Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update

Columbia River spring Chinook closes, NO mainstem gillnet fishing either!

I wish to thank the nearly 100+ interested anglers that listened in and commented on Wednesday’s Columbia River Compact meeting. YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE! I wasn’t sure how my testimony was going to go, but after hearing the dire straits that the Idaho fisheries are in (not meeting egg take and all), I couldn’t bear the idea of additional Columbia River spring Chinook opportunity for the sportfleet, and certainly not the gillnet fleet. Although I’m not sure the managers were very supportive of additional time themselves, overwhelming public testimony supported keeping the river closed despite us sportanglers only getting about half of our impacts to Snake River fish. So, the bottom line, no mainstem gillnetting and no additional sportfishing opportunity either. It’s too bad, but we need to get springers back to their respective hatcheries so we can have better years ahead! We’re overdue for better fishing! I think what I’m most proud about our community, we had a unified voice on fish come first! Thank you! We all did the right thing and credit goes to the Washington and Oregon Departments for taking our testimony and deciding to do the right thing also! Bob Rees

Willamette Valley/Metro – Success rates continue to slow down on the mainstem Willamette, but effort ran high last week, with all the nice weather and such. We’re seeing the common downturn in the bell curve catch with over 400 spring Chinook caught in the lower Willamette last week (374 hatchery fish, 53 wild Chinook). Water temperatures dropped back down below 60 degrees, which was expected after the previous weekend’s heat wave. Even though the Willamette is winding down, it will remain a viable fishery for many more weeks to come.

Shad have entered the Willamette in good number too. Oregon City is the place to be, especially when the sun is shining. Spoons and pink headed, green body grubs are working. Reader James R. reported, “We have been doing good at the sandbar in oc trolling hot and tots with the simon mini wobblers for shad.” Thanks James, and we’d love to get your reports if you wish to share them with us at bob@theguidesforecast.com.

The Columbia closed, somewhat unceremoniously, at the end of the day on Wednesday. With few exceptions, fishing has been challenging. Managers had teed up the idea of an additional 5 days of opportunity, but overwhelming testimony (as you may have read at the beginning of this newsletter) easily convinced knowledgeable staff that neither additional sportfishing opportunity nor a “tooth-tangle” net (Or as we call it, small-mesh gillnet) was a good idea. The Columbia remains open for steelhead BELOW the I-5 Bridge and open for shad ONLY upstream of that, and there are lots of those coming in. Check more regulations on the Columbia HERE. There will be no summer Chinook fishery this year, so it won’t be until August before we get to talk about Chinook again on the mainstem. I think you can all guess how the summer steelhead fishery is expected to perform.

Clackamas River boat ramps remain closed. That of course limits access for those wishing to pursue summer steelhead and spring Chinook as we enter peak season for both. There are some bank anglers pursuing both species but creel checks on the river last week showed no fish for the angling public. With McIver Park, along with Clackamas County Parks still closed, accessing the river, even for bank anglers, will remain challenging. Restrictions are trending towards easing, they just haven’t yet for Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties. Summer steelhead will be your best bet on the Clackamas, the spring Chinook run will again be depressed this year.

Also, we’ve added another NEW VIDEO (5/21/2020) to our ongoing The Guide’s Forecast presents… library. How to make rags for salmon and steelhead driftfishing! You’ll see how easy it is to build your own economical “rags” to fish ahead of your shrimp tails or egg clusters!

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Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN reports, “Hello All.   I hope that everyone is doing well and is still able to function after being in quarantine. I was able to get out the other day and was able to hook into a late winter fish on my second cast on a nightmare jig. The river had great color as of Monday and is expected to a bump and go up another couple of inches with our latest rain storms. The river is running at 9.91 ft and is expected to go up to 10.29ft by the weekend. There are fish scattered throughout the entire river. Most of the pressure has been in Oxbow Park area. Just a heads up for those who plan on heading out to the river. The lower river at Lewis and Clark Park is still closed and all parking along that area is coned and posted No Parking and No Trespassing as well as the boat ramp. Glen Otto park opens at 8 and closes at 6 pm and you can access the park to fish. Going up river there is some pull outs that you can access to the river to fish. Dabney park has a park ranger at the gate informing people that the park is closed and if you enter the park you will be sighted for criminal trespassing. Oxbow has been producing some good catches of both summer steelhead and spring chinook. The upper river also has produced some good catches. The hatchery is still closed to the public and Dodge Park is still closed to enter the park with vehicles. I hope that everyone is safe and sound and make sure to keep yourself and family safe and wear a mask when out. So best of luck and tight lines.”

With spring Chinook and summer steelhead in the Sandy River, NOW is a great time to book a trip with Pro guide Jeff Stoeger. Call him today at (503-704-7920).

Do you have an opinion on whether fishing from a boat should be allowed upstream of Oxbow Park? If so, send your comments HERE and you can read more about the proposal HERE.

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!

Pro guide Dean Pierce (503) 333-4575 and client with a Columbia River Chinook
One Year Membership for just $24.95. That’s $0.50 cents per week!

North Coast Fishing Report – Much to my surprise, spring Chinook are being caught in Tillamook Bay. Far from epic fishing, the upper bay has been producing a few fish nearly every day. We’re on the minus tide series right now, so the upper bay is the bright spot for the time being.

The Trask River has some spring Chinook in it, and boat ramps on the river (and in Tillamook County) have opened up again. Bank anglers can get access to the Hatchery Hole from a path above the hatchery, but must respect social distancing guidelines set forth by Governor Brown. That’s not happening exactly the way it should, jeopardizing the opportunity if anglers don’t get it right. There are some fish there, but it still takes a lot of effort to yield a reward.

The Wilson and Nestucca should have some summer steelhead, and the Nestucca also gets a spring Chinook return. River levels are decent and numbers should be improving, but you’ll still have to work for them.

The all-depth halibut season opened up today and as always, some scored fish, some were challenged. There were a few nice ones cross the dock however. The nearshore fishery hasn’t been producing great catches, but Charleston has sure been killin’ it. HERE are the seasons if you’re not sure. HERE are the port by port landings if you’re interested.

Bottomfishing has been great and crabbing is good too. Bay crabbing is fair as well, at least in Tillamook Bay. Only another 10 days to take advantage of the all-depth bottomfish fishery (May 31st) but fishing should be good inside the impending 40-fathom restricted line in June too.

No word on an impending estuary sturgeon fishery yet, Washington is holding up the opportunity.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports

From our friend Tim Moran:

Fishing was very good last weekend east of the Cascades and all signs point to great fishing and good to great weather this weekend! 

Odell Lake –  Kokanee are on the bite down to about 25 feet.  A flasher (I like Paulina’s)  and weight up to 3/4 oz. and a spinner or hoochie tipped with scented corn will catch fish. 

Wickiup Reservoir – Campgrounds are closed but the main lake ramp is open just south of Gull Point.  With the campgrounds closed unimproved camping is crowded and this may be the busiest weekend of the year.  My sources tell me that Wickiup has cooled off a little but those that work at it are still getting fish.  With springer fishing about as awful as it’s ever been, kokanee are a nice way to get some delicious protein so I’m guessing the lake will be busy. 

Crane Prairie – Crane is fishing well.  Powerbait and worms were very successful for the bait brigade and have been since the opener.

Lower Deschutes River –  Maupin area – Camping is now open and so is floating if you have a permit. This is the busiest weekend on the Deschutes every year so you will be fishing over an area that was just hit be someone else all day for three days.  My advice is to fish smaller stonefly patterns on smaller leaders. 

Metolius – Green drakes are on the way up the canyon and fishing will be good for those who match that hatch. 

East Lake – Snow still covers the ramp and the weather has been pretty awful lately but that should change this weekend.  Especially Sunday and Monday!  Saturday will be a transition day with morning lows in the mid 20’s so take your time getting up there on Saturday. 

Davis lake – It’s low and difficult to access but stripping buggers and leech patterns are taking some nice fish.  The trout are making a comeback…let’s hope there’s enough water left later for them to continue that trend!

That’s the report from here…have a great weekend everyone! 

From ODF&W

ODF&W is putting the fishing reporting on hiatus for a few weeks so nothing to report this week.

Southwest – From ODF&W

ODF&W is putting the fishing reporting on hiatus for a few weeks so nothing to report this week.

SW Washington –  From the WDF&W web site, it looks like the agency is back in the creel checking business. Here is what they had to report from May 19th:

Fishery Reports:

Lower Columbia mainstem from Tongue Point-Rocky Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam – 338 salmonid boats and 285 Washington bank rods were tallied during Saturday’s (5/16) flight count.

Salmon/Steelhead:

Mainstem Lower Columbia River

Sec 1 (Bonneville) – 598 bank anglers kept 49 Chinook, 11 jacks and released 21 Chinook. 15 boats/29 rods kept 5 Chinook, two jacks and released one Chinook.

Sec 2 (Camas/Washougal) – 63 boats/126 rods kept four Chinook and released one Chinook.

Sec 3 (I-5 area) – 55 boats/116 rods kept three Chinook and released one Chinook and one jack.

Sec 4 (Vancouver) – 85 bank anglers kept one Chinook and released two Chinook and one jack. 121 boats/269 rods kept 20 Chinook, one jack and released four Chinook and one steelhead.

Sec 5 (Woodland) – Four bank anglers had no catch.

Sec 6 (Kalama) – Eight bank anglers had no catch. 2 boats/5 rods had no catch.

Sec 8 (Longview) – 28 bank anglers released one Chinook. 2 boats/2 rods had no catch.

Sec 9 (Cathlamet) – 19 bank anglers kept one steelhead. 1 boat/1 rod had no catch.

Sec 10 (Cathlamet) – Five bank anglers had no catch. 1 boat/1 rod had no catch.

Sturgeon:

Sec 3 (I-5 area) – 1 boat/2 rods had no catch

Sec 4 (Vancouver) – 3 boats/12 rods released 11 sublegal and two legal sturgeon.

Shad:

Sec 1 (Bonneville) – 31 bank anglers kept 16 shad.

Sec 6 (Kalama) – 3 boats/12 rods kept five shad.

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Salmon Creek – One bank angler had no catch.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: Nine bank rods had no catch. 2 boats/6 rods had no catch.

Above the I-5 Br: Nine bank rods released one steelhead. 1 boat/1 rod had no catch.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 146 winter-run steelhead adults, 30 spring Chinook adults, 30 spring Chinook jacks, and 11 summer-run steelhead adults during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power released 18 spring Chinook adults, one spring Chinook jack, and 13 winter-run steelhead adults into Lake Scanewa near Randle and they released 15 winter-run steelhead adults into the Cispus River near Yellowjacket Creek in Randle.

Tacoma Power released eight winter-run steelhead adults into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 6,340 cubic feet per second on Monday, May 18, 2020.

Water visibility is 12 feet and the water temperature is 47.1 F.

Kalama River – 32 bank anglers kept one Chinook. 5 boats/10 rods kept three Chinook.

Lewis River – No report.

Wind River Mouth – Four bank rods had no catch. 55 boats/110 rods kept 19 Chinook, two jacks and released one Chinook.

Wind River above Shipherd Falls – Three bank rods released one Chinook.

Drano Lake – Eight bank rods had no catch. 52 boats/94 rods kept 18 Chinook and released one Chinook.

Klickitat below Fisher Hill Bridge – 14 bank anglers kept one Chinook and released two Chinook.

Help is on the way!

Outdoor writer Terry Otto is coming to The Guide’s Forecast! Terry is in the process of gathering his SW Washington contacts so he can put together the most reliable reports and forecasts for our TGF readers!

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Terry Otto with a nice SW Washington steelhead

Terry Otto has been writing about fishing in the Northwest for over 20 years, and has just completed two and a half years as the outdoor writer for The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver, WA. He has also written for such publications as Salmon Trout Steelheader, the Salmon Steelhead Journal, Northwest Sportsman, and many others.

He was named one of the “15 Most Influential Communicators” in the Northwest by the Salmon Steelhead Journal in 2019, and has won dozens of awards through the Northwest Outdoor Writers Association for his work.

He has been fishing for over half a century, and has done so from Alaska to the Appalachian Mountains. He is also a fisheries biologist, having worked in that capacity for the US Forest Service, The WDFW, and he still dabbles in fisheries today by working for a private consultant.

Terry is looking forward to extending his writing career with us here at The Guide’s Forecast. His style and accuracy will be a welcome SW Washington addition to an already reliable resource for fishing reports and forecasts in the Pacific Northwest. If you wish to contact Terry directly, email him at orotto@wavecable.com.