Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update February 7th, 2020

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Willamette Valley/Metro – With the Columbia running brown downstream of the Willamette, anglers on the mainstem have given it a reprieve lately. Once it begins to drop however, interest will escalate once again as February springers, destined for the Willamette River, once again become a possibility. Oh yea, winter steelhead too.

And speaking of the Willamette, it’s scheduled to rise once again over the weekend, but then should taper in flow and magnitude starting next week. It’s always fun when there’s a chance at a Willamette springer during the Sportsmen Show. Sorry, not this year. Sturgeon is an option, but I can say a very good one.

Here’s what pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN GUIDE SERVICE had to say about Sandy River fishing, “Hello All. The weather over the past few weeks has played havoc with the river and river levels. We saw the river take a huge spike and then drop to the ideal level and we saw good numbers of fish move into the river. This week, we will once again see the river take a big bump and then drop back to ideal levels. Fishing has been good with some good numbers of hatchery fish making it back to the hatchery. There has been 40 plus fish caught so far for the brood stock program with only a handful still needed. Also if you have some free time and you need to buy some new gear, the Sportsmen’s Show is going on at the expo building this weekend and you will find some very fantastic deals on rods and reels. The three major sporting good stores are always trying to outdo each other and you will need to compare prices. I saw some great deals. I saw some very high end rods being sold for over half price. So if you don’t mind the crowds, here is your chance to get some new gear at very good prices. So wishing every one the best of luck and tight lines.”

The Clackamas has suffered the same fate as the sporadic Sandy has. Fluctuating river levels has kept anglers at bay, less than motivated to try for the few steelhead that are present. A few are fishing, and finding rare success. Once the river drops, maybe closer to Valentine’s Day, action should improve.

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 January 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!

And speaking of the Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show, I’ll be in the KastKing Booth all day on Thursday (today/tonight) so I hope you get a chance to stop by and peruse the gear. After 2 years of hard field trials, I have yet to break a rod on countless large sturgeon and salmon. See some #KastKingCrush photos HERE and Willamette springers HERE and a sturgeon video HERE. After 30 years of guiding this year, I can say with confidence, BEST ROD EVER! Come see KastKing in Booth number 279! The rods I most frequently use are drop dead discounted to $125.00 each! You won’t find a better deal on such a dependable product! We’ll have flyline, nets, knives, braid and line counter reels at screaming deals too! Come see us!

November 2019 KastKing caught sea bass from the lower Columbia River

Northwest Oregon – It’s on. Following the fluctuating river levels on the north coast, the broodstock season is underway. Catches were good on Monday, for both the Wilson and Nestucca systems. Trouble is, you had to bring your own rock. Steelheaders are certainly a motivated bunch and those with the skillset and tenacity did find good numbers of fish early in the week. These rivers look like they will be out of reach for a while once again, but as we had hoped, the early hatchery brat season was NOT an indication as to how the rest of the story would be told. It’s good steelhead fishing, for both wild and broodstock fish.

The smaller streams are predictably predictable. A few spawned out hatchery brats on the NF of the Nehalem, Necanicum, Three Rivers and the Highway 30 systems, mixed in with a few early native arrivals. They will return to fishable condition sooner, but there won’t be many high quality fish around. A great place to take a beginner steelhead fisherman however.

The larger Nehalem won’t be in fishable shape for quite some time, but there are most certainly a fair bunch of wild fish available for the catch and release enthusiast.

No sign of a calming ocean, bottomfishing and ocean crabbing will remain off the table for the foreseeable future. Bay crabbing remains challenging.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports

From our friend Tim Moran

Cabin fever got the best of me this week so I got out and braved the weather to wet a line in a couple of my favorite places. I also talked to some fishermen on the river and a few fly shops – It’s Sportsman Show week which always gets me excited for the days to come. Last year we were making plans for fishing Patagonia but with that, in the rearview mirror (a trip like that and three weddings puts a dent in the wallet!) I’m looking forward to staying close to home and focusing on the great fishing we still have here in Oregon!

Lower Deschutes River – There are still a few steelhead being caught in the stretch between Warn Springs and Maupin. I saw two fish on my feed that were caught around Maupin and both were in that 4 to 5 lb range. It’s winter fishing so be ready for cold hands and feet. Take plenty of breaks and be very careful wading.

John Day River – Steelhead fishing is fair in the river from Cottonwood to Clarno. Guides are getting a fish or two for their clients most days. There is no pressure so if you go cover lots of water and you might find yourself a fish or two. The country is spectacular and you will be alone in it!

Metolius River – This is one of the rivers I hit this week. I got there way too early as it was 16 degrees so check the temps and get here around noon unless it’s going to be unseasonably warm. Fishing was decent with 3 rainbows, a brown and 5 whitefish to the net. I switched rods and went in search of a big bull trout but all I got was some exercise. There has been decent BT fishing though as I talked to some anglers who had caught fish and had also scored earlier in the week.

Fall River – The fishing has been pretty steady.

Prineville and Haystack Reservoirs – Trout fishing is holding up on both.

Crooked River – This was the other river I fished this week. It was very cold outside and there was zero surface activity. My buddy Gary caught a few fish. The river is low and clear, we were the only fishermen on the river all day. The air temp never got over 27 degrees and as I was pulling out at 5 PM as a snowstorm hit. It was a long drive back to Happy Valley but I was glad to have gotten out and fished and shared the day with an old friend and my golden retriever Charlie.

Now it’s off to the Sportsman Show on Friday and Saturday and then to the Siletz on Sunday for a steelhead trip. Have a great weekend everyone!

From ODF&W

Bank anglers are catching some nice trout from the bank at Ochoco Reservoir, which also will get 100 brood trout last week.

The Bend Pine Nursery Pond got 155 brood trout on Jan. 31.

Steelhead fishing on the Grande Ronde can be quite good in January and February when flows cooperate. Look for uncrowded conditions and lots of open water.

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.

Fishing conditions on the Umatilla continue to be good. Water levels increased this week and over 90 steelhead have been counted at Threemile Dam in the past three days. Steelhead anglers should focus on the lower sections of the river above and below Threemile Dam.

Most of Thief Valley Reservoir is ice-free and anglers can launch boats from the boat launch (though the dock is not in place).

Ice conditions and fishing have been good at Phillips and Wolf Creek reservoirs.

Ana Reservoir offers a unique fishing experience for hybrid bass throughout the winter. Fishing has been fair.

The 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 have 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.

Ocean swells have kept surfperch anglers off of the coastal beaches. Once the swells calm down, fishing for surfperch should pick up. Surfperch anglers have the best success using sand shrimp or Berkley Gulp sandworms.

Retention of yelloweye rockfish is prohibited by all anglers.

In the Coos and Coquille basins, the water has been a bit high this week for good fishing. However, there are steelhead in the systems and some locations could be fishable by the weekend.

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!
The Rogue, Illinois, and Applegate are all dropping and look to be in prime condition for steelheading, the fish just have to show. The Applegate is traditionally a later run of fish, but some “scouts” should be showing.

The Middle Rogue and Illinois should be picking up for winter steelhead as river conditions are good right now, apart from cold water temperatures and being the early stages of the run. Before the last week’s bump in river flow, anglers were starting to run into winter steelhead in the Galice area of the middle Rogue.

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.

Cooper Creek Reservoir was stocked with trout last week for kids’ fishing event. There are likely a bunch of trout still around.

There are good numbers of steelhead in the South Umpqua and water levels are dropping. Fishing should be good this weekend.

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

For regulation updates, go HERE.

Fishery Updates

Columbia River Tributaries

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – Two bank rods had no catch. Above the I-5 Br – 20 bank rods kept one steelhead. 11 boats/38 rods kept 19 steelhead and released one steelhead.


Bonneville Pool – 10 boats/23 rods kept 5 legal sturgeon and released 54 sublegal and one oversize sturgeon.

The Dalles Pool – 7 bank anglers had no catch. 6 boats/15 rods kept one legal sturgeon and released one sublegal and one oversize sturgeon.

John Day Pool – 32 bank anglers had no catch. 28 boats/58 rods kept three legal sturgeon and released one sublegal sturgeon.


Bonneville Pool – 4 boats/9 rods kept 14 walleye.

The Dalles Pool – 3 boats/5 rods kept two walleye.

John Day Pool – 19 boats/32 rods kept 25 walleye and released three walleye.

Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted

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  1. Don’t think I am seeing the full paid subscription reports even though I am logged in. How do I do that? The report invites me to see the full version if I become a paid subscriber but I am already a paid subscriber. Thanks for your help and your great updates. Keep up the good work! I want to read all of it as a paid subscriber. Thanks.

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