Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update February 14th, 2020

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Willamette Valley/Metro – Well, it’s official. The first spring Chinook of the Willamette River was caught on Wednesday, a 15 pounder caught on a herring and flasher in the Sellwood Bridge area. Although not surprising that a February springer would be caught, it is a bit surprising that under these still somewhat colored up conditions and high water that one angler could find the proverbial needle in the haystack. Somebody had to break the ice, congratulations Richard Marantz. Check out Bill Monroe’s paragraph about it here, along with a photo.

There’s been some effort around Oregon City lately, but no rumor of success just yet. Flows on the Willamette look to be dropping slightly over the weekend, before another bump happens early next week. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that another springer or two could be caught this weekend, and since it’s Free Fishing Weekend, what do you have to lose?

And very noteworthy, Willamette Falls has now passed nearly 1,500 wild winter steelhead, that’s 6X the number of fish than in 2017 when the California sea lions were eating them to extinction. At this rate, we could easily see a 3,000 fish return, far above the recent average. It’s amazing what can happen with a little pinniped management.

Sturgeon fishing (catch and release) is also an option on the lower Columbia now that flows are moderating.

Here’s what pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN GUIDE SERVICE had to say about Sandy River fishing, “Hello All. What an eventful week we had over the past seven days. This week we saw the river drop after going up to over 15ft and is currently running at 10.52ft as of Wednesday afternoon with about two and half feet of visibility. The forecast is for the river to hold at current level until the rains start up again. The forecast is for the river to take another jump up to over 12ft, starting Friday and going thru Sunday. The river will slowly drop Monday thru mid week.

The Clackamas River has popped off, stronger than most would expect for this early in the season. 51 new winter steelhead entered the holding pen at the Clackamas hatchery this week with more than double that in the pen now, since the season began. One boat fishing the Barton to Carver stretch reported nearly a double-digit day so when conditions are right, it’s time to fish the Clackamas. The flows are still high, but that just means you fish the slower drifts on this system. It’s expected to come back up over the weekend, sadly.

There are some winter trout opportunities, but with the upcoming weather blast and current wet weather events, maybe they should fend for themselves for just a bit longer. HERE is the February stocking schedule.

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 – Steelheaders had a good week on the north coast systems. The Wilson and Nestucca fell into perfect shape and fished the best on Monday, where limits were reported by several guides. Expectedly, the action slowed for the middle of the week, but numbers remained good with reports of multiple opportunities each day over the course of the week.

Pro guide Chris Vertopoulos (503-349-1377) had ahold of 10 steelhead on Monday, and finished his week through Thursday going 5 for 8 today (Thursday). Chris mentioned that the larger, higher profile soft beads produced well in the higher flows this week. The rain had started in on Thursday and Chris mentioned the appearance of a slide upriver, starting to turn the river brown by the day’s end.

The Nestucca also fished well throughout, but takes a bit more time to clear than the Wilson River generally. There were some quality wild and broodstock fish taken this week from 6th Bridge downstream, depending on the day.

The Trask and Kilchis were also good options this week, but for mostly wild fish requiring catch and release. You have to decide if you want to release your fish, in exchange for a more serene and scenic float. It’s a no-brainer for some.

Smaller streams like the Necanicum, Three Rivers and the NF Nehalem. There are a few fresh ones available, some spent ones too. The NF Nehalem reported recycling about 140 steelhead at mid-week.

Still no signs of friendly seas for those hoping for fresh fish tacos from nearshore reefs. You’ll be waiting a bit longer. Bay crabbing isn’t great either. Razor digging is an option, but the surf is big, so that doesn’t help many wanting to pursue this beach delicacy.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports

From our friend Tim Moran

No update this week from Tim.

From ODF&W

It’s Free Fishing Weekend Feb. 15 & 16. This weekend you won’t need a license, tag or endorsement to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon that’s open – to fishing, crabbing and clamming. Looking for some ideas? Check out the reports below.

Wizard Falls Hatchery grounds will be closed Feb. 17-21 for hazardous tree removal. Anglers can park at the hatchery but can’t access facility’s grounds.

Water levels on the Wallowa River peaked last week, but look for steelhead fishing to improve as the water drops and clears.

Steelhead fishing on the John Day has slowed due to high water and slow visibility. But steelhead continue to move upriver so keep an eye on water levels and be ready to water when levels start to drop.

Ice fishing on Kinney Lake and Magone Lake has been good.

Priday Reservoir is open and anglers have been catching some nice trout.

In Krumbo and Malheur reservoirs, fishing has been good for trout up to 20 inches.

Ice conditions have deteriorated due to recent warm weather and rain. Ice anglers should use extreme caution before venturing onto the ice.

Best bet for the Klamath area continues to be native redband trout in the Klamath River. Check out the stretch between the Powerhouse and CA state line.

Southwest – From ODF&W

A series of winter storms has continued to hit the Oregon coast over the last several weeks and has pretty much kept recreational anglers off the ocean. So no new reports or information on how bottomfish fishing has been. If ocean conditions cooperate, lingcod fishing in January can be very good.

The bottomfish fishery is open at all depths. The General Marine Species bag limit is 5 fish.

It’s Free Fishing Weekend Feb. 15 & 16. This weekend you won’t need a license, tag or endorsement to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon that’s open – to fishing, crabbing and clamming. Looking for some ideas? Check out the reports below.

Water levels in the Coos basin rivers have been low, but that hasn’t stopped anglers from catching a few steelhead even in the low, clear water.

Steelhead fishing continues to be hot on the Chetco, and once water levels a bit more boat anglers will be able to hit the water.

Garrison Lake is a good destination for native trout, uncaught hatchery trout and even a few lunker, trophy trout!

Winter steelhead are starting to show more in the Galice area of the Rogue.

Both Reinhardt Pond and Lake Selmac received their first stocking of the season this week, in time for Free Fishing Weekend.

The trout bite continues to be good in the Holy Water, the stretch of the upper Rogue between the hatchery and the Lost Creek Lake spillway.

Some anglers have been catching their limit of hatchery steelhead on the South Umpqua.

SW Washington –  From the WDF&W web site, February 4th.

For regulation updates, go HERE.


Mainstem Lower Columbia River I-5 Bridge downstream:

Sec 5 (Woodland) bank – Five salmonid anglers had no catch.

Sec 6 (Kalama) bank – One salmonid angler had no catch.

Sec 8 (Longview) bank – One salmonid angler had no catch.


Columbia River Tributaries Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 12 bank rods had no catch. Above the I-5 Br – 13 bank rods had no catch. 9 boats/42 rods kept six steelhead and released three steelhead. Tacoma Power employees recovered 39 winter-run steelhead adults during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 20,900 cubic feet per second on Monday, February 10, 2020. Water visibility is 3 feet and the water temperature is 43.2 F.


Bonneville Pool – 13 bank anglers released two sublegal sturgeon. 16 boats/47 rods kept 20 legal sturgeon and released 118 sublegal sturgeon.

The Dalles Pool – 3 boats/7 rods kept one legal sturgeon and released one sublegal and two oversize sturgeon.

John Day Pool – 45 bank anglers released one sublegal sturgeon. 11 boats/26 rods had no catch.


Bonneville Pool – 5 boats/6 rods kept four walleye and released seven walleye.

The Dalles Pool – One bank angler had no catch. 1 boat/2 rods had no catch.

John Day Pool – One bank angler had no catch. 16 boats/37 rods kept one walleye

Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted