the run.

Wobbler fishers are working the outgoing tide with best results coming from downstream of Warrior Rock. Trollers working the 360 degree flashers with spinners are also starting to post catches in the metro area. This fishery is volatile however, good one day, poor the next, for no rhyme or reason. It’ll be that way, even when peak migration is underway.

The Willamette is barren for now, but coho will start to appear next month.

The Clackamas is also barren with the slight exception of some summer steelhead. You had better hit it early if you have any expectations for success.

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, “Wishing everyone the best. This covid virus is taking its toll on folks. Please take it seriously. I have friend who came down with it and a family member of his passed away from it. This is a vicious virus and it takes no prisoner’s. So if you go out please make sure to wear a mask and give individual their six foot space.

The latest fishing report I have is that the river is running glacial green and that you will find tons of folk on the river from Dodge park all the way to Lewis and Clark state parks. Most of these folks are swimmers and rafters that will show up in the later part of the morning and stay until early evening. The current river level is 7.84 ft and water temp is around 65 degrees about two feet visibility.

Remember that the Columbia is only open on Friday Saturday and Sunday and you can keep chinook and hatchery clipped coho and all steelhead have to be released. So wishing everyone 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

Get ready for the abbreviated Buoy 10 season with TGF’s Successfully Fishing Buoy 10 for Chinook and Coho Salmon Webinar, still available for your viewing. Hosted by Bob and Doug Rees, we had a great turn-out for our 2nd webinar and for just $19.95, you can still learn all the secrets of Oregon and Washington’s most productive salmon fishery in just over 2 hours, we recorded it! SIGN UP NOW to get access to a Buoy 10 education of a lifetime – guaranteed! That’s right, if you don’t feel you got your money’s worth, we’ll give you a 100% refund! CLICK OVER HERE to find out more details and let us HELP YOU CATCH MORE FISH!

Columbia River Fishing Report – The Buoy 10 fishery opened with fairly productive fishing, although not as good as this writer had anticipated. Anglers had to work for their fish on opening day.

The tides were great for an all day option and anglers fished from Buoy 10 to Tongue Point, fishing fish throughout the system. Overall however, as can often be the case, sometimes you find them, sometimes you don’t. The first 3 days of the season produced good catches for me and much of the fleet, but the last 3 days have been challenging.

Those with accurate fish finders are claiming that bunches of fish are coming into the river, they’re just not that inspired to bite.

Most recently, anglers in the Buoy 10 reach that have been starting early on the screaming outgoing tide have not found much fortune. As I’ve outlined in our Technical Report Successfully Fishing Buoy 10 for Chinook and Coho Salmon, the stronger tides, especially the outgoing tides, rarely produce good catches for the fleet. In my opinion, fishing a minus outgoing tide is a waste of time.

That said, the more productive times of the tide haven’t been all that productive either. The standard times have produced some catches, but no time has produced spectacularly. The last trickle of outgoing has been fair along the green and red lines, from the church down to the Chinook wing jetties has produced some catches as well.

Although coho are starting to show in the catches, their numbers remain sparse. There is a mix of hatchery and wild fish and they are of significant size, there just isn’t many of them. The run isn’t expected to be large this year. The Chinook, especially during the opener, were running large, several over 20 pounds and some pushing 30#.

Thursday Update: Another day of tough fishing, although better than the previous two days. We got lucky with a 5-Chinook day, with 3 of the nice Chinook coming from the deep water just off the entrance to Chinook in 60 to 70- foot of water about an hour into incoming tide. Ironically, the back rods using 10 ounces of lead at 38 – 42 strips took almost all of the fish, when they often only produce on the outgoing tide, when fish are bottom-hugging to avoid the stronger currents in the upper water column. 

Upriver, anglers have been finding good success when pursuing Chinook. As is commonly the case, catches are sporadic day by day, but the wobbler fishery upstream of Longview is off to a good start. Passage at Bonneville is encouraging, with over double the fall Chinook passing this year than in 2019. We’ve even surpassed the 10-year average, which is a great sign that the run is under-predicted. The mouth of the Cowlitz has produced some good catches as of late, mostly from the anchor anglers bouncing out wobblers and waiting on anchor. Pro-trollers are catching some fish, but like the wobbler fishery, it remains inconsistent day to day. There is no one spot more productive than another and there is lots of room with the current openings throughout the river. Most anglers, whether fishing on anchor or trolling, are reporting lots of fish on their screens but most fish are reluctant to bite with just a few exceptions. This is about standard for the upriver fishery. It’s a bit early for productive Bonneville fishing, but some anglers are trying with the numbers going over the dam.

North Coast Fishing Report – Coho fishing and even Chinook fishing continues to surprise anglers fishing out of Newport and Depoe Bay. Water was cold close to shore so those venturing further offshore were finding some quality fish. Anglers have been justifiably impressed with the size of the fish this year. The rockpile has been consistent for larger Chinook.

The coho season is closed now, with nearly 40% of the quota under-utilized. Hopefully that enables us a slightly larger piece of pie for the September non-select season starting early in the month. Again, the fish are large!

Halibut fishing remains consistently good, but there aren’t many large ones crossing the docks. The nearshore fishery hasn’t been all that impressive. More halibut opportunity every week now, and bottomfish can be kept in conjunction with halibut starting September 1st. Impressive! See the press release HERE.

Nehalem Bay summer Chinook fishing is fading, but sporadic wins can still be had as we’re just past peak now. Coho should start to show in better numbers in the coming weeks.

It’s early for most other estuaries, but the Alsea, Siletz and Nestucca systems, as well as the Salmon should start to see some Chinook trickle in. Tillamook Bay is not out of the realm of possibility as well.

Estuary crabbing is fair, but should get better when tides soften.

The albacore are still far offshore, but with the string of south wind days, they should come closer in range when seas lay down a bit.

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

Metolius River –  A lightning caused fire is burning on the ridge above the river and Camp Sherman and several homes on the Metolius are at level 1 and 2 evacuation. The river is technically open but this would be a very good weekend to make other plans and stay away.  The fire is growing and shifting winds could drive the fire towards the river.  With so many Central Oregon options I would find another place to fish and stay out of the way. 

Lower Deschutes – Mornings and evenings in the Warm Springs to South Jct. drift has been very good. As the canyon warms and comes to life terrestrials like beetles, ants and hoppers become part of the diet and fishing these large flies with a dropper can be deadly.  When the sun gets off the water about 7pm Pale Evening Duns and caddis will be your go to flies.

Lower Deschutes Steelhead – It looks like good news for steelhead on the D this year as steelhead numbers are up and fishing has been good from the mouth to Macks Canyon. Fly fishermen are swinging dark colored (I like purple and dark red/black) at first light and going with that until the sun hits the water.  Spin fishermen are getting fish on all the usuals. Wobblers like steelies casted slightly upriver.

The Middle Deschutes – from Bend to Lake Billy Chinook  – Hopper – dropper’s, Caddis and mayflies. Top Middle D flies (dry) for this time of year.  Streamer fishing is very good too here for browns and rainbows.  This area is open to lures as well and casting small wobblers.

Crooked River –  It’s been fishing really good the last two weeks. Caddis, Renegades, midge, and mayfly patterns on top are all working.  Size is the most important factor and then color. 

The Fall River – With all the vacationers in Sunriver and the campgrounds in the high lakes full there is a lot of pressure on the river.  Look for areas that aren’t heavily fished. 

Crane Prairie – It’s good.  but with warm weather the fish are fragile so fish it early and late. Fish near the Deschutes and Quinn River channels.  While the warm water is hard on trout, the bass are thriving and active. Fish near the wood structure and work the backs of coves and out onto the points. 

East Lake – Paulina Lake – Callibaetis hatches are part of the morning ritual at both lakes. Right at daybreak stripping big “chub pattern” streamers near the shoreline will take brown trout.  Trollers will pick up fish trolling the lake edges.

Wickiup Reservoir – It’s very low  – 13% of normal – but fishing is very good for Brown Trout.  Stripping large streamers on sinking lines was very productive last week with browns to 10 lbs. caught.  Kokanee fishing has been good too and the fish are squeezed together.

John Day River –  You can access the river at several points between Kimberly and Cottonwood Canyon and you will find great bass fishing at all of them.  The river is low and you can walk across it in several places.  Water temps are in the mid 70’s so it’s really comfortable wading.  These are 50 to 100 fish days!  The river has an excellent population of Channel Cats too and you can target them in the deeper holes with worms or pieces of Pike Minnow.  These are excellent eating fish!         

Grand Ronde River –  Smallmouth Bass fishing and fishing for rainbows to 20″  has been good from Troy to Bogans. Bass are taking the usual offerings.

Imnaha River –  the mid section has been the most productive trout fishery.

SW Oregon – From avid angler Tim Moran:

The McKenzie – Guide Martin Thurber has been taking his clients out and limiting on planted rainbows in 1/2 day trips. He’s fishing with small egg clusters and worms behind a hotshots. Spring salmon fishing is done on the river.  

Detroit Reservoir – Fishing for kokanee is good trolling in 30 to 50 feet.  Downriggers are helpful for this fishery.  Using your fish finder electronics is key to finding the fish.

Rogue Bay – Fishing for Summer/Fall Chinook is starting to pick up in the bay. Fishing in the bay should improve through the month.

Umpqua River – Bass fishing is good throughout the main stem and south fork. Summer steelhead are present but fishing has been slow. Most anglers are awaiting the Fall chinook season which should get going soon in the bay.

Winchester Bay – Chinook are moving into the bay and fishing near the jaws with herring is starting to pick up. Bay crabbing was excellent the last two weeks with full pots of crab in mostly good condition. Salmon Fishing in the upper bay will improve soon too.

Diamond Lake – Fishing has been good for bait fishermen with powerbait. Rainbows will get up to 20 inches and Browns and Tiger trout will attack your flies. Be sure to release these as they are protected and there to control the chub population.

Siltcoos Lake – Fishing is good for Yellow Perch. Bass are up in the reeds and off the points. Fishing the pads and reed lines will all take Largemouth Bass to 5lbs.

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.

Buoy Ten success photo by Bill Monroe Jr

Vancouver Metro Area

With most guides and anglers fishing out at Buoy Ten the local Columbia River fisheries and tributaries are seeing less pressure. The Columbia in the Vancouver area and downstream is already giving up some Chinook salmon. This time of year, it is hard to beat the Pro-Troll approach, while anglers that are anchoring and fishing wobblers are doing well, too. 

For those targeting the Columbia, always check the regulations before you fish. For a full list of river sections and seasons, check HERE.

This week should see some of the first catches of fall salmon in the tributaries. In particular, the lower sections of the Kalama and Cowlitz rivers should see plenty of Chinook pulling in to escape the tepid waters of the Columbia.

Lewis River and Washougal River Fishing Report

Anglers fishing the Lewis River continue to catch just a few summer steelhead, according to John Thompson of the Sportsmen’s Warehouse in Vancouver, (360) 604-8000. They are being caught mostly near the hatchery at Woodland, but a few are being taken elsewhere. Fishing pressure has been somewhat low, except at the hatchery, where bank anglers are awaiting the first returns of hatchery coho and Chinook.

Fishing is tough on the Washougal as well. A few steelhead are being caught by locals that know the river, but the fishing can still only be rated as poor. Many of the fish have moved into the upper stretches of the river, where public access is very limited.

Merwin and Yale Lake fishing Report

Thompson reports that there are plenty of anglers still targeting the kokanee in these lakes, and that the fish are deep enough that it is primarily a downrigger trolling show. The WDFW reports that anglers have found good fishing in Merwin, a slight upgrade from the fair assessment of recent weeks.

Yale has continued to be the more consistent fishery, although the fish do run a little smaller than at Merwin. The lack of pressure means a gentler experience at Yale.

Swift Reservoir and Swift Power Canal Fishing Report

Anglers continue to catch good numbers of trout by trolling Swift Reservoir. High country trout lakes such as Council Lake are still producing well. Other good bets include Merrill Lake, which is limited to fly fishing only. Visitors to Merrill are asked to fill out a daily report of their fishing, at the kiosk near the boat launch.  

Steelhead by Terry Otto

Cowlitz and Kalama Rivers Fishing Report

Steelheaders targeting the Cowlitz River continue to do well in the Blue Creek area, where both bank and boat anglers are finding some success. Boaters continue to take their fish mostly by bobber-dogging in the first two or three miles below the creek, while bank anglers are finding fish in the side channel at the mouth of the creek by fishing drift gear or bait and bobber.

Anglers in the lower river continue to struggle, although that will change once fall salmon start to make a showing. The latest creel surveys upstream of the bridge had 16 bank rods keeping seven steelhead, while nine boats/27 anglers kept 19 steelhead.

Anglers are struggling to find fish in the Kalama River, especially in the upper reaches. WDFW creel surveyors talked to five bank anglers, and all were skunked. The river has underperformed all year, a fact that is reflected by a lack of fishing pressure. 

Local Lakes Fishing Report

Rainbow trout were stocked into Mayfield Lake recently and the fishing has been good, and anglers are also taking some big tiger muskies. Mineral Lake is producing good numbers of trout. Catfish are biting at Swofford Pond, and anglers at Sacajawea Lake are taking panfish and a few bass. Smallmouth bass are being caught at Riffe Lake by those targeting deep water structure, and the lakes coho continue to bite well. Many of the landlocked salmon are running up to three or four pounds.

Columbia River Gorge

Drano Lake and Wind River Fishing Report

Both fisheries are fishing slowly for Chinook, and steelhead fishing is closed. Temperatures in the mainstem Columbia have been fairly steady at about 71 degrees F, and that should push more fish into these systems. Creel reports are still poor, with Drano lake anglers finding just a few fish, and the same is true for the Wind.

Klickitat River Fishing Report

Anglers were doing okay for summer steelhead here until last Sunday, when the river blew out according to Carl Coolidge of the Klickitat Canyon Market, 509-369-4400. He reports that the steelhead are spread through the entire system, and anglers were doing okay in the canyon as well as in the lower river. Both gear and fly anglers found a few biters. Coolidge offers a daily fishing report on the market’s website, which you can check out HERE.

Local lakes Fishing Report Goose lake continues to produce good catches of trout, and the fishing will improve with fall weather and stockings. Horsethief Lake is producing good largemouth bass, and Rowland Lake is producing largemouth bass, bluegill, and pumpkinseed. 

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.