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Willamette Valley/Metro- Precipitation and the rising freezing level has brought the valley rivers to just above prime. With this rise comes the hope of more fresh steelhead entering the system. The Willamette remains at a good fishable level and rumors of a couple of spring chinook have surfaced from Meldrum bar. More impressive is the confirmed wild spring chinook caught and released at Sellwood last week. Expect conditions to hold up through the week, barring any unforeseen rainstorms. Catch and release sturgeon fishing in the harbor remains good and should continue to hold up through April. A limited catch and keep fishery on the Willamette and lower Columbia is likely to be set at today’s compact meeting.

The Bonneville Pool continues to put out fair sturgeon fishing with a keeper for every 7 boat rods last week. Bank anglers continue to struggle however.

While levels continued to rise early this week, waters of the McKenzie will be dropping with dry weather but will still be high over the coming weekend. Winter trout fishing can be good when conditions are right.

The Santiams are high but will be dropping through the week. With fewer than 750 winter steelhead counted at Willamette Falls, the only catches reported recently were of spawned-out summers.

The Clackamas is running above optimum level, but anglers can find some fishable water in the four miles below Rivermill dam. Expect the river to slowly drop and get back to prime by the weekend, then steelhead fishing will resume. February, March and April are the top months for Clackamas winter steelhead.

Before the rise in water level, the Sandy River was giving up respectable numbers of fresh winter steelhead. Expect a quick rise and fall mid-week and fishing will be back on by Friday or Saturday. Fish have been spread throughout the system, but the stretch from Dodge Park to Dabney has been producing best.

Northwest – The much needed weather change brought better steelheading for north coast anglers with the Wilson and Nestucca producing the best results. Although there were a fair number of down-running steelhead in the catches, some fresh, quality broodstock fish also appeared in the catches.

If the river forecast remains accurate, most north coast systems should see another shot of fish under good water conditions through the weekend. We’re still a few weeks away from more consistent catch rates however, at least for quality steelhead.

The North Fork Nehalem reported working up around 200 fish on Monday so even the smaller streams remain an option.

Steelhead will remain the top prospect on the north coast but sturgeon fishing should remain a fair option into April. Tides are fair through the weekend and the weather should be too. Unfortunately, Friday may be the only day for an offshore opportunity but ocean conditions change very frequently.

Southwest- When ocean conditions cooperate, excellent bottom fishing awaits winter anglers who may take up to seven rockfish and two lingcod 22 inches or better. Check regulations for other species, especially cabezon.

Fresh water flowing into Winchester Bay is likely to slow crabbing in all but the lower estuary. The mainstem Umpqua shot from 7,000 cfs to over 29,000 cfs late last week but is currently recovering. Hatchery steelhead fishing will improve in February on the South Umpqua.

Crabbing has been quite productive for those launching out of Charleston to fish Coos Bay. Dungeness are running large hard, and full of meat. Coos River steelheaders are once again taking fish now that water conditions are on the mend.

As lower Rogue water levels rose over the past weekend, plunkers caught good numbers of winter steelhead. Flows are predicted to be moderating over the coming weekend with fresh winters in the system from the last freshet. Anglers running plugs from anchored boats have been doing best this week with the water level falling. Flows at Grants Pass, moderately impacted by rainfall, will be dropping this week. There is a mix of spawned-out summers and fresh winters available. Only dark steelhead are in the upper Rogue with few trying for these older fish.

As anticipated, precipitation over the past week improved water temperatures and flows and along with it, catches of fresh, bright winter steelhead on the Chetco. The river was dropping on Tuesday this week and with marginal conditions forecast for the coming weekend.

Eastern – The Metolius has delivered some beautiful fish recently to anglers who can fool those crafty rainbows. Try stonefly imitations.

Crooked River flows are low again this week, offering reason for optimism to fly fishers.

SW Washington- For steelhead, the Cowlitz River remains the best option, and fishing is fair at best on this system. More fish should enter the system in late winter.

Other nearby tributaries such as the Kalama and Lewis remain slow but the Washougal has some spent hatchery fish in it. These fish are less than ideal for table fare.

Sturgeon fishing has slowed in the Kalama area and likely won’t pick up for several months.

Bob Rees –
The Guides Forecast
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