Oregon Fishing Forecast - May 17, 2018
Portland/Metro - After an all-out effort for the 2018 Willamette Salmon Quest, well over 30 boats participated in the signature Steelheader's event tallying about a fish per boat average. Jerry Toman took first place with five spring Chinook taken in the Oregon City area, a rare success story given the poor water conditions we're currently experiencing. Catch rates throughout the lower Willamette were pretty similar to the previous week, but effort was about half with water conditions deteriorating.
High flows from the snowmelt inundating the Columbia have backed up the Willamette River, causing lake-like effect and quelling the bite. Spring Chinook bite better in faster flows, which are a rare find right now throughout most of the lower river. The water has warmed dramatically as well, slowing the bait bite and even hardware isn't producing all that well.
Mason Waddle, 10, of Longview, Washington won the Jake Stoneking Memorial award, given to the youngest angler to land a fish in the tournament. He was fishing with the Sultan of Sellwood, John Shmilenko and John's wife, Patti, when the fish took a spinner near the Sellwood Bridge.
Despite good water conditions for shad, the fish haven't shown up in fishable numbers just yet. When flows improve, effort and catch are likely to follow.
Spring Chinook passage at Willamette Falls and Bonneville Dam are still lagging, it may be due to fluctuating water conditions. Regardless, the run is tracking behind expectations for this early, but adult returns have been running oddly late in recent years. Tens of thousands of spring Chinook are still due back to both river systems.
Oddly, the spring Chinook creel census on the Clackamas yielded no salmon catches, but steelhead catches remain better than a fish every 5 rods, but the bulk of the catch are wild, spent winter runs headed back downstream. Summer steelhead are available in catchable numbers however.
The Sandy River remains a fair option, but mostly for steelhead. There are rumors of trollers taking spring Chinook in the lower reaches since the Columbia is backing up the lower Sandy too. Prawn spinners can be an effective tactic this time of year.
The Tillamook Report - Spring Chinook catches remain sporadic, and the high tide exchange through the weekend should prove productive for upper bay anglers. Troll spinners and backtroll plugs on the outgoing tide, and troll herring at high tide around the mouth of the Wilson and at the Memaloose Boat Ramp hole.
Trask River bobber tossers are catching some spring Chinook at the hatchery hole, but the crowd can create some tension. The Trask itself is almost too low to float. The Wilson and Nestucca both have some summer steelhead available.
The halibut opener out of Garibaldi didn't go all that well. Most coastal ports were down overall but limits weren't unheard of. Bottomfishing hasn't been overwhelming either, but that's likely to change for the better in the near future.
Astoria area - The sturgeon opener was depressing, a fair amount of effort for little catch. High flows are likely to blame, coupled with the fact that the winter smelt run was sub-par, which likely kept big numbers of sturgeon from foraging in the lower Columbia this spring.
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!