Oregon Fisheries Update: March 20 – 26, 2015

Willamette Valley Fishing Report –  The spring chinook fishery is underway with veteran anglers expecting action just about every time out. Although action has been fair throughout the river, with the Willamette recently blowing out, effort has shifted primarily to Davis Bar and upstream. It’s still too early to experience consistent fishing, despite what veteran anglers expect but with low flows, warmer than usual water temperatures and passage at Bonneville ramping up oddly early, there are fish to be had. As the Willamette clears, action should improve downstream of Davis Bar and it should be a pretty good week overall for trollers working the mainstem.

As of today, March 18th, visibility at Willamette Falls is 1.7 feet which is the best it has been this week. This as the flow has also been moderating. Turbid water hasn’t kept trollers off the lower river but when visibility is poor, fishing is likely to be slow and that has been the case. Unless the quarry is sturgeon, of course. The McKenzie River below Leaburg Lake is open to catch and release trout fishing. This river stretch is open to retention of adipose fin-clipped steelhead and non-adipose fin-clipped steelhead greater than 24 inches in length. A Columbia River Basin Endorsement is required for anglers targeting salmon and steelhead in the McKenzie. Gear use is restricted to flies and lures.

The North Santiam River took quite a hit from the storm that passed through earlier this week but has been dropping and is mostly recovered. The Santiam system is predicted to remain stable for the most part, even as another from moves through in the week to come. Water level and flow increased rapidly with the storm front that passed early this week, rising two feet at Estacada. While the water came down, it’s still about a foot higher than pre-freshet levels although clearing.

Flows at the Sandy River started to increase on March 14th, rising over three feet at the town of Sandy on the 15th and dropping since that date. Smelt sipping on second and last opportunity Sunday, March 15th, was a bust.

Northwest – Steelheaders have had a very good week on all coastal systems. With the most significant rainfall in several weeks, coupled with an above average adult return this season, action has been excellent on most north coast systems. Bobber-dogging is standard procedure these days. Standalone beads are taking numerous fish but small clusters of eggs and plugs are now effective in the dropping flows.

The Wilson and Nestucca didn’t disappoint for driftboaters with the upper reaches producing good by Tuesday and smaller systems such as the Kilchis and Necanicum fared well early in the week as well. Fish tipping the scales to over 20 pounds were reported and many fish over 10 pounds as well. Some spawned out fish are starting to show in the catches. It looks like rainfall may keep rivers in good shape into next week.

Angry seas seem to be the standard coming into spring break. Bottomfishing would be great is the ocean allowed and whales should be a common occurrence in the coming weeks. Bay crabbing will remain challenging but a good series of clam tides should produce fair at best in the higher surf. Digging has been excellent when sea surf is calm.

Coastal lakes should be heavily planted with trout this week, in preparation for spring break. Check the stocking schedule here: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/fishing/trout_stocking_schedules/

Central & South Coast Reports – The First Day of Spring (Spring Equinox) is Friday, March 20, 2015. Most of us already have spring flowers but trout ponds, charters and coastal merchants are gearing up for spring break as well.

As of Wednesday, March 11th, it became legal to retain one canary rockfish per day as part of a daily seven rockfish limit.

Bottom fishing was great for ling cod out of Depoe Bay on Wednesday this week with decent ocean conditions.

Spring All Depth halibut season opens May 14th through 16th (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) with backup dates of May 28-30 and June 11-13. More dates will be added if the quota does not fill. “The 2015 Pacific halibut quota is approximately 1 percent greater than 2014.” according to the ODFW.

Surfperch fishing is very good off most open beaches particularly those around Bandon, Charleston, Gold Beach and off the beaches around Winchester Bay.

Crabbing has been slow at Winchester Bay, best for boaters in the Triangle area where catches are reported about 50/50 Dungeness and red rock crab. Striped surf perch and greenling are being taken in good number off the South Jetty.

As with most Oregon ports this week, ling cod fishing is great out of Charleston. Crabbing has been worthwhile in Coos Bay, best in the lower bay around the jetties.

Catches of spring Chinook have been fair to good on the lower Rogue as boat and bank anglers are landing fish daily from Huntley Park to Quosatana Creek. For winter steelhead, the stretch around Agness should be productive. Winters are into the Grants Pass stretch although anglers may expect to hook a mix of those fish and spent (spawned out) summers. On the upper Rogue, winters have continued entering the hatchery facility and were doing so even in low water. ‘Most every lake in the Southwest Zone is being planted with trout this week in anticipation of spring break.

Central & Eastern – High-altitude lakes around Mt. Hood lake have been productive recently. Without snow, the roads are open and water surfaces are free of ice. Fly fishers may cast to rising trout to their heart’s content and foot-long rainbows are not uncommon.

Another good bet would be Timothy Lake. “Fishing has been real good here.” according to Robert Campbell at Fisherman’s Marine in Oregon City (503-557-5600).

SW Washington- Steelheading on the Cowlitz remains fair to good with recent rains reinvigorating late run fish. Fishing in several tributaries is closed to check regulations.

WDF&W reported 2 spring chinook caught in the Kalama River but it will likely be a low return again this year.

It may be hard to justify a trip to Wind River or Drano Lake but action should heat up soon if the Bonneville passage trend continues. Trollers working plugs, prawns or herring should start to see results when passage at Bonneville surpasses 500 – 600 fish per day.

Klineline, Battle Ground and Lacamas Lakes have all been stocked recently.