Rivers Primed For Winter Steelhead and Spring Chinook But Prospects Fair-At-Best
Willamette Valley/Metro – Willamette River anglers are back after springers after a prolonged period of high and off-colored water. Sellwood offers a good option under current conditions and more than one spring Chinook has been reported recently.
Wild steelhead counts at Willamette Falls are lagging behind previous years, but so many high water events hasn’t aided these fish in recent weeks.
Still no spring Chinook on the mainstem Columbia, but Willamette bound springers are likely present for beach plunkers to take advantage of. It’s still early however so anglers should temper their expectations this week and for the next several for that matter. Some steelhead, mostly wild, may also fall to plunkers working the lower Willamette.
Fall Chinook forecasts will soon be available online. Keep you eye on THIS web page. Numbers should be slightly better than last year, but everyone is looking forward to a robust return of hatchery fish.
Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN reports, “Hello All. I hope that everyone made it thru the harsh weather we had last week. I know of some people that have just got their power back. Everything has pretty much have gone back to normal per say. The Sandy took a huge jump on Monday going up to over 14 ft. and has started to drop at the writing of this report it is at 12.08 ft. and should drop to 11 ft. by Thursday and then takes another bump with the rain forecasted over the next couple of days. The last report from the hatchery was that they have received 350 hatchery fish back and that they have recycled 200 fish and spawned about a 150 fish. The river color is a little off color green but should turn to steelhead green by the weekend.
See more of Jeff’s report by becoming a paid member HERE!
River conditions are finally slated to come back into check over the weekend and pro guide Brandon Glass mentioned that the wild to hatchery ratio is running about 5:1.
North Coast Fishing Report – Anglers were largely side-lined this week with high water quelling effort on an already compromised return of steelhead this year. Fishing remained challenging for most days last week, when the water conditions were good for fishing. There was a rare 2 or 3 fish day amongst the guide community, but for the most part, all anglers struggled.
The Wilson fared OK later in the week, but river levels jumped significantly early this week, sidelining anglers for much of the week. Pro guide Rob Gerlitz (503-812-4950) had a 3-fish day last weekend, with 2 of his 3 fish being of hatchery origin.
Nestucca River anglers had bigger water to deal with and exhibited mostly the same results. Anglers putting in the hours are finding fish, but it’s harder than previous years, that’s for sure.
Other systems such as the Trask and Kilchis are fishing fair for wild fish with little competition to go with it. The Nehalem has remained high for much of the month, frustrating those that like this get away system with almost all wild fish available.
The ocean remains a very bad option and bay crabbing has been challenging as of late.
Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports – From avid angler Tim Moran:
Hello everyone! As mentioned often -This time of year the fishing forecast is tied to the weather forecast. Tomorrow (Friday) looks bleak with snow and rain with a high around 39 but Saturday is okay and Sunday looks like your best day as temps are around 40 with partly sunny skies! The rest of the week is ‘meh” but you go when you can…right!? The news from most rivers didn’t change much from last week’s report but I do have a personal report from the Deschutes where I got out with fishing legend (in his own mind) Greg Haase, on the lower Deschutes! There was also a good report from a couple of guys hitting Prineville and Ochoco. Love to hear from some of those guys out there trolling LBC and the Bull Trout fishing in the Metolius arm is just around the corner! Meanwhile, here’s my report –
We hit the river on Sunday and fished below the bridge at Maupin to Shearer’s Falls. Fishing was purely a nymph show for us and the fishing was pretty good by winter standards.
The Metolius did produce Rainbows and Browns on nymphs last week and a few Bull Trout too. Nymphing will take the majority of the fish but there should be periods of decent dry fly action on Blue Wing Olives too along with a few caddis and small black stoneflies.
On the Metolius, Bull Trout fishing can be very good in winter swinging and stripping large streamers.
Prineville and Ochoco Reservoirs Both had some very good winter trout fishing lately. The fish are big and the meat is cutting nice and orange.
Kokanee fishing can be pretty good in winter as the fish tend to stay higher up in the water column. Lake Billy Chinook is a great place to target winter kokes.
Checking in with shops in NE Oregon, fishing has been tough on the Grande Ronde, Wallowa and Imnaha with cold temps, snow and intermittent warm periods with high muddy flows. Looks like fishing is pretty much at a stand still until Spring over there.
In SE Oregon, The Ana River has been good for Rainbows to 17 inches. The river stays ice free and is great for a day’s drift.
Well, that’s the report for this week. Winter’s not over so be safe out there whether (pun intended) you’re driving over the pass or wading in the icy rivers! Tight lines y’all!
SW Oregon Fishing Report – From Avid angler Tim Moran (same as last week):
A check in with a few local shops in the Roseburg and Grants Pass area report winter steelhead fishing on the middle and upper Rogue has picked up noticeably in the last few weeks! At present time, the river is blown out and will be until early next week, but we should see pretty consistent fishing next week with it just getting better through mid April or so.
The Umpqua River has been very good too and guides are getting fish in the main river and the south fork. Fish to 15 pounds have been caught this year, and there will be plenty more to come as fishing will get better through early April up there!
The coastal rivers have all picked up quite a bit in the last few weeks for winter steelhead too, so it’s GAME ON for winter steelhead fishing through April!
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!
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.
Springer season set, steelhead improving, while local rivers recover from high water
Vancouver Metro Area
The best news of the week is that anglers will get to fish the lower Columbia for spring Chinook this year, the first time in two years. The bad news is there will be no springer fishery on the Cowlitz. The expected return of about 1,800 adults is enough to allow anglers to fish on those stocks while they move through the Columbia, but not enough to allow an in-river Cowlitz fishery.
Local tributaries have been dealt a mean hand by the recent winter storm, and most rivers are swollen with rain and melted snow right now. Before the high water the steelhead run was beginning to pick up, but nobody would classify it as good.
The WDFW is in discussions with officials from the Cowlitz County Health Department about a possible smelt dip. There may be an announcement this week concerning a sport dip early next week.
Lewis and Washougal Rivers Fishing Report—Anglers are still chasing steelhead in the North Fork Lewis River, and fishing pressure is still fairly high, although the hatchery run is over and most of the fish are wild. The action is good through most of the river, especially above the town of Woodland. Even though it is a wild run at this point, anglers at the hatchery are getting a few. The float from the Merwin Dam deadline down to the hatchery produced a few steelhead ahead of the storm.
The river level has stayed fairly level at a little over 12 feet, but the snow melt from the recent storm did not do the river any favors. Conditions are fishable, but not great.
The Washougal River did rise quite a bit from the rain on snow event, and that blew the river out for a few days. A few steelhead were coming to hand before the water jumped, but there are few reports since then. Drifted bait or Corkies, and bobber and jigs or beads has been working well.
Merwin and Yale Lakes Fishing Report—Some anglers braved the poor weather this last week to fish both lakes, according to John Thompson of Sportsman’s Warehouse in Vancouver, (360) 604-8000. Tough weather did keep a lot of anglers off the lakes, but the stout few were out there in the icy wind and rain, and they did get some kokanee.
Local Lakes Fishing Report—Battle ground Lake and Klineline lake were both stocked with catchable-sized cutthroat trout early in the month.
Salmon Creek Fishing Report—No report on angling success. The creek has been running high and should be on the drop this weekend. That means good conditions, but the fishing has never been all that good this year.
Cowlitz and Kalama Rivers Fishing Report—Cowlitz steelhead fishing was beginning to pick up before the rain on snow event trashed the river and sent it up to over 15,000 cfs. Dave Mallahan of Dave’s Guide Service (360-201-9313), reported that he did pretty well last week, but when the flush hit it trashed the fishing. According to Mallahan the rain and snow flushed an already saturated watershed, and all the creeks were trashed. The only reason he said the river was fishable at all this week was because of clear water flushed through from the reservoirs on the upper river.
Creel surveys completed before the river blew out were the best so far this year, reflecting that the fish are finally beginning to arrive in decent numbers. Above the I-5 Bridge 69 boats/224 rods kept 79 steelhead, two cutthroat and released five steelhead. 32 bank rods kept four steelhead and released two steelhead.
Mallahan took his fish this week by fishing the first few miles below Blue Creek by bobber-dogging beads and bait.
The lower Cowlitz River is also now running high after fishing action down there picked up last week. Plunkers in the lower river took a few fish before the river became swollen.
You can check the full Tacoma Power Cowlitz River Report HERE. You can check river flows and lake levels, including for Mayfield and Riffe Lakes, HERE The Kalama River has suffered through a few days of being blown out following the rain on snow event, and that really slowed the bite early this week. The latest WDFW creel survey found that two boats/five rods had no catch.
Be sure to become a paid subscriber and get TWICE the information as you see here in the abbreviated version. Terry produces a weekly FORECAST, detailing how the fishing will be this weekend and into next week. You don’t want to miss this valuable information for just $0.32 cents per week! SIGN UP NOW!