Spring Chinook Falling On The Willamette, Steelhead Action Still Challenging
Willamette Valley/Metro – Spring Chinook reports are surprisingly fair for this time of year, and for the return we’re expecting back to the Willamette. Fish have been taken recently in the Portland to Milwaukie reach and river conditions should remain conducive to a fair shot at success. Herring is the bait of choice for early season springers.
Still no word of mainstem Columbia springers, but that’s no surprise. Action won’t pick up until mid-March. There may be a rare winter steelhead or spring Chinook taken from the lower river, but wild steelhead would be more common for plunkers working the beach.
Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN reports, “Hello All. This past week was a great week to be out fishing. The river’s condition was ideal, it was running all week at the perfect level and color and was on the drop. The river is running at 10.03 ft. at this writing and should stay about 10 ft. until the rains return. The river is running at 41 degrees which is perfect water temp to fish all methods. The river is still showing new fish entering the river daily but it’s been a fish here and there. Most of the fish that is being caught are native fish with very few hatchery fish.
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The Clackamas also remains challenging with few hatchery fish in the mix. Returns are clearly depressed this season, but wild fish are making it fun on this river system. Summer steelhead should show sometime soon as well, but no one is holding out hope for a robust return of this run either.
North Coast Fishing Report – Despite ideal conditions, fishing for steelhead remains a one-a-day reality for those putting in the effort. The Wilson and Nestucca remain the mainstays and the crowds on the Nestucca have been impressive for such a mediocre return this year. It goes to show, cabin fever is certainly setting in. We just have to get out on the river!
In these dropping flows, plugs are becoming more productive, especially since everyone is still pitching bobbers and single eggs out there.
Other north coast systems such as the Trask and Nehalem are starting to produce better catches of wild fish, while the smaller, earlier peaking streams continue to peter out (Necanicum, NF Nehalem, Three Rivers and Highway 30 systems).
The Siletz has slowed a bit from a good couple of weeks, but it remains relatively productive compared to other north coast systems. The lower flows are making for better fishing in the lower reaches after the Moonshine run was so popular in recent weeks.
The Alsea remains unimpressive, but for knowledgeable, persistent anglers, it is worthwhile.
Seas may subside next week, but that forecast is too far out to be reliable. Lord knows, we’re all itchin’ for some fresh fish tacos…
Bay crabbing remains fair at best and tides won’t be ideal this week.
HERE’S a pretty good read on what’s happening with razor clams right now.
Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports – From avid angler Tim Moran (same as last week):
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.
Springers still slow, while river conditions hampered steelheading. Heavy trout stockings last week boosted the bite at local lakes.
Vancouver Metro Area
High water has stymied the steelhead fishing in many local tributaries, but the dirty water is starting to get pushed out. numbers are climbing, so if the rivers are in good condition this week fishing should improve. However, at this point there is no indication that this will be any kind of good year for metalheads, even as the late returning numbers are peaking.
Springers are still tough to find in the Columbia, and fishing pressure has not been that high in most spots.
Trout are still biting in local lakes, and panfish are feeling the coming spring by starting to bite well. Walleye fishing in the Columbia has slowed due to high water.
Lewis and Washougal Rivers Fishing Report-Anglers continue to chase wild steelhead in the North Fork Lewis River, although river conditions have not been good. Catches have only been okay, certainly not good. Boat anglers have targeted the river from the Golf Course up to Merwin Dam, while bank anglers have centered their efforts from the hatchery down to the town of Woodland. When you can find them the steelhead are falling for most typical steelhead methods, including bobber and beads, jigs, or bait. Pulling plugs is another method taking a few fish.
The Washougal River saw high flows the last few days of February, but the river has now receded to a little below 1,500 CFS. High flows hurt the fishing some last weekend, but there were a few catches. Drifting and bobber fishing have been the best methods here, as anglers have targeted the lower three miles of the river, where most of the public access is located.
Merwin and Yale Lakes Fishing Report—kokanee fishing picked up a little at both lakes as the weather and lake conditions improved this past week. However, there are still anglers that are struggling, while others are doing just fine. The fish are still near the surface, and flat-line trolling is still the best bet. All winter the kokanee have been preferring pink or orange hootchies tipped with corn.
Local Lakes Fishing Report—Battle Ground Lake was stocked with 4,000 rainbows last week at 2 fish per pound, and Klineline Pond received 2,000 rainbows the same size. Both lakes are fishing very well right now. Lacamas Lake’s panfish are starting to wake up, with catches of yellow perch climbing.
Cowlitz and Kalama Rivers Fishing Report—High, dirty water has slowed the bite in the upper Cowlitz River, while anglers in the lower river are fighting to get through all the smelt. The numbers of steelhead coming in to the hatchery rose significantly this week, with hatchery technicians pulling 106 winter steelhead from the trap. However, anglers still found the fishing tough. While Dave Mallahan of Dave’s Guide Service (360-201-9313), said he did catch fish every day, he still describes the fishing as slow, and said many other anglers are going fish-less. He did report that the river is starting to clear out, after seeing poor visibility this week. Mallahan took his fish by targeting the first few miles below Blue Creek by bobber-dogging with bait and beads.
WDFW creels surveys found that above the I-5 Bridge, 72 bank rods kept seven steelhead and released one steelhead. 78 boats/265 rods kept 40 steelhead and released two steelhead.
Lower river anglers have struggled with the huge numbers of smelt in the river. Plunkers found it tough going, with the thick schools of smelt actually fouling their gears and getting stuck on the hooks.
The Kalama has been high and dirty, but should be coming back into shape. Anglers have been doing well this year, although the fishing is not as good as in some past years. Drift boats working between the Red Barn and the Modrow Bridge have been finding decent success with most usual steelhead offerings, including pulling plugs, and fishing beads. The river has a lot of wild steelhead showing up with the hatchery fish, and the run is getting stronger as the season progresses. Bank anglers can find fish in the entire length of the river, but the canyon has the advantage of not seeing a lot of boats. Weekends have been seeing a lot of drift boat traffic in the lower river. Local Lakes Fishing Report—horseshoe Lake is fishing very well for trout and excess hatchery steelhead. Mayfield Lake has picked up for trout recently.
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