Portland/Metro - The first Willamette River spring Chinook of the season was caught last Friday, in a location where the first springer typically falls; the Sellwood Bridge. Avid angler John Shmilenko of Portland landed the "teener" on his favorite early season bait; herring, trolled on the bottom of the river in that stretch. Other spring Chinook were rumored taken in the Multnomah Channel, but trollers keep quiet, in an often failed attempt to keep their prized fishery to themselves; it rarely works.
Spring Chinook success is often dictated by water clarity and temperature. Neither has been working in favor of the Willamette River sport angler, although flows early this week remained favorable for effort. That will soon change again however, as flows are forecasted to be in the rise again, coinciding with warmer water temperatures that will melt low-level snow and additional rain fall. The river will once again be out of reach for the region's most prized salmon.
Meanwhile, Clackamas and Sandy River steelheaders continue to struggle. Sandy River returns are coming in at about a third of last year's banner run. Peak season has passed and although a hatchery fish is still an option, wild fish will likely start dominating the catch. Catches are likely to remain most prevalent downstream of Cedar Creek on the Sandy, and McIver Park on the Clackamas. Early summer steelhead and a rare spring Chinook is not unheard of.
The Tillamook Report - Tillamook County steelheaders continue to be plagued by high water and hazardous road conditions. Stable flows are in the forecast for the foreseeable future.
Quality fish continue to come from the Wilson, Nestucca and Trask River systems. Larger, brighter baits continue to be the go-to, as high flows often dictate more visible gear. Pink is a steelhead favorite, making imitation worms of soft beads a good option, especially in dropping flows. Egg clusters and sand shrimp should not be overlooked in these higher flows as well.
Smaller systems are ideal for high water flows. The Kilchis, upper Trask and North Fork Nehalem can offer great steelheading this time of year, just prepare to release everything you're lucky enough to catch.
This weekend should offer good opportunities for both bank and boat anglers from every fishable stream in Tillamook County.
Offshore conditions remain volatile. Shifting winds and combined seas will make for continued unpredictability for the near future. Anxious and willing sea bass and lingcod await sport anglers when seas calm. Ocean crabbing has been good for the commercial fleet and should remain good if the sport fleet ever gets another crack at them. More extreme tides this weekend will not make for productive bay crabbing however.
Northwest Oregon/SW Washington - The Necanicum River should continue to offer a fair chance at late season steelhead; they'll likely be of the native origin, requiring release too. Boaters beware; the river remains a navigational hazard. If you don't have a small boat to portage around downed logs, don't attempt it, it may be best to simply bank fish.
Despite a nice tide series for razor clam digging on Clatsop County beaches, they remains closed. Check the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's website however, as Washington beaches will offer up some opportunity where toxin levels have fallen enough to make clam consumption safe.
For a more detailed report, go to www.TheGuidesForecast.com
Bob Rees is a sixth generation Oregonian and a 20-year veteran fishing guide of Oregon's Northwest region. Bob Rees' column, The Guide's Forecast, has been a trusted fishing resource for over 16 years and will appear in the Thursday edition of the Portland Tribune. He welcomes the opportunity to partner with the Portland Tribune to bring the sport fishing community timely and accurate fishing information so you can catch more fish!