Oregon Fisheries Update March 4th – March 10th, 2016

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Willamette Valley – Spring Chinook are starting to fall with more regularity now. Recent precipitation however will put the Willamette out of shape but the mainstem Columbia is producing enough fish to create an early season frenzy. As is common, larger 5-year and even 6-year old fish show in the early portion of the run. This is evidenced by the 20 – 30-pounders hitting the deck this time of year. Of course these fish only make up a small portion of the run, catching one in early March and certainly February, is quite a treat! Springers have been reported from the gorge downstream to Longview. Do remember however, it’s early, so don’t go into it with high expectations.

We’re going to start reporting on Columbia River spring Chinook again so look for that new addition this week!

The big news is spring Chinook on the lower Willamette and that trollers and anchor fishers are catching a few every day.

Fly anglers will be able to catch some winter trout once the McKenzie starts to recover from precipitation this week With water high and rising on the North Santiam, it is not a good choice at this time.

Winter steelheading has been decent on the Clackamas and should continue although the water will be on the rise in the coming week.

Steelhead stalled on the Sandy with rainfall starting over the past weekend. It’s still high and rising at this writing.

Northwest Oregon – Steelheaders have had to endure high water conditions in recent days but the strong steelhead showing continues on in NW Oregon systems. The Wilson and Nestucca remain the busiest waterways, due to the late season hatchery option which continues to prove itself worthy this year. Action was good on the Wilson and Nestucca last weekend and early in the week and will likely produce good results again when flows subside.

Wild fish should start to show in better numbers on most other north coast streams with the Trask, Kilchis and Necanicum Rivers all good options, especially when the larger rivers such as the Wilson, Trask and Nehalem remain too big for good success.

Bank anglers should find success in any accessible river reaches. With the recent high flows, fish will be well distributed in all systems, well into the upper areas.

Another strong weather system will keep boats from recreating on the ocean this weekend and next week. Bottomfish will be readily available if the ocean ever cooperates.

Coastal estuaries won’t be all the pleasant to recreate on either. Bay crabbing is fair at best anyway.

Central & South Coast Reports – Rough offshore conditions are forecast for the coming week which will prevent offshore forays.

While winter is the time of year to think of surf perch fishing, it has continued whenever conditions allow over this winter.

Crabbing has been improving slowly on Winchester Bay but rainfall in the coming week won’t do the crabbers any good.

With spring Chinook starting up on the Umpqua, that is what most anglers are fishing for now.

Steelheaders are catching fish on the lower Rogue but now that the first spring Chinook of the year has been landed, their focus may change. The Grants Pass stretch has been producing winter steelhead.

Offshore anglers launching out of the Port of Brookings are doing well for bottomfish, particularly lingcod. The Chetco is expected to fish well once it recovers from the effects of passing storm fronts. The Medford newspaper reported the Diamond Lake has sufficiently frozen to once again allow ice fishing.

Central & Eastern – While wintertime trout fishing is a sport to test anyone’s patience, fishing for redsides on the lower Deschutes can be quite rewarding for fly anglers.

Winter fly anglers often fish the Metolius as it has a history of producing trout at this time of year.

Wallowa River steelheaders report that the river is in good conditions and producing summer steelhead.

Kokanee fishing is quite good at Odell where anglers also have a chance to catch large lake trout.

Lake Billy Chinook has continued to produce fair to good numbers of kokanee as well as the occasional smallish bull trout.

SW Washington – The Cowlitz River remains the main target for late-run winter steelhead for district anglers. No recent reports of spring Chinook and action for salmon likely won’t pick up until later this month.

Other systems such as the Kalama and Lewis are only putting out an occasional steelhead. Returns to these rivers in recent years have been depressing.

The commercial smelt fishery only harvested a little over 4,700 pounds. That’s about 1/4 of the poundage caught in the previous 2 years.