Oregon Fisheries Update for January 6th, 2017

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Willamette Valley/Metro – On the Willamette River, there has been very little fish passage at the Falls, only a handful of winter steelhead have been counted. A few winters have been taken by plunkers.

On the McKenzie River, water levels have been dropping all week. While this isn’t a hot winter trout fishery, fly anglers should find a few.

On one hand, the water levels of the entire Santiam system will be dropping over the coming weekend. On the other hand, see ’handful,” above, about winter steelhead passage at the Falls. They’re coming.

Clackamas winter steelheaders have told TGF about the terrific water conditions and the NOAA tells us it will be dropping over the weekend. On the other hand, cold water temperatures have slowed the bite.

A few fish have been caught on the Sandy River but our man on the Sandy, pro fishing guide Jeff Stoeger (http://guideoregon.com/) reports that it is slow here, due to cold water as well. Fish the warm-up!

Northwest – District anglers have also been suffering from cold weather conditions here. Cold air and water temperatures have slowed the bite, not that it was a fantastic bite in the first place.

Small stream systems such as the North Fork Nehalem, Big Creek, Necanicum and Three Rivers were victims of the cold weather front and the adult steelhead that have been returning to those systems are nearing the spawning phase. They’ll be a bit too busy to take any offerings. None-the-less, there will still be a few fresh fish coming in when temperatures warm and rivers rise.

Larger systems have been sparsely fished and are producing meager results. That won’t change much even when the weather improves.

A few offshore anglers got out this week, it helps when the east wind knocks down the westerly swell. Bottomfishing and crabbing were good.

Bay crabbing was cold, but it too, has been fairly productive.

Southwest – Carefully pick a weather window to make it out of any port to try bottom fishing in the winter. It’s excellent.

It sounds crazy (but then winter fishing probably sounds nuts to those who don’t fish), but surf fishing for perch has been worth the trip.

With most commercial crabbers on strike in support of California commercial interests, there’s less competition for Dungeness and more for recreational pots.

Author, publisher and prolific blogger, Pete Heley (peteheley.com) reported to us this week that it seemed like more crabbers than anglers took advantage of last weekend’s “Free Fishing Weekend”. Crabbing success was poor to fair at Winchester Bay, somewhat better at Charleston. A few crabbers complained that they had to work harder than usual to get their limits.

Plunk no more on the lower Rogue ‘cause there’s not enough water. Steelheading has been most productive on the Grants Pass stretch but there’s another storm front due, which will raise the water dramatically. Fishing on the upper Rogue is slow.

The banks of Diamond Lake received another foot of snow on January 4th, putting the total accumulation at 47 inches. Call the resort about ice fishing.

With winter steelhead taking off slowly on the Chetco, anglers hope the next freshet will turn things around here.

Eastern – Water in the lower Deschutes has dropped from previous high levels. We remind anglers that the stretch along Warm Springs Reservation is completely closed despite ‘simplified; regulations opening this section last season.

When it has been accessible, the Fall River has provided fly anglers with winter sport.

For those who relish cold-weather fishing, enjoy every moment of knocking ice from rod guides and own stock in a winter clothing or a glove company, Grande Ronde and Imnaha rivers have steelhead available.

At last report, the John Day River had frozen over at one upstream point.

Though Wickiup Reservoir doesn’t open until the east-side trout season, cold-weather trollers are already daydreaming about it.

SW Washington – It’s still early for winter steelhead on most district streams. The Cowlitz is producing an occasional adult.

No sign of smelt just yet, but they may enter when water temperatures warm.

Several of the district’s lakes were stocked with large broodstock rainbow trout and left over adult steelhead. Catches have been light in the sub-freezing temperatures, but should pick up when the temperatures do.