Willamette Valley Fishing Report – The reopener of the lower Columbia River re-invigorated much of the angling community but despite a monster effort, most angler had little to brag about. The most likely winners would have been Columbia River Gorge anglers but even they endured long launch times for little yield. The Columbia re-opens this Saturday, May 9th, for one more day before closing again and reopening again on May 16th. As you might guess, the bulk of the run has passed and fishing will get much more challenging. It won’t be long however, before shad start to show and summer steelhead should also start to make a stronger showing as well by the May 16th opener.
About 2,700 adult spring Chinook were counted on the last day of April while the first two days of May, counters say over 1,200 and 1,300 respectively passed the natural barrier. The cumulative total as of the 2nd of May (the latest data available) was a staggering 20,221. Compare that to 3,124 on that date in 2014, 8,000 2013 and a paltry 1,915 in 2012. Over 20,000 springers is more than the season total for a couple of years in the previous 10 or so. And they’re getting caught by those who are out there fishing. Another exciting factoid is the percentage of hatchery fish which has averaged well over 80% of the fleet’s catch. If you’re still seated, consider that May is historically a good month for spring Chinook catches and there’s a bunch of them in the lower Willamette this season. There is one problem, however; warm water.
There was a little uptick in the water level of the McKenzie on May 5th just below Leaburg Dam. Not enough to notice, really, it’s still less than four feet deep at the gauge and flowing just over 1,100 cfs.
The Santiams have been a bit of an enigma this year. Many anglers (and even this writer) expected a decent summer steelhead showing and were disappointed. That situation hasn’t improved. Sure, the water is low this year, but what of all those springers that have crossed at the Falls?
The Clackamas water level drop is pretty much a straight line that can be tracked from over a week ago through today and into the middle of May. It’s a drop from low to lower. It’s this way everywhere this year.
Sandy River water levels have dropped over a foot in the past 10 days but more significant; flows have gone from 1,900 to about 800 cfs. That’s not much water in which to fish.
North Coast Fishing Report – Although the start of peak season for spring Chinook is still a week away, effort is increasing and catches are being reported on a more regular basis these days. We’re on a strong tide series this week so the upper bay, for more reasons than this one, should start to see a few fish towards low slack. And, it will be a low tide so don’t count on moving too much around the upper bay but the main hole at the Oyster House is always a good option. First light is never a bad time either. Anglers may find themselves a bit frustrated however if the moss decides to show itself in a bad manner again this year. There is definitely a water quality issue in the Tillamook River these days. I wonder where all those nitrates come from that promote moss growth? Anyone wanna guess?
Although spring Chinook is not necessarily the only game in town, it is for most anglers as we don’t all have the equipment or the will to go too far offshore in pursuit of other species. Speaking of halibut, we’ll cover it in more detail in the next edition but the season’s first opener happens on May 14th and although it’s too early to predict weather conditions, for those ready to shoot off in pursuit, now is the time to make sure you have all the proper safety and fishing equipment. You’ll want to restudy the regulations as well since there are other unique restrictions that require you to release most bottomfish species. You can go here for more information.
With rivers at continued low level status with no relief in sight, don’t count on driftboating anytime soon. Some summer steelhead may be available in the lower reaches, as well as spent winter run fish but you’ll really want to wait until the next rain freshet before you get too serious about your options.
The offshore forecast looks pretty favorable for Bottomfishing and if you care to waste your time, ocean crabbing. It’s very likely however that the dreaded NW wind will kick up in the late morning and persist through the afternoon so prepare for that. Check the updates, as they are often, here.
We are on the back end of the minus tide series so razor digging should drop off. It has been a good early series however and clams should still be available for those that are so motivated.
Central & South Coast Reports – Predictions regarding ocean conditions look good for a launch on Saturday, May 9th and fair for Sunday. Fishing is good so go if you get the chance.
Central Oregon offshore fishing has been an on-and-off proposition, dependent upon wind and wave conditions. Launches have been possible every couple of days for a while. When boats have been able to get out, rockfish catches have been excellent while lingcod fishing is fair to good.
Spring All Depth Halibut opens on Thursday, May 14th through Saturday, May 16th, May 14-16, May 28-30, June 11-13 and June 25-27 with back-up dates of July 9-11 and July 23-25 if the quota of 110,649 pounds has not been reached. The halibut daily bag limit is one fish with the season limit being six fish. The possession limit is one halibut while at sea and three halibut in possession.
Ocean Dungeness catches, slow since the opener, have not improved. There’s a better chance of taking home a few keepers from coastal bays and estuaries but that too, is slow. Report tagged Red Rock crab to state fish biologists at 541-888-5515.
Catches of pinkfin and striped surf perch have continued to provide plenty of dinners for anglers casting from south coast beaches. Those who want to try it are reminded to scout for a steep beach where waves are breaking close to shore. Target perch during the last two hours of an incoming tide.
Water on the lower Rogue nearly reached historical low levels as it dipped to the 1,800 cfs range. Try the slow, deep areas of the middle river with bobber and bait. Upper Rogue fishing has been good as springers are charging upstream.
Central & Eastern – The John Day River has turned on for smallmouth fishing, producing some of those legendary 100-fish days to some anglers. Smallies are being caught to 20 inches or larger at times.
East Lake is fishing well for fly anglers and is producing some large rainbow trout. The lake is free of ice and area roads are dry.
The kokanee derby scheduled for July 11th at Green Peter has been cancelled. The reason comes as no great surprise: low water. So low, if fact, that only the Thistle Creek ramp is predicted to be open at that time.
Deschutes River trout anglers are anxiously awaiting the salmonfly hatch. It was early last year and likely to be early again this year. There are a few bugs starting to show.
SW Washington – The Cowlitz continues to be the bright spot for spring Chinook and the action has been quite good. Catch rates are peaking right now, if not a little past peak already. Summer steelhead are only showing in fair numbers.
The Kalama does have some spring Chinook present along with a few summer steelhead. Action for salmon will likely be unimpressive but it should be peaking right now.
The Wind River and Drano Lake fisheries have passed their peak but anglers are still seeing fair catches here. Drano likely remains the best option but anglers will soon find themselves trudging upstream for better action as these mouth focused fisheries wane.