Target Sturgeon on the Willamette

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Willamette, McKenzie & Santiam Rivers Fishing Report – Due to its size, the Willamette River will react more slowly to the weekend downpour than smaller rivers and streams. It will be coming up and is expected to color up as well. Fish passage at the falls has all but ceased. A new, two-lane boat ramp has been completed at Milwaukie.

The McKenzie, which peaked at 7,000 cfs about a week ago, has been steadily dropping and, while still a little high, is fishable for the weekend.

Level and flows on the North Santiam are forecast to take a hit from the storm front that’s scheduled to hit this weekend. It should be fine through Friday but will be rising rapidly starting on Saturday. The ODFW issued the following advisories this week with regard to the North Santiam:

CAUTION: The section between Shelburn and Green’s Bridge remains hazardous for boaters because of downed trees and multiple side channels. Better bets are the floats below Green’s Bridge and above Stayton.

UPDATE: Maintenance work on the Upper Bennett Dam has been completed! The upgraded boat slide is once again available for use.

UPDATE: The gate at Green’s Bridge near Jefferson has been opened and will remain open until the next seasonal closure in June 2015.

On another topic, the ODFW has announced the startup of its annual broodstock planting in are lakes. For the full story, see our weekly Links posting.

The Guide’s Forecast – Rain this weekend shouldn’t dampen results for sturgeon on the lower Willamette. While there have been few trying it, catches have been good with plenty of what would be considered legal-sized fish if retention were allowed and decent numbers of oversized fish to keep it entertaining. Herring, anchovy or squid are all good baits to try. One angler lost his rod and reel to a big sturgeon in the Swan Island area. Drop us a note if you happen to recover it & we’ll track him down for an ID of the equipment.

Don’t expect to find much in the way of hatches on the McKenzie at this time of year – it has been too cold for much insect activity. This means nymphs will be the producers. A selection that includes Hare’s Ear, Prince and Posse Bugger will provide in most angler situations. Results should be fair with this strategy. Best results will come from Hendricks to Hayden.

There are a combination of coho and summer steelhead in the waters of the North Santiam and while catches have been less than impressive, the upper stretches hold the most promise. Spinners will take them as will the ubiquitous bobber and jigs which is the most popular technique here. South Santiam waters are expected to get muddy with this freshet.

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