Oregon Fisheries Update April 1st – April 7th, 2016

Willamette Valley – Spring Chinook fishing in the Portland area is nearing its peak, at least for the time frame when sport anglers will be able to access them. Once sporadic catches are becoming more regular and guides and anglers have been reporting an unusual number of larger fish this season. All areas from the Gorge downstream to Westport, Oregon have produced nice catches recently but the better fishing will take place now through the modeled closure on April 9th.

The Columbia River gillnet fleet harvested nearly 1,200 fish for a 9-hour opener, a clear indication that there are a lot of fish in the river. Dam counts are slow to accumulate, but that is likely due to high flows and cold water. Peak passage at Bonneville is still over a month away but the next 9 days should be productive for trollers. Anchor anglers using plugs should start to see improving catches when water temperatures eclipse 50 degrees.

Lower Willamette flow is good, allowing spring Chinook hopefuls to enjoy using a variety of techniques. Anglers are less interested un sturgeon fishing with salmon in the river.

Now that rainfall is a thing of the past (OK, the recent past, but still), conditions of most metro rivers is improving as water drops and clears. So it is on the McKenzie where fly fishers will be having a great weekend.

Waters of the Santiam system have been dropping and clearing since the middle of the past week putting it in good shape for fishing.

Clackamas level and flow are excellent for angers to chase fish this weekend and long-term forecasts indicate it will be dropping through the coming week.

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger of O2 Guide Service (503-704-7920) reports again this week from the Sandy River, noting that as it drops below 10 feet for the first time this season, it’s in great shape for drift boating.

Northwest Oregon – Chinook fishers in the lower Columbia are starting to see improving water conditions and catches downstream of Longview. The fishing will only get more consistent until the likely closure on April 9th. Small tides this weekend will make boaters the stronger option but beach plunkers have been doing well on the stronger minus tides. Steelhead have been falling too, mostly to beach plunkers.

Spring Chinook opens on April 1st in some Tillamook area streams although catches likely won’t get good until mid-May. Steelheaders are still doing great as crowds thin, heading for a tastier salmonids on the Willamette Valley (spring Chinook). Rivers are forecasted to continue to drop but action should remain good for anglers versed in low-water techniques. The Wilson and Nestucca will remain the most popular for the obvious hatchery fish option.

Bottomfishers have been pounding limits of lingcod and bottomfish in the deep reef areas but that offshore option closed on April 1st. Nearshore reefs should produce well as they have not been fished all winter. Ocean crabbing is fairly slow and so is bay crabbing on the north coast.

Central & South Coast Reports – Bottom fishing has been excellent out of Depoe Bay but will only improve with calm waves and wind.

Bay crabbing which was poor after rainfall over the past week will be improving as even coastal bays suffered with too much water.

Offshore conditions should be good for just about any endeavor over the weekend and into the coming week as it will be warmer and a lot drier.

Author, blogger and TGF regular contributor Pete Heley (www.PeteHeley.com) reports from the Umpqua River where several springers have been taken to 25 pounds this week.

Rogue anglers will find the level and flow and visibility good for fishing over the coming weekend. The lower and middle (Grants Pass) stretches hold the greater promise, particularly with spring Chinook entering now.

As ocean conditions improve, recreational and charter boats will be able to launch out of the Port of Brookings where bottom fishing has been excellent.

Central & Eastern – [Updated 4/1/16 3:30PM PT] Spring Chinook fishing will be allowed on the Deschutes River and Hood River. Be sure to check the regulations on these fisheries prior to making the trip.  The most recent posting for dates can be found here.

Kokanee catches for trollers at Detroit Lake have been fair to good with some taking limits.

As water level and flow continues to improve along with visibility on the John Day River, smallmouth bass fishing will get hot soon.

SW Washington – An excellent report from WDF&W, coming from the Cowlitz River:

Cowlitz River – 93 boat anglers kept 83 steelhead and 9 adult spring Chinook and released 5 steelhead. 97 bank anglers kept 16 steelhead and 10 adult spring Chinook and released 1 steelhead. Most of the steelhead catch was around the trout hatchery while spring Chinook were caught throughout the river.

Kalama River anglers are catching a few steelhead and an occasional spring Chinook.

Wind River and Drano Lake spring Chinook fisheries are not quite underway. Trollers and anxiously awaiting for better numbers to cross Bonneville Dam. Not even 200 salmon have crossed just yet.

Webinar Driftboating and bank fishing the Wilson River with Pro Guide Bob Rees January 20th