Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update December 13th, 2019

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Willamette Valley/Metro – It’s still early for steelhead in the metro rivers, but one acquaintance noted a lot of splashing around during the night earlier this week. He speculated that they were steelhead starting to show as he’s familiar with the sound of splashing sturgeon. He also noted the first stellar sea lion of the season at his place just downstream of Meldrum Bar. He also noted however that there are far fewer sea lions than usual working the waters, that may be because 33 of them were removed from the Willamette last year. This year, we get to expand the program to remove the Stellar sea lions that have been effectively predating on spawning sturgeon in the Willamette and Columbia systems as well. Willamette Falls’ passage remains minimal.

There still aren’t many anglers pursuing sturgeon in the lower Willamette but the fish are certainly there. Fresh sand shrimp (if you can find it) along with frozen smelt, anchovies or herring should all take fish for persistent anglers. The river is forecasted to rise about a foot, which will be a welcome change for all fish in the system.

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN reports on the Sandy River, “Hello All. This week I can confirm that the first winter steelhead was caught on the Sandy River. The steelhead was a native fish caught by Jason Stewart on the lower river. Jason had just taken the ODFW steelhead 101 class on the 1st and he and 28 other students fished on the 8th. Jason caught the native on a pink jig under a bobber. Talk about beginners luck, new rod and reel. I also have a confirmation of another steelhead caught in the lower river by hatchery personnel. Talking about ODFW, I received a phone call by Ryan Queen, Cedar creek hatchery manager that he and his staff will be putting up new signs that will help with ID of all fish species on the Sandy.”

Clackamas River anglers are still looking for their first steelhead of the season. It may still be some time away, but maybe not too far away. The only effort will pay dividends! And how ironic is this? The 2019 final coho count was just 13 coho more than the 2018 count. The final tally to Eagle Creek National Fish Hatchery was 3,732. Let’s hope for a robust winter steelhead return!

See the full version of Jeff’s, Tim’s and Bob’ reports by becoming a paid subscriber here. It’s just $0.50 cents per week!

More TROUT STOCKING of both legals and trophy trout in the Willamette Valley and throughout the state. Fall is a great time to take advantage of these fish that are wanting to put on some winter pounds before the weather hits.

Northwest Oregon – Just when you thought the news couldn’t get any worse. ODF&W has been forced to close the entire north coast to Chinook angling through the end of the year. And with the permanent regulation dictating the Chinook closure until spring Chinook season on April 1st, we’ll be out of the water for a while. Fall Chinook fishing wasn’t all that great anyway, but it’s a symptom of a larger problem, our fisheries are failing and poor water quality is a factor. HERE is the press release so you stay in the guidelines of the letter of the law.

That said, the extensive closure does not affect steelhead fishing. Granted, steelhead fishing is far from hot but fish have been caught in many north coast systems. We ALWAYS give the weekly FORECAST for every north coast system in the paid version of our newsletter so look for that if you’re a paid subscriber. Simply put, however, the Highway 30 streams, the Necanicum, North Fork Nehalem, Wilson, and Three Rivers, as well as the Nestucca mainstem below Three Rivers itself, should all have early returning steelhead available to persistent anglers and this week’s rain freshet will only help. Rivers have been very low and clear but are expected to peak tonight and head in a downward trajectory for weekend anglers. It’s the perfect time for early run steelhead on these systems!

Although the current rain freshet will obviously impact saltwater intrusion into north coast estuaries, crabbing will likely remain good for this weekend. Especially with all the dead and dying Chinook working their way downstream. There won’t be any shortage of protein with the recent die-offs.

Offshore weather is horrific. If it was nice, the bottom-fishing and crabbing would be good. Sadly, offshore recreation won’t be an option for a while.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports

From avid angler Tim Moran

Lower Deschutes River –  Steelhead are still being caught in the stretch between Warn Springs and Maupin.  Trout fishing also continues to be good fishing nymphs and BWO’s in the afternoon when the hatch occurs. It’s going to be snowy if you’re going over the pass or driving up from Bend so be prepared.. 

John Day River – Steelhead fishing is fair in the river from Cottonwood to Clarno.  Temps will be chilly so dress accordingly.  The country out there is beautiful and you can fish in solace this time of year.      

Metolius River –  The Fly Fisherman’s Place shop in Sisters reports good fishing on nymphs with a BWO hatch in the afternoons.  Again, this time of year the river can be too cold to fish until after 10:00 am so take your time getting there.

Fall River –  The fishing has been pretty steady with Euro-nymphing taking the lion’s share of the fish. The forecast is for snow up that high this weekend so be ready for the flurries! 

Crooked River – Flows are low and stable and fishing should be good. 

Grand Ronde River – Steelhead fishing is slow to fair.

It’s a little slow out there but hey…it’s December!  I hope to get out for some winter Walleye fishing in the gorge if the weather and my weekend ever comes together.  Best of luck to everyone!

From ODF&W

The snow gates west of Mt. Bachelor between Dutchman Flat and Deschutes Bridge are closed for the winter.

Steelhead anglers on the lower Deschutes should concentrate on the Maupin to Warm Springs section.

Trout anglers can target the Crooked, lower Deschutes and Metolius rivers, where fishing for native redbands can be good throughout the year.

Best bet remains the Klamath River below Keno Dam and JC Boyle dam to the Frain Ranch

The Ana Reservoir and River are good bets for winter fishing. Both are spring fed waterbodies and remain a constant temperature throughout the year.

Southwest – From ODF&W

Bottomfishing is now open to fish at all depths. Fishing for lingcod and rockfish was very good this past weekend. Many anglers caught big lingcod while fishing out past 40 fathoms. The daily bag limit for marine fish is 5 plus 2 lingcod.

The harvest of cabezon along with copper, quillback, and China rockfish are now all closed to boat anglers. Shore anglers will still be able to harvest these rockfish species (but are encouraged to release them) and 1 cabezon a day.

With this week’s rain, steelhead fishing in the mainstem Umpqua should be picking up.

Steelhead anglers have been hitting the Coos and Coquille, and this week’s rain should help their cause. No word of the first fish caught…yet.

Effective Dec. 7, the emergency angling closures in the Winchuck, Chetco, Elk and Sixes Rivers have been lifted. Reduced wild Chinook harvest and bag limits remain in effect.

A few winter steelhead anglers have started fishing the East Fork and West Fork Millicoma rivers. We have not received any reports of steelhead being caught but with the rain, in the forecast, some fish should move in soon.

Winter steelhead anglers have started fishing along the mainstem Coquille River in areas around Argo and the town of Coquille. Most anglers will plunk in these areas with a Spin-n-Glo tipped with eggs or sand shrimp. 

2019 Stocking schedule and Stocking Maps

SW Washington –  From the WDF&W web site, December 9th.

For regulation updates, go HERE.

Fishery Updates

Columbia River Tributaries


Grays River – 3 bank anglers released seven coho. 1 boat/2 rods had no catch.

Elochoman River – 12 bank anglers released nine coho.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 9 bank rods had no catch. 7 boats/13 rods kept two coho and released two Chinook and one coho.

Above the I-5 Br – 13 bank rods kept three coho and released one coho jack.