Oregon and SW Washington Fishing Report March 20th, 2020

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Willamette Valley/Metro – Spring Chinook effort and catch stayed relatively similar to last week although statistically speaking, anglers this week caught slightly fewer fish and certainly fewer keepers. Like last year, upper river anglers fishing the Oregon City area only caught wild fish, requiring release. Our theory from last year was that all the keepers got culled from downriver anglers, there’s only so many biters in the system, and with water conditions stable, downstream anglers have the best crack at the first hatchery fish to enter the system. It’s asenine to think that fish entering the Oregon City area haven’t had the opportunity to get caught downriver, they’ve certainly come across trolled gear under these “low water” conditions. Bank anglers have yet to tally a springer in the Oregon City area.

Trollers working the Multnomah Channel remain the most successful anglers, but that’s no surprise given the current water conditions.

The Columbia has yet to take off, but that’s no surprise. Twenty-five springers have passed Bonneville Dam with many more to come if things go our way. There isn’t much effort, but that should change after this week. Catches commonly pick up by spring break.

Clackamas River anglers are also dealing with low, clear water and a less than stellar return of winter fish, but some would say we’re just now coming into peak season however. We had higher hopes for the Clackamas given its fair return of early fish, but the run is not shaping up as most had hoped.

Here’s what pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN GUIDE SERVICE had to say about Sandy River fishing, “Hello All. Today I floated the Sandy and it was a beautiful day on the river. The river level is 8.75 ft today (Wednesday) and is on the drop. The river is gin clear and we could use some rain to bring the river up. The picture is of a native that we released after a quick pic. The latest report is that the river has slowed down and that I have heard of a few areas that had produced multiple catches over the last few days. The upper river has fish and spinners and beads have been the ticket. Oxbow to Dabney stretch has produced some fish and those guys who are willing to pull plugs have had some luck. So I hope to see you on the river and share some stories. So wishing you the best of luck and tight lines.”

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger with Don V’s wild winter steelhead

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 – Steelheaders continue to find fish under challenging conditions, but persistence and innovation is the key to finding any degree of success. Anglers on the Wilson, Trask, Nestucca and Siletz all reported some success this week, but as per usual under these conditions, the early bird often got the most worms.

The Wilson is likely the most challenging river to fish under low water conditions, but the fact of the matter is, fish want to enter as we stride into peak season. The lower reaches have produced the best catches, albeit light.

The Nestucca is working for those most innovative. Pink worms drifted under bobbers is working fairly well, and like most systems, anglers are relying on tidal fish or first light biters. The stretch below Three Rivers is holding the most biters.

Loren’s Drift to the Highway 101 take-out is the best option for Trask River anglers. Bobber dogging worms or small beads is best. Jigs aren’t a bad option either.

Siletz River anglers found some biters on Thursday, with little competition to fight for spots. One guide reported 5 opportunities, landing 3, 1 quality hatchery fish, 1 quality wild fish, and 1 spent steelhead to boot.

Other systems are simply too low for consistent success, but the tidewater reaches of these smaller streams are certainly an option, such as the Necanicum and Alsea systems.

Bottomfishing drew some interest this week as well. Although winds further offshore made for some bumpy rides back, if you stuck to the nearshore, you had a good day. Deep-reef anglers did well too, especially for lingcod.

Here’s another #KastKing Crush, using the KastKing 7’6″ Hot Shot Krome rod with shrimp flies and lead jigs. We had our 15 fish limits, along with 3 lings for the three of us by 10:00 a.m.

#KastKing caught lingcod and quillback rockfish from March 16th out of Garibaldi

LOTS of smaller crab in the pots, even for a short soak. We took 9 keepers for 6 pots with a LOT of commercial competition south of the south jetty out of Garibaldi.

Trout are getting stocked in plenty of coastal lakes in the coming weeks.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports

From our friend Tim Moran:

Lower Deschutes River –   – Trout fishing is good. Fishing nymphs throughout the day will take most fish but look of hatches of BWO, caddis and even some sallies.   

John Day River – Steelhead are dispersed throughout the river. There isn’t much pressure and the weather will be good…Good enough to catch some of the larger early spring Smallmouth’s too.    

Metolius River –  Nymphs are going to work all day but there will be more BWO and caddis hatches in the afternoons  March browns are showing up now so fish a 16 Purple Haze to imitate this fly.

Crooked River – Fishing on the Crooked is off the hook!  The flows are stable and with this weather the bugs will be out and dry fly fishing has been and should to be great through the weekend.  

Fall River – still a bit of snow around and the hatchery has been shut down due to the dreaded COVID19 virus.  The rest of the river is good to go. 

Ochocco Reservoir –   This fishery is hold up.  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.  Fly guys are getting fish stripping leech patterns.  

Chickahominy Reservoir – The ice is off and fishing is great when it’s not blowing. 

Good luck everyone…Fishing is the ultimate “social distance” sport.  Be safe and get out if you can and enjoy a great spring weekend!

From ODF&W

Southwest – From ODF&W

SW Washington –  From the WDF&W web site, March 3rd.

For regulation updates, go HERE.

Mainstem Lower Columbia River

Sec 1 (Bonneville) – 9 bank anglers had no catch.

Sec 2 (Camas/Washougal) – 2 boats/3 rods kept one steelhead.

Sec 3 (I-5 area) – 3 boats/4 rods had no catch.

Sec 4 (Vancouver) – 31 bank anglers released one steelhead. 41 boats/76 rods kept two Chinook.

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Elochoman River – 5 bank anglers kept one steelhead. 2 boats/5 rods released 3 steelhead.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 170 bank rods kept 18 steelhead and released 10 steelhead. 2 boats/4 rods kept one steelhead.

Cowlitz River above the I-5 Br – 59 bank rods kept nine steelhead and released one steelhead. 135 boats/437 rods kept 161 steelhead and released 17 steelhead.

Tacoma Power employees recovered 279 winter-run steelhead adults and one spring Chinook adult during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power released 10 winter-run steelhead adults into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and they released 23 winter-run steelhead adults into Lake Scanewa in Randle.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 6,430 cubic feet per second on Monday, March 16, 2020.

Water visibility is 6 feet and the water temperature is 43.2 F.

Kalama River – 2 bank anglers had no catch. 3 boats/7 rods kept five steelhead.

Lewis River – 5 bank anglers had no catch.

Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted



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