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 March 13th, 2020

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Willamette Valley/Metro – Despite great water conditions, it’s still early for any large numbers of spring Chinook to be present in the Portland/Metro area. Late March is more feasible and from the reports we’re getting, that seems to be more factual than most would care to believe. It’s just hard to pass up such beautiful green water.

Willamette spring Chinook fishing is very challenging right now, even the Sellwood crowd is struggling to find results. There was a nice 18-pounder taken on the Sand Bar in Oregon City the other day and a fair number of boats trying for springers in the area. Springer fishing river-wide is tough however. There are 20 spring Chinook already over Willamette Falls. Passage conditions are favorable so why not?

The Columbia is much the same. A handful of springers have bypassed Bonneville Dam (13 as of 3/11), but catches are far from impressive, if not next to non-existent for lower river anglers. Both bank and boat anglers are finding just a rare, and I do mean rare spring Chinook on the mighty Columbia’s mainstem system. Keep in mind the closure below Warrior Rock, but at least it’s open 7 days per week for much of the reach above that. HERE is the official press release on sportangler opportunity.

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 good numbers of fish caught on the Sandy form the hatchery to the mouth of the Sandy. The John Aho steelhead derby was a success this year with fish being caught on various rivers and they raised a good amount of money for the John Aho scholarship fund. They had 60 participants and had great sponsor with great donations made.  The lower river had good push of fresh fish that moved thru with most of the fish being natives.  If you have a Facebook account you need to read the article written by Ryan Queen the hatchery manager. It’s a great article about the broodstock program. Type on search line Ryan Queen and read his article and then click on the bottom of the article it has a youtube video that shows how the broodstock program works. There has been good numbers of fish caught in the Oxbow Park area and around Dodge Park area as well.”

The Clackamas remains mediocre for steelheaders. With the Willamette in such fine shape (but not producing all that well), most interest is in the mainstem Willamette but anglers fishing the Clackamas are picking up some winter steelhead. The run here is typically a bit later so we should be coming into better fishing for this river. Barton to Carver remains the favored drift, but in the lower flows, the lower reaches will hold fish for longer periods of time as well.

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 March 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 are still crying the blues due to low, clear water on all north coast streams. It makes multiple steelhead days highly unlikely. That said, there are still fish available but interest is waning and the rivers that do have water, are becoming more crowded by the day.

Early birds are still finding steelhead on the Wilson, but they are wary. The Nestucca, although better at holding more water, remains low, clear and challenging to find willing fish. The most successful anglers are working the extreme lower reaches above tidewater and success is far from consistent.

The Siletz and Alsea are the same and more wild fish are in the creel than hatchery. The next rain freshet will prove productive, even the small system set to hit the coast Friday afternoon should move fish for weekend anglers. It’s not a significant rain freshet, but fish are desperate to get upstream to their spawning grounds.

Smaller streams like the Kilchis and Necanicum are just a waste of time. The tidewater reaches of these smaller systems should be holding fish, but not many anglers take advantage of fishing these lonely reaches.

There may finally be another weather window for offshore anglers to take advantage of bottomfishing opportunities out of north coast ports. The fishing for lings and sea bass should be excellent on what appears to be a very calm sea ahead. It’ll likely be cold so prepare for that and consider staying close to shore as the wind is forecast to blow from the NE so if you get offshore, it could get a bit rougher.

Ocean crab are “in the clutch,” or mating right now. That’s going to make sport crabbing not all that great so be prepared for that. Bay crabbing is likely to be compromised as well.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports

From our friend Tim Moran: No update this week.

From ODF&W

On the Crooked River, fishing for trout and whitefish has been excellent lately.

On Lake Billy Chinook, fishing for bull trout and kokanee has been good to great in the Metolius and Crooked River arms.

Anglers have been catching some nice trout in Ochoco and Prineville reservoirs.

Steelhead returns to the Umatilla increased substantially in February, and river conditions are perfect. Though boaters should be cautious of tree in the river channel – moved in by the recent flood.

Late winter and early spring is the best time of year to fish the Imnaha.

This is a good time of year to target kokanee on Wallowa Lake.

Steelhead fishing has been good in the Wallowa River. Flows should remain fishing-friendly over the next week or so.

Bank fishing at Thief Valley Reservoir continues to be good for 12- to 18-inch trout. A few hardy boat anglers have also done well.

Ice conditions seem to be holding up on Phillips Reservoir and fishing has been good.

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

The lower reaches of the Chewaucan upstream of Paisley are now reachable and fish have been rising in the evenings.

Best bet for the Klamath area is native redband trout in the Klamath River from Keno Dam to below the JC Boyle Powerhouse.

Fishing in lakes, reservoirs and ponds can be fabulous immediately after ice-off. Holdover trout are hungry and willing to bite. With the onset of warmer spring temperatures, many waterbodies already are ice-free – see Warm Springs, Pole Creek, Krumbo, Holbrook, Priday, Spaulding and Big Rock reservoirs and Mud Lake — and fishing should be good.

Southwest – From ODF&W

Spring time fishing! Beautiful weather allowed for a nice and calm ocean this past week. Many anglers were able to get out on the water and try for some deep-water lingcod and rockfish, with high success. A flat ocean allowed kayakers to get out on the water as well and catch some nice size lingcod. There appears to be plenty of bait in the water, as many of the rockfish were reported to be full of squid. Near limits of both lingcod and rockfish catches were reported.

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

When conditions are good, surfperch anglers have been catching a few redtail surfperch from the beaches using sand shrimp or Berkley Gulp sand worms. Surfperch anglers fishing near the jetties have been catching a few striped surfperch.

Even with low, clear water, steelhead are continuing to move upriver in the Coos and Coquille basins. Look for them congregating in deeper pools.

Winter steelhead are distributing in the Lower Rogue. With low water, consider lighter tackle like spoons, spinners and bobber dogging.

Anglers willing to hike in below Graves Creek on the middle Rogue report that there are fish holding in the Canyon. Boat and bankies are continuing to pick up winter steelhead in the Galice Area. March and April are the best months for fishing winter Steelhead on the Rogue, the weather just has to cooperate. This weekend looks like some weather will move through the area, but it will be a cold front.

With the continued unseasonably nice weather, local reservoirs such as Emigrant and Selmac would be great places to try for the bass bite. Applegate Reservoir has even produced some bass as of late. Fishing plastic worms, jigging on the flats and points may produce. Stripping streamers or leaches can also entice largemouth bass hiding around the weeds.

March can be a great month for trout fishing in the Holy Water, the stretch of the upper Rogue between the hatchery and the Lost Creek Lake spillway.

Water levels remain very low in the South Umpqua, but some steelhead anglers have been taking home limits.

Garrison Lake and Empire Lakes are scheduled to be stocked with trophy trout the week of March 9.

Several waterbodies were stocked with trout the week of March 2, including: Plat I Reservoir, Johnsons Mill Pond, Eel Lake, Bradley Lake, Ben Irving Reservoir, Loon Lake, Saunders Lake, Cooper Creek Reservoir, Expo Pond, Reinhart Park Pond, Galesville Reservoir and Powers Pond.

SW Washington –  From the WDF&W web site, March 3rd.

For regulation updates, go HERE.


Mainstem Lower Columbia River

Sec 1 (Bonneville) – 2 bank anglers had no catch.

Sec 2 (Camas/Washougal) – 2 boats/4 rods had no catch.

Sec 3 (I-5 area) – 1 bank angler had no catch. 2 boats/3 rods had no catch.

Sec 4 (Vancouver) – 10 bank anglers had no catch. 27 boats/47 rods had no catch.


Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 3 bank anglers released two steelhead.

Elochoman River – 16 bank anglers kept one steelhead and released three steelhead. 2 boats/6 rods released 16 steelhead.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 92 bank rods kept 13 steelhead and released two steelhead. 2 boats/6 rods had no catch.

Cowlitz River above the I-5 Br – 48 bank rods kept five steelhead. 98 boats/331 rods kept 188 steelhead and released 19 steelhead.

Tacoma Power employees recovered 211 winter-run steelhead adults during five days of operations at

the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power released six winter-run steelhead adults into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and they released 35 winter-run steelhead adults into Lake Scanewa in Randle.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 6,390 cubic feet per second on Monday, March 9, 2020.

Water visibility is 5 feet and the water temperature is 42.8 F.

Kalama River – 5 bank anglers released one steelhead. 2 boats/3 rods kept one steelhead and released one steelhead.

Lewis River – 4 bank anglers had no catch.


John Day Pool – No report.


John Day Pool – 18 bank anglers had no catch. 9 boats/24 rods kept three legal sturgeon and released 4 sublegal sturgeon.


John Day Pool – 5 bank anglers kept three walleye. 43 boats/92 rods kept 94 walleye and released 26 walleye.


John Day Pool – One bank angler had no catch. 2 boats/5 rods kept four bass.

Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted