Fishing report: Rivers dropping into shape, but steelhead scarce – Statesman Journal
As rivers slowly drop in Northwest Oregon, fishing for winter steelhead should improve.
Even so, officials said it would likely be at least Presidents’ Day before fishable conditions arrive on the Willamette and North Santiam Rivers near Salem.
Near Eugene, Alton Baker Canal was set to be stocked for the first time this year the week of Feb. 13 with the release of 1,600 one-pound trout. Cottage Grove Ponds at Row River Nature Park also was scheduled for trout the weeks of Feb. 13 and 20.
Here’s a few more highlights from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s fishing report.
Winter steelhead are starting to move in, and numbers should increase into March. Anglers have reported landing fish between Feldheimer’s above Barton and Cross Park in Gladstone.
Early winter steelhead tend to stay low in the system, downstream of Barton. When the water drops and clears, try switching to smaller gear such as jigs and beads/single eggs drifted under a bobber.
Barton Park provides access to substantial bank fishing throughout winter. There also is access to the river upstream of Barton Park from Eaden Road.
Boat anglers also should concentrate on the lower river from Barton to Carver and Carver to Clackamette as large groups of fish are known to hold in deeper pools. As winter progresses through February, begin to move upstream to the “Feldheimer to Barton” and “Barton to Carver” section. March typically is the best month for fishing in the upper section of the lower river from McIver Park to Feldheimer.
Lower Willamette River
Winter steelhead passage has been slow so far this season, and the high, turbid water has brought fish movement to a near standstill. Chinook still are nowhere to be seen, but the first ones usually are caught in early to mid-February. Trolling or plunking near the mouth of the Clackamas for steelhead is one good option in the Willamette right now,
North Santiam River
At the moment, there are very few fish available for anglers to catch. A few late-remaining summer steelhead are still around, but the winter steelhead run is just getting started, and the spring Chinook run is still two months away. A few winter steelhead have entered the Willamette, but decent numbers will probably not be in the Santiam River until later this month. When the “bite” is on, bobbers and jigs are the preferred fishing method with spoons, spinners and egg clusters also being effective. Currently, the entire river below Packsaddle Park (near the Minto Fish Facility) is open year-round to hatchery steelhead.
Walter Wirth Lake
The Salem lake was stocked in early February with 1,700 legal-sized rainbow trout and 150 larger trout. These fish are in addition to approximately 2,000 trout released in the past several weeks. As a reminder, the bag limit is five trout per day, but only one over 20 inches. Walter Wirth is a 20-acre lake located within the City of Salem’s Cascades Gateway Park.
Reservoir elevation is about 60 feet below conservation pool. Now that storage season has begun, reservoir levels will rise throughout the rest of the winter and into the spring. Stocking will resume in the spring, but there are plenty of holdover trout near drop-offs and other structure.
Alton Baker Canoe Canal
The first Alton Baker Canoe Canal stocking of the season was set to take place the week of Feb. 13, with ODFW stocking 1,600 pounders. The canoe canal is located within Alton Baker Park and can be accessed off of Club Road in Eugene. The canal is open to fishing all year.
Saltwater Sportsmen’s Show comes to Salem Feb. 25 and 26
On Feb. 25 and 26, there will be a Saltwater Sportsmen’s Show at the fairgrounds in Salem put on by the Oregon Coalition for Educating Anglers. The event will include information about fishing for salmon, tuna, bottomfish and halibut. More information at the show’s website, saltwatersportsmensshow.com.