Oregon Fisheries Update September 30th, 2016

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Willamette Valley – The fall Chinook run up the Columbia has, for the 3rd consecutive week, been downgraded. The run forecast for the mouth of the Columbia is now 729,200 adults. I don’t think these biologists are done downgrading either.

Continued weak passage at Bonneville Dam continues to be reflected in this week’s catch rates. Although the Bonneville reach keeps putting out fair to good numbers of Chinook for persistent trollers, other downstream locations are consistently failing anglers that remember how good it was last year. It’s still a Pro-Troll and spinner bite but plan on losing as many fish as you hook on this method. Action will remain best in the Bonneville reach and in the upstream reservoirs for those that know how to effectively fish it.

There’s very light effort for coho by plug pullers and back-bouncers on the lower Willamette although fishing for bass will provide more action as no verifiable reports of coho catches from this area have been made.

The McKenzie River seems to just keep plugging along. The water level dropped very slightly over the past week and fishing is expected to be decent here.

While the Santiams are low, even for this time of year due to little rainfall recently, there are steelhead and trout in the system, some of which are getting caught daily.

Clackamas River water and flow are low, having returned to its previous state following precipitation several days ago. There are coho and steelhead in the river that are going to be caught by someone – it might as well be you! While it was most recently reported as somewhat slow, Dave Neels of Oregon City Fishermans Marine (503-557-3313) in his regular weekly report, assures us that more fresh fish are on their way and that we have only seen the start of the run. He also lets us in on a new/old technique that catches coho.

Pro fishing guide Jeff Stoeger of O2BFISHN Guide Service (503-704-7920), in his regular weekly report from the Sandy River, tells us, “The report and word on the river is that coho are scattered throughout its entire length.” Sandy River coho hopefuls have been rewarded with a little greater frequency in hookups this week than last. Stoeger goes into the details of how and where.

Northwest Oregon – Tillamook remains one of the north coast highlights although Chinook continue to show in low numbers. Ocean caught coho, mostly wild now but a few hatchery fish mixed in, has kept the fleet active. Ocean coho is slated to close on September 30th however, so Chinook will become the primary focus.

Tillamook Bay anglers have been struggling to find consistent success for Chinook but with an improving set of tides over the weekend, action should improve in upper Tillamook Bay, where the bulk of the early run is destined for the Trask and Tillamook Rivers. Hatchery coho remains open in the bay through October but the bulk of the fish are staging at the Trask River hatchery.

The North Fork Nehalem hatchery have had nearly 100 coho into their traps there, indicating a few fish are available to anglers. The river is extremely low however and not expected to rise much, even with the upcoming predicted precipitation. Chinook fishing in the Nehalem is fair, like most north coast systems, it’s down from last year.

The Nestucca tidewater, especially at the Boat Ramp Hole, produced fair to good catches over the weekend for bobber tossers. Tidewater should remain a good option through the weekend with fresh fish moving in on the upcoming stronger tide series.

The Salmon, Siletz and Alsea Rivers all have a fair to good smattering of Chinook available. Stronger tides should inspire more biters for bobber fishermen as well as those working plugs and spinners. Remember, wild coho may not be retained anywhere on the north coast, in freshwater.

Crabbing remains good in most estuaries and that shouldn’t change, even with the upcoming precipitation.

Central & South Coast Reports – Bottom fishing is expected to remain good to excellent out of most Oregon Ports and starting Saturday, October 1st, it’s no longer limited to 20 fathoms.

Strong south winds have been hammering the coast for a while which has kept most boats from making tuna runs. A couple of skippers which have done so tell us the fishing remains excellent about 45 miles from shore.

We answer those (not so) hard questions about whether it’s legal to troll for lake coho using two rods (it’s not), open seasons and daily and yearly limits. Be prepared for the coho troll fisheries on Siltcoos and Tahkenitch!

Fishing guru, blogger, author and publisher Pete Heley (peteheley.com) once again graces us with his presence and knowledge as he reports from Reedsport that an above-average number of fin-clipped coho are being caught on the lower Umpqua and that crabbing has improved at Winchester Bay. He also enlightens us on Chinook fishing and the halibut outlook.

Spinner blade and anchovy combos are purportedly responsible for the majority of hookups on Rogue Bay recently. Trollers have enjoyed hot fishing a couple of days of the past two weeks with slow to fair fishing in between. Fly fishers are doing best on the lower river. Chinook hookups have slowed in the middle Rogue. The Flies-Only restriction on the upper river ends Saturday but bait is still disallowed.

The “2016 Chetco River Fall Chinook State Waters Terminal Area Season” (or Chetco Bubble Fishery) starts on Saturday, October 1st and will be open for four days, then close four days, then re-open for two days on October 8th. ‘Sound confusing? It’s not really, so go catch a big one but be sure it’s open when you do so.

Central & Eastern – Water level, flow and clarity are excellent for fishing on the Deschutes. Now that the weather is cooling a bit, we expect improvement for both trout and steelhead anglers.

The water level at Wickiup is low – some have said shockingly low – but we’re told it is still fishing and even bank fishers have caught fish … in the mud, we assume.

Fish the High Cascade Lakes over the coming week and do so with a degree of confidence. Anglers, especially fly fishers, do well at this time of year. Just be sure to check the weather.

Kokanee fishers may want to stock up on Green Giant Shoepeg Corn while it’s on sale. In addition, this product (which we’ve been assured is not Good Eats) is available for a limited time each year.

SW Washington – Cowlitz anglers are catching a few fall Chinook and early coho. Coho fishing should pick up in the coming weeks as SW Washington coho are often October returning fish, clear into November.

The North Fork of the Lewis and Kalama Rivers are also putting out few Chinook and coho but action should improve in the coming weeks.

The Drano Lake fishery is producing about equally for late-run steelhead and fall Chinook. This remains one of the best fisheries in the district right now.

The Klickitat River has slowed and most would say, never really got going this year. The coho return is expected to be equally dismal but we’ll have to wait several more weeks for that bad news.