Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update

Columbia Abruptly Closes, Ocean Salmon Fishing Disappointing

Willamette Valley/Metro – Anglers lost another opportunity this week, when mainstem Columbia River fishing closed to the retention of sockeye and summer steelhead, effective at COB (Close of Business) on Wednesday night, as in, it’s closed NOW. The official press release is HERE. Managers will look at updating the run size early next week, hopefully make an adjustment upwards, and consider re-opening the fishery, hopefully at least for summer steelhead. Chinook and sockeye numbers are tracking good at Bonneville so let’s keep our fingers crossed that this was just a small hiccup in some much needed good news for our community. Shad fishing remains open and excellent on the mainstem Columbia.

Willamette River anglers were poised with excitement for the opportunity to fish, catch and keep Willamette River sturgeon. Apparently, Willamette River sturgeon got the memo and went off the bite, or exited the river system altogether. Anecdotal observations indicate a lack-luster performance and ODF&W statistics back that up with ODF&W reporting this, “Last weekend’s Willamette sturgeon fishery appeared to be quite popular with over 2,300 anglers participating.  The estimated number of sturgeon harvested was 111, with over half caught in the lower river (74 lower river boat, 2 lower bank, 35 middle river boat).” It was wall-to-wall boats however. Spring Chinook fishing remains fair and the moderate weather isn’t hurting either.

Clackamas salmon and steelhead fishing continues to be a waste of time. Anglers had been hopeful that the summer steelhead would at least show, not many had hope for spring Chinook, as that fishery has been in the toilet for the last several years. So far, both have been a bust this year.

HERE is the state-wide status list of open and closed state parks. The map is getting more green and less red on it. We’re coming out of hibernation!

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN reports, “Hello All. I hope that everyone is doing fine. Multnomah County is still under stage 1 for the virus and the governor has required that face masks must be worn and distancing is still in place. The weather forecast for the next 10 days show that we will be back to our normal weather with the highest heat coming the next couple of days. There has been some very bright fish in the Sandy still to be had. I had a buddy who fished Wednesday morning on the Sandy in the lower river and was able to hook into a very nice springer that was very bright. He caught his fish on a 3.5 Dr. Death Mag Lip. There has been other fish caught and it’s been a early morning and late evening event. Summer steelhead have been scarce.” 

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!

This week, we launched Technical Report #20: Fishing the Ocean of the North Oregon Coast. Anglers have been ordering it with excitement, especially since we’ve offered to the first 100 anglers FREE ENTRY into our July 2nd webinar (starts at 7:00 p.m.) detailing how to safely cross the Columbia River Bar and effectively fish the adjacent ocean waters for Chinook and coho. It’s timely, since the fishery just opened up on June 20th and it’s only going to get better from here. BE PREPARED, order now and join the July 2nd webinar, FOR FREE!

North Coast Fishing Report – And speaking of that June 20th opener, fishing on Saturday started off quite good for the folks that crossed the bar at day break. It wasn’t a great bar to cross, there was a 30 foot and under restriction and a fairly stiff south wind blowing, but the few that got out, did quite well for the Chinook only fishery. The Chinook fishing steadily dropped off by the day, but there were reports of successful Chinook fishing quite a ways north on the Long Beach Peninsula on Wednesday. The fishery opens up to coho starting on June 29th, and there are fair numbers of coho present.

Estuary catch and release sturgeon fishing remains productive, with lots of LARGE fish in the catch. Waters from Miller Island to the Astoria/Megler Bridge are the most productive with shrimp and soon to be anchovies available for bait.

Call World Class Fishing at (503) 741-1407 in the West End Basin for both anchovies and sand shrimp likely available, but call WAY ahead to reserve your bait. With effort so up and down, bait stores are not stocking much extra bait. 

Tillamook Bay anglers continue to struggle for consistent spring Chinook action. Although there has been late June success in recent years, it’s clear that the Tillamook spring Chinook run is suffering some of the same characteristics that other regional spring Chinook returns are witnessing. It isn’t pretty, and we’re all ready for an uptick.

District rivers are dropping and clearing once again, with anglers prepared to settle into summer-time tactics. It’s peak season for spring Chinook on the Trask and Nestucca Rivers, summer steelhead on the Nestucca, Wilson and Siletz River, all of which are producing mediocre results at best. The Siletz spring Chinook fishery is not performing all that well either.

Anglers start to turn west this time of year, looking to the saltwater option as freshwater fishing becomes more challenging in the dropping and clearing flows. That’ll be especially true this year, since fishing for both species of salmonids is challenging.

Bottomfishing remains excellent for sea bass and fair for lingcod. Halibut fishing is fair to good as well, with 73% of the quota remaining as of June 14th. The nearshore quota is going quickly however, only 59% of that quota remains along the central coast. The Columbia River sub-area has yet to open (Thanks Washington…). The ODF&W did add another 2 openers however, July 16-18 and July 30-August 1 were added, making a total of eight openings for this popular fishery. The complete press release is HERE.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports – From our friend Tim Moran:

Tim’s report has MUCH more detail in the paid members section of the newsletter! Click over there now to log in to see the FULL VERSION or GO HERE to subscribe!

Metolius River–  The river is fishing well but the campgrounds are booked solid so don’t expect much solace if you fish on the weekends.  It’s still a PMD, Green Drakes, Blue Wing Olive’s and Caddis show for the most part.

The Lower Deschutes – Caddis, Pale Evening Duns and PMD’s are catching fish right now and these flies, along with some BWO’s will round out your dry fly patterns for the summer. Other good options are terrestrials like hoppers ants and beetles.  

Crooked River –  Flows are 160 to 180 so the water is nice.  Caddis, midge and PMD’s are all out so fish  accordingly. 

Fall River  Caddis, midges and terrestrials have been good this week.  Evening and late morning dry fly fishing is best with nymphing best in the middle of the day. 

East Lake – Callibaetis are coming off most mornings so fishing that hatch is usually the first go to.  You can start with an emerger and go through to a cripple, adult and then when it’s over, switch to Chironomids in about 8-10 feet of water fishing one a foot off the bottom and the dropper about 3 feet off the bottom.

Anchoring in 20 to 30 feet of water and still fishing with a worm and egg combo or power bait can also be very effective!

Crane Prairie – Saw some really nice fish in the 4 to 6lb range come from Crane this week. Size #14 black or chrome/red chironomids, damsel nymphs and leech patterns did the trick with more damsels showing by the day!  

Prineville Reservoir – Worms floated off the bottom  either by injecting them with air or using a small corkie are taking fish in 15 to 25 feet of water. casting spinners, kastmaster spoons and rapalas were getting fish too.  Bass are taking crankbaits, swimbaits and plastics fishing the points. 

John Day River –This is my weekly personal report and will be for the next few weeks! We drifted from about 3 river miles above  Clarno down to the bridge take out.  I would call fishing fair for the river.  This was due to the river still in somewhat of a late spring flow.  Color was good but the river was still moving pretty good.  Great for floating but harder to fish from a pontoon boat or raft.  Don’t forget your boaters pass if you go!

Owyhee River PMD’s are all the rage on the river this week. There is a late morning spinner fall and then emergers when the hatch starts again in the afternoon..so it’s two dry fly oppert.   

NE Rivers – Water flows on most NE rivers is high with the warm weather melting snow.  Good for floaters but not so good for fishing.  A check of the Grande Ronde showed river level at 6500cfs.  That’s about 2000cfs difference from a historic norm.  

Well that’s it from Central and Eastern Oregon.  If you have a report you’d like me to share you can email it to me at tim.moran18@gmail.com 

Good luck everyone! 

Tim’s report has MUCH more detail in the paid members section of the newsletter! Click over there now to log in to see the FULL VERSION or GO HERE to subscribe!

Also from our friend Tim Moran reporting for SW Oregon –

The McKenzie –  No word on Salmon this week but I’m sure the guys who hit the best holes at first light are getting a fish or two.  Sand shrimp out fished eggs last week and it might again as the river drops and clears.  Trout fishing is great on PMD’s and caddis in sizes 14 and 16. 


Upper Willamette –  Fishing from Just below Oakridge to the reservoir has been great for the last week.  PMD, PED and Caddis are all out so dial up your dry flies and fish this sneaky good section of river.

Umpqua River – They’re still getting Springers in the upper river but it has slowed with warmer weather. Fish early or the last 90 minutes before dark for best success.  

Winchester Bay – Pink surf perch action was better on the bigger tide exchange this week as we predicted.  The guides were working for them but were coming up with enough to make clients happy.  Limits are still scarce but fish are being caught.  Crabbing in the bay has been meh…and crabs will start getting soft soon.      

Upper Rogue River  The river is on a slow steady drop and the weather is perfect. Fishing is very good for trout .      

Cottage Grove Lake:  Bass and panfishing has been very good of late.  Reports of some really nice bass to 5 lbs. have been reported.  Working spinnerbaits and plastics in the shallows morning and evening have produced. 

Williamson, Sprague and Wood Rivers – Resident trout fishing has been good but the bigger migratory fish from the lake are moving up into the rivers with the warming weather.  Fish will fall to dries, nymphs and streamers.  These are world class rivers but run through a lot of private land and are difficult to access.  These rivers are worth hiring a guide and having a Montana type trip in our backyard!  Just to whet your whistle I’ve seen trout over 28 inches pulled from these waters!

SW Washington –  As we’ve previously mentioned, 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. To give you an idea, Terry’s abbreviated version is 741 words of wisdom, while his FULL VERSION is double the size, coming in at a whopping 1522 words of wisdom! 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.

Covid-19 Update
Anglers are still being asked to follow state guidelines and health advice for the COVID-19 pandemic by fishing in their local communities, traveling only with family or other members of their immediate household, and practicing physical distancing by keeping six feet apart.
Anglers should also be prepared to change plans if their first choice is too congested. 
For updates on the pandemic,  check the WDFW Covid-19 webpage HERE.

Brook trout by Terry Otto

Vancouver Metro Area
Fishing is booming in the Vancouver metro area, according to John Thompson of The Sportsman’s Warehouse in Vancouver, (360-604-800). “We can’t keep gear on the shelves,” he said recently.

Anglers are continuing to catch sockeye and steelhead in the Columbia River, and fishing has even improved over last week. High angler effort on the Columbia means fewer anglers targeting the tributaries, where fishing remains slow to fair at best.

The shad run is peaking, and the numbers are rivaling last year’s incredible return.
Trout fishing in the lowland lakes is beginning to slow with the warmer weather, as bass and panfishing are improving.  

Lewis River

Fishing for steelhead continues to be very slow for both bank and boat anglers. Pressure is also low with most anglers targeting the Columbia. The steelhead have not moved in in any strong numbers. During the most recent creel survey, 22 bank anglers had no catch. One boat/one rod had no catch. 

Lake Merwin

The WDFW reports that kokanee fishing has slowed some at Merwin, and the limits are taking longer to get. Thompson of Sportsmen’s Warehouse reports that the fish can be found at 30 to 40 feet in the morning, and are moving a little deeper as the day progresses. 

The fish are biting a variety of baits, including Brad’s Super Baits, Wedding Rings, and Wiggle Hootchies.  The fish are running a very nice size.

Yale Lake

The lake is producing good catches of kokanee, and fishing at this less-pressured lake is now better than at Merwin. While the kokes here are smaller than the Merwin fish, they are reportedly larger than usual this year. Limits are coming fairly quickly.

Swift Reservoir

Fishing is improving. Thompson talked to a pair of young anglers that took several land-locked coho here by fishing Little Cleo’s from the bank.

Klineline Pond

Fishing for trout is starting to slow down, and the lake has been very crowded. Anglers concerned about social distancing should probably fish elsewhere.

Battle Ground Lake

The lake was last stocked on May 26 with 2,138 rainbows at about 2 fish per pound. While the park is now open, the boat launch and dock are being renovated, and will not open until the end of June.

Longview Area

Cowlitz River

Dave Mallahan of Dave’s Guide Service, (360-201-9313), fished the Blue Creek area last Saturday, and reports that fishing is still slow. His boat hooked two fish during a morning trip, and he saw another 6 fish caught for about a dozen boats. Most anglers are bobber-dogging with bait.

Steelhead are only trickling in, although there are plenty in the Columbia. Many of those fish will move into the Cowlitz eventually, but few people expect this year to be an exceptional one for summer steelhead.

Kalama River

Fishing Is still slow, and effort has begun to decline. Weekly creel surveyors once again saw no catch for boat or bank anglers. The river is open to the retention of spring Chinook, but few have been caught to date.

Shad fishermen below Bonneville Dam. Photo Terry Otto

Columbia River Gorge

Wind River

The river reopened for salmon and steelhead as of June 22. The adult daily limit will be one salmon through June 30. For more details, check the WDFW announcement for Drano and the Wind River HERE.

Drano Lake: The lake reopened for salmon and steelhead as of June 22 The most recent creel survey showed no fish for one boat. As of July 1, the steelhead daily limit will be one fish in both Wind River and Drano Lake.

Klickitat River: The most recent creel survey above the #5 fishway turned up one Chinook for ten bank anglers.

Goose Lake: Fishing for rainbows and cutthroats is still good, although warm weather will make it tough on mid-day anglers. The trout are still biting spinners and flies, as well as Berkley Powerbait. The best bank fishing is on the north shore from the boat launch west along the campground.

If you like what you see, send it to your friends in SW Washington and let us know how Terry did on his first week of the job! You can email us at bob@theguidesforecast.com or Terry at orotto@wavecable.com. Your SW Washington fishermen can sign up for our FREE reports HERE or become a paid member to get even more quality fishing information HERE.