“Another Wilson River steelhead limit for a lucky angler caught on March 20th in Tillamook County.” Photo credit by Rob Gerlitz

Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update March 29, 2019

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Willamette Valley/Metro – With consistent flows on the Willamette River, spring Chinook anglers have been enjoying good water conditions as we approach peak season for the fishery. Traditionally, the spring Chinook fishery peaked in the third week of April, but most recently, catches have been sporadic throughout the months of April, May and even June as water conditions and run timing have changed. Success has been fair for the week, but catches are far from consistent no matter which reach of the lower river anglers have been fishing. The best success has been coming from the Multnomah Channel however, but the entire lower river should be consistent into next week, assuming water conditions hold.

Columbia River anglers have witnessed water temperatures nose-dive, in an already frigid river that is still weeks away from peak season. Success has been even more challenging lately with snow melt contributing to higher flows and colder water. The season is slated to last through April 10th, assuming a ~3,600 fish quota is gobbled up by then. Sport anglers are a long ways away from that catch at this point, but success rates should start to climb.

Sandy River steelheaders continue to come across mostly wild fish, but summer steelhead should start to show in the coming weeks to bolster opportunity. Hatchery returns are less than impressive, less than half of previous years, but the facility will easily make broodstock needs. Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) reports, ” This week’s report was good depending on who you talked to. I had floated from Oxbow to Dabney on Saturday and Tuesday, we went 3 for 3 on Saturday and 5 for 6 on Tuesday. I had talked with quite a few boat anglers and the method of choice has been diver and bait with fresh sand shrimp and plugs in siz 30 hot shots and 3.5 mag lips. Most bank guys were doing well with pink worms and jigs. Fish are spread out from Cedar creek to Lewis and Clark park most of the fish being caught right now have been native fish.

The Clackamas has also been slow as of late, even though the run should be peaking at this time. Some summer steelhead are starting to show here as well, but overall, the catch has been disappointing. The river is expected to remain high, keeping fish well distributed throughout the river system.

Willamette Valley ponds and lakes will continue to receive trout plants this week and next so be sure to check the ODF&W web site for the best opportunity.

Northwest Oregon – Following a productive string of steelhead days last week, Tillamook area rivers have tapered for steelhead success. River levels are stabilized and will drop and clear into the weekend. Although the bulk of the run is now in the river and staking out their spawning territory, wild and late-run hatchery fish will continue into early April on the Wilson and Nestucca Rivers.

The Trask and Nehalem Rivers will continue to produce wild fish but the mainstem Nehalem above the Highway 26 Bridge and the Salmonberry River (tributary to the Nehalem) will close beginning April 1st.

Fin-clipped spring Chinook season opens in Tillamook County on April 1st, but springers won’t start to enter in robust numbers until mid-May.

A large ocean swell has kept saltwater anglers at bay recently. Fishing will be excellent when the weather allows. The deep-reef fishery will remain open through the month of April (one additional month), allowing for excellent lingcod fishing as well as slope rockfish, both excellent eating table fare.

Bay crabbing has been challenging and will remain that way for the foreseeable future.

Managers set lower Columbia River sturgeon seasons today, they are very similar to last year, with 11 days scheduled to run, depending on how the quota gets consumed. The season will run from May 15th to June 5th, every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday with fish between 44 and 50 inches allowed for retention. Check the regulations for proper measuring.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports – Anglers have been catching legal-size bull trout in the Metolius Arm of Lake Billy Chinook.

It’s springtime on the lower Deschutes River and trout fishing should be good from Mack’s Canyon to the locked gate.

A push of winter steelhead has entered Hood River. Fishing should peak in the next couple of weeks.

Trout fishing should be good on Bikini Pond, Taylor Lake, Pine Hollow Reservoir and the Prineville Youth Fishing Pond, all of which were stocked the week of March 18.

With the area steelhead rivers blown out due to rain and warm temperatures, an angler’s best bet will be trout.

This is a great time of year to fish Willow Creek Reservoir, where the fingerlings stocked last year should be 10- to 12-inches.

Hatrock, McNary and Tatone ponds are all scheduled to be stocked with trout this week.

It will be a while before some parts of this zone thaw out. That’s good news for ice fishers on Phillips, Pilcher and Wolf Creek reservoirs, where fishing has been good.

Best bet for fishing in the Klamath Basin remains the Klamath River above the Powerhouse or Klamath Lake.

Krumbo Reservoir is ice-free and anglers report catching trout up to 16-inches.

The ice is also clearing from the Powder River below Mason Dam, allowing for some good early season trout fishing.

Ana and Priday reservoirs were stocked with rainbow trout last week.

Southwest – From ODF&W

The bottomfish fishery is open at all depths with a General Marine Species bag limit of 5 fish, and a separate lingcod limit of 2 fish. No cabezon may be retained until July 1. Yelloweye retention is still closed this year.

This last weekend had beautiful weather and good ocean conditions, however many anglers reported very slow fishing for rockfish, with more deacons than blacks. Lingcod fishing also has been slow with many released fish just shy of the legal limit. Limited success was reported by trying a variety of areas and lures.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will finalize the 2019 sport halibut seasons at their April 19 meeting.

April can be very good steelhead fishing on the Rogue, so don’t put your gear away just yet!

Steelhead fishing has been good on the North and South Umpqua.

Bass fishing has been picking up in many valley lakes.

The first spring Chinook of the season should be caught on the mainstem Umpqua any time now. Could it be yours?

Many lakes and ponds in the Coos-Coquille-Tenmile District were stocked for spring Break.

Coos and Coquille river steelhead returns should continue through March.

Yellow perch and other warmwater fishing should be picking up in the Coos-Coquille-Tenmile.

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.

Waterbodies scheduled to be stocked this week include Emigrant R., Marie L., Empire lakes, Loon L., Reinhart Park P., Johnsons Mill P., Willow Creek R., Garrison L., Bradley L., Cooper Creek R., Selmac L., Lost Creek R. and Powers P.

Trout fishing closes on most SW streams from April 1 through May 22, consult the regulations.

2019 Stocking schedule and Stocking Maps

From Pete Heley at www.PeteHeley.com

As I am writing this on Sunday there have yet to be any verifiable reports of a spring chinook salmon being actually landed on the Umpqua River. If it doesn’t happen soon, the Umpqua’s first shad may precede it.

The Umpqua’s first shad should arive in early April and river levels and water temperatures will have a lot to do with how well they bite.

Perhaps the first Umpqua River springer will be caught by an angler fishing the ocean near the Umpqua River mouth.

Striped bass anglers are the most close-mouthed of all area anglers, but the fishery on the Smith River and to a lesser extent on the Umpqua River typically starts in late March.

Some very good catches of largemouth bass were made during the warmest days of last week. Cooler weather is projected, but sunny afternoons with low wind should have the bass active in any shallow lake or pond.

Tenmile Lake receives most of the area’s bassfishing pressure, and rightfully so as it is a very productive nationally esteemed bass fishery.

My favorite early season technique for smallmouth bass on the Umpqua River is to target significant indentions or backwaters. If the upper ends of a backwaters is upriver from where it meet the river – so much the better, because the amount of cooler river water entering such backwaters will be greatly reduced and the upper ends can easily be several degrees warmer than the lower ends.

Crappies have yet to show up at the upper end of Loon Lake and the lower end of Eel Lake.

Loon Lake was recently planted with legal-sized rainbow and a few anglers have used trout-imitating swimbaits to catch some sizable early season largemouts following Loon’s initial trout plants in year’s past. Because the BLM Campground is not yet open and the lake’s Mill Creek outlet is at the lower end of the lake – Loon Lake’s trout are planted at the boat ramp at the lake’s upper end.

I fished the upper end of Loon Lake for less than an hour last Sunday and found a few sluggish bluegills near the old Fish Haven/Ducketts dock and the first one I caught measured 8.5-inches.

Eel Lake is scheduled to receive its initial trout plant this week.

After several last-minute changes to the ODFW stocking schedule, it appears that both Upper and Lower Empire Lakes received 400 trophy rainbows last week. Other trout plants made last week include Johnson Mill Pond (Coquille) with 50 trophies; Garrison Lake (Port Orford) with 200 trophies; Bradley Lake (Bandon) with 200 trophies; Lake Marie with 2,000 legals and Loon Lake with 1,500 legals. Cooper Creek Reservoir in Sutherlin, which received 1,500 legal rainbows last week, also contains fair numbers of stocked coho salmon which are legal to keep – if they are at least eight inches long.

Crabs are still being caught in the lower end of Coos Bay near Charleston – but it isn’t hot by any means.

SW Washington – No WDF&W updates for the month of March