Winter Steelhead Oddly Absent; Consider Winter Trout Opportunities
Willamette Valley/Metro – With the Willamette soon to come back to fishable levels, there still isn’t much to fish for on this major water body for metro anglers.
Winter steelhead however, should be present in fair numbers, waiting to pass Willamette Falls when flows subside. 426 adults have been counted so far, representing a little less than 10% of last year’s total run (around 5,500 fish). It does appear however, that early indications of returning numbers of steelhead are down from last year, but it’s too early to call.
Sturgeon fishing on the Willamette should be an option this weekend. Winter action can be pretty good from Oregon City to the Portland Harbor, especially for those that can find smelt to use for bait. Smelt have entered the mainstem Columbia so some fish will be keyed in on this. The Willamette runs a bit warmer than the Columbia this time of year, just one more reason for sturgeon to utilize this river system.
Federal and state officials are moving their trapping operations to the Willamette, in search of problematic sea lions, including Stellar Sea Lions for the first time in history. Be sure to steer clear of these operations if you see them on the river.
Clackamas River steelheaders have yet to really jump start their season, but river conditions are coming into shape now so expect more traffic over the weekend. The Clackamas is more of a February show so there are better times ahead.
Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN reports from the Sandy River, “Hello All. I hope that everyone is doing well. This week’s report has some action taking place in the entire river. The numbers of fish haven’t been outstanding but fish are being caught. Most of the fish so far have been native fish with a few, I mean very few hatchery fish in the mix. The native fish have been nice size fish, ranging in the low to mid teens. The river will drop to about 9.5 ft over the next couple of days. If you do get out you will want to keep a eye on your guides, for the weather will be extremely cold in the morning and will likely freeze up. If your guides do freeze up the best solution is to dip into river and shake the rod and tip to keep water of guides. With the weather getting colder and depending on where your at on the river, you might find some snow. So please take precautions to protect yourself and others. Let your friends and family member know your location where your going to fish. Your cell phone battery will drain quickly with this cold weather. The water temp will get cold as the weather temp drops, so you will want to slow your presentation down and use more flash to get the fish to move to your presentation. The current water temp is about 41 degrees and fish will become lethargic as water temps drop into the upper to mid 30’s.
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North Coast Fishing Report – Steelheaders took to the rivers under ideal conditions this week and although results weren’t overwhelming, they were consistent. With the number of people fishing the rivers under these conditions a two or three fish day is a good day.
Pro guide Chris Vertopoulos (503-349-1377) struck silver all week with some quality sized broodstock fish hitting the bottom of his boat. Chris stated that indeed, the rivers were full of anglers, but being innovative pays dividends. Chris has been bobber dogging pink worms instead of soft beads or eggs. As you can see, a fair number of 3-salt fish have been witnessed in the catches.
The Trask, according to Buzz Ramsey, didn’t fish all that well for steelhead on his recent trip down to the north coast. Buzz saw a few fish landed at the Dam Hole, hooking a couple himself, but only landed one. It seems it may be a tad early on the Trask River for steelhead.
The Nestucca also produced a flurry of activity this week, with some quality fish coming from drifts downstream of 1st Bridge. It’s just getting going on the Nestucca and early results are not all that bad.
Other early season systems such as the Necanicum, Three Rivers, the NF Nehalem, Big and Gnat Creeks as well as the Klaskanine Rivers are fading swiftly. These early season hatchery brats are now spawning and will be out of commission for a few weeks.
Although the ocean has somewhat calmed down from an angry 2 months, not many folks have been recreating outside. The outlook seems to be much the same, windy with some significant swell on the horizon.
Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports – From avid angler Tim Moran: (Repeat from last week)
News this time of year can be tough to come by. There aren’t a lot of you out there because the fly shops aren’t updating their reports and my calls have gone mostly unanswered (maybe it’s me??? Nah…Just the winter doldrums)…But this should be a great weekend to hit the water because the weather is looking mighty warm (by winter standards) with highs in Central Oregon around 50. This is definitely going to trigger some bug hatches which should trigger some trout out of their winter slumber. And those temps are going to feel pretty nice on your face too!
The Crooked should be on your list. I’d say that is mostly because it’s usually freezing in the canyon and a little balmy weather should make fishing pleasant and bring out a BWO hatch and some cadis too. The Fall River has been pretty decent lately and should be a real good bet this weekend and into the week. There are some afternoon BWO and Midge hatches going from about 11 to 3.
The Lower Deschutes Checking in with a few of the guides that are still out there the reports of good winter fishing are there. The river doesn’t see much pressure and on a day (or days) like we are going to get this week – so it’s a great time to be out there with the river to yourself.
Prineville Reservoir is the place to go this weekend if you just want to chill, build a fire (where it’s legal) and catch trout. Boating is good – Trolling a wedding ring and a piece of worm behind a flasher in is catching really nice rainbows to 20 inches.
The report from out Joseph way is – The Imnaha, Grande Ronde and Wallowa rivers, are muddy this week I know this looks like my last report from there but this is as of yesterday. Good news – Clear skies are expected by this weekend and waters should drop into shape. There are still some steelhead around but picking your day will be the key to success.
That’s the report for this week! I hope that you all can get out there and have a great week. I’ll be trying to get on the Deschutes mid week so if you’re out come by and say hello! You and I will probably be the only one’s there!
SW Oregon – From the ODF&W web site:
Rivers and streams to fish this week:
- The Illinois River would be the places to go if you’re looking for a little solitude. The Illinois River has an earlier running winter Steelhead run than the Rogue and Applegate. The river should be dropping the rest of the week, and looks to be in good shape for the weekend. Fishing was slow last week, but some fish were caught. There are BLM access points along 8 Dollar Mountain Rd. outside of Kerby and Illinois River Rd. down to Miami Bar, accessed from Selma. 1/13/21
- Anglers have been enjoying some good success with winter steelhead in the Umpqua. 12/9/20
- Steelhead rivers in the Coos and Coquille basins are high and muddy, but some rivers should drop to fishable levels by the weekend. 1/6/21
- The rivers in the Umpqua might be a bit high to fish this weekend. But, the Smith and upper parts of the basin may be fishable and steelhead should definitely be around. 1/12/21
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!
Southwest Washington Fishing Update and Forecast
Covd-19 Update—With the Covid-19 virus spiking in Washington State, anglers are reminded to please fish only with members of their own household, avoid crowded areas, and use social distancing and wear a mask to protect themselves and others from the disease. No one wants a return to last spring’s lockdowns, so please do your part to make sure fishing and hunting remain open statewide.
Vancouver Metro Area
Most local rivers are dropping back into good condition after the heavy rains earlier this month, and steelheading is very slowly improving in rivers with late runs. Fishing is slowing in the few rivers that still get early returns.
Trout fishing continues to be good and the state is stocking most lowland lakes well. However, there has been some fall-off as far of effort at some lakes as fishing has slowed in places.
Some anglers will undoubtedly be on the Columbia ahead of the coming spring Chinook run, but will there be any caught this week? Anglers are watching and waiting for those first catches of the most prized fish in the Northwest. Look for spring seasons to be hashed out in February.
Lewis and Washougal Rivers Fishing Report—A very few steelhead are still being taken in the North Fork Lewis River, but the run is winding down and most fish are getting dark. High water in recent weeks had the river at almost 20 feet, and this push undoubtedly drew many of the remaining steelhead into the hatchery trap and Merwin Dam. Plunking has been effective during the run, as has bobber-fishing and drifting.
The Washougal river did drop back into shape this last week, and anglers did find some fish as the river dropped. A number of steelhead were caught as they moved through. The river has been more crowded than usual, according to John Thompson of Sportsman’s Warehouse in Vancouver, (360) 604-8000). He has said that drifting bait or Corkies has been a favored method when the fish are in.
Merwin and Yale Fishing Report–Fishing for kokanee has been fair to good in both lakes this past week. Not all anglers are doing well, though. Some anglers are doing very well and getting limits fairly quickly, while others have struggled. The main problem has been finding the schools on a consistent basis. The fish are close to the surface, so flat-line trolling has been effective. Pink and orange hootchies have been drawing bites when tipped with natural color corn.
Local Lakes Fishing Report—Klineline Pond was stocked on January 11 with 2,000 catchable rainbows and is fishing well. Battle Ground Lake is also fishing well, as is Lacamas Lake, where a few yellow perch have been mixed in with the trout catches. For the latest trout stockings, check the WDFW stocking webpage HERE.
Cowlitz and Kalama Rivers Fishing Report—The Cowlitz river is slowly improving for steelhead, slowly being the operative word here. It is still rated as poor to fair at best by Dave Mallahan of Dave’s Guide Service (360-201-9313). He did catch a few fish this week near Blue Creek, and there were other fish recorded in the creel surveys. Bank anglers on the river actually caught a few, too. Fishing was best in the reach below Blue Creek, with 34 bank anglers above the I-5 Bridge keeping four steelhead and releasing one steelhead. 14 boats/38 rods kept three steelhead. Below the bridge 66 bank rods kept one steelhead and released one Chinook.
He reports that his fish were caught by bobber-dogging, and that is what most anglers are doing right now. The fishery is slowly gaining steam, but Mallahan warns that when the river gets crowded, then the few biters get caught quickly, and catch rates drop for the rest of the day.
The Kalama River was running very high last week, and with the high water the best bites have been in the upper river. The steelhead have been moving fairly quickly through the lower river. In the canyon anglers have been taking fish with bobber and beads or jigs, and hardware.
Local Lakes Fishing Report—Lake Sacajawea has been good for trout, although fishing effort has been low on some days. Some of the big brood trout have been taken lately. Riffe Lake has seen an excellent start to the year for coho, with plenty of fish being taken, including some nice sized coho.
Columbia River Gorge Local Lakes Fishing Report — Rowland Lake has been the standout as far as trout fishing, with both boat and bank anglers finding biters. other stocked lakes have produced well, too. Icehouse Lake and Little Ash Lake have both been good to anglers. Horsethief Lake has been fishing well, too.
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