Think Steelhead

Willamette Valley Fishing Report – Flows are dropping and winter steelhead counts are gradually improving at Willamette Falls. A few winters are being taken by bank anglers but catch and release sturgeon fishing remains a reliable alternative While water flows and conditions are good on the McKenzie River, trout fishing is slow. The Santiams are in decent condition but are between seasons right now, offering little of interest to anglers. Clackamas River water flows are good as is the water color. Winter steelhead fishing is picking up but the bulk of the run has yet to arrive. Steelheading has also shown some improvement on the Sandy although the planting of broodstock steelhead here for many years has moved the run timing forward on the calendar. Most of the fish are yet to arrive.

Northwest – prior to the H=high-water event, steelheaders were finding good success on larger streams. The Wilson produced some great catches and is just now coming back into fishable shape.

The smaller streams on the north coast began producing good catches by Thursday. The Necanicum River near seaside as well as the North Fork Nehalem. Hatchery workers on the Nehalem are recycling fish to Vernonia and Coffenberry Lake.

All rivers on the north coast should be producing great catches of steelhead this weekend with larger streams in perfect shape for drift boats but smaller systems a bank fishing show only.

There are nice broodstock fish showing on the Wilson and some on the Nestucca rivers but the early run steelhead our starting to spawn already.

Recently, the ocean has been friendly for bottomfishers. Those seeking lingcod and sea bass are faring well and it looks like opportunity should exist into the weekend.

Not many are participating in estuary crabbing but moderate tides in the afternoon should produce fair results.

Central & South Coast Reports – Ocean conditions have been good this week which has allowed trouble-free offshore launches. Bottom fishing for rockfish and ling cod has been fair to good. Mixed reports have been coming in with regard to ocean crabbing but it is better off the central coast than it is for ports further south. Catch-and-release winter steelheading will be picking up once again as water conditions improve on the Umpqua mainstem. Crabbing has started showing some improvement as salinity levels rise at Coos Bay. Rock fishing from the jetty has resumed as the bay clears following recent storms. Lower Rogue steelheaders are picking up some fish as are anglers in the middle river as the run is moving upstream. With releases from Lost Creek Reservoir moderating this week, fishing will resume on the upper Rogue River. Winter steelheading started to pick up on the Chetco at the first of the year and has been quite good at times. With the water dropping and clearing, action has slowed somewhat but it’s early in the run so catches will pick up as more fish pour into the system and subsequent storms improve water levels. Despite cold weather in the Diamond Lake area, it is not yet frozen over to allow for ice fishing.

Central & Eastern – Rainfall from the last storm front has left the lower Deschutes off color although conditions improve somewhat above Maupin. Summer steelhead and trout catches remain slow.

Once again, readers, we appeal to those of you who fish the central and eastern parts of Oregon to send us reports. This time of year is tough to get information from those willing to rise frostbite on their nether regions to pursue waterborne quarry.

Southwest Washington– the Cowlitz River is the rare bright spot in the district. Boaters are faring well for hatchery steelhead and some Coho are still being caught.

The Kalama and Lewis Rivers will produce better later in the season but effort remains low and so does the catch.

Sturgeon fisherman targeting their quarry in the Bonneville pool have not fared all that well. It’s especially challenging catching a keeper from the bank here. It’s likely the quota will last a while.