Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update December 20th, 2019

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Willamette Valley/Metro – With little to fish for in the metro area rivers, anglers are busily doing other good stuff this time of year. It won’t be too long before steelhead start to show in better numbers on the Sandy and hopefully the Clackamas too. Until then there aren’t many options.

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN reports, ” Hello All. This week’s report has more winters steelhead in the Sandy. After last week’s report showing the first steelhead caught in the lower river, I then was informed that there has been a few fish caught by a few fly guys in mid to upper river over a week ago. If you plan on the fishing on Thursday, expect to see the river on the rise, for we are to receive about 4 to 5 inches of rain. The forecast is for the river to jump up to 12.25 ft. The forecast has been changing daily and at one point NOAA thought that the river was going  up over 13.5ft and they keep adjusting as the weather changes. If the river does blow out, it will take a few days or up to a week before it comes back into shape. If the freezing level stays below 4000 ft the could come up and clear quickly.”

Catch and release sturgeon fishing is one of those options, and it is a good one. More reports of large and smaller sturgeon are coming from the Portland Harbor. Frozen smelt, herring or sand shrimp are taking fair numbers of fish downstream of the Fremont Bridge.

There are some winter steelhead in the Willamette system. Steelhead starting passing in better numbers this week, but the total count still remains under 100 fish. It feels good however, that those fish are passing the falls without getting chomped by predating sea lions.

See the full version of Jeff’s, Tim’s and Bob’s 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.


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Northwest Oregon – There have some steelhead caught in several of the north coast systems, just not in any great quantities. Pro guide Rob Gerlitz (503-812-4950) reported taking a couple in the 7 – 8 pound range on the Wilson following the last rain freshet. He got blanked on his last trip however. There were some Chinook in the river, but that season is now closed.

All north coast river systems are expected to blow out with the onset of the atmospheric river now pummeling the north coast. The rivers are expected to rise to near flood stage by Saturday, putting the rivers out for the weekend.

The North Fork Nehalem reported slow fishing on Thursday morning, but there have been a few fish caught since the last rain freshet. It should improve following the upcoming rain event, but don’t expect a banner year on this system just yet, hopefully I’m wrong.

Three Rivers, the Necanicum, the Highway 30 streams (Gnat and Big Creek, Klaskanine River) will all become options by Sunday or Monday, once the high water starts to drop and clear. These early returning steelhead aren’t present in bulk, but at least they provide an option.

Crabbing has remained good on the lower Columbia, but most would agree, it isn’t slam dunk limits. We’ve had to work harder for a lesser grade of crab, but limits have remained the rule, likely because I’ve stayed away from the competition. That’s a good rule to follow, now we just need the weather to cooperate.

Razor clam digging closed coast-wide last week. That’s a bummer.

As big as the ocean is now, it may actually calm by next week. More will be revealed but it won’t be an option for the near future. It would sure be fun to see how the crabbing is out there.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports

From avid angler Tim Moran

Tim writes in – I have no additional info this week…everybody must be Christmas shopping….and the weather is awful! The information below is from last week.

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.

Trout anglers can target the Crooked, lower Deschutes and Metolius rivers, where fishing for native redbands is open throughout the year. Here are 7 tips for winter trout fishing.

With the recent winter storms, roads may be treacherous and waterbodies may be freezing over, especially at higher elevations. Be sure to check on conditions before heading out.

The McNary Ponds have a surprising number of walleye. Look for the deepest areas and fish worms near the bottom.

Best bet continues to be 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.

The Klamath and Blitzen rivers are open to native redband trout throughout the winter.

Southwest – From ODF&W

With this week’s rain, steelhead fishing in the mainstem Umpqua should be picking up. River levels may be high for drift fishing, plunking may be a better strategy.

Anglers have reported catching a few steelhead in the tidewater sections of the Coquille River.

Some anglers have been catching trout at Eel Lake.

Lost Lake Reservoir will remain a good trout fishing destination throughout the winter.

Bottomfishing is open to fish at all depths. 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.

Anglers may also choose to fish the offshore longleader fishery outside of the 40-fathom regulatory line, which is open year-round.

2019 Stocking schedule and Stocking Maps

SW Washington –  From the WDF&W web site, December 15th.

For regulation updates, go HERE.

Fishery Updates

Columbia River Tributaries

Salmon/Steelhead:

Grays River – 12 bank anglers released one coho jack.

Elochoman River – 30 bank anglers kept three steelhead and released 13 coho.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 2 bank rods had no catch. Above the I-5 Br – 5 bank rods released one coho jack. 1 boat/4 rods released two adult coho and a coho jack.

Kalama River – 15 bank anglers had no catch. 1 boat/2 rods had no catch.

Lewis River – 19 bank anglers released one coho.