Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update March 15th, 2019

Willamette Valley/Metro –

Continued cold, dry weather is still hampering steelhead success on the Clackamas and Sandy Rivers. It’s a bit past peak on the Sandy, but hatchery fish should still be available, and Clackamas River anglers are still struggling for consistent success, but we’re just now entering peak season.

Sandy River anglers are catching more wild fish than hatchery, but action should remain strong for the next several weeks. Fish are well distributed throughout the system, but those wishing to target a take-home fish should be spending most of their time around the mouth of Cedar Creek at the hatchery. Fish are pooling up there, waiting for the next rain freshet to send them up the tributary and into the hatchery facility itself.

Clackamas River anglers have been out and trying with some degree of success still coming from the lower reaches where fresh winter steelhead are entering with some regularity. It’s still challenging fishing however and the recent rise in river levels should motivate fresh fish to enter. The reach from Feldheimer’s to Carver should prove the most productive. Warmer water temperatures should help.

The Willamette is drawing more interest and Saturday was rumored to be good at Sellwood Bridge. Spring Chinook are still falling to trolled herring, some would say in surprising numbers. Sea lions moved into the area by Sunday however and fishing drastically tapered. Effort remains strongest from Sellwood to Milwaukie, but one boat fishing Oregon City was rumored to have taken one summer and one winter steelhead, along with a spring Chinook over the weekend. Sand shrimp is not a bad choice for both species this time of year. There are eight fewer California sea lions to intercept the depleted wild winter steelhead trying to navigate the falls right now.

Sturgeon fishing remains fair in the Willamette, from Milwaukie to the head of the Multnomah Channel.

As of Monday, still no spring Chinook tallied at Bonneville Dam, but a sport caught spring Chinook was reported at the I-5 Bridge over the weekend, a wild one anyway. We’re still weeks away from productive fishing on the mainstem Columbia.

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) reports, “I have reports that with the cold weather that most of the guys were having to deal with guides freezing up. If you use braided line you tend to get more line freeze because the braid tends to hold more water than mono line.

There are fish spread throughout the entire river and most of the fish have been caught on beads in the size 10mm an 12mm and night mire jigs. The current condition, the Sandy is running at 8.62 ft and should climb to 9.3 by the weekend and water temp is around 37 degrees. The river will stay in great shape until we get the next warm shot of weather later next week when we see the weather jump into the mid to upper 60’s.

The forecast is that by the weekend you won’t have to worry about frozen guides for Monday and Tuesday the forecast is for the weather to be in the upper 60’s. We could see the river take a sharp spike with warmer weather. There have been more numbers of hatchery fish showing up in the lower river and will only get better over the next few weeks.”

Northwest Oregon – Steelheading on the Nestucca and Wilson Rivers remains challenging in the low, clear systems. Flows jumped early in the week, but not significantly. Most steelheaders are waiting for a substantial weather system, but that looks unlikely for the near future.

The mainstem Nehalem should remain a good bet given it’s the largest river system on the north coast. Low flows are ideal for this all-wild steelhead system, but action should be fair for the coming weekend.

The next weather system will produce excellent steelhead catches, if it ever arrives.

Saltwater anglers took advantage of calm seas last week, yielding great catches of large lingcod, yellow tail and other rockfish species. The seasonal deep reef fathom restriction and closure date has been relaxed, anglers can now fish to the 40-fathom line (instead of 30-fathoms) and the all-depth fishery remains open through April 30th instead of March 31st.

Ocean and bay crabbing is fair.

A 28-lingcod limit from the deep reef by Captain Rob Gerlitz of Garibaldi Charters on March 8th.
A 28-lingcod limit from the deep reef by Captain Rob Gerlitz of Garibaldi Charters on March 8th.

Central and Eastern Oregon – Tim Moran is out this week, here is an update from the ODF&W.

On the Metolius River anglers report good fishing for trout, especially in the afternoon. Winter weather may limit access. Closed to fishing above Allingham Bridge. Catch-and-release for trout including bull trout. Fishing is restricted to fly-fishing only upstream of Bridge 99 (Lower Bridge). Artificial flies and lures permitted below Bridge 99 (Lower Bridge). No bait allowed.

Steelhead are available in the mid and upper reaches of the John Day River.

Winter and early spring are best months to target trout on Willow Creek Reservoir.

If access permits, ice anglers have been catching trout on Kinney Lake.

Recent heavy snows are limiting access to many locations and making travel treacherous. If you do venture out be sure to check the road conditions before you go and be prepared for winter driving.

Recent heavy snows are limiting access to many locations and making travel treacherous. If you do venture out be sure to check the road conditions before you go and be prepared for winter driving.

Ice fishing access to Phillips, Pilcher and Wolf Creek reservoirs is good (though 4×4 vehicles are recommended). So is the fishing.

Ice fishing continues to be good at several other locations, including Lake of the Woods, Gerber Reservoir and Malheur Reservoir.

While ice fishing, anglers with a two-rod endorsement may use up to five rods.

With a constant temperature hovering near 58 degrees, the Ana River makes a great year-round trout fishing destination.

Southwest – From ODF&W

The onset of warmer weather and water temperatures have created some excellent conditions for catching recently stocked trout.

Both the North and South Umpqua should be in shape for some weekend fishing, and there should be good numbers of winter steelhead around.

With the recent storms and fish available, steelhead fishing on the Illinois River should be great for anglers willing to take a scenic drive.

The first “spring” stocking of Coos-Coquille-Tenmile District lakes and ponds, originally scheduled for the week of Feb. 25, occurred last week. Many district waterbodies will be stocked periodically throughout the spring until early June.

Coos and Coquille river steelhead returns should continue through March.

Tenmile Lakes should start giving up some nice holdover trout in the coming weeks; some can measure over 17-inches long. Yellow perch and other warm-water fish should “wake up” and start biting with spring weather.

Surfperch fishing on ocean beaches can be excellent this time of year when safe surf conditions allow.

Diamond Lake recently received several feet of snow. Ice fishing could be good once access is restored.

2019 Stocking schedule and Stocking Maps

From Pete Heley at www.PeteHeley.com

Heavy rains and muddy access delayed the trout plant scheduled for Johnson Mill Pond near Coquille. The trout will be stocked later at a slightly larger size.

Trout plants scheduled for this week include: Alder Lake (793 trout including 332 legals and 461 trophies); Buck Lake (702 trout including 566 legals and 136 trophies): Carter Lake (750 trophies); Cleawox Lake (3,161 trophies); Dune Lake (702 trout including 566 legals and 136 trophies); Elbow Lake (1,400 trophies); Lost Lake (400 trophies); Mercer Lake (1,500 trophies); Munsel Lake (2,400 trophies); North Georgia Lake (300 legals and 75 trophies); Siltcoos Lake (1,000 trophies) and Woahink Lake (1,000 trophies).

Very few of the 2,000 legal-sized rainbows dumped into Loon Lake last week have been caught by anglers and cold water temperatures have slowed the catch rate on virtually every lake that has been stocked with trout.

The first keepable spring chinook was pulled from the Rogue River last week. The finclipped fish weighed about 25 pounds. As I am writing this on Sunday, no springers have yet been reported from the Umpqua River. A few anglers have started casting spinners from the bank at Half Moon Bay in Winchester Bay. When they hook their first springer they will have plenty of company.

The South Jetty at Winchester Bay fished very well for lingcod last week with fish weighing more than ten pounds taken.

Striped surfperch are also biting well off the South Jetty and some greenling are also being caught. Cabezon is still closed, but the state of Washington recently determined that their cabezon population is healthy and growing – which should be encouraging news to Oregon’s bottomfish anglers.

The cold water temperatures have likely extended the spawning cycle for yellow perch. In most years, the spawn is pretty much over by mid-March, but this year’s spawn will likely extend past the end of March.

Fishing pressure directed at largemouth bass is gradually increasing, despite the cold temperatures, but almost all of the bassboats seem to be headed to Tenmile Lake.

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