Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update April 17th, 2020

Willamette Valley/Metro – Despite stay-at-home orders, effort (and subsequent catch) is above the 5-year average for the Willamette River spring Chinook fishery. It’s far from epic and one experienced (and retired) former fisher manager observed that catch rates sure don’t seem like it’s a 40,000 adult salmon return. We were certainly surprised last year, the upcoming weeks will give us a better idea as to how the return will perform in 2020. The greatest number of fish continue to be harvested in the lower reaches of the river (Multnomah Channel) but it’s also where the bulk of the effort takes place. We’ll have the river section by river section break-down of catch and effort in the full version of the report.

Over 100 spring Chinook per day are passing Willamette Falls with nearly 1,000 adults over as of April 16th. The winter steelhead count continues to impress, but is starting to wane. Over 5,000 adult winter steelhead are seeding upper Willamette tributaries with a future for this once imperiled species. Summer steelhead are making their way upstream as well with double digit numbers passing every day.

The Columbia River of course remains closed, but spring Chinook passage at Bonneville is surpassing 100 fish per day. To date, over 1000 adults have passed thus far with no one to fish for them.

Here’s what pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN GUIDE SERVICE had to say about Sandy River fishing, “Hello All. I hope that everyone is doing well and is making sure to keep their 6ft distance from others. This week, I heard of the first springer hooked on the Sandy and was lost at the bank. There are fish scattered throughout the entire river with summers and springers on the move upriver and with some down river winters. Fresh bait has been the best producer so far with beads,plastic worms, spinners and spoons all being productive. If you plan on fishing Oxbow down and you plan to fish eggs, your chance of hooking a sturgeon is very likely. The river is on the drop and will continue until we either get more rain or the freezing level jumps and stays up above 8 thousand foot level.”

The Clackamas remains quiet on several fronts, particularly the spring Chinook front. Not many are holding out for a robust return this year. Late winter steelhead are still available, mostly wild, and there are a few summer steelhead in the system as well. With stable water levels, all reaches of the Clackamas as fishing relatively similar, but the upper reaches have the highest concentration of wild winter steelhead.

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Northwest Oregon – North coast action should begin to wane. After a productive season, and with winter steelhead on their way to the spawning grounds, anglers will begin to change their focus to other species. That is, when the boat ramps open back up for business.

Most steelhead will be in the upper reaches of the still viable river systems with a few summer steelhead entering the Wilson, Nestucca and Siletz River systems. For the most part, steelheaders will be putting away their gear until bigger numbers of summer steelhead enter the systems.

This is typically the time of year when coastal anglers start to focus on saltwater fishing and spring Chinook. Both opportunities are not viable right now, with most ports and boat ramps closed. There may be a dory option as the swell forecast remains eerily awesome. It’s too bad we don’t have good access right now.

As for spring Chinook, it’s early so don’t start fretting about that now. The bottom line, we’re a bit sidelined for several reasons from our coastal fishing right now.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports

From our friend Tim Moran:

Tim reports that few folks have been out lately. Fly shops are largely shut down and folks have been obeying the stay at home or close to home order keeping many from recreating.

From ODF&W

ODF&W is putting the fishing reporting on hiatus for a few weeks so nothing to report this week.

Southwest – From ODF&W

ODF&W is putting the fishing reporting on hiatus for a few weeks so nothing to report this week.

SW Washington –  From the WDF&W web site, April 9

  • Fishing and shellfishing seasons: All recreational fishing and shellfishing are closed until at least May 4 statewide in response to the governor’s order to “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” and limit the spread of coronavirus. 
  • Razor clams: Planned razor clam digs have been canceled until further notice.
  • Catch record cards: Return via mail or hold onto them until you are safe to drop off.
  • Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Check Stations: AIS check stations are still active, and WDFW staff are inspecting watercraft for invasive species.

Webinar Driftboating and bank fishing the Wilson River with Pro Guide Bob Rees January 20th