Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update January 3rd, 2020

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Willamette Valley/Metro – Despite some effort out for steelhead in the region, damp weather has kept anglers from getting too excited and seeing any large degree of success this week. Rivers bumped up on New Years Day with another bump in the forecast that will likely keep folks home rather than on the water for a while. There weren’t many grills working overtime on for the Rose Bowl this week.

Avid anglers observing from the bank of the Willamette are noting the presence of more sea lions this time of year. The bulk of those mammals are of the Stellar variety, which we won’t get to address until this fall, assuming everything goes off as planned. The bulk of the problematic California Sea Lions have been “handled.”

Here’s what pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) had to say about Sandy River fishing, “Hello All. I hope that everyone had a safe and happy New Year eve. How things have changed in the last week. I fished the Sandy on Saturday with my son, only catching a sucker on a bead. When we floated, the river was 8.6 ft and was dropping and on Tuesday night going into Wednesday morning when the river took a huge jump up to 11.8 ft. The freezing level jumped up to 6000 ft and melted a lot of snow on Hood. The forecast is for the river to drop over the next couple of days and the freezing level to drop, but the rain forecast is for rain over the next 6 days with Sunday being the heaviest day for rain. Fishing has been slow on the Sandy with only a couple of native fish being caught and put into the broodstock program.

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Northwest Oregon – We’re in peak season for early returning steelhead on the north Oregon Coast. That said, it hasn’t been great, but there are fish around for persistent anglers.

Pro guide Chris Vertopoulos (503-349-1377) reported hooking a few fish on the Nestucca prior to the high water event. The most action has taken place downstream of First Bridge with pro guide Rob Gerlitz (503-812-4950) echoing that sentiment. He too hooked a couple of fish in that reach but getting them in the boat has been challenging as of late.

The Wilson will start fishing better by Friday, action has been reported fair-at-best on this river so far.

Smaller streams more likely to harbor December steelhead have been fair. The North Fork Nehalem has been putting out a few hatchery fish with water conditions cooperating lately. Far from a glory year, it still remains one of the best early season systems, especially for bank anglers. When water conditions are right, you’ll have plenty of other anglers to contend with.

Hatchery workers delivered over 50 steelhead to Coffenbury Lake this week too, so you have a nice lake fishing option for steelhead as well this weekend.

Three Rivers and the Necanicum are good bank fishing options as well, also in peak season right now. The Highway 30 streams have been producing a rare catch.

The ocean isn’t an option whatsoever right now. Bay crabbing is becoming more challenging.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports

From avid angler Tim Moran

No news from the frosty east just yet, travel conditions will be less than ideal, we’re sure of that.

From ODF&W

South Twin Lake has been recently stocked with 100 Cranebow brood fish.

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.

Recent cold weather has slowed fishing, but anglers have been catching steelhead on the John Day.

Fishing conditions on the Umatilla are good. Steelhead anglers should focus on the lower sections of the river above and below Threemile Dam.

Anglers have been ice fishing on several waterbodies including Lofton Reservoir, Phillips Reservoir and Yellowjacket Lake.

Southwest – From ODF&W

Recent rains have moved winter steelhead into many coastal rivers. Fishing will be best when water levels begin to drop after a good rain.

Anglers have been catching winter steelhead in the mainstem Umpqua, and fishing should be picking up on the lower Rogue.

In the meantime, anglers are still getting a fair number of summer steelhead in the middle and upper stretches of the Rogue.

Trout anglers can still catch fish that were stocked earlier in the year. As long as conditions allow, places like Fish Lake, Howard Prairie and Lost Creek Reservoir can fish throughout the winter.

Bottomfishing is now open to fish at all depths. The daily bag limit for marine fish is 5 plus 2 lingcod.

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.

A few winter steelhead anglers are fishing the Coos Basin rivers with little to no success. The rain forecasted for the end of the week should get steelhead moving into the rivers as the water levels come down. 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.

Anglers have reported catching a few steelhead in the tidewater sections of the Coquille River near Arago and the town of Coquille. Most anglers will plunk in these areas with a Spin-n-Glo tipped with eggs or sand shrimp.

Winter steelhead fishing should start to pick up in the Lower Rogue. Anglers might want to try swinging flies, tossing spinners or running plugs. When expecting rain and rising river levels, consider switching tactics and anchor up and back-bounce eggs.

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

There have been some good reports of steelhead fishing continuing to come in, especially during or after a rain event. Summer steelhead are beginning to get skinny as it nears their time to spawn and no reports have come in yet of fresh winter fish, but they are on their way.

Steelhead will bite on bait, spinners 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.

Some coho have been reported throughout the river, but they may be getting dark and ready to spawn. Only hatchery coho can be retained. Please release wild coho back into the river unharmed with minimal handling.

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/woman 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.”

Coho may still be present in the river but are likely quite dark at this point, anglers are reminded they can only retain hatchery coho.

337 new summer steelhead entered the trap at Cole Rivers last week, for a total of 3,721 steelhead to date. Excess hatchery adult summer steelhead from Cole River Hatchery are being recycled back into the fishery and anglers are reporting success in catching these fish.

Steelhead fishing is open through March 31 from the mouth to Edson Creek. The wild Steelhead bag limit is 1/day and 3/year as part of a zone-wide accumulative daily and annual salmon/steelhead bag limit.

Steelhead fishing has been decent throughout the main Umpqua River. With rain in the forecast, the river may be in good shape for the weekend. A lot of anglers fish the main by “plunking.” This is usually a good strategy for water with more color and when the water is high. Make sure to turn in snouts from hatchery fish for a chance to win a gift card.

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 has been a little low, but rain is in the forecast.

The North is closed to all fishing for Chinook.

The mainstem South reopened to steelhead fishing Dec. 1. Fishing usually picks up in January and there should be a few around in the lower sections.

The river may be in decent shape with some rain in the forecast. Make sure to turn in snouts from hatchery fish for a chance to win a gift card.

SW Washington –  From the WDF&W web site, December 31st.

For regulation updates, go HERE.

Fishery Updates

Columbia River Tributaries


Grays River – 3 bank anglers kept one steelhead.

Elochoman River – 82 bank anglers kept eleven steelhead and released one coho. 6 boats/14 rods kept three steelhead and released two steelhead.

Klickitat River below Fisher Hill Bridge – 5 bank anglers kept two coho.