Captain Rob Gerlitz of Garibaldi Charters with a limit of large lingcod from April 1st, pictured with Emma Duddles of Seaside, OR

Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update for April 12th, 2019

Willamette Valley/Metro – Fish and wildlife managers met on Wednesday, extending the Columbia River spring Chinook season two extra days, beginning on Saturday and Sunday, April 13th and 14th. On the last day of the closure, catch rates were poor as the river was on a sharp rise. The river is forecast to start dropping, which should produce some fair fishing above the mouth of the Willamette River, where waters remain turbid.

Fish counts at Bonneville were on the increase, and should continue to progress well fueling upriver fisheries such as Drano Lake and the Wind River, once the flows subside that is. Although passage is progressing better than last year, passage conditions have been favorable so a quantitative measure isn’t reliable at this juncture. Managers hold back a 30% buffer for the sport fleet, and may release it, along with more opportunity if the run looks more robust than the prediction by mid-May.

The Willamette River fishery continued to produce consistent catches until the recent rain event. The river is slated to crest sometime today, but won’t fall back into fishable shape well past the weekend. We’re entering the historic peak season for Willamette River spring Chinook so anglers will be very anxious to get back on the water when conditions allow.

Sturgeon fishing has tapered dramatically in the Portland Harbor in recent weeks, but is pretty good around St. Helens. Sturgeon likely migrated towards the mouth of the Cowlitz to feed on the smelt return just now starting to taper.

Wild winter steelhead and spring Chinook passage at Willamette Falls has slowed with the increased flows, but returning steelhead numbers are very encouraging after the removal of over 15 predatory sea lions this winter. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has done more for wild steelhead recovery in 90 days than the US Army Corps of Engineers has done in a decade in the basin.

The Clackamas and Sandy Rivers also saw a significant rise in recent days although the Sandy may be in fishable shape by the weekend. The Sandy should start to produce some early summer steelhead, but most of the late returning winter steelhead will be wild and provide excellent sport. The Clackamas likely won’t return to fishable stage until well after the weekend.

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN reports, ” Hello all. This week we can say it was a wash for fishing the Sandy. We saw near record rain fall which blew out many rivers in the area. This last rains put the river up and over the 16 ft  mark and is slowly on the drop. The weather forecast is for more rain and snow in the mountains. They are predicting that Hood could receive another 2 ft of snow over the next week. The river as of Wednesday was running at 13 plus ft and should hold steady and should drop to 11 plus ft by the weekend. The current water temp is running around 42 degrees.

Northwest Oregon – Coastal systems also took a hit early this week, but should be fishing well by the weekend. The Wilson and Nestucca systems should provide one last good push of winter steelhead for anglers to enjoy, while the Willamette Valley recovers from the recent rain event. The last few years have provided a decent late showing of steelhead on these systems.

Check regulations before heading out, some coastal systems closed on April 1st to protect sensitive spawning stocks of steelhead this time of year.

No spring Chinook have been reported since the April 1st opener in Tillamook County. Action won’t get good for another month in this region.

The ocean has been upside down in recent days, sidelining the charter and sport fleet from easy limits of sea bass and good fishing for lingcod as well. Anglers remain hopeful that the swell will once again lie down for productive offshore fishing. Deep reef opportunity for large lingcod has been expanded another month and won’t close until May 1st this year. With the recent rain events, bay crabbing should be shot for a while.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports

From ODF&W

It’s springtime on the lower Deschutes River and recent spring rains have made the river high and muddy. But once the river falls back into place, trout fishing should be good from Mack’s Canyon to the locked gate.

Both North and South Twin lakes are ice-free and there are good opportunities for holdover trout. Access is via the 4260 road along Wickiup Reservoir.

Waterbodies scheduled to be stocked this week include Fall River, Prineville Reservoir, Rock Creek Reservoir, Bikini Pond, Pine Hollow Reservoir and Taylor Lake.

There will be a free Family Fishing Event at the McNary Ponds near Hermiston on Saturday, April 13 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. ODFW staff and volunteers will show you everything you need to know to go fishing – from baiting the hook to landing you catch. Heck, we’ll even loan you the gear you need.

Best bet for fishing in the Klamath Basin is Klamath Lake.

Thief Valley Reservoir full, ice-free and stocked with 7,500 legal-size and 500 trophy-size rainbow trout.

Waterbodies to scheduled to be stocked this week include: Burns Gravel Pond, Haines Pond, North Powder Pond and Thief Valley Reservoir.

Southwest from Pete Heley at

The Charleston ODFW office showed me how to access the trout stocking schedule. I had been going to the home page, selecting “FISH DIVISION and then selecting “FISHING RESOURCES” and then clicking on the “TROUT STOCKING” ICON. This method no longer redirects you to the trout stocking schedule.

After a chat with the Charleston ODFW office, I now select “FISHING” at the top of the ODFW home page and then scroll down to “STOCKING SCHEDULE”.

A special thanks to the Charleston ODFW for the easier access – especially since the ODFW stocked the heck out of western Oregon waters last week.

Waters being planted include: Upper and Lower Empire lakes with 1,000 trophies each; Johnson Mill Pond (3,000 legals); Powers Pond (3,000 legals); Bradley Lake (3,000 legals) Saunders Lake (3,000 legals) and Butterfield Lake (3,000 legals). Eel Lake received 2,500 legals.
Farther south, Garrison Lake received 200 trophies and in the Roseburg area, Cooper Creek (1,500 legals) and Plat “I” (1,000 legals) were stocked. Upper and Lower Empire lakes were stocked last week. Lake Marie at Winchester Bay received 1,000 legal trout last week.

The ODFW stocking schedule seems to be alternating between Lower Empire Lake and Upper Empire Lake receiving 250 trophy trout this week.. The last time this happened, both lakes received trout. Also slated to be stocked this week are Garrison Lake with 450 trophy trout and Cleawox Lake with 1,475 trophy trout.

Many streams along the Oregon coast closed to the retention of hatchery steelhead on April 1st. Some streams such as Coos River, the Millicomas, the South Fork of the Coquille River, the Umpqua River and Tenmile Creek remain open all year for hatchery steelhead. Other streams such as the Siuslaw and North Fork Siuslaw, the East, Middle and North forks of the Coquille and Eel Creek are open for hatchery steelhead through April. Keep your regulations booklet handy.

Although there hasn’t been much talk or bragging, the number of anglers starting to fish for striped bass in the upper reaches of tidewater on the Smith River says plenty.

Lingcod fishing off Winchester Bay’s South Jetty was very good before the Umpqua River muddied up. By the time the river clears up almost all the lings that moved in to spawn will have finished guarding their nests and moved to deeper water – leaving only resident lingcod to fish for.

By the time that warmer, more stable weather finally arrives some bass and crappie should be entering their immediate pre-spawn mode and should react quickly by moving to shallow water and becoming more aggressive.

By the time the Umpqua River clears up, some smallmouth bass should actually be on their nests with the rest at the imminent pre-spawn stage.

Southwest – From ODF&W

Anglers have picking up redtail surfperch on the beaches near Coos Bay and Bandon, when surf conditions have allowed.

Bottomfishing has been good when the ocean lays down and anglers have been able to make it out.

Bottomfish anglers may now fish at all depths until May 1. Fishing for lingcod and rockfish has been good when the ocean is calm enough to fish. The daily bag limit for marine fish is 5 plus 2 lingcod. The retention of cabezon is closed until July 2019.

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.

Ocean salmon fishing is open for Chinook salmon from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt from March 15 through April 30. Chinook must be a minimum of 24 inches in length. The ocean is close to coho salmon.

Historically, this is the peak of the steelhead season on the Rogue, so don’t put your gear away just yet!

With area rivers high and muddy, now’s a good time to check out trout fishing in area reservoirs like Cooper Creek and Galesville.

Rain and melting snow may have opened access to some higher elevation lakes for the determined trout angler.

The Smith River is an often overlooked winter steelhead destination, but it’s one of the first to clear after high water so keep an eye on river levels as we move toward the weekend.

Bass and other warmwater fishing is picking up in response to recent spring temperatures.

Keep an eye on surf conditions and when conditions allow, plan to hit the beach for surfperch fishing. Spring and early summer fishing can be excellent.

Trout fishing is closed on many SW streams from Oct. 31 through May 22, consult the regulations.

Most rivers in the Coos and Coquille Basins are still open to winter steelhead angling through April 30; some bright steelhead are still returning although many will be spawned out.

Extreme rainfall in SW Oregon has many rivers and streams high, off-color, and near flood stage or over. Use extreme caution around high water.

Waterbodies scheduled to be stocked the week of April 8 include: Expo Pond, Laird Lake, Empire Lakes, Bradley Lake, Emigrant Lake, Floras Lake and Willow Creek Reservoir.

2019 Stocking schedule and Stocking Maps

SW Washington – No WDF&W updates since March 27. Here is the archive: