Oregon Fisheries Update January 13th, 2017

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Willamette Valley/Metro – One reader has asked about where the Columbia River fishing report has been for the last few months. If you’re wanting to fish on the Columbia, tell me why and what you’re catching, and we’re happy to report on it. Give it a few more days and you may get to ice fish! But really, spring Chinook won’t even start for another 2 1/2 months and the better catch and release sturgeon fishing is happening in the Willamette River, so really, what are you fishing for on the Columbia River? Am I missing something?

The mighty Willamette is just coming off a significant rise in the water level but this shouldn’t discourage anglers looking for catch-and-release action for sturgeon. Check to be certain most of the debris washed over the Falls from upstream has cleared out before launching to fish from shore.

Fly fishers on the McKenzie may be lured streamside by the siren song of the winter trout. Give in to the urge and you may be rewarded. Lower your expectations to avoid disappointment.

Since only a handful of winter steelhead have been counted at the Falls on the lower Willamette thus far into the season, it stands to reason there are far too few to target on the Santiams – yet.

Waters of the Clackamas will be in decent conditions and flow for steelheading over the next several days. It’s still early in the season here so it won’t be hot fishing but the odds are improving.

Pro fishing guide Jeff Stoeger (http://guideoregon.com/) reports that fishing has been slow over the past week on the Sandy River and that large chunks of ice floating down the river made it difficult to fish. Better fishing is just around the corner!

Northwest – Steelheaders were once again hampered by wicked weather this week. Traveling conditions were downright dangerous, water temperatures bone-chilling (even for cold water fishes) and action was quite pathetic. Do I sound like a Debbie-downer?

We’re also between seasons, as you’ll hear that more often than you want to for the next several weeks. Anglers are reporting low and clear water conditions and fish as cold as the first girlfriend that ever dumped you. The North Fork Nehalem hatchery reports little effort, little catch.

It’ll be the theme until water conditions warm, but more importantly, when the 2nd season fish begin to show in about a month from now. Early season fish are still on the spawn and won’t be responding well for another few weeks. When they do, they won’t be the quality fish you would have caught several weeks ago. The Necanicum, North Fork Nehalem, Big Creek, Gnat Creek, the Klaskanine River and Three Rivers harbors these early season steelhead. You’ll find them much more snappy in early February.

The Wilson, Trask and mainstem Nestucca will offer up the best chances at an early running- late season broodstock fish. You’d have to be pretty lucky however. Anglers won’t really get excited for several more weeks.

The east wind influence has some saltwater anglers pretty excited. Bottomfish catches have been pretty good and ocean crabbing is fair as well although the commercial fleet is out in force.

Bigger tide exchanges this weekend won’t help estuary crabbers all that much. Be cautious if you cross the bar too.

Southwest – Now that the ocean is open to recreational crabbing, we’re getting reports of not only decent numbers but unusually large Dungeness as well.

There have been a number of reports of limits of rockfish and ling cod out of virtually every southern port. The trick is finding the conditions to launch in the wintertime.

Crabbing is open in bays and estuaries but harvesting razor clams is disallowed coast-wide. The harvest of mussels is open and safe along to coast as well.

Author, publisher and prolific blogger, Pete Heley (peteheley.com) reports this week on the link between domoic acid outbreaks and the El Nino occurrence and talks about all of the Sportsmen’s Shows coming to various locations around Oregon soon.

Rogue River steelheaders are a patient group. Good thing too, as water levels were above flood stage as recently as Wednesday this week. Level and flow have started moderating, but it remains to be seen if conditions here will improve sufficiently for the Rogue to fish sometime over the weekend.

The Chetco River was quite high earlier this week but is expected to be dropping and fishable over the coming weekend with fresh winters in the river.

At the latest report, Diamond Lake is open for ice fishing. Call the resort to confirm safety of the lake’s surface. Fishing is slow to fair.

Eastern – According to water level reports from NOAA and elsewhere, waters of the Deschutes are too high to fish.

Records of kokanee catches in Oregon for 2016 put Timothy Lake as one of the top destinations for anglers .

ODFW put out a list of lakes with sufficient ice cover to augur and fish. This includes Mann and Kinney lakes along with a few others.

SW Washington – District anglers have been less than motivated due to weather conditions and success rates. Cowlitz River anglers are reporting poor success.

The Kalama and Lewis systems are producing equally poor results, but better fishing should happen in another month from now.

Despite razor clam digging being closed in Oregon, it’s open in Washington. You can find the open beaches and their respective seasons here.