Willamette Valley/Metro- Gillnet test fishingreveals that a larger number of steelhead remain in the mainstem. Although someupriver spring chinook are appearing in both sport and test net fisheries, it’snot the number most were expecting for this time of year. Although the fish maybe present, strong sport catches are not reflecting this, likely due to coldwater conditions. Catches should continue to ramp up with the last week ofMarch and the first week of April to produce good catches as long as the seasonstays open.
Sturgeon fishingremains slow although some keepers are coming from the Portland to Kalama stretch.
Watertemperature at Willamette Falls is hovering in themid-40s with the level on the rise. About 200 summer steelhead have beencounted along with over 4,300 winters. A few summer steelhead have been takenon the Town Run near Eugene.
Prior tothe deluge this week and with the March Brown hatch imminent, lower McKenzieanglers took large redsides on nymphs. Water levels are rising this week.
TheSantiams are on the rise and will be out of shape through the coming weekend.
TheClackamas and Sandy have been producing fair to good results but will be out ofshape and unfishable until sometime next week. Low level snow will keeptemperatures cold but when temperatures rise and levels stabilize, the actionshould be good.
Northwest – Steelheaders havebeen met with challenging conditions lately, with wind and snow deterring many Willamette Valley anglers from making the trip.Action has been good however although anglers were faced with low waterconditions over the weekend.
The Wilson continues to be atop producer although the Nestucca is a close second. Both systems have goodruns of hatchery fish right now with a fair sampling of wild fish mixed in.ODF&W has indicated production goals are on target to meet next year’sneeds for the broodstock program, indicating that a healthy return of wild fishare coming back to the Wilson and Nestucca basins.
Low water conditionslate last week were cause enough to pull plugs when most anglers continue toside-drift. Charlie McCormick and his fishing partner Colby took their 2-fishlimits on K11x Kwikfish on Friday working the water between Siskeyville and Sollie Smith Bridge. The largest fishtipped the scales at 10-pounds.
The Trask has beenproducing fair numbers of wild fish recently. Less crowded, anglers have a fewdifferent sections of the river to float based on river heights. This systemwill only get more productive as April approaches.
Smaller streams suchas the Kilchis, Necanicum and North Fork ofthe Nehalem may be the best options over the weekend as another round of highwater is expected mid-week. Boaters need to exercise extreme caution however asrecent high winds and moisture-laden snow have likely downed large conifersinto the river systems.
Although theoffshore chinook season south of Cape Falcon opens this week,wind and wave action will keep all participants in port. Ocean waters were hardon fisherman last week as 6 people lost their lives off the coast of Oregon and Washington;be fully prepared and don’t take chances.
Southwest – Whenboats have been able to get out, it has been "lights out" for lingcodand near limits on rockfish for all. Rough ocean conditions this week willintensify into the coming weekend.
OceanChinook opens on March 15th off the central coast and promises excellent fishingas the season gets underway. A strong return is forecast with the seasonextending through September and possibly into October. The opener south of PortOrford will open May 1st.
Winchester Bay has been producing good crabcatches but rain this week will slow results. The Umpquasystem is swelling this week as storms move through. Steelheading on the South Umpqua slowed in low water last week but will fishwell once conditions improve from this week’s freshet. Catch and releasefishing will be good on the north Umpqua whenit drops as large numbers of winter steelhead were observed at Winchester Damon Monday this week.
Crabbinghas been good in Coos Bay but a flush of freshwater is likely to drive Dungeness back out to the ocean.
Rogue spring chinook, while not yet available in great numbers, had being takenthrough the past weekend. Storms will blow out the lower and middle rivers forthe weekend to come. The upper Rogue will be the best bet if it doesn’t get tooswift.
Freshsteelhead entered the Chetco with rain this week. While steelheading is usuallywinding down this late in the season, it was good once again over the pastweekend.
Eastern – Fishing has been very slow on the middle Deschutes with the water high and swift. However, onMonday this week, irrigation started and the water level has droppedconsiderably. Blue-Winged Olives are hatching along with midges in thisstretch. Prospects and water conditions will improve in April.
SW Washington – With most anglers focusing onspring chinook on the mainstem Columbia,late arriving winter steelhead in the districts rivers are often overlooked.The Cowlitz, Kalama and Lewis Rivers are stillproducing fair catches of steelhead for the few that are participating in thefishery.
Many streams close tosteelhead fishing on March 15th while tributaries upstream ofBonneville Dam open to spring chinook. Fair returns are forecasted for the Windand Drano systems but only 7 salmon have passed Bonneville so far so anglersare still weeks away from productive fishing in these areas.