Coastal Steelhead Action is Fair, Sandy is Underway Too
Willamette Valley/Metro – The Willamette remains too high to fish safely and effectively, but winter steelhead and sturgeon should both be options when river levels recede. That is over a week away at least.
The Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day Pools open for sturgeon under permanent rule on January 1st. Action should be fair for those that can tolerate the weather. Sand shrimp, smelt or squid should entice interest from these fish with the Bonneville Pool consistently producing the best catches.
Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN reports from the Sandy River, “Hello All. I hope that everyone had a great Christmas and I hope that you got all your Christmas wish list items. I hope that you all have a great New Years eve and day and have your new licenses for 2021. The river had dropped to ideal level as of writing this report but the wind has become a slight issue. The river forecast is for the rive to jump to 11 ft. by Thursday and then jump to almost 13 ft. by Sunday. The weather shows rain for the next ten days and the winds blowing in the mid to upper teens, which could cause those floating the river to have difficult time pulling plugs or side drifting or bobber doggin’. So get out and hit the river before it starts to color up and jump in height.
The Clackamas River has yet to get many winter steelhead, but some are available. The river has remained high all week and is due to jump once again, maintaining a high water level well into next week. Steelhead fishing won’t pick up here for another month or longer.
North Coast Fishing Report – Following the flood event of last week, steelheaders working the Wilson did well on Monday, with some guides reporting limits of early run hatchery fish and some wild ones too. Pro guide Chris Vertopoulos found a couple of large 3-salt fish on both Monday and Tuesday, with one in the mid-teens that gave a reason to celebrate for his customer Brad Baker:
The Nestucca hasn’t been fishing quite as good, but its broodstock fish start to show up a bit later. This fish, caught by Brad, was a broodstock fish as we’re starting to see a transition from early run Alsea stock fish to these broodstock brutes about now.
The NF Nehalem continues to report fair-at-best fishing despite peak season and good water conditions. There’s fish caught every day, just not many of them.
The Necanicum seems to be getting a good return this year. It’s a great time of year to intercept these fish even higher in the system so avoid private land, but there are hatchery steelhead to be had!
The Highway 30 systems are at their peak as well right now. Big and Gnat Creek and the Klaskanine River are all producing fair catches.
There are a few wild fish in the Kilchis and Trask systems, the mainstem Nehalem will remain too high to fish for a while longer, especially with a new set of rain freshets on the horizon.
The Alsea report from ODF&W reads:
Winter steelhead fishing is picking up on the Alsea River. The recent high water has put fish on the move headed for the hatchery on the NF Alsea and anglers are catching them. Conditions will be good this week on the popular NF Alsea bank fishery as the river levels drop back into shape.
The dry weather in the forecast will keep the river on the drop and fish moving through the holiday weekend. Conditions will be good for the drift boaters later in the week and into the weekend. Fish are now distributed throughout the river and the numbers will increase with each bump in river levels.
This information is a week old, but should still have applicability.
The Siletz is still slow to start with not much effort, but like other north coast systems, fish are available and it will only get better from here.
The lower Columbia continues to be productive for crabbing, but weekend weather will make it a bit of a dicey option.
Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports – From avid angler Tim Moran:
Hello everyone. This will be the last report of the year and as we say good riddance to 2020…A year that most want to forget…I will remember 2020 as much for the pandemic and all of the issues it came with – as for some truly great fishing, sharing great times with family and friends (although in smaller groups or one on one) and some successes in our fisheries and sport. Although I fish all year, the season officially kicks off on the last weekend in April when I head to Wickiup for some kokanee fishing. Usually this is a big, busy camp with friends and family, but this year it was just my son Steve, me and my golden retriever, Charlie. The reservoir had been drained down to 5% of capacity during the summer, which was cause for concern, but the lake was at about 80% of full pool when the season opened and fishing was surprisingly good! Reports of kokanee and bass showing up below the dam makes me nervous about this coming spring but we’ll be out there again, fingers crossed!
During the early summer we made several trips to the Deshutes around Maupin, the Crooked, Metolius, Owyhee and of course, the John Day River for it’s world renown Smallmouth bass fishing. The rivers produced like they have in past years with reasonably good fishing with dry’s and nymphs. The Highlight was a couple of floats on the JDR where we once again caught 100 + bass all on flies! Then I was laid up from knee surgery and had to rely on shops, friends and even a reader or two for reports. Thank you to everyone who wasn’t afraid to share their successes! My knee recovered enough to salmon fish so we hit the Columbia in late summer and fall season hard and ended up having a fantastic season going 24 for 42 hook ups. Even these numbers were skewed because we lost 9 fish in one day when we forgot our net (we still limited) and a few fish to the lions…argh!. I got out one more time on the Deschutes and got some nice trout and a steelhead before I went under the knife again for hip replacement surgery. All in all a very good year!
Now as we look forward to 2021, It is my sincere hope that we can put COVID behind us by late spring and we can all start to get back to normal. Fishing looks good so far with a good start on the snow pack. Lots of cold, clean water would go a long way for our resource. King salmon are returning to the Metolius, Crooked and Deschutes above Round Butte Dam and that is very encouraging! The Deschutes saw a better run of steelhead than the last few years so hopefully that trend will continue. While the jury is still out on Wickiup, fishing should be great on all the Century Drive Lakes, East and Paulina, which has seen a resurgence in trout populations! Next year I have two big trips out to fish NE Oregon and I’m excited to bring the readers some first hand reports as well as to further develop sources to get you, the readers, the best reports I can.
As far as this week’s report fishing should be decent (by winter standards) on the Metolius. It will be a bit weather dependent as snow and rain are forecast. I’ve done well in the past even in a snowstorm when BWO’s decided to hatch!
My buddy Greg Hasse fished the Crooked River and reported slow fishing Monday. It was cold and windy but he was able to coax a few rainbows fishing with his Euro rig.
The Lower Deschutes – Nymphing was good for the few anglers that were out. I like a big nymph like a “Jimmy legs” with a smaller nymph trailing behind it.
Bank and boat guys trolling or still fishing Prineville Reservoir are still doing well. The rainbows here are cutting beautiful too with orange fillets!
Well that’s a wrap on 2020! See you all in the New Year!
SW Oregon – Down in the SW corner of the state The Elk and Cheto were waiting for rains to improve conditions for both winter steelhead and late fall/ winter Chinook. As we turn the page into the new year both of these rivers should fish well especially for steelhead.
There are fish entering the Umpqua river too but fishing is just beginning to pick up. Again, January fishing for winter steelhead should be excellent so make your plans!
Diamond Lake as of a couple days ago was not fully iced over so it’s not going to be fishable until it ices up solid. When it does, fishing through the ice is always fun and can be productive! Enjoy your holiday and hopefully you can get out and enjoy some winter fishing after Christmas (or maybe on)! Stay safe and warm!
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!
Happy New Year! Steelhead picking up slowly, trophy brood trout to be stocked out, trout fishing good
Vancouver Metro Area
Columbia River tributaries have dropped back into good condition, but are expected to rise later this week. That should bring in more fish, but could trash the rivers. Anglers are starting to see some extra competition from guides and fishermen jumping over from the coast, where anglers may not fish from their boats. Look for fishing to improve, even as competition increases.
Trout fishing is going gangbusters, with lakes boosted by recent stockings, and kokanee are biting in local lakes. The WDFW is preparing to stock out lots of trophy-sized brood trout over the next few weeks, too.
Lewis and Washougal Rivers Fishing Report—Steelheading on the North Fork Lewis is still fair, with a few fish being caught each morning at the hatchery and below. Boat anglers are finding fish from the hatchery down to the golf course, while bank anglers are doing best at the hatchery. The fish are taking the usual steelhead offerings, including bobber and jigs or beads, bait, and drifted gear. Pulling plugs is also effective. With the high water currently in the river the fish are shooting right up to the hatchery, and holding near the bank instead of out in the main current.
The Washougal River fished very well for steelhead following the most recent rains and the subsequent rise in river levels, but the river has now dropped and the steelhead have moved through the lower river, according to John Thompson of Sportsman’s Warehouse in Vancouver, (360) 604-8000. Most of the public access on the Washougal is in the lower three miles of the river, and once the steelhead pass through that stretch anglers have little or no opportunity to catch them unless they have access to private lands in the upper river.
Merwin and Yale Lakes Fishing Report—both lakes continue to give up kokanee, with the fishing described as fair to good. Some days are better than others, but the schools are holding near the surface, and flat-line trolling continues to be the best way to fish. Pink or orange hootchies tipped with corn has been effective, although other combos are working, too.
Local Lakes Fishing Report—Local Lowland Lakes have been well-stocked and they will receive regular stockings all winter. Lacamas Lake is fishing well, as is Battle Ground Lake, and Klineline Pond. With trout fishing as good as it is, very few anglers are looking for warm water fish right now. For the latest trout stockings, check the WDFW stocking webpage HERE.
Cowlitz and Kalama Rivers fishing Report—Steelhead continue to trickle into the Cowlitz River, although fishing has remained inconsistent. Dave Mallahan of Dave’s Guide Service (360-201-9313), fished the river near Blue creek lately and managed to hook four steelhead. However, the next couple days produced goose eggs for a couple anglers that are friends of Mallahans. He took his fish by bobber-dogging with bait and beads. While fishing pressure was still low, he did notice one guide there that had come over from the coast. Regular anglers on the Cowlitz are concerned about guides and fishermen that usually fish the Washington coast rivers moving into Columbia River tributaries following WDFW’s decision to ban fishing from a floating device on all coastal streams.
Anglers have been focused on the reach below Blue Creek, where the hatchery steelhead will return.
The Kalama River is producing winter steelhead in decent numbers, according to Thompson. He said the reports he has heard have come from angers fishing up high in the system, mostly in the Canyon. A few fish are also being taken in the lower river. Anglers are getting their fish on a variety of methods, including pulling plugs, bobber and jigs, and hardware.
Columbia River Gorge
Local Lakes Fishing Report—Icehouse Lake has been stocked and is fishing well. Rowland Lake continues to fish well for trout, and the catch has included some of those trophy-sized brood trout. Horsethief Lake has been stocked, and included are some trophy brood trout as well. Little Ash Lake has also been stocked with trout. Bonneville Pool Sturgeon—Friday marks the start of the Bonneville Pool sturgeon retention season. Fishing will continue in the pool until the quota of 500 keepers is filled. The Dalles Pool will also open with a quota of 135 keepers, and the John Day Pool will open with a quota of 105 keeper sturgeon. Cameron Black of Gone Catchin’ Guide Service, (360) 921-5079, targets these fisheries every year, and he reports that with the Columbia running fairly warm, this year’s quotas may fill rather quickly.
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