Oregon Fisheries Update January 17th, 2020

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Willamette Valley/Metro – There hasn’t been much opportunity in the Portland/Metro area this week. High water kept most from effectively fishing and those that did get out, weren’t very impressed with the results.

Here’s what pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) had to say about Sandy River fishing, “Hello All. Fishing is improving everyday with more fish filtering in on each rain event. The weather had played havoc with river levels over the weekend. The river took one large bounce over late Friday night into Saturday and we saw the river go up over 12.47 ft. The river was off color for a few days until the freezing level lowered and the river has dropped into great shape. As of  Wednesday, the river has continued to drop and is currently running at 10.1 ft and should drop down to around 9.5 ft and then take a small jump with warmer weather forecasted going into next week. The brood stock program so far has 10 fish caught and all the fish have been nice sized fish. The most effective technique so far, has been side drifting bait and beads.

Although the Clackamas continues to be an option this time of year, not many are fishing due to the lack of productive reports. There have been a few fish caught, but few fishermen are testing the sampling size. River levels should remain stable over the weekend and into next week, but we still need a few more weeks to justify any level of excitement.

There are some winter trout opportunities, but with the upcoming weather blast and current wet weather events, maybe they should fend for themselves for just a bit longer. HERE is the January stocking schedule.

See the full version of Jeff’s, Tim’s and Bob’s reports by becoming a paid subscriber here. It’s just $0.50 cents per week!

Northwest Oregon – Most rivers have remained too high for any level of effort, except for the smaller early season systems such as the NF Nehalem, Three Rivers, Necanicum and Highway 30 systems. The news isn’t good.

Those smaller systems, despite ideal water conditions, are booting out few fish. We’re past peak season for pre-spawn adults, but whether it’s pre-spawn or post-spawn, there just aren’t many fish around. One really experienced angler/fish biologist that’s an avid NF Nehalem anglers were extremely discouraged by this holiday results. He simply said, “The fish weren’t there.”

The Wilson did drop into good shape today (Thursday) and pro guide Rob Gerlitz (503-812-4950) did report that there were some fish in the system. He boated this nice one, and reported having 3 others up to the boat on his Mills Bridge to Sollie Smith float this afternoon. That’s some of the best news I’ve heard off of the north coast this season so far.

Pro guide Rob Gerlitz with a 1/16/2020 steelhead from the Wilson

Other systems were fishing on Thursday as well, but the Wilson seemed to put out some of the better results. The Trask and Nestucca were also options, but we will have to get reports a little later from the few that were out today.

The Siletz is in good shape, just too early for accurate reports on Thursday.

The Alsea was also struggling in the early season, but fish are certainly available closer to the hatchery right now.

The ocean has been deadly lately, literally.

Bay crabbers aren’t doing all that well with the freshwater influx either.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports

From ODF&W

South Twin Lake has been recently stocked with 100 Cranebow brood fish.

Steelhead fishing on the lower Deschutes continues to be fair. Though numbers are fewer this year, fish are well-dispersed from the mouth to the angling deadline.

The first winter steelhead are just beginning to return to the Hood River.

Taylor Lake has been stocked this fall and fishing should be good.

Trout anglers can target the Crooked, lower Deschutes and Metolius rivers, where fishing for native redbands is open throughout the year.

Recent cold weather has slowed steelhead fishing on the John Day, but flows and minimal ice conditions are good for fishing.

Steelhead are showing up in the North Fork John Day between Monument and Kimberly.

Fishing conditions on the Umatilla are good. Steelhead anglers should focus on the lower sections of the river above and below Threemile Dam.

Ice fishing on Kinney Lake and Magone Lake has been good.

Anglers have been ice fishing on several waterbodies including Lofton Reservoir, Phillips Reservoir, Unity Reservoir and Yellowjacket Lake.

Anglers have been catching a few hybrid bass in Ana Reservoir this winter.

Best bet for the Klamath is for native redband trout in the Klamath River.

Southwest – From ODF&W

A series of winter storms arriving to the Oregon coast over the last week or so has pretty much kept recreational anglers off the ocean. So no new reports or information on how bottomfish fishing has been.

Trout anglers can still catch fish that were stocked earlier in the year. As long as conditions allow, places like Lost Creek Reservoir can fish throughout the winter.

The East Fork Millicoma River and South Fork Coos River have been very high and muddy most of the week. Steelhead anglers have been able to fish several days this past week on the West Fork Millicoma River but steelhead catching has been slow. Steelhead anglers wanting to fish the South Fork Coos River above Dellwood will need a fishing permit from Weyerhaeuser to access this portion of the river.

Hatchery steelhead returns in the Coos Basin will be down this year due to low smolt releases two years ago. Because of disease issues at the hatchery then, we were only able to release less than 40 percent of our production goal.

Fishing for rockfish inside the bay has slowed down from the combination of big swells and the amount of freshwater moving into the lower bay from all the recent rain. The daily bag limit for marine fish is 5 of which only one can be a copper, quillback or China rockfish. Anglers are also allowed 2 lingcod per day. The harvest of cabezon will not open until July 1. A jig with a twister tail can be a great bait for catching rockfish.

There may be snow at Lost Creek Reservoir this week, so use caution when driving. Lost Creek Reservoir was stocked in October with legal-size and larger trout.

The Tekelma ramp is the only boat ramp accessible right now. This is probably the best lake for launching larger trailered boats at this time and the trout fishing will continue to be good throughout the winter.

Trout should be biting well with the cool temperatures. Bass and panfish are available here year-round but will be slow to bite now that the weather has cooled. Trolling a wedding ring and worm combination behind an oval egg sinker is always a good bet.

Winter steelhead fishing should start to pick up in the Lower Rogue. Anglers might want to try swinging flies, tossing spinners or running plugs. When expecting rain and rising river levels, consider switching tactics and anchor up and back-bounce eggs.

Bank anglers will want to look for fish on inside of bends in the river and slots along willow banks.

Half-pounders are still present in the Rogue Canyon, but anglers are reminded only hatchery trout can be retained.

There have been some good steelhead fishing reports lately, especially during or after a rain event. Summer steelhead may be looking skinny as it nears their time to spawn, and some anglers may begin to encounter kelt or “down-runners,” fish that have already spawned and headed back to the ocean. Please treat these wild steelhead with care and release them unharmed so they can come back again next year.

There have been a few reports of some bright winter steelhead making their way up the river, mostly down in the Galice area. Their numbers will be increasing, especially with the rain we’re getting.

Steelhead will bite on bait, yarn balls, spinners, spoons or a well-placed fly. Wild steelhead must be released unharmed unless you are below Hog Creek Boat Ramp, there anglers may keep 1 wild steelhead per day and 3 per year.

Steelhead and trout remain open in the upper Rogue, and summer steelhead fishing has been good, especially during or after a rain event while the water level is receding.

Bait is again allowed throughout the entire Rogue basin. A simple setup of bouncing bait, or using lures such a spinner, a plug or a bead can be very effective in steelhead fishing.

79 new summer steelhead entered the trap at Cole Rivers last week, for a total of 3,963 steelhead to date. Excess hatchery adult summer steelhead from Cole River Hatchery were recycled back into the system for the final time before Jan. 1. Anglers are reporting success in catching these fish.

Some summer steelhead have red, blue or green tags extending from the top of the fish near the dorsal fin. ODFW encourages anglers that catch these fish to call the upper Rogue office at 541-826-8774.

Tenmile Creek and Eel Creek are open to steelhead fishing. A few steelhead have been caught near Spinreel Park and the mouth of Eel Creek.

Steelhead fishing has been decent throughout the main. With rain in the forecast, the river may be a little high this weekend. A lot of anglers fish the main by “plunking.” This is usually a good strategy for water with more color and when the water is high. Make sure to turn in snouts from hatchery fish for a chance to win a gift card.

Some anglers are giving it a try in the lower North Umpqua. The river is up but looking like it might fall into shape for the weekend.

Effective Feb 1 through June 30, 2020, retention of hatchery Chinook salmon is allowed on the mainstem Umpqua River. Retention of wild Chinook salmon is prohibited.

SW Washington –  From the WDF&W web site, January 14th.

For regulation updates, go HERE.

Fishery Updates


John Day Pool – 12 bank anglers kept one steelhead and released four steelhead.

Sturgeon: Bonneville Pool – Seven bank anglers had no catch. 13 boats/39 rods kept 10 legal sturgeon, released 64 sublegal and two oversize sturgeon.

The Dalles Pool – Six bank anglers released one sublegal sturgeon.

John Day Pool – 15 bank anglers had no catch. 17 boats/36 rods kept one legal sturgeon and released one oversize sturgeon.

Reservoir Estimated Total Harvest % of Guideline Guideline Bonneville 29% The Dalles 55% John Day 17%

Walleye: John Day Pool – 1 boat/3 rods had no catch.

Bass: John Day Pool – Two bank anglers had no catch.


Columbia River Tributaries Elochoman River – 11 bank anglers kept 12 steelhead.

Above the I-5 Br – One bank angler had no catch.

❖ Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted