Brownlee Reservoir: Fishing is usually good for bass, crappie, catfish, perch and trout. Channel catfish fishing will be slow until the weather warms up in May. Fluctuating water levels are common in spring and can throw the bite off temporarily. Best fishing for crappie, bass and perch are around points and in coves. Richland and Halfway are good places to find tackle and advice.
Oxbow Reservoir: Fair to good fishing for bass, crappie, catfish, perch and trout. Halfway and Oxbow are good places to get tackle and advice.
-Photo by Ross Henshaw-
Hells Canyon Reservoir: To provide additional fishing opportunities, returning adult steelhead trapped below Hell’s Canyon Dam are re-released into Hells Canyon Reservoir. These fish are then considered trout over 20 inches and a Combined Angling Tag is not needed. A new regulation in 2014 allows harvest of three adipose fin-clipped rainbow trout over twenty inches in Hells Canyon Reservoir, Sept. 1 through Dec. 31.
Snake River upstream of Brownlee Reservoir: Snow pack throughout southeastern Oregon and southern Idaho is below normal, and stream flows in the Snake River near Weiser are expected to be below normal. Channel catfish fishing should begin to improve in late April with peak catch rates from mid-May to mid-June. Smallmouth bass fishing should improve as flows drop and water temperatures rise.
There are four boat access points to the Snake River in Oregon. The northern most boat ramp is located at the BLM site at Oasis about 20 miles north of Ontario via Hwy 201. There is a boat ramp located in the Ontario State Recreation Area just north of Ontario off Hwy 201. The Nyssa boat ramp is located at the west end of the US 20-26 Bridge into Idaho. The Adrian boat Ramp is located at the east end of the Hwy 18 bridge south of Adrian.
Snake River downstream of Hells Canyon Dam: Spring trout fishing for residual steelhead smolts up to 18 inches is generally productive in the 15 miles below Hells Canyon Dam. Since 2012, only adipose fin-clipped rainbow trout may be kept in the Snake River below Hell’s Canyon Dam. Action for smallmouth bass picks up in April and will produce all the way into early October. These fish are very active and anglers can have some huge days fishing for smallmouth. Target the backwaters and eddies and slow margins of the river. Anglers will catch fish on anything from a simple spinner to top water lures.
Large numbers of hatchery steelhead are released in Snake River tributaries and at the base of Hells Canyon Dam. As a result, good numbers of adipose-clipped summer steelhead are generally available for harvest from October through March. Fishing just below the dam is generally good from late October through March. Good bank fishing is available directly below the dam and about a mile down at Stud Creek.
Some years salmon runs are hefty enough to allow fisheries. A spring chiook fishery opened April 25 and will remain open until managers announce a closure. Fall chinook season occurs from September to the end of October and are generally open from the border with Washington to the boundary below Hells Canyon Dam. Check the ODFW website for details.
Also remember, barbless hooks are required on the Snake when fishing for salmon, steelhead or sturgeon.
Other bank fishing locations are limited to a few access points on the Oregon side and at Dug Bar. Dug Bar is accessed by traveling to Imnaha, then north down the Imnaha River. The road is not suitable for passenger cars. Hearty hikers also can access the Snake at Eureka Bar via 4 mile walk down the Imnaha River through an impressive canyon on a well-used trail. The river is large and usually difficult to wade; anglers should use caution.
Fishing from a jet boat is very popular. Guides usually are available leaving from Lewiston and Rogersburg, Idaho. Some lodging is available in the canyon or campers may choose a “drop-off” trip.
Hells Canyon Reservoir: To provide additional fishing opportunities, returning adult steelhead trapped below Hell’s Canyon Dam are re-released into Hells Canyon Reservoir. These fish are then considered trout over 20 inches and a Combined Angling Tag is not needed. A new regulation in 2015 allows harvest of three adipose fin-clipped rainbow trout over twenty inches in Hells Canyon Reservoir.
For more information about fishing opportunities in the Snake River Zone, contact the nearest ODFW office:
Grande Ronde Watershed District Office
LaGrande, OR 97850
Enterprise Field Office
Enterprise, OR 97828
Hines District Office
Hines, OR 97738
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