Oregon Fisheries Update March 18th, 2016

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Willamette Valley – A series of storms and a turbid Willamette River have slowed effort for spring Chinook on the mainstem Columbia. Catches had been fair but you’ll likely find effort waning this weekend, especially below the mouth of the Willamette, which is currently spewing mud. Run timing however, would suggest an uptick in success rates and that should certainly start to get reflected in the above Davis Bar fishery across from the mouth of the Willamette.

Fish passage at Bonneville is still a trickle but more Columbia River bound fish are due to come in. Keep in mind however, that the run size for upper Columbia basin spring Chinook is not impressive this year.

The Willamette River is still quite cool and off-color but springer trollers are hoping that the water will clear as the height doesn’t matter as long as Chinook can see the bait or lure.

High at this time, the North Santiam is forecast to drop and clear over the coming weekend, there aren’t a great many fish here bit conditions will be good to catch them.

Clackamas steelheaders have had it tough this week between high levels and off-color water. That will improve over the weekend to come and there should be steelhead to catch.

While steelheading has slowed a little on the Sandy River, with water conditions improving in the next few days there is a possibility that more winters will push in.

Northwest Oregon – Steelheaders largely had the week off as north coast streams and rivers were running too high for success for much of the fishing period. Smaller systems came into play at mid-week and the Wilson was fishing well on Thursday. With all the high water we’ve experienced this season however, what would normally be a very productive time of the year, was consistent, not explosive. Many anglers, both from the bank and boat, enjoyed some quality steelhead from the Wilson on Thursday. There were some spawned out steelhead in the catches as well; a product of a strong early season return (January/February).

The Nestucca should begin to fish well on Friday and through the weekend.

Smaller streams such as the Kilchis, North Fork Nehalem and Necanicum, should start to get surprisingly low by the weekend. This should offer bank anglers throughout these systems, fair opportunity for catch and release fishing. The hatchery run is over on these rivers.

Friday looks to offer a rare opportunity for offshore bottomfish too. The forecast is calling for friendly seas but many aren’t likely to be prepared for the opportunity. Lingcod and seabass will be readily sacrificial however but the ocean blows back up again by the weekend.

Clam diggers and crabbers don’t have much to get excited about this weekend. Fresh water inundation and medium tides don’t offer up much in the way of excitement.

Central & South Coast Reports – With the ocean laying down now, charter boats one again got out this weekend to catch limits of ling cod.

With the ocean fairly calm and winds dying down over the weekend to come, pinkfin surf perch will be targeted by some anglers fishing right off the beach.

This week, Pete Heley joins the staff as a contributor, telling our readers to expect spring Chinook on the Umpqua and for crappie fishing to improve in local lakes and ponds.

Rogue level and flows ramped way up this week, from Lost Creek Reservoir to the mouth. Conditions are on the mend, however, and the lower and middle stretches should fish over the next few days although it will rise again on Monday next week.

Winter steelheading was good before the last storm front passed, dropping rain and causing the river to rise and roil. Conditions will be improving over the weekend and there are still steelhead to be caught.

Most of the lakes and ponds on the south coast are being planted in anticipation of spring break, Take the kids & have some fun!

Central & Eastern – One can’t reasonably expect red-hot trout fishing on the Deschutes at this time of year but despite the water being high, it hasn’t been too bad.

The Metolius is a favorite east-side destination for off-season fly anglers. Living up to its reputation, fishing here has been fair to good, but always challenging.

While the John Day River is high and muddy today, it will be dropping and clearing. In a few weeks, some really large smallmouth will be landed here.

Wickiup Reservoir will open in late April.

SW Washington – The Cowlitz is really coming on-line for steelhead right now. Catch rates are impressive as we see the fruits of a run timing change from early to late stock returning steelhead. The WDF&W check goes as follows:

132 boat anglers kept 85 hatchery winter run steelhead and released 1 wild fish. 64 bank anglers kept 5 hatchery adult spring Chinook and 10 hatchery winter run steelhead plus released 1 hatchery winter run steelhead. The spring Chinook were caught at the barrier dam while the steelhead were mainly caught around the trout hatchery though some fish were also caught downriver.

Other district streams continue to produce poorly for winter steelhead.

There have been catches of spring Chinook punched at Wind River and Drano Lakes this year but it’s way too early to put in a strong effort. It will be another month before this fishery really ramps up.