Oregon Fisheries Update February 5th – 11th, 2016

Willamette Valley – While the Willamette has yet to show signs of rising due to rainfall, it will start soon enough. No reports of spring Chinook activity but according to Robert Campbell at Fisherman’s Marine in Oregon City (503-557-3313) someone will hookup soon.

Waters of the McKenzie are expected to be too high to fish well over the coming weekend.

The Santiams are also rising but complicating the potential fishery here is a lack of fish, or rather too few this early in the season.

While the Clackamas River has not been spared from the freshet resulting from rain storms, it is expected to fish well for winter steelhead once the water starts to drop and clear.

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger of O2BFISHN Guide Service (503-704-7920) assures anglers that the Sandy will produce steelhead again but the coming week looks like a tough one as rainfall will turn to clear skies and warmer weather, adding glacial runoff.

NW Oregon Fishing Reports- Steelheaders have had a productive week on the north coast, despite being in-between the peak returns for most district systems. Pro guide Chris Vertopoulos (503-349-1377) reported good success on Sunday and Monday on the Wilson although recent days have produced inconsistent action. Stable river levels should keep systems fishable through the weekend.

Many rivers will start to see higher numbers of spent, downstream running steelhead. Anglers are still allowed to keep these fish as long as they are adipose fin-clipped but they make better smoked steelhead than fresh table-fare. Wild fish will begin to show in better numbers in the coming weeks and the Wilson and Nestucca will harbor the best opportunities for a take-home option.

Crabbers did fair last weekend but stronger tides this weekend will likely limit success. If the surf swells down, razor clam digging should be fair by early next week, maybe Sunday.

The ocean looks to remain off limits due to weather conditions.

Central & South Coast Reports – Winter fishing for rockfish and lingcod is almost always excellent. Unfortunately, windows of opportunity to launch are few this time of year.

With most southern Oregon rivers receiving winter steelhead now, anglers are advised to keep a sharp eye on water conditions. Smaller streams will naturally drop, clear and fish earlier than larger rivers.

Anglers may use only artificial lures and flies to fish the Illinois River where winter steelhead fishing results have been improving.

Crabbing has been slow in Winchester Bay due to high, muddy water pumping into the bay from the river. The Umpqua has been fair to good for winter steelhead. Prospects will improve as the water drops and clears.

Waters of the lower Rogue River remain too high to fish at this time. The Grants Pass stretch may drop and clear to fish over the coming weekend. Upper Rogue steelheading is expected to pick up as more fish make the trip.

The Chetco is expected to rise only a little, then drop through the weekend, making it a good possibility for winter steelheaders.

Central & Eastern – Summer steelhead, which are all dark and unattractive anyway have started spawning so that season is wrapped up here.

There are a few steelhead reported in the Hood River but results for winters here have been slow.

Because large populations of kokanee at Green Peter has caused the fish to stunt, there will be no planting in 2016.

Kokanee anglers are trolling the waters of Detroit Lake but fishing has been poor. Still, it’s a nice getaway.

SW Washington Fishing Reports – There aren’t many hopeful anglers fishing SW Washington streams but the Cowlitz remains one of the better bets. Catches did improve this week on the Cowlitz with both boat and bank anglers yielding some fish. As you can see by the table below, don’t plan on fishing on top of gobs of fish. Hatchery plants are down to pathetic levels, let alone terrible returns: 2015 compared to 2016 returns.


Good numbers of smelt were reported caught in the commercial fishery near Longview today. Prospects look good for the Cowlitz sport fishery this Saturday.

Cowlitz River – Smelt fishing with dip nets from the riverbank will be allowed ONLY from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturday February 6. Each dip-netter may retain 10 pounds of smelt (about ¼ of a five-gallon bucket) per day with no more than one day’s limit in possession. No dipping is allowed from boats.

Flows at Castle Rock are 19,500 cfs today, nearly twice the long-term mean of 10,700 cfs.

All other waters in the state of Washington remain closed to fishing for eulachon (Columbia River smelt).