Oregon Fisheries Update April 21st, 2016

Willamette Valley – Spring Chinook passage at Bonneville Dam is now concerning. It’s understandable that we’re lagging behind last years under-predicted run, but to lag behind the 10-year average by more than double, it makes you wonder. Regardless, either a late returning run or diminished returns will spell lower opportunity for sportanglers when that peak passage date actually does come, commonly, in the first week of May. We’ll need a strong uptick in passage really soon to remain optimistic.

Willamette River water levels and flow are good, Trollers are catching spring Chinook daily in the lower Willamette but not a great many of them although there was an 18 Chinook for 24 boat check on the lower Channel on Thursday. Catch-and release sturgeon fishing is still producing many fish.

McKenzie fly fishers will face a little challenge with rising water over the next few days but as the river comes into shape, trout fishing will be good.

North Santiam river levels are rising and will pit the river out of shape through much of the coming week. After recovery, there should be some steelhead available.

Sandy water conditions are good although it remains to be seen what effect rainfall over the next several will have. Up to now, steelheading and springer fishing have been slow. Much the same on the Clackamas River.

Northwest Oregon – Steelheaders have hung it up for the season on the north coast. There should be some summer steelhead available in the Wilson and Nestucca systems but anglers are starting to focus on spring Chinook in the region. Although it’s still a bit early, there have been reports from a few locations in Tillamook Bay and the Nestucca system. Peak season is still 3 weeks away.

Bottomfishing has been off the hook but consistent catches of lingcod are hard to come by. The mouth of the Columbia and the Port of Garibaldi have both been putting out easy limits of sea bass.

Low tides through the weekend could prove productive for razor clam diggers but if the ocean swell prediction comes through with the low pressure system, all bets are off.

Central & South Coast Reports – Fishery managers set salmon fishing seasons this week. Chinook on the central coast will last through Oct. 31. An un-marked coho season Sept. 3-30, or quota of 7,500 fish.The Oregon commission will be asked to approve an Elk/Sixes River ocean bubble fishery the same as last year, but reduce the Chetco bubble fishery to two weekends, Oct. 1-3 and 8-9.

Rockfish and lingcod catches are excellent off the central Oregon coast with ocean crabbing picking up slightly.

The lower Umpqua has produced a few spring Chinook and will be steadily picking up in the coming weeks as we move into the season. Crabbing is poor in Winchester Bay.

Spring Chinook will be entering the lower Rogue but anglers should be aware of fluctuating water levels and fish accordingly. The Grants Pass stretches have been producing some winter steelhead. Prospects for steelheaders are fair to good on the upper Rogue. The chance to keep one wild winter steelhead 24 inches or longer per day and five per year is over at the end of April.

Boats launching out of the Port of Brookings have been doing well for rockfish and lingcod. Anglers are reminded that the Chetco River is closed for now.

Fishing is closed for now on the Elk River.

Diamond Lake is nearly ice-free although trout fishing has been slow in the cold water here.

Central & Eastern – Trout fishing on the Deschutes has been fair to good although prospects look to be improving over the week to come.

Kokanee fishing has remained good all week at Odell Lake with jigs most effective.

Among other high lakes, Lava Lake will be accessible for the coming weekend.

The John Day River has been producing good catches of large smallmouth.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will open the upper Snake River for spring Chinook fishing on Saturday, April 23rd. Be certain to check the regulations for this fishery.

SW Washington – The Cowlitz River continues to boot out fantastic catches of steelhead for boaters and spring Chinook fishing is good too. It may not be 25,000 returning adults good however. This writer is starting to speculate that the prediction of springers to the mouth may have been over-estimated. Bank anglers are doing well too, with both steelhead and springers hitting the bank.

There are some fish coming from the Kalama and pressure is much lighter here than on the Cowlitz.

The Wind and Drano Lake fisheries are under-performing, not unexpected given passage over Bonneville Dam. We should start to see numbers climb to 1,000 to 2,000 adults per day if this prediction is going to come through.

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