Oregon Fisheries Update September 11th – 17th, 2015

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Willamette Valley Fishing Report – Anchor anglers participating in the wobbler fishery continue to report sporadic results. Those fishing downstream of Warrior Rock now have to look for fin-clipped fish, keeping only chinook or coho missing theirs. Those have been challenging to come by. Anglers upstream of Warrior Rock are reporting fair to good success, especially in the morning where wobblers are taking fish in the 17 to 23 pound range. Bag limits vary by river reach so check regulations carefully. The Bonneville fishery is also hit or miss but plugs and back-bounced eggs are taking fair numbers of fish as passage is peaking in the area.

Water remains low on the Willamette water temperature is still pushing the 70-degree mark on the lower river. Bass fishing is about the only option available here.

McKenzie River fly anglers can enjoy trout fishing over the coming weekend as cooler weather has triggered new hatches.

With the Santiams low and clear and summer steelhead populations poor this season, there’s little of angler interest here.

Despite the water still being fairly low on the Clackamas, the last round of rainfall has coho entering in modest number.

Although it’s still a little early for coho on the Sandy River, there are a few Chinook in the river. Coho numbers will improve in coming weeks.

North Coast Fishing Report – Boaters working the ocean out of the mouth of the Columbia continue to score good catches of chinook and coho. With the wide open regulations (any 2 salmon, fin-clipped or not) in effect, it doesn’t take long to catch a limit. Depending on where you fish, it’s easy to target chinook along the Long Beach Peninsula or coho on the green line (Buoy 7 to Buoy 3), especially on the outgoing tides. A fair swell however is impeding safe bar crossings and a comfortable troll in this reach. A fair swell remains in the forecast through the weekend.

Lower Columbia River trollers looking for coho are finding fair numbers but chinook and “wild” coho releases continue to frustrate anglers. Even an all day effort is rarely producing limits of hatchery coho. The Tongue Point bite was poor on the last hold-over tide series, it’s as good as done for the year.

Ocean trollers out of Garibaldi had an easier time catching nice chinook in shallow rather than finding coho in the deep. Success on the opener was sub-par and yet another indication of a gross over-prediction on coho adults this year. Tillamook Bay trollers are getting fish in the Ghost Hole, Bay City and the upper bay on the current tide series. Coho are a slow show here as well.

The Nehalem estuary is producing fair results and the authentic fall run of chinook is likely to kick off in good fashion in the very near future. Trolled herring in Nehalem and Wheeler are likely to produce. Don’t look for much coho opportunity on the  Nehalem this season, it’s forecasted to be depressed.

Albacore anglers did well prior to the increase in ocean swell and wind waves. It doesn’t look all that friendly in the near future either, at least for a long run offshore.

Ocean crabbing is great with mostly full crab hitting the bottom of the pot. Bay crabbing is improving.

Central & South Coast Reports – While bottom fishing out of Newport and Depoe Bay slowed mid-week, ocean crabbing remains good.

Salmon fishing has been somewhat slow out of central Oregon ports. Coho being caught are running small for this time of year.

Tuna fishing had been good over the past week but wind at the offshore fishing grounds has prevented boats from making the trip recently.

All-depth halibut fishing occurred September 3rd and 4th with fair success. Remain quote means there will be at least one more opportunity. The nearshore halibut quota for the central coast is nearly filled for the year.

Chinook fishing has been fair to good on the lower Umpqua where sea-run cutthroat trout fishing should be getting good at this time of year.

Trollers in Coos Bay have been doing fairly well for salmon. A derby will be taking place over the coming weekend with tickets available at local merchants for $20 per person.

Trolling for salmon in Rogue Bay has been fair but spotty with Chinook heading upstream with recent rainfall. Some steelhead are being caught on the lower Rogue while Chinook fishing has picked up somewhat in the middle river. The flies only stretch of the upper Rogue got off to a pretty good start as it switched from conventional bait and tackle.

Fishing was slow for the most part during the Slam’n Salmon Fishing Derby held over the past weekend. Fact is, salmon fishing is general has been slow out of the Port of Brookings. Halibut fishing results improved recently with the better catches attributed to more boats targeting them.

Central & Eastern – Visibility on the lower Deschutes has improved below White River this week. It’s not crystal clear but much improved with cooler weather. Trout and summer steelhead are available.

Trout fishing at Crane Prairie Reservoir is fair.

Trout at Clear Lake near Mt. Hood are responding to bait.

Trollers at Odell Lake have been taking limits of kokanee. Start fishing early in the morning and stick with it.

Wallowa Lake kokanee fishing is reported as poor.

Low water at Prineville Reservoir has closed boat ramps although some persistent anglers continue to catch warmwater gamefish.

SW Washington- Chinook catches are starting to improve on some systems but water levels remain so low, fish are skittish and anglers reluctant. Most of the effort remains justifiably focused on the mainstem Columbia. The mouth of the Cowlitz is producing good catches but chinook must be fin-clipped to retain. The steelhead run is tapering.

Other tributaries above Bonneville are producing good catches. The Wind River and Drano Lake are producing good catches of chinook and a rare steelhead for the few still pursuing them. The Klickitat is soon to kick off but anglers need to be aware that coho numbers are dramatically down and therefore, success will be too.

For those willing to travel further upriver, the Hanford Reach is starting to produce good catches of quality (but warm) chinook. Action here will continue well into October.

Soap Box Update:

This week, ODFW officials decided to eliminate limits on Columbia River walleye and smallmouth bass.
Considered one of the top smallmouth rivers in the country, smallmouth bass may be fished without limit starting in 2016. No limits on smallies on the Umpqua next year, either, and this is without a doubt the best smallmouth fishery west of the Cascades and second only to the John Day.

Well-respected outdoor writer and author of several fishing books, Pete Heley, had this to say about this situation in his weekly report: “As for the removal of bag limits for warmwater fish on the Columbia, the ODFW pretty much had to do it, since Washington is doing it and the states try to ensure their regulations match each other. But Oregon could have done a better job regarding the John Day and Umpqua rivers.

“These rivers have very high numbers of smaller smallmouth bass, which most anglers will still throw back. Very quickly, these rivers will have reduced populations of larger smallmouths resulting in less fishing pressure and less predation on the smaller bass by larger bass.”

Yep, that means lots and lots of little bass as the number of larger fish dwindles. And what is to happen to the world class walleye fishery on the Columbia once there’s no longer a limit on them? We can only hope that we will be able to recall how it once was “in the good old days.”