Trevor Storlie of Corbett, fishing with Al Noraker of KastKing rods, took this 7-pound native buck on a single bead on the Sandy River on January 21st.

Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update January 31st, 2020

Willamette Valley/Metro – With the Willamette high and roily, nobody spent any time in pursuit of any species this week on the Willamette. That looks like it won’t change for the foreseeable future as we continue to get doused with wet weather. When will it stop?

There was a rumor, however, of at least one spring Chinook caught by plunkers this week, other rumors hint at Westport (Oregon) boats catching some fish too. The water must be too dirty to fish there now, and January seems a bit early for any “measurable” number of springers to be caught anywhere. A mainstem Columbia springer isn’t out of the question however, the report stated it was a 12# hatchery “snow-belly,” a term used for Willamette bound spring Chinook. Plunkers on the mainstem are typically targeting winter steelhead and occasionally encounter a spring Chinook this time of year.

Managers met earlier this week to discuss the progression of the Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day Pool sturgeon fisheries. The Dalles Pool is nearing its quota of sturgeon (the pool is at 72% of its 135 keeper quota) but catches slowed last week so managers took no action on the fishery. They’ll monitor is closely and make necessary in-season changes when catches ramp up again.

Here’s what pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN GUIDE SERVICE had to say about Sandy River fishing, “Hello All.  This week we saw the river again blow up and go over 13 ft. Before the river blew up the best fishing had been in the Oxbow Park area. There have been fresh fish filtering into the river on every freshet. The broodstock program has been doing well with almost 40 fish caught for the program. There have been about a half dozen hatchery fish back to the hatchery. Most of the fish caught so far have been natives and are of nice size. The river will remain high until next week with the river dropping to 12 ft and holding towards the middle of next week. The river will clear and be ideal for sleds and most bank guys fishing close to the bank. So plan to fish high with the high water and use lots of bait and scent.  I also would like to offer the opportunity to fish the 2nd Annual John Aho Memorial Steelhead Derby

All Fishermen are invited to compete in the John Aho Memorial Steelhead Derby on March 7 in Troutdale.  The tournament to raise funds for a scholarship named in John’s honor. John Aho Memorial Steelhead Derby Returns March 7, 2020.

This annual charity tournament offers a top prize of $300, plus other awards, food, and music. The entry fee of $75 is due by 8 p.m. March 1. Registration, Rules, sponsorship opportunities, and more information about the event are available at: . All are invited to attend the awards celebration, raffle and silent auction beginning at 3:30 p.m. at Skyland Pub, 3175 S Troutdale Road in Troutdale. Bill Chisholm,, Cell: 503-789-9311 

All the info and contact are listed above. So get out there and try your luck. Tight lines.

The Clackamas is up and colored and will continue to be that way well into next week, a lot like the Sandy. Robert Campbell of Fishermen’s Marine and Outdoor in Oregon City reinforces reports of just a scattering of steelhead so far on the Clackamas. It’s been challenging with the water conditions as of late.

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!

Northwest Oregon – It’s been big water on all north coast streams as of late and most of the week with the exception of smaller streams, which don’t have any quality catchable numbers of steelhead anyway. Anglers are excited to get back on the water this weekend however, the smaller streams will come into fishable shape by Thursday or Friday, and the Wilson should fish by Saturday but it’s supposed to see another small bump that day as well.

It’ll be a volatile weekend with those small streams not fishing all that well for spawned out early returning steelhead and the larger systems coming on by Sunday or Monday depending on how big the next rain system is on Saturday.

Why would you even think the ocean has been an option as of late?

We’ll have more to report on in the full-length (paid) version, with much of our text going towards the forecast and what to do on what river system when it comes back into reach. It could be an exciting few days.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports

From our friend Tim Moran

Well, it’s that time of year when fishing reports from most of my sources have dried up and folks are holed up. Bird hunting is mostly over, there just aren’t many people out there…but the fish are always looking up and they gotta eat!

Lower Deschutes River – My only report is from the middle Deschutes between Bend and lower Bridge. There are a few guys targeting Browns and the fishing has been fair (or really good considering it’s late January). As for the lower river, I have heard no news but I can give you a report based on the knowledge I’ve gleaned from years gone by. It’s going to be unseasonably warm tomorrow so if you can go…GO! Fishing should be really good.

John Day River – Steelhead fishing is fair in the river from Clarno to the forks. Swinging flies and fishing the tailouts and pool heads. Check the flows before you go…if they got a bunch of rain or melted snow upriver it can blow out in a hurry!

Metolius River – The Fly Fisherman’s Place shop in Sisters reports good fishing on nymphs in the afternoon. It’s one of the best winter fisheries around and there aren’t the crowds you get in the summer!

Crooked River – With Warmer weather and stable flows fishing should be good.

Prineville and Haystack Reservoirs – Fish continue to be pulled out of both and some of those rainbows are HUGE!

I’m hoping to get out this weekend – maybe the Deschutes or Crooked. Probably Saturday…I guess there’s a big football game on Sunday…or so I’ve heard!

Tight lines y’all!

From ODF&W

Bank anglers are catching some nice trout from the bank at Ochoco Reservoir.

The Crooked River continues to offer good opportunities for trout and whitefish up to 16 inches.

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 are good. Water levels increased this week and over 40 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.

Recent warm weather has made ice conditions suspect on many waterbodies. Please use extra caution when venturing out onto the ice for ice fishing.

The warmer weather has melted enough ice on Thief Valley Reservoir that bank fishing for holdover trout is an option.

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.

Steelhead are here! Fishing has been pretty hot on the Chetco. Conditions lately have been most favorable for bank anglers with a plunking set-up.

Steelhead may be harvested through March 31. Wild steelhead bag limits are 1/day and 3/year (accumulative zone-wide) as part of a daily or annual salmon/steelhead bag limit.

The Coos Basin rivers will most likely be high and unfishable early in the week. But they could be dropping into shape by the weekend depending on the amount of rain we receive during the week.

Steelhead anglers wanting to fish the South Fork Coos River above Dellwood will need a fishing permit from Weyerhaeuser to access this portion of the river.

Hatchery steelhead returns in the Coos Basin will be down this year due to low smolt releases two years ago. Because of disease issues at the hatchery then, we were only able to release less than 40 percent of our production goal.

Fishing for rockfish inside the bay has slowed down from the combination of big swells and the amount of freshwater moving into the lower bay from all the recent rain. The daily bag limit for marine fish is 5 of which only one can be a copper, quillback or China rockfish. Anglers are also allowed 2 lingcod per day. The harvest of cabezon will not open until July 1. A jig with a twister tail can be a great bait for catching rockfish.

The South Fork Coquille River will likely not be fishable for drift boat anglers this week. Bank fishing near Powers should be an option later in the week.

The North Fork Coquille is high and muddy early this week but may be fishable before the weekend. When fishable, the North Fork Coquille has been very busy with bank anglers.

Winter steelhead has picked up in the Lower Rogue. Anglers have had luck using many techniques; currently, the most common being plunking.

Bank anglers will want to look for fish on inside of bends in the river and slots along willow banks.

The river is open year-round for hatchery steelhead harvest. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, wild steelhead may be harvested 1/day and 3/year as part of a daily or annual salmon steelhead bag limit from the mouth of the Rogue up to Hog Creek. The wild steelhead bag limit is accumulative zone-wide.

Half-pounders are still present in the Rogue Canyon and up to about Robertson Bridge, but anglers are reminded only hatchery trout can be retained. Remember, wild steelhead over 24 inches cannot be retained above Hog Creek until Feb. 1. SW Zone aggregate bag limits apply.

Summer steelhead may be looking skinny as it nears their time to spawn, and some anglers may begin to encounter kelt or “down-runners,” fish that have already spawned and headed back to the ocean. Please treat these wild steelhead with care and release them unharmed.

There have been a few reports of some bright winter steelhead making their way up the river, mostly down in the Galice area. Their numbers will be increasing, especially with the rain forecast.

Steelhead will bite on bait, yarn balls, spinners, spoons or a well-placed fly. Wild steelhead must be released unharmed unless you are below Hog Creek Boat Ramp, there anglers may keep 1 wild steelhead per day and 3 per year.

Boaters floating from Hog Creek to Graves Creek should be familiar with the rapids in this section of river, and know their takeouts. Experienced oarsmen/women are recommended here. There are many BLM public access points to bank fish from Hog Creek to Graves Creek. This is often referred to the “Galice area.”

There is excellent bank access in this section of the river, and recent reports indicate that some plunking/side planner techniques are starting to pick up fish. Plugs from a drift boat, or a Spin-n-Glow on the inside bend of a sweeping gravel bar fished in 2-4 feet of water are both effective methods.

Plenty of naturally produced trout are always present in the upper Rogue, however water has cooled significantly and these fish will be very slow to bite. The river may be inaccessible in some areas due to snow as well.

Anglers can cast flies or smaller lures like a Panther Martin or rooster tail. Often tipping the lure with bait helps to produce. In slower holes, fishing straight bait such as nightcrawler, Pautzke eggs or even PowerBait will produce.

Tenmile Creek and Eel Creek are open to steelhead fishing. Steelhead have been caught near Spinreel Park and the mouth of Eel Creek by bank anglers. Bank fishing on Tenmile Creek is limited to the area from the mouth of Saunders Creek to the mouth of Eel Creek, so those spots have been very crowded with anglers.

Beginning with the opening of upcoming spring Chinook season, the mainstem Umpqua River will be closed to retention of all wild spring Chinook in 2020. Harvest of hatchery Chinook remains open. The North Umpqua also remains open to Chinook under permanent rule. In the North Umpqua, anglers may harvest two wild Chinook per day and ten per year from Feb. 1 through June 30.

Chinook fishing will reopen on the mainstem Feb. 1. Wild harvest of Chinook is closed in 2020. Hatchery harvest is still allowed

Steelhead fishing has been decent throughout the main. The river is pretty high right now but should be dropping. A lot of anglers fish the main by “plunking.” This is usually a good strategy for water that is high and has more color.

Make sure to turn in snouts from hatchery fish for a chance to win a gift card. Snout collection barrels are found at Scott Cr, Sawyers Rapids, Elkton, Yellow Creek, Osprey, James Woods, Umpqua, Cleveland, and River Forks boat ramps.

Trout fishing is currently closed on the Main and its tributaries but will reopen next Memorial Day.

Some anglers are giving it a try in the lower North Umpqua. The river is up but looking like it might fall into shape for the weekend.

The North reopens to Chinook Feb. 1 under permanent rule. Anglers may harvest up to 10 wild Chinook per year and two per day.

The mainstem South reopened to steelhead fishing Dec. 1. Fishing usually picks up in February and anglers have been picking up some fish.

The river may be in decent shape and should be dropping. Make sure to turn in snouts from hatchery fish for a chance to win a gift card.

Snout collection barrels can be found at Douglas County Fairgrounds, Happy Valley, Lookingglass, Myrtle Creek, Lawson Bar, Stanton boat ramps and Seven Feathers access area.

SW Washington –  From the WDF&W web site, January 29th.

For regulation updates, go HERE.

Fishery Updates


John Day Pool – Four bank anglers had no catch. 1 boat/1 rod kept one steelhead and released two steelhead.

Sturgeon: Bonneville Pool – 19 boats/55 rods kept 11 legal sturgeon and released 208 sublegal and one oversize sturgeon.

The Dalles Pool – Two bank anglers had no catch. 9 boats/20 rods released seven sublegal sturgeon and one oversize sturgeon.

John Day Pool – 15 bank anglers had no catch. 21 boats/51 rods kept three legal sturgeon and released one sublegal and two oversize sturgeon.

Walleye: Bonneville Pool – 5 boats/6 rods kept 28 walleye and released three walleye.

The Dalles Pool – One bank angler kept one walleye. 2 boats/2 rods had no catch.

John Day Pool – 10 boats/21 rods kept 11 walleye and released two walleye.

Bass: John Day Pool – One bank angler had no catch.


Columbia River Tributaries Elochoman River – 11 bank anglers kept five steelhead.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 11 bank rods kept two steelhead and released one steelhead.

Above the I-5 Br – Eight bank rods had no catch. 1 boat/3 rods kept one steelhead.

Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted

Webinar - Building Your Own Gear with Pro Guide Chris Vertopoulos - January 29th