Oregon Fisheries Update December 30, 2016

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Willamette Valley/Metro – Water levels of the Willamette River have been dropping, albeit slowly, but that’s the nature of the beast. Sturgeon fishing remains the best option for action.

While the McKenzie may not be the premium destination for trout fishing, fly anglers will find the water dropping and in good condition.

Despite the entire Santiam system coming into decent shape for fishing this weekend, winter steelhead only start entering in January so fishing is expected to be slow.

Clackamas levels topped out about a week ago and have been dropping with water conditions improving since then. Winter steelhead are being caught, but it’s still not the peak of the season.

Our man on the Sandy, pro fishing guide Jeff Stoeger (http://guideoregon.com/) reports the river will be dropping into shape over the weekend and tells us where winter steelhead are concentrated.

Northwest Early season anglers remain a bit perplexed as intensive effort isn’t yielding incredible results. Smaller streams have exhibited good water conditions for a large part of the season, but anglers fishing the larger systems, such as the Wilson and Nestucca got back to it by mid-week. Results have been tempered.

What most expect to be peak week, anglers have been struggling for more than a chance or two at steelhead. Anglers working the North Fork Nehalem by boat and bank worked hard for little results when success rates should be great. Hatchery workers reported only 154 returning adults in their traps this week, far from what a typical year shows by the last week of December.

The Trask River produced a few fish this week, mostly in the upper reaches, where precipitation doesn’t have the same impact on flows and color that the lower reaches do. Most fish are wild, requiring release.

Steelhead are likely already spawning in smaller tributaries, but fresh fish will still be coming in for the next few weeks. Anglers will also come across spawned out one too however.

Three Rivers is following suit with most north coast systems, where anglers are having to work hard for their quarry. Action should be peaking this week, and it likely is, large numbers of fish are simply not present.

Dungeness crabbing is now wide open, in the ocean and estuaries, but weather hasn’t been all that cooperative since the fishery re-opened. Weekend tides look favorable, the weather does not.

Southwest – Despite the lack of depth restriction for anglers seeking ling cod and rockfish, most boats are fishing just outside port as catches are that good.

ODFW announced the opening of the entire coast to crabbing and further states that while bay clams and mussels may be harvested, razor clams are off limits for all Oregon beaches.

Author, publisher and prolific blogger, Pete Heley (peteheley.com) reports to us with details about bottomfishing regulations in 2017 and that the depth restriction will return in April. He also tells stories and highlights where and how with regard to south coast steelhead.

Lower Rogue steelheaders are facing water that’s still high, making the middle river a better bet. Winter steelhead are not yet into the upper Rogue.

Winter steelheading was getting underway on the Chetco just as the storm front hit about a week ago. It should fish well as it recovers.

The surface of Diamond Lake is slushy, putting the hope of ice fishing in the future.

Eastern – Expect to experience a whole new level of cold on the lower Deschutes as sub-zero temperatures are in store in the coming week. Fishing is slow.

Trout fishing has been fair to good on the Metolius which has a reputation to maintain as an off-season trout fishery although not all the stories are true.

For those looking to troll for trout at Detroit Lake, be aware that the Thistle Boat Ramp, accessible earlier this week, is now too muddy to launch. We’ll be keeping an eye on the situation.

SW Washington – District rivers remain ho-hum, with the Kalama and Washougal top prospects for area anglers. Keep in mind “top prospects” are relative this year. The district is suffering the same fate as many Oregon streams- sub-par steelheading for a fair effort.

Trout plants are still strong for winter trout anglers. If air and water temperatures warm, action should too.

No sign of smelt just yet. In recent years, fair numbers of smelt start showing in fair numbers around mid-January. A large run is not expected.