Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update March 6th, 2020

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Willamette Valley/Metro – The Willamette has remained in oddly good shape for salmon and steelhead fishing. Both fisheries aren’t performing all that well but that’s because few pursue the mostly wild return of steelhead and the spring Chinook return isn’t overly robust this year either. The steelhead return, however, is surprisingly great for what we’ve seen in previous years. Amazing what the removal of a pack of hungry sea lions can do. There’s over 3,000 wild winter steelhead over Willamette Falls as of March 4th, 7X the number we saw pass the falls in 2017.

Springer effort is on the increase, with plenty of boats fishing in the Oregon City and Sellwood areas as of late. Success has been underwhelming but anglers are enjoying the nice weather right now. You can’t barbeque a memory, however…

Sturgeon fishing should be fair to good in the Portland Harbor right now, it can be a hot spot for activity through the spring months.

The mainstem Columbia certainly has springers in it. Seven spring Chinook have passed Bonneville Dam to date, not enough to cause a mad rush, but anglers downstream will start to get excited. The river downstream of Warrior Rock is closed, so anglers need to be mindful of that. It cuts off a lot of spring Chinook territory, but Cowlitz and Lewis spring Chinook are in tough shape so anglers have to be mindful of that. Davis Bar will become more popular in the coming weeks.

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 take a small bump. It had dropped to 9.2 ft and is currently running at 10.14 ft and the river should continue to run around 9.5ft thru the weekend. Also if you are planning to fish this weekend expect to see more pressure on Saturday as the John Aho tournament is taking place. John was a guide that loved to fish the Sandy and passed away suddenly and his family is holding a tournament to raise money for scholarships.  I’m not sure but if you wish to participate, you can contact Bill Chisholm at 503-789-9311 to see if you can join in. Well, the river has fish spread throughout the entire reach with most fish being caught are natives with some hatchery fish in the mix. The river is in ideal color and height for driftboats and rafters. Those who are fishing from sleds must know the river for low water conditions. Beads and jigs have been productive in all sections of the river. Also fishing beads suspended has been very productive. The upper river has lots of guys crossing at Cedar Creek and fishing the meat hole. Please make sure to use a wading staff when crossing for your safety. I had a buddy fish the last couple of days and said that he was able to see the fish swim right past them as they were wading.”

A nice hatchery fish caught by Casey Campbell on the Sandy River

Clackamas River steelheading came back to ho-hum action this week, with consistent fishing conditions and mediocre catches. Water and weather conditions have remained favorable and effort is still running fairly high, but catches have moderated. The upper reach remains the best option, from Barton to Carver and the mouth of Eagle Creek one of the better options for bank anglers.

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 – North Coast steelheaders have had a rough go of it lately. Actually, the early risers and persistent casters are finding fish on a fairly regular basis. The water conditions are certainly less than ideal.

Wilson River anglers are few and far between. That makes for fair-at-best fishing for the early birds that get on the water prior to first light. It becomes hard to find the biters once the sun hits the water. The lower reaches are obviously more productive.

The Nestucca has been crowded as it holds its water a bit better than the Wilson does. The same rules apply, get up early and use innovative techniques to stand your best chance. Fish are hunkered down in the deeper holes and runs. More wild fish than hatchery as of late.

The Nehalem is fair, but there are good pockets of fish in the upper reach for the few that know how to properly navigate it.

The Trask has been challenging too, but with little competition, it remains a viable option, especially the lower reaches below Loren’s Drift.

The Alsea continues to be fair as well as the Siletz. Most anglers are waiting for better conditions, but those knowing low water strategies and fishing the broken surfaced runs and riffles are finding fish with some regularity. The Siletz should start tapering for hatchery fish soon.

The ocean remains big but bottomfish are hungry. There may be a window early next week. Ocean crabbing should be fair too.

Bay crabbing is improving and the weekend incoming tides look favorable. Be sure to pull your gear before the smoking outgoing tide in the afternoon. You’ll lose your gear if you don’t.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports

From our friend Tim Moran:

Lower Deschutes River –   – Trout fishing is good fishing nymphs all day and BWO’s in the afternoon  There are also caddis available and with the calendar moving toward spring, the warmer sun will stimulate the hatches and the trout.  This is a great time as pressure is still very low but the fishing can be great!  There’s lot’s of room to spread out and fish are available from below the falls to a couple of miles above the gate.    

John Day River – Steelhead are dispersed throughout the river. Check the river levels before you go but the river’s been on the drop so fishing in the milder weather should be good.   

Metolius River –  March is a great month on the Met. Nymphs are going to work all day but there will be more BWO and caddis hatches in the afternoons  March browns will make a showing too and fishing can be great.

Crooked River – Flows are stable and fishing is good.  I know this is a broken record but fishing here will be good through spring until they start releasing water.  Then it will all depend on how much and when they release.  It’s still mostly small midge and BWO imitations from the nymph stage through the adult cycle. 

Ochocco Reservoir – Pretty excited about this fishery!  Trout are being taken by worms and powerbait off the shoreline and trollers are getting them about 75ft back with an ounce and a half of weight pulling hoochies and spoons.  I didn’t get a fly fishing report but I gotta believe stripping leaches would be killer!

Well, that’s it from here!  Hope you all get out and enjoy the weekend!

From ODF&W

The Deschutes, Crooked, Fall and Metolius rivers are open year-round and offer fair to good fishing for native redband trout.

Early spring is a good time of year to target trout on Willow Creek Reservoir.

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.

Steelhead have moved into several area rivers including the Grande Ronde, Imnaha, John Day and Wallowa rivers. Anglers should keep an eye on water levels and be ready to hit the water when water drops and clears.

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.

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 and Big Rock reservoirs — and fishing should be good.

Southwest – From ODF&W

The weather cooperated for a couple of days last week allowing anglers to get out on the ocean and do some fishing. Anglers from the south coast reported good catches of lingcod several days last week. Limits of rockfish were able to be caught as well. When the weather cooperates, winter can be a good time to catch lingcod as they are in shallower waters to spawn.

Offshore trips out of Newport over the weekend landed some smallish lingcod plus rockfish limits consisting mostly of deacon rockfish with a smattering of rosethorn, yellowtail, and other rockfish species. Nearshore trips along the central coast are also getting rockfish limits and most of their lingcod.

Anglers have been catching lingcod while fishing along the jetty in Coos Bay.

Trout fishing in Eel Lake has been good recently.

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 picking up winter steelhead in the Galice Area more regularly. The Grants Pass area is still pretty slow so far. March and April are the best months for fishing on the Rogue, the weather just has to cooperate.

Reinhart pond in Grants Pass, and Expo Pond in Central Point would both be good local destinations for those wishing to stay close to home this week and weekend. Both received stocked legal-size rainbow trout this week.

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.

Anglers continue to catch some steelhead in the mainstem Umpqua, in spite of unseasonable low water levels.

Several waterbodies are scheduled to be stocked this week, 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.

Salmon and steelhead:

Mainstem Lower Columbia River

Sec 4 (Vancouver) – Two bank anglers had no catch.

Sec 5 (Woodland) – Nine bank anglers had no catch. 1 boat/2 rods had no catch.

Sec 6 (Kalama) – Two bank anglers had no catch. 2 boats/7 rods had no catch.

Sec 7 (Cowlitz) – 1 boat/3 rods had no catch.

Sec 8 (Longview) – Four bank anglers had no catch. 1 boat/3 rods had no catch.


Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 10 bank anglers had no catch. 4 boats/12 rods released three steelhead.

Elochoman River – 15 bank anglers kept one steelhead and released six steelhead. 3 boats/9 rods released five steelhead.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 49 bank rods kept four steelhead.

Cowlitz River above the I-5 Br – 56 bank rods kept four steelhead and released five steelhead. 82 boats/264 rods kept 150 steelhead and released 14 steelhead.

Tacoma Power employees recovered 169 winter-run steelhead adults during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power released ten winter-run steelhead adults into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and they released 34 winter-run steelhead adults into Lake Scanewa in Randle.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 9,420 cubic feet per second on Monday, March 2, 2020.

Water visibility is 4 feet and the water temperature is 42.8 F.


John Day Pool – 6 bank anglers had no catch.


John Day Pool – 17 bank anglers released two sublegal sturgeon. 25 boats/65 rods kept two legal sturgeon and released 14 sublegal sturgeon.


John Day Pool – 33 boats/69 rods kept 62 walleye and released 22 walleye.

Bass: John Day Pool – Anglers are catching a few bass.

Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted