Grant Putnam (left) got his client into this nice 49.5” keeper sturgeon on the lower Columbia opening day, May 13th.

Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update May 17th, 2019

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Willamette Valley/Metro – Spring Chinook fishing in the Willamette River has nosedived. Creel numbers show the worst week 19 of the season in more than a decade. Despite fair water conditions, warm weather and a high pressure system has caused the bite to tank. The water temperature has eclipsed 62 degrees and spring Chinook should be passing at a strong rate right now. The cumulative total to date is now over 10,000 spring Chinook, about a quarter of the 2019 overall prediction. Catch rates in the Multnomah Channel and mainstem below the St. Johns Bridge were nearly twice as good as the rest of the river. Hatchery fish made up a larger ratio of the catch in the lower reach too (80/20 vs. ~65/35 in the middle and upper reaches of the Willamette).

Shad are now in the Willamette, and as the water continues to warm, the bite will improve. This is a great fishery for kids, especially under sunny skies. Small spoons in nickel and gold work well under bright skies and chartreuse grubs works well under cloudy skies. The best action will take place above the mouth of the Clackamas River.

And speaking of the Clackamas, it’s been another week of no recorded salmon or steelhead in the Clackamas creel check. Water conditions are getting low, but we’re entering peak season for biters for both species.

The Sandy has also been mediocre at best. Summer steelhead are starting to show in better numbers, but spring Chinook here are also slow to show. The lower reaches of each of these two systems will be the more productive sections, but Clackamas springers have to run a gauntlet of trollers in the lower Willamette before getting to the Clackamas. The mainstem Columbia remains closed so Sandy River spring Chinook will be more apt to bite under current conditions. The Columbia will open for hatchery steelhead starting May 16th. Strong minus tides this weekend bode well for beach plunkers. Use brightly colored spin-n-glos close to shore for the best success. Keep lures scented since plunking is the only technique anglers employ where the fish have to come to you.

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN reports, ” The Sandy has fish in it from Dodge Park to Lewis and Clark. The springers have started to show up in fair numbers, you will find most of the springers in the deeper pools. If you plan to target them, the bait of choice has been fresh sand shrimp and coon shrimp with anise. Another option is to fish plugs in size 3.5 to 4.5 mag lips or Kwikfish in size k13 an 14 with bait wraps.  If you are targeting steelhead, look to Oxbow Park area and Dabney. You can find fish up around Cedar Creek area and if you feel like hiking, there is some good water below the hatchery and Dodge Park area, head upriver towards Cedar Creek.

See the full version of Jeff’s report by becoming a paid subscriber here.

Northwest Oregon – Spring Chinook are in the Tillamook system although the Trask River bite has tapered. With dropping and clearing flows, Tillamook Bay itself will become the target for salmon, with big tides most productive in the upper bay, and during low tide exchanges, target springers along the jetty on the last half of outgoing. Mid-May has traditionally been the start of a peak 4-week season, but springers have made stronger showings later in the month of June in recent years. Spinners should work well in the upper bay on outgoing tide, trolled herring near high slack.

Halibut season opened fairly strong out of Newport, but Garibaldi produced fairly poorly last week, better on Thursday (today) however. Anglers may find better success in the nearshore fishery although the nearshore halibut fishing is often more spotty than the all-depth openers.

Bottomfishing remains excellent and ocean crabbing is good too.

Astoria sturgeon fishing is off to a fair start and will only improve in the coming openers.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports

Avid angler Tim Moran reports, “

Crane Prairie – It’s still pretty good for trout with more rainbows in the mix. Worms, power bait and dragon fly nymphs under a bobber are all taking fish. The Fly guys are getting fish on leeches ,buggers and small nymphs on intermediate sink lines and the indicator fishermen are using red and red/black chironomids.

Wickiup – As I reported last week – Wickiup’s demise was premature – I was on the lake for four days and all four days we limited in about an hour and a half with about 15 fish hooked for the five landed per person. We fished in the Deschutes arm near Gull point, the main lake and Davis Arm and it didn’t seem to matter. We did manage 4 fish over 16 inches but the average fish was about 10. The biggest thrill was when a big Brown grabbed one of our kokanee rigs and peeled off about 40 yards of line. My son Steve was able to get him to the boat and we got a nice picture before he went back into the lake.

South Twin Lake – Twin is still fishing well on worms, eggs, and powerbait. The most difficult issue on Saturday was trying to find open water between all the kayaks, water toys, and people…It was packed! .

Odell Lake – Fishing was really good at Odell as well. Most fish were in that 9 to 11-inch class but there were enough 13 to 14 inchers to keep it interesting. With the fish being the same size as Wickiup, but a much more liberal limit, Odell would be a great choice this weekend.

Hosmer and Lava lakes are now open but no reports yet. Same with Paulina and East Lake. East is usually great for the first few weeks after it opens!

Prineville Reservoir: Prineville Reservoir is still kicking out some really nice trout. Spinners like Roostertails and Panther Martins tossed from shore are getting some of the bigger fish to 20 inches.

The Deschutes below Warm Springs – The big bugs are out especially in the Mack’s to Maupin area. Reports are what those who have fished this hatch for years have come to expect, It can be great in one small area of the river and dead around the next bend – so cover lot’s of water and if you find fish keyed stay with them awhile.

Crooked River – the flows have finally stabilized at around 240 cfs and the fish are responding. There should be PMD’s and caddis hatches coming off with regularity now.

John Day river – it’s still flowing at just under 6000 cfs so it’s high and cold and off-color. It should round into shape by June 1st though and fishing will pick up in late May.

Columbia River near Rufus – Smallmouth are active near the rocky points and gravel bars in 4 to 8 feet of water. Fish the areas that get sun first in the morning and follow the sun to find active fish in the warmer water.

Well, that’s all I have… Fishing should be good statewide for everything but Springers! Tight lines!

From ODF&W

On Saturday, May 18 there will be a free Family Fishing Event at the Middle Fork Pond in Parkdale from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Find more details here.

Bass and crappie fishing have been excellent in Prineville Reservoir.

Antelope Flat Reservoir is accessible and recent sampling indicates lots of fish in the 8- to 18-inch range.

Recent sampling at Walton Lake showed plenty of nice size trout – some up to 18-inches.

Anglers report continued good trout fishing in Crane Prairie Reservoir.

Anglers are reporting fair fishing for kokanee and lake trout on Odell Lake.

Several waterbodies are scheduled to be stocked this week including Redmond Fireman’s Pond, Lost Lake, Smock Prairie Reservoir, Clear Lake and Walton Lake

On Saturday, May 18 there will be a free Family Fishing Event at the McNary Channel Ponds in Hermiston from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Crappie should be biting in Willow Creek, Cold Springs and McKay reservoirs.

Smallmouth bass anglers should hit the miles (and miles) of rocky shoreline along the Columbia River. Remember, the shallow bays warm first!

Several waterbodies will be stocked with trout this week, including Holliday Park Pond, Rowe Creek Reservoir, Teepee Pond, Magone Lake, McHaley Pond, Luger Pond, Salt Creek Summit Pond, Penland Lake, Umapine Pond, Honeymoon Pond, Trout Farm Pond, McNary Channel Ponds, Roulet Pond, Bull Prairie Reservoir, Hat Rock Pond, Hunter Pond and Marr Pond.

Because Morrow County will be working on ORV pond #3, it will not be stocked in 2019.

Flows on the Wood River, Sprague River and Upper Williamson River are dropping to very good, fishable levels.

Best bet for fishing in the Klamath Basin is Lake of the Woods for stocked rainbow trout, Klamath River below JC Boyle Dam for native redband trout, Wood River for brown trout and Gerber Reservoir for crappie.

Crappie anglers should consider Campbell Reservoir for some early season fish.

Cottonwood Meadows could be accessible by the weekend. If it is, fishing should be excellent.

After a few days of warm weather, warmwater fishing in the Owyhee Reservoir can be good.

Several waterbodies are scheduled to be stocked the week of May 13, including Hwy 203 Pond, Ana Reservoir, Lake of the Woods, Thief Valley Reservoir, Delintment Lake, Thompson Valley Reservoir and Phillips Reservoir.

Southwest Oregon

From Pete Heley at

The hottest thing going right now is shad fishing on the Umpqua River. Half-day catches of 40+ shad are common at a number of locations, but the best spot recently has been at Sawyers Rapids – and as the river drops it will get even better. Sawyer Rapids, at less than 27 miles east of Reedsport.

The first central Oregon coast all-depth three-day opener was a complete bust – and a good example that increasing the quota means little if there are not reachable willing-to-bite fish around. There are four more “fixed” three-day openers which are on Thursday through Saturday of each week and if the 171,103 pound quota is not reached, backup openers will occur every two weeks until the quota is met.

Those salmon caught by spinner-flinging bank anglers at Winchester Bay a few weeks ago have not shown up as upriver spring chinook catches – so perhaps they weren’t spring chinooks at all – but feeder fall chinook following baitfish into the lower Umpqua River.

Surfperch were caught above Winchester Bay last week, but the run has yet to really get going but could do so at any time.

Striped bass angling remains surprisingly good on the Smith and Coquille rivers with water clarity influencing the bite on the Coquille River. Freshwater lakes that are still having water clarity problems include Cooper Creek Reservoir, Plat ‘I’ Reservoir and Ben Irving Reservoir.

In some cases, warmer weather can result in lower water temperatures such as occurred recently at Lake Shasta when a considerable amount of melting snow resulted in a several degree drop in water temperatures despite very warm air temperatures.

For those of you who believe the slogan “made in America” means something – America’s boating industry is a wonderful example. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, Ninety-five percent of the boats in the United States were made in the United States and the value of boat exports exceeds the value of boat imports by more than a billion dollars per year.

Southwest – From ODF&W

Bottomfishing has been good when the ocean lays down and anglers have been able to make it out.

Beginning May 1, bottomfishing is restricted to inside the 40-fathom regulatory line. Fishing for lingcod and rockfish has been good when the ocean is calm enough to fish. The daily bag limit for marine fish is 5 plus 2 lingcod. The retention of cabezon is closed until July 2019.

Anglers may also choose to fish the offshore longleader fishery outside of the 40-fathom regulatory line, which is open year round. The longleader fishery has a daily bag limit of 10 fish made of yellowtail, widow, canary, blue, deacon, redstripe, greenstripe, silvergray, and bocaccio rockfish. No other groundfish are allowed and offshore longleader fishing trips cannot be combined with traditional bottomfish, flatfish or halibut trips.

Ocean salmon fishing for Chinook salmon from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt is open. Chinook must be a minimum of 24-inches long. The ocean is closed to coho salmon.

On Saturday, May 18 there will be a free Family Fishing Event at Powers Pond in Powers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Find more details here.

The Powers Pond Kids’ Derby is Saturday, May 18; sponsored by the USFS Powers Ranger District and many other partners.

Trout fishing at Diamond Lake continues to be hot. Most successful anglers are using flies.

Now would be a good time to get out to the higher elevation lakes in the Umpqua district for some early season trout fishing.

Anglers are catching more spring Chinook on the middle Rogue, with more fish on the way.

The American shad is underway in the Coquille and mainstem Umpqua rivers.

Look for striped bass in the lower Smith River and Coquille River tidewater.

Bass and other warmwater fishing (bluegill, crappie, etc.) should be good in waterbodies throughout the zone.

Waterbodies scheduled to be stocked the week of May 15 include Ben Irving Reservoir, Selmac Lake, Loon Lake, Burma Pond, Powers Pond, Red Top Lake, Fish Lake, Cooper Creek Reservoir, Medco Pond, Lemolo Reservoir and Lost Creek Reservoir.

2019 Stocking schedule and Stocking Maps

SW Washington – The most recent report from WDF&W is from May 5th. You can access it here.