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Willamette Valley/Metro- On the Willamette, your die hard, spring chinook fisherman might have noticed a lull in the catch rate this last week. It could be chalked up to the huge wad of ESA protected smelt that have entered the lower Columbia.

On the Columbia, salmon are being caught from Jim Crow Island up to Washougal and from St Helens to Oregon City on the Willamette, but the action is far from hot. Some anglers are reporting 2-4 partially digested smelt in the bellies of their catch. Expect the action to improve as we near the peak of the run in April. Anglers are reminded that the mainstem Columbia below Bonneville will be closed to salmon and steelhead fishing on March 26th and April 2nd.

Catch and release sturgeon fishing is available and likely quite good, if only anglers would put in the effort. Few NW fishermen can muster up any enthusiasm for this fishery when the tastiest of all salmon are swimming in the same river.

Fly anglers fortunate enough to be on the McKenzie when the March Brown hatch is on should do well. It has been occurring this week between 1 PM and 3 PM with redsides responding accordingly. During those periods without hatch activity, medium to dark-toned nymphs such as Prince or Possie Buggers are effective.

The Santiams are on the rise mid-week but will start to drop and clear by Friday and continue improving through the weekend. Steelhead numbers remain low but a few have been hooked.

Trout fishing has been good at Hagg Lake for trollers using small plugs. Bass fishing has yet to get underway with water temperatures 50 degrees or less.

The Clackamas River is surprising steelhead fishermen with some decent fishing. Respectable numbers of both wild and hatchery broodstock steelhead are showing up in the catch and nobody is complaining about the average size of the fish. The river has been running on the high side, dictating that fishermen should focus their attention to the upper stretches between Rivermill Dam and Barton Park.

Sandy River anglers are also experiencing a boost in the steelhead catch. Warmer temps have contributed to snowmelt in the upper drainage keeping the river at a happy fishable level. Water conditions were near perfect over the weekend with slight rise expected later in the week. Boaters and bank fishermen alike are getting a mix of both wild and hatchery broodstock steelhead, with a few summer steelhead also showing in the catch.

Northwest – Steelhead fishing on the north coast remains consistently mediocre. The Wilson and Nestucca still offer up the best opportunities and a mid-week river rise could stimulate weekend opportunities. If the river systems rise high enough, small stream boating for primarily wild fish could produce good catches. Large fish continue to be taken.

Greg Finley of Vancouver and Bill Glenwright from Hong Kong both got credit for a side-drifted 7-pounder from the Wilson on Sunday. Both angler’s offerings were down the throat of the fresh winter-run fish but Greg graciously offered his “half” to the home-bound Bill to feed his overseas family.

Opportunities abound for offshore anglers once seas lay down. Another possibility exists over the weekend but forecasts are always changing. Chinook salmon, lingcod, sea bass and crab are all options if the weather cooperates.

Area lakes have been amply stocked in anticipation for spring break anglers.

Crabbing is best in Nehalem Bay.

Southwest- From Newport to Brookings, offshore boats are taking advantage of access to deep water where limits or near-limits of lingcod are being taken daily. About ten days remain for this opportunity as no bottom fishing will be allowed beyond 30 fathoms as of April 1. Rockfish limits are coming from shallow-water reefs.

Surf perch fishing has been good for anglers casting from south coast beaches. Baits of shrimp, clams, mussels and squid are yielding numbers of good-sized redtails.

Rain this week has rivers on the rise but with little or no precipitation over the weekend, expect to find dropping and clearing conditions which should equate to decent fishing. Springer fishing is just starting in some rivers as winter steelhead season winds down. Pink plastic worms have accounted for a number of steelhead fatalities.

The closure of mussel harvest that had been effect from Cape Arago to the California border has been lifted with the abatement of naturally-occurring toxins.

Fishing is fair to good from the South Jetty at Winchester Bay. Crabbing has been slow to fair. The Umpqua system will be dropping in the coming weekend which will mean opportunities for long-rodders in the flies-only stretch of the North Umpqua and keepers on the south. Mainstem fishers are hoping for spring chinook to enter, a possibility following the rise in water levels mid-week.

Low water woes which stalled steelheading on the Rogue will be alleviated with rain this week. While half-pounders are being caught on the lower river, it should receive a late-season surge of adults along with some spring chinook. The March-reliable middle Rogue will re-fire with the freshet. Winters will again resume entering the upper stretch as well.

Although steelhead season is winding down on the Chetco, anglers should see some action as the water levels drop into the coming weekend. Fishing has been good here when water conditions are right and fresh fish are in the system.

Elk River may have another shot at winter steelhead following rainfall this week. This may be a last shot this late in the season and with the river closing at the end of March.

Eastern – March Browns are popping on the lower Deschutes although Blue-Winged-Olives and midges remain important patterns to have on hand. Fishing for redsides is fair but steady.

The Crooked River has been rising over the past week but no report has come in about how this has affected this remarkably productive little stream.

Despite schools of fish appearing on depth finders at Lake Billy Chinook, only a handful of kokanee are being caught. A few browns and bull trout have been taken.

SW Washington- Cowlitz River anglers are finally seeing an up-tick in steelhead numbers. Boat anglers are doing best and Washougal anglers are finding better success recently too. Most of the district’s anglers remain focused on the mainstem Columbia in pursuit of spring chinook. Catches are slow however but should ramp up this week.

The Cowlitz is plugged with smelt that observers haven’t seen in many years. It remains closed to all sport and commercial harvest.
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