Willamette Valley Fishing Report – Fishery managers just announced on Thursday, the reopener of the lower Columbia River sport fishery. It’s evident that we’ll have a great return of Columbia River spring Chinook this year. The opener will last only Saturday and Sunday with an expected catch of over 2,000 spring Chinook. It should make for exciting opportunities. Make sure to check out the full length version (paid subscribers only) to see where you stand your best chance at success.
As April draws to a close, over 4,100 winter steelhead and nearly 500 summers been counted Willamette Falls, either or both of which are crossing in roughly the same number daily. With a few daily counts exceeding 1,000 and one topping twice that, spring Chinook total is well over 13,000 and rapidly increasing. Flows are predictably decreasing with the water temperature in the mid-50s at the Falls. Fishing for redsides on the McKenzie has been quite good as recently as Wednesday this week. Trout are keeping an eye on the surface which has made dry offerings a natural choice. The upper Mac is open as well and is expected to offer some decent results.
The South Santiam is stable but very low. On the afternoon of April 30th, it was flowing at 1,250 cfs at Waterloo. The North Santiam is also way down for this time of year and is forecast to continue dropping through the coming week.
Most steelheaders have hung up their gear and are targeting spring Chinook now on the Clackamas, particularly given the poor summer steelhead return this year. Fishing for springers in low, clear water is a tough proposition but persistence coupled with a little bit of know-how can win out.
The low water story is no shocker this year and the Sandy River is suffering this fate right along with the rest of them. Flows were just 1,400 cfs at the town of Sandy this afternoon. Knowing where the fish are and how to approach them can help any angler become a low-water aficionado.
North Coast Fishing Report – It’s still early for high expectations for spring Chinook in the Tillamook district but it’s now the time for those most persistent to start to see some results for the effort you put in. The semi-strong weekend tide series could produce results on either side of Tillamook Bay but it seems that the Memaloose Boat Ramp and Trask River tidewater are the more likely areas to intercept spring Chinook this early in the season. The adjacent ocean waters won’t be all that friendly for those wishing to venture into the salt. The un-seasonally warm and dry weather may start to produce the green slime out of the Tillamook River in the upper bay. This goo certainly impedes opportunity during the outgoing tides but don’t overlook high slack for herring trolling in the upper reaches.
Low flows will keep most from floating driftboats down any of the north coast rivers but the lower Wilson and lower Nestucca may produce a rare summer steelhead and an even rarer spring Chinook. You’ll have to fish pretty stealthy techniques if you plan for any level of success.
The ocean forecast may be safe enough for larger boats to venture out for bottomfish but small boats should think twice. Of course weather forecasts can be quite inaccurate this far out. The swell may be tolerable but boaters will want to watch for the wind-whipped afternoon nor’wester because if you choose the wrong direction in the morning, you could be in for a rough ride home in the afternoon.
Halibut seekers will have another few weeks to wait before their first all-depth opener.
Central & South Coast Reports – When charter boats have been able to get out of Depoe Bay to the fishing grounds, anglers on board have been taking good numbers of rockfish.
Ocean crabbing remains slow as it has been most of the season this year. It’s slightly better in coastal bays and estuaries.
Although it’s early for summers in the Siletz, a few are being taken.
Coos Bay anglers are taking good numbers of mostly black rockfish around the jetties. Crabbing is best in that same area but is only fair at best.
Spring Chinook fishing is slow to fair on the lower Rogue, slightly better through the Grants Pass stretch with best results coming in the upper Rogue.
Boats launching out of the Port of Brookings nearly all limited for rockfish this week.
A Free Family Fishing event will be held in Grants Pass on Saturday, May 2 at Reinhart Volunteer Park Pond in Grants Pass from 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Central & Eastern -Fishing for redsides on the lower Deschutes will improve in May with the spawn wrapped up for the year.
Crane Prairie has been fishing fair to good.
Trollers are having a tough time getting into kokanee at Odell Lake.
SW Washington – The Cowlitz River seems to be witnessing a strong showing of spring Chinook right now. Catch rates have been excellent and counts back to the hatchery are way, way ahead of last year. Action is likely peaking right now and given the hatchery returns on adjacent district systems, the Cowlitz is the ONLY place to expect good success this year.
The Kalama and Lewis are nothing short of pathetic although hatchery returns are ahead of last year; if you can call a return of 3, up from 1 at this time a success on the Kalama and 48, up from 11 on the Lewis.
The Wind River and Drano Lake fisheries are hitting their stride right now. With peak passage happening at Bonneville Dam, this fishery should continue to produce good results well past this weekend. According to PIT tag “pings” at Bonneville Dam, these two systems are in for a good return this year.