Oregon Fisheries Update December 16th, 2016

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Willamette Valley/Metro –  While there’s nothing too remarkable going on with Willamette flows, the water is muddy from recent rain. There has been no movement of fish to speak of through the first couple of weeks of December.

Fly fishers may want to try the McKenzie River which appeals by proximity if not productiveness, Target trout here as the Mack pretty much a steelhead-free zone.

According the National Weather Service forecast, the entire Santiam system should be at fishable levels this coming weekend.

The Clackamas River rose into December 12th but has been dropping since that date. There are reports of some steelhead taken here. Dave Neels of Oregon City Fishermans Marine (503-557-3313) told TGF by phone on Thursday morning that he’s heard of a few steelhead taken earlier this week.

Our man on the Sandy, Pro fishing guide Jeff Stoeger of O2BFISHN Guide Service (503-704-7920) reports there are steelhead available here. Stoeger also warns drift-boaters that Oxbow park is closed until further notice due to trees and other hazards that have the main road closed. The only boat ramp open for hard boats is Dabney Park.

Northwest – Catches of winter steelhead on the north coast has improved. Reports from the North Fork Nehalem indicate an up-tick in success rates, but that is to be expected no matter how many fish are coming back to the system. It’s peak season time for north coast, early run steelhead.

The Necanicum, Big Creek, Gnat Creek and Three Rivers should all be harboring catchable numbers of fish for bank anglers. The North Fork Nehalem will likely remain the best option however, given the amount of public land there is to fish. The Necanicum and Three Rivers, a close second. Don’t overlook the Klaskanine out of Astoria either.

Tillamook area streams remain open for another two weeks for Chinook. Catches have not been good during the late season however. Steelhead fishing is improving however with the Wilson and Nestucca good options this weekend. Dropping flows should make these bigger river systems the better option. The Wilson and Kilchis will offer up the best opportunity for a bright Chinook.

Crabbing has opened up in the northern estuaries, but success has been difficult with the more extreme tide series. Razor clam digging remains closed on Oregon beaches.

Flat seas opened up some bottomfishing opportunities for north coast saltwater anglers. It was likely good, but we have no confirmed reports.

Crabbing in the Columbia is slowing.

Southwest – There are a few charter boats which have been able to get out this week and, as expected, bottom fishing was excellent.

There have been a few hearty anglers who have recently chosen of their own volition to stand on a frozen winter beach to cast for surf perch. Some of those caught fish.

Bottom fishing regulations for offshore anglers were finalized this week. Among other things, while the rockfish limit remains seven, only six of those can be Black Rockfish. While there was an abundance when the bag limit rule was written, Blacks have been fished hard and with success.

Author, publisher and prolific blogger, Pete Heley (peteheley.com) writes from Reedsport remarking about those rare opportunities in wintertime when it’s possible to launch a boat out to the ocean. He also reminds us hoe great bottom fishing and crabbing can be at this time of year. He’s not wrong!

The Rogue River has been at the influence of the weather – and plenty of it – for several weeks. Most recently, the lower Rogue got smacked with a rise of nearly 20 feet with water continuing to come up as this report is being written. Once the Rogue recovers, there will be winter steelhead to catch.

Reports from over the past week indicate that the Chetco River was producing winter steelhead and we expect it to do the same once it drops back into shape.

Good News – We got word that Diamond Lake is icing up. Bad News – It’ll be weeks before there’s enough for ice fishing – if then.

Eastern – Reports from the east side of Oregon slow in wintertime. We welcome fishing reports from readers now and at any time of year. We don’t hotspot or name names.

The lower Deschutes has been producing trout for fly anglers but this week we suggest you forget there may be one or two steelhead here.

Winter trout fishers often head for the Metolius as it is spring fed and maintains fairly moderate water temperatures. Trout fishing will be better in the spring but is fair now. This river is catch-and-release only.

SW Washington – The district remains fairly quiet for winter steelhead although the Kalama is putting out a few fish. The Cowlitz is slow for steelhead, but there are still some coho around, but they are severely degraded.

The Lewis is now an option for winter Chinook. Although some years can be good, this won’t likely be one of them.

WDF&W planted some fair numbers of rainbow trout in Klineline and Battle Ground Lakes. The bite should pick up when the weather warms.