Oregon Fisheries Update April 9th, 2016

Willamette Valley – All the rage now is where to go fishing on Saturday. Following an emergency closure following Friday’s fishery, effort will certainly switch to the Willamette. You have just a few more hours to take advantage of the mainstem Columbia spring Chinook fishery, good luck with it.

Guides are reporting slower fishing by the day however but fish seem most plentiful downstream of Washougal. The gorge and Troutdale fisheries have not been productive, which is not typically the case for these easy on the eyes areas. Regardless, it seems for the last day, you’d best be suited to stay downstream of the I-205 Bridge. Trolled herring remains the key bait but anchor fishermen were doing better on Thursday, using plugs to entice strikes.

Water conditions are good on the lower Willamette, clear with good visibility. A few spring Chinook and steelhead have been taken but fishing has been slow this week. Fishing for smallmouth bass has been considerably more productive.

Water level, clarity and color are good on the McKenzie River, giving fly fishers every reason to be optimistic about a productive weekend here.

Now that a better number of winter steelhead have crossed at the Falls and run up the Willamette to enter the Santiams, there’s a fair chance to enjoy catch-and-release fishing here for wild fish.

With winter steelhead fishing all but a memory on the Clackamas River and numbers of summer steelhead and spring Chinook yet to reach mid-season levels, this might be an option best fished a little later in the season.

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger of O2 Guide Service (503-704-7920), reporting on the Sandy River, states that while it’s been slow recently, that water conditions have been good and an improvement is expected.

Northwest Oregon – With dropping flows and clearing rivers, steelheaders aren’t out of the game on the north coast but fish are much more wary  under the current river and weather conditions. This is when plug fishing can become more productive. Side-drifters can certainly still score results but you’ll have to tone down the size and color of your presentation.

Given the size of the run this year, we should still have another fair week of opportunity. The Wilson and Nestucca should still headline the options and some summer steelhead may even be present. There are April 1st closures in effect so check your water body accordingly. Steelhead are certainly entering the spawning phase about now but there should still be some bright ones available in the lower reaches. Upper stretches will be treacherous to boat.

Spring Chinook fishing is now open in the Tillamook district and it’s likely there are a few around. Don’t bank on easy fishing however, we’re still a month away from better fishing. The Trask, Wilson and Nestucca Rivers are your best bets but again, don’t count on results.

Bottomfishing remains excellent when conditions allow. Although the deep reefs are now closed, hungry bass and some lingcod should be very willing to bite in the shallower waters. Ocean crabbing remains challenging.

Razor clam diggers have a nice set of tides to work with. If the surf remains subdued, digging should be very productive.

Central & South Coast Reports – Bottom fishing has been stellar out of Depoe Bay although most reports indicates slow crabbing.

Without a spring Chinook run and to protect other species, the Siuslaw River closed to fishing on April 1.

In his regular weekly report, author of several books on fishing, Pete Heley (PeteHeley.com) tells us smallmouth bass fishing is fair to good on the Umpqua and will be as good as it gets from now into June,

There are spring Chinook entering the lower Rogue as the run begins to get underway, Catches are fair now but should improve as more springers join the party, Fishing is fair to good on the middle and upper Rogue.

Bots launching out of Brookings Harbor have been making excellent catches of ling cod although rockfish numbers have been spotty.

With seasons changing and runs wrapping up, the Chetco and Elk rivers closed to fishing on April 1.

Warm weather this week has pretty much dashed the hopes of those who enjoy ice fishing at Diamond Lake. It’s melting now and will be gone in a matter of weeks.

Central & Eastern – High water has been a problem for anglers trying to catch trout on the lower Deschutes. With water dropping this week, fishing is expected to improve.

Odell Lake has been producing good catches of kokanee and, occasionally, lake trout on jigs.

Trolling for kokanee at Lake Billy Chinook has been producing good numbers of fish,

Kokanee fishing is slow at Green Peter Reservoir.

SW Washington – The Cowlitz River continues to boot out big numbers of steelhead for boat anglers and fair numbers of steelhead and spring Chinook for bank anglers. We’re entering peak season for steelhead and just a few weeks away from peak spring Chinook action. Observers are feeling pessimistic about a 25k return to the Cowlitz for spring Chinook but it may be a bit early to be judgmental just yet.

Other district rivers are not worth the ink we’re expending on this report. There are a few steelhead in the Kalama however, and I do mean a few.

Wind River and Drano Lake fisheries are non-existent. It’ll stay that way until we get 800 to 1,200 or more springers passing by each day. Hopefully, that won’t be too far off.

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