Oregon Fishing Guides

Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update December 27th, 2019

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Willamette Valley/Metro – Following the recent high water event in the valley, rivers are back on the drop and anglers are coming out from under their rocks in pursuit of steelhead and sturgeon once again. Unfortunately, the fish aren’t cooperating all that much.

The Willamette is just now coming back on line for sturgeon fishing and even though there isn’t much effort, the catches have been steady. Not overly impressive, but it remains one of the most consistent fisheries in the region right now.

Anglers are much more interested in steelhead of course. Most know that the Clackamas isn’t a great early season option but there has been some effort on the Sandy lately.

There’s been some good anglers get skunked over on the Sandy recently and here’s what pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) had to say about Sandy River fishing, “I floated the lower river on Monday and the river is on the drop. The extended forecast is for the river to continue to drop back down to about 9ft and stay steady thru the weekend until we get the next rain event. The river has lots of debris in it and you must check your gear regularly. The current water temp is running around 42 degrees and will drop if we get colder weather or snow melts quickly. On Monday, I hooked one fall Chinook on a nightmare jig and a sturgeon on a size 12mm pink sheen soft bead. There is fresh steelhead entering the river daily and the peak time won’t be until February. There has been more boat action taking place in the upper river and rafters from Dodge to Oxbow or to Dabney.”

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!

Northwest Oregon – River conditions on the north coast came into ideal shape this week, following a near-flood event for most systems in the district. Pro guide Rob Gerlitz (503-812-4950) reported underwhelming results under ideal conditions for the Wilson on Thursday (12/26). He went 0 for 2 for the day’s drift. Others reported a poor return on their investment of time as well for Wilson River anglers.

Pro guide Chris Vertopoulos (503-349-1377) fished the Trask in earnest on Christmas, floating from Cedar Creek to Loren’s Drift with nothing to show for it. There’s a sign at the put-in indicating a navigational hazard close to the hatchery. “Tree down ½ way across the river at the Trask Hatchery; stay to the left.” Following a major rain event like we just had, boaters need to exercise even MORE caution as they drift down any of these dynamic river systems.

The beacon of the north coast, the North Fork Nehalem River has not produced a large number of hatchery fish, despite being in the peak season right now. One problem with these early returning fish is not just that they don’t return in high percentages, but they don’t bite all that well either. The hatchery reported around 3 fish being taken out on Thursday morning, with nearly 100 back to the hatchery trap since the last high water event.

Other small river systems that should have fish, but few are being found include Three Rivers, the Necanicum, Big and Gnat Creek and the Klaskanine River.

Big blue has been no place to recreate. A huge swell has kept the recreational fleet from fishing or crabbing. It doesn’t look like it’ll improve much any time soon.

Bay crabbing hasn’t been impressive on most north coast estuaries. Netarts Bay is an exception, but you still have to work for them to realize any degree of success.

The lower Columbia seemed to turn back on as we took easy limits on Monday. The crabs weren’t of a great grade, but beggars can’t be choosers. That will all change by the 28th, when the commercial fleet drops their pots. I think they’ll be disappointed with the size of the keepers their required to adhere to.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports

From avid angler Tim Moran

There were a few lucky fishermen that got out early on Christmas day as I popped open my news feed started to see pictures of some nice rainbows and a big Bull Trout from the Metolius. A stringer full of big rainbows from up on Lake Roosevelt and even a nice Steelhead from the Deschutes! SO if you get a chance to get out there are opportunities!

Lower Deschutes River – Steelhead fishing is waning in the cooler air and water temps but fish are available to the hardy angler. Most if not all fish will be in their fall colors and will resemble a big native trout.

John Day River – Steelhead fishing is fair in the river from Cottonwood to Clarno. Temps will be chilly so dress accordingly.

Metolius River – There are lots of big Bull Trout in the river so swinging and stripping big steamer patterns will draw strikes from these brutes.

Crooked River – Flows are low and stable and fishing is good. This is a great time of year to fish a bit then build a nice fire and enjoy the canyon.

Grand Ronde River – Steelhead fishing is slow to fair. Fishing has been better than last year so if you have a trip planned you should have a reasonable chance for success.

NE and SE Oregon lakes are mostly iced over now so they won’t be fish-able until spring.

Ana Reservoir and river – The reservoir has been kicking out rainbows to 20 inches.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and got loaded up on their favorite outdoor gear! See you in 2020!

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.

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.

Pacific Ocean

Bottomfishing is now 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. The longleader fishery has a daily bag limit of 10 fish made of yellowtail, widow, canary, blue, deacon, redstripe, greenstripe, silvergray, and bocaccio rockfish. No other groundfish are allowed and offshore longleader fishing trips cannot be combined with traditional bottomfish, flatfish or halibut trips.

2019 Stocking schedule and Stocking Maps

SW Washington –  From the WDF&W web site, December 23rd.

For regulation updates, go HERE.

Fishery Updates

Columbia River Tributaries


Grays River – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Elochoman River – 23 bank anglers kept ten steelhead and released 1 coho. 1 boat/3 rods released 1 coho.

Cowlitz River Above the I-5 Br – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Klickitat River below Fisher Hill Bridge – 3 bank anglers had no catch.