Oregon Fisheries Update for December 31st, 2015 – January 7th, 2016

Willamette Valley Fishing Report – Willamette water conditions have improved so the lower river is no longer considered hazardous for boaters. The best bet here is catch-and-release sturgeon fishing. Ask Robert Campbell at Fisherman’s Marine in Oregon City (503-557-3313) how to catch these fish and what to use.

Waters of the McKenzie River are dropping back into shape as is the cast with most Oregon rivers although winter trout fishing is expected to be on the slow side.

The Santiams have dropped considerably since storms moved through over the past week but have little to offer to anglers at this time of year.

Winter steelhead have been caught from the Clackamas and Sandy rivers which are coming into great shape for fishing now. Various lures will work for these fish.

North Coast Fishing Report – It’s been game on for steelheaders on the north Oregon coast this week. Perfect timing for families taking advantage of Christmas break. Flows are on the drop now, making only the larger systems a good option but action will slow on these systems in the coming days too.

Bank anglers will have good opportunities on most north coast streams but as smaller systems continue to drop and clear, fish will become wary and less likely to bite. It would also behoove anglers to wait out the cooler early morning temperatures, when fish are a little less likely to bite. The Wilson will be a primary target this weekend and Chinook are still around but require release starting January 1st.

The success of the early season is certainly a surprise and the later returning broodstock fish will likely be good as well. Some quality sized broodstock fish have already been taken. River systems with strong early returning stock will be most productive at the hatcheries from which they were released from or liberation points.

Tides are beginning to soften, making estuary crabbing a good option. Commercial gear goes in on January 1st and the ocean is an option right now but the swell is forecast to increase by the weekend.

Bottomfishing will also be an option although you’ll want to watch the swell height as it is expected to build.

Central & South Coast Reports – Surf perch fishing has remained surprisingly good for this time of year but pick a day when the ocean is calm.

Ocean and bay crabbing opened along the entire Oregon coast on December 21st but commercial crabbing won’t start until the 4th of January.

Crabbing at Yaquina Bay has been reported as slow to fair.

Be sure to check the 2016 regulations (and get a new license and tag) before fishing. There are some waters on the south coast which allow up to three hatchery steelhead per day.

Winter steelheaders on the Alsea have been taking some fish and this river is expected to produce and be crowded over the coming weekend.

Reports from Siuslaw steelheaders is of hooking coho while targeting winters. Be sure to release any and all coho as this season closed everywhere on New Year’s Eve.

Rogue River winter steelhead are expected to do well as the river drops into shape with the best bets either the lower stretch or the upper river near the hatchery.

Fully recovered from storms which pushed water out of the banks at the Chetco River, winter steelhead are in. Water levels are getting fairly low now.

Fishing has slowed at the Elk as water levels have dropped. Daily gauge heights and water conditions for the Elk are available via a recording at 541-332-0405.

Central & Eastern – Fishing for summer steelhead is all but over on the Deschutes as these fish are staging to spawn at this time of year and should be allowed to do so. While winter trout fishing is slow, it can also be rewarding.

Because the Metolius River is spring-fed, the water temperature stays a little higher than that of other rivers and it will often fish well in the wintertime. BE extremely careful this weekend, however, as roads are expected to be slick and the weather to stay cold all day.

Washington Fishing Reports – Effort remains light on most district systems but the Cowlitz and Kalama are the best two options given the current conditions. The Cowlitz is expected to produce better results now that it has a later returning broodstock of fish. The Kalama is a distant 2nd.

No reports of smelt yet and fishery managers will be looking at sport dipping options in the near future. Pre-season forecasts for smelt aren’t as promising as they have been in recent years. Reports of sturgeon in Tillamook Bay indicate that the sturgeon may realize they need a winter food source somewhere other than the Columbia River. More will be revealed.