Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update May 8th, 2020

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Willamette Valley/Metro – Well, there was a whole bunch of excitement given the re-opening of the mainstem Columbia for spring Chinook on Tuesday. Frankly, I was quite surprised there weren’t more people fishing. We’re in peak migration and with the exception that Bonneville Power Administration is dumping reservoirs in preparation for snow-melt, the river is in good condition. The problem was, BPA was dumping reservoirs in preparation of snow-melt. Fishing on Tuesday, and even more so on Thursday, was poor. From Bonneville to St. Helens, boaters struggled for consistency. The bank anglers, particularly in the gorge, were rumored to have done quite well however. We’ll know more when the official creel stats come out next week. Saturday the 9th of Wednesday the 13th remain options for this first go-round of openers until we reach a quota of around 2,800 spring Chinook. Counts over Bonneville are progressing well. Shad numbers are increasing daily at Bonneville and over 23,000 springers have bypassed Bonneville to date.

The Willamette is well, the Willamette. Some anglers are reporting fair catches, but most are still struggling with consistency as well. The Multnomah Channel remains the best option; not a surprise given the consistency in water conditions. Slough trollers are taking nearly 10X the number of salmon as anglers are in the middle and upper reaches, but the channel also has nearly 5X the pressure. Mark rates (hatchery fin clips) are slightly better than 82%, which is pretty good odds. Shad are in the Willamette, and their numbers will be building. Sturgeon fishing remains quite productive for lower Willamette anglers, with both keeper-sized and over-sized sturgeon falling to anglers using sand shrimp, smelt and squid.

The upper Willamette and its tributaries should start to see building numbers of spring Chinook coming back with a small number of summer steelhead available as well. Passage at Willamette Falls is nearing 10,000 adults but only 550 summer steelhead have negotiated the falls to date. At least anglers in the upper Willamette Valley have trout season to look forward to.

Also, we’ve added a NEW VIDEO (5/7/2020) to our ongoing The Guide’s Forecast presents… library. How to rig 360 flashers for salmon trolling! You’ll see how easy it is to effectively fish for salmon in the ocean, bays or rivers using this technique. We want to get you started, if you’re not an expert already!

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Sandy River anglers are entering into the spring Chinook and summer steelhead season, and boat ramps should begin to open back up again soon as well. Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN reports, “Hello All. Things are slowly opening up over the next few weeks and let’s hope that the state parks open so we can access them to get to our favorite fishing hole. The report I have for this week is that there is more springers being caught on the Sandy and some good action on summer steelhead. Oxbow has been productive on both summers and springers as well as sturgeon. Plunkers have caught a few fish in the lower river but access  is hard to come by. If you plan on fishing the lower river don’t be surprised by the river height. BPA is spilling water and the lower river is starting to look like a lake and it will continue to until they stop spilling. So please make sure to give yourself plenty of space when you’re out. I have had a couple of friends come down with the virus and don’t wish this on anyone. It may take longer than 14 days to get over it, but the effects last much longer. So wishing you all the best of luck and tight lines.”

The Clackamas has not surprisingly, been all that productive for spring Chinook and steelhead anglers. The creel program is underway on the Clackamas, but we haven’t heard any reports as to what the department is finding. Given the lengthy closures we’re just coming off of, there hasn’t been a lot of angler activity. Summer steelhead are starting to show up however and a few spent winter steelhead remain in the catch.

I can’t say I actually recall what the trout plants are commonly like in May, but I have a pretty good idea. Most of the public’s favorite lakes and ponds should be well seeded with planter trout by now. The way the spring is shaping up, it may be better to get out there sooner, rather than later. It’s going to get warm this week. Our cold-water fish can’t live through another spring like we had in 2015. That’d about be the nail in the coffin.

See the full version of Jeff’s, Tim’s and Bob’s reports by becoming a paid member here. It’s just $0.50 cents per week!

Northwest Oregon – Spring Chinook are on the minds of many north coast citizens and Tillamook County Commissioners are starting to ease restrictions for the use of boat ramps and other public access points. There hasn’t been much effort (or access for that matter) to Tillamook Bay and the district’s rivers, but that is soon to change. Spring Chinook should be present and summer steelhead should be building in number on the Wilson, Nestucca and Siletz Rivers. For those interested in fishing Tillamook County, you don’t seem very welcome, at least if you live out of the area. But that’s nothing new… HERE is the latest resolution that shuns the “flat-landers” despite your tax dollars going to maintaining the boat ramps and it in fact being a public waterway that should be accessible to everyone. It looks as if the Garibaldi Boat Ramp will remain closed.

That will make offshore fishing pretty challenging, unless you already have your boat in the boat basin. Thankfully, the halibut season is being delayed for a bit, May 21st to be exact. You can read the entire press release HERE.

Bay crabbing and clamming will remain challenging but there’s a heck-of-a minus tide this weekend, which will make razor clam digging a nice option. A subtle swell also makes for great razor clam digging. Get to it, SAFELY of course. The tides are early in the morning.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports

From our friend Tim Moran: Tim has been busy at work this week, but his report from last week remains very applicable. Paid members should check the Central and Eastern Oregon section in the paid subscribers section in case he gets to it on Friday or Saturday.

From last week: Tim has once again provided an excellent report for our readers. Below is the abbreviated version. PAID MEMBERS can log on to take advantage of ALL of Tim’s information.

The “traditional opener” last weekend was pretty good in most spots. Here is how it went and what to expect this week…

Odell Lake –  Kokanee were biting from the surface down to about 30 feet.  I expect the schools are probably that thick so you can catch them  in the top half of the water column.

Wickiup Reservoir – Campgrounds are closed but the ramp is open.  Camping is open in unimproved areas. kokanee fishing was good last weekend and I expect it will hold up for awhile. 

Crane Prairie – Crane fished well and should only get better. 

Lower Deschutes River –  Maupin area – trout fishing has been good fishing nymphs.  Last week was perfect for a march brown hatch with overcast skies and fishing didn’t disappoint. 

John Day River – the river bounced to 7000 CFS and is on the drop but it needs to drop and warm a bit to make a smallmouth trip worth it.  Look for flows below 2800 CFS and them plan your trip.  Boater passes are not available yet and May has been cancelled. 

Crooked River – Baetis and BWO imitations from the nymph stage through the adult cycle are the main dry’s but a small purple haze or Renegade is always a good choice here.

Owyhee River – We fished it last weekend and it was good on Friday and tough on Saturday.  Friday we did really well swinging a size 18 soft hackle with a size 22 brown nymph behind it. 

That’s the report…I’m heading to Wickiup this week so I’ll have a report fresh from the lake next week.          

Enjoy the weekend everyone – Tight lines!

From ODF&W

ODF&W is putting the fishing reporting on hiatus for a few weeks so nothing to report this week.

Southwest – From ODF&W

ODF&W is putting the fishing reporting on hiatus for a few weeks so nothing to report this week.

SW Washington –  From the WDF&W web site HERE is the press release detailing the re-opening of public lands and waters for the state of Washington. There is no new creel information from the agency as fishing just re-opened back up on May 5th.

Reliable rumors however have it that the Wind River/Drano Lake fisheries produced good catches on opening day, but slowed by Thursday. Thursday was a windy day that kept some of the most experienced anglers from fishing.

Help is on the way!

Outdoor writer Terry Otto is coming to The Guide’s Forecast! Terry is in the process of gathering his contacts so he can put together the most reliable reports and forecasts for our TGF readers!

Terry Otto with a nice SW Washington steelhead

Terry Otto has been writing about fishing in the Northwest for over 20 years, and has just completed two and a half years as the outdoor writer for The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver, WA. He has also written for such publications as Salmon Trout Steelheader, the Salmon Steelhead Journal, Northwest Sportsman, and many others.

He was named one of the “15 Most Influential Communicators” in the Northwest by the Salmon Steelhead Journal in 2019, and has won dozens of awards through the Northwest Outdoor Writers Association for his work.

He has been fishing for over half a century, and has done so from Alaska to the Appalachian Mountains. He is also a fisheries biologist, having worked in that capacity for the US Forest Service, The WDFW, and he still dabbles in fisheries today by working for a private consultant.

Terry is looking forward to extending his writing career with us here at The Guide’s Forecast. His style and accuracy will be a welcome SW Washington addition to an already reliable resource for fishing reports and forecasts in the Pacific Northwest. If you wish to contact Terry directly, email him at orotto@wavecable.com.