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The 2015 Annual Fishing Guide

Willamette Zone

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Trout anglers are reminded that most streams draining the Cascades on the east side of the north Willamette Valley are closed to trout fishing until May 23. Many of these streams support winter steelhead, including the Clackamas, Sandy, Molalla, Tualatin, Yamhill, and North and South Santiam rivers, and the late opener is designed to protect the out-migrating juveniles, or smolts. On May 23, many of these waters will open to catch-and-release fishing for trout with fishing restricted to artificial flies and lures. The season remains open through Oct. 31. Check the 2015 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for more information.


Steelhead fishing on the Clackamas River
Steelhead fishing on the Clackamas
-Photo by Jessica Sall-

A moderate run of about 55,440 Willamette spring salmon are forecast to be heading for the Willamette River during 2015. Biologists estimate about 33,000 spring Chinook will ascend Willamette Falls into the upper Willamette River this year. On average, the majority of the spring Chinook come over the falls from late April through mid-June. Spring has sprung early this year and fish appear to be migrating to upstream areas earlier than in the past few years but more typical of run-timing 15-20 years ago.

It generally takes about 10-14 days for these fish to make it to the upper Willamette basin in the Eugene-Springfield area. The daily bag limit for spring Chinook is two adipose fin-clipped fish per day.

A total of 8,700 spring Chinook are forecast to enter the Clackamas River this year. Catch of Clackamas River stock spring Chinook usually peaks in May and June, with the run ranging from late March through June. Spring Chinook in the lower Willamette are also readily available from late-March through June, or when the water temperature rises to the mid-fifties.

Chinook usually show up in catchable numbers around the middle of April but this is very dependent on water conditions, as evidenced this year when abnormally low and warm flows are encouraging fish to move quickly upstream. A combination of three adipose fin-clipped salmon and steelhead may be retained.

The 2015 fishing season will be another good year to try spring Chinook on the Clackamas River and Eagle Creek. Adult Chinook returning from releases along the lower Clackamas River between Carver and Barton can be identified by a combination of adipose fin/left maxillary fin clip. This year is also the third year for returns of adult spring Chinook released at the Eagle Creek acclimation site and these fish can be identified by an adipose fin/right maxillary fin clip. All age classes of Chinook (3, 4, 5, and 6 year old) will be returning to this medium sized tributary fishery, many of which will hold at or near the mouth of Eagle Creek waiting for rains to facilitate upstream migration. Concentrate on the reach between the mouth of Eagle Creek and Barton Park. We also expect to see good returns from spring Chinook released into Clear Creek near Carver. All age classes will be returning from an annual target release of 165,000 spring Chinook and they should provide excellent opportunity for anglers from Carver to Riverside or Meldrum Bar.

NOTE: The Clackamette Park boat ramp is closed for the season so you will need to float into the Willamette and take out at Meldrum Bar.

The summer steelhead run for 2015 has started a bit slow with less than 600 fish passing Willamette Falls in April. Those fish that do pass the falls are available to anglers throughout the summer and fall months. Healthy runs are expected on the North and South Santiam. Adults returning this year to the North Santiam were scatter-planted as juveniles at several locations. Anglers should find them spread throughout the basin and not just in the “usual” places. Be aware that the current regulation allows the harvest of mismarked and non-adipose fin-clipped steelhead greater than 24 inches in some water bodies, such as the North and South Santiam. Check the Special Regulations for details. Summer steelhead are not native to the basin and harvesting these fish before they spawn will be a benefit to wild rainbow trout. New regulations for the Santiam allow for retention of one extra fin-clipped summer steelhead for a total of four fish per day. Although native rainbow trout over 24 inches are extremely rare, anglers who happen to catch one are encouraged to release it unharmed.

Summer steelhead in the Clackamas River return from March through October, with two peaks usually seen during late spring and early fall. Early season fishing has been slow but things should pick up quickly with rapidly warming water temperatures. Watch Willamette Falls counts for an indication of increased movement and corresponding presence of summer steelhead in the Clackamas.

Coho salmon fishing should be on the radar screen of any angler interested in catching salmon this coming fall. ODFW staff expect an above average coho salmon return to tributaries upstream of Willamette Falls in 2015. Record escapement in recent years combined with good ocean survival should combine to lead lure-shy coho into the Upper Willamette where anglers can try their luck at catching coho that are still in very good shape through October. These fish can be challenging to catch but for anglers patient enough to figure, the fishing can be very good. Check the 2015 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for more information.

Please note: All bull trout caught in the Willamette Zone must be released unharmed. Anglers should familiarize themselves with bull trout identification, especially when fishing the McKenzie River, Cougar Reservoir, Trail Bridge Reservoir, Hills Creek Reservoir and the Middle Fork Willamette above Hills Creek Reservoir. Anglers also have a chance of encountering bull trout in the Middle Fork Willamette below Hills Creek Reservoir. Pictures of bull trout are in the 2015 fishing regulations on pages 14 and 69. For those with internet access, a search for bull trout images will provide a large number of great pictures. Anglers are asked to call ODFW in Springfield at 541-726-3515 ext. 26 to report any bull trout you catch.


Green Peter Reservoir

Green Peter
-Photo by Rick Swart, ODFW

Most of the warmwater fish found in Oregon are present in the Willamette Zone. Largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, bluegill, redear and green sunfish, warmouth, yellow perch, and bullhead and channel catfish are found in the reservoirs in the lower Cascades and Coast Range, the many ponds scattered throughout the rural and urban areas, and in the Willamette River.

Most warmwater fish are available year-round, but fishing is best in the spring, summer, and fall when the water is warmer and the fish more active. Bass fishing begins to pick up when water temperatures warm to the upper 50s and bass start to think about spawning. Some of the best bass fisheries continue to be in Dorena, Cottage Grove, Green Peter, and Henry Hagg reservoirs, but don’t overlook Fern Ridge and the Willamette itself. All but Cottage Grove and Fern Ridge also offer good fishing for smallmouth bass. Some of the bigger smallmouth reported last year were caught in and near Portland.

Largemouth bass can also be found in many of the smaller lakes and ponds that dot the valley floor and foothills. Some good locations managed by ODFW for public access include Wilsonville, Woodburn, and Bond Butte ponds, and the St. Louis Ponds fishing area. Several lunker-size catfish have come out of St Louis Ponds in the past year.

Most all of these same waters - large or small - also offer crappie, an abundance of bluegill and other sunfish, and bullhead catfish. Crappie will start biting earliest in the season but fishing for most others will improve as the water warms into the mid-60s. Good angling should continue throughout the summer and early fall.

For more information about these and other waters in the Willamette Zone and how to fish them, check out the Warmwater Fishing in Oregon brochures for the North Willamette and South Willamette Areas.

To learn what’s biting and where, check out the ODFW Weekly Recreation Report. Each week our biologists update fishing conditions on rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs and ponds throughout the state.

Alphabetical listing:

Alton Baker Park Canoe Canal: Alton Baker Park Canoe Canal is open all year for trout, adipose fin-clipped steelhead and non-adipose fin-clipped steelhead over 24 inches long. Hatchery trout releases began in February and will continue through the summer and into November, providing an in-town and family-friendly fishery for several months. Both legal and larger (11 to 14-inches) hatchery rainbow trout are released into several locations along the length of the Alton Baker Canoe Canal.

ODFW will host a Free Fishing Day event Saturday, June 6 at the Alton Baker Canoe Canal from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for youths and their families. Contact the Springfield field office at 541-726-3515 for additional information.

Benson Lake: This 40-acre lake is located in Benson Lake State Park near the Columbia River. It will be stocked with rainbow trout in April, May and June. It also contains white crappie, largemouth bass and brown bullhead. Take the Benson State Park exit just before Multnomah Falls off of I-84 going east.

Blue Lake
Blue Lake
-Photo by Rick Swart, ODFW-

Bethany Pond: This is a 10-acre pond located at Bethany west of Portland. It is generally stocked with rainbow trout a couple of times in early spring. Take 185th St. Exit from Hwy 26 north to Bethany.

Blue Lake: This 64-acre lake east of Portland in Blue Lake Park, 3 miles west of Troutdale, is located north of Hwy 30 and ½ mile south of the Columbia River. This is a popular park with lots of amenities. It is stocked with rainbow trout in April and May and also contains several species of warmwater fish, including largemouth bass, brown bullhead, black crappie and bluegill.

Blue River Reservoir: This reservoir is located east of Eugene near the town of Blue River, north of Hwy 126 and is open to year-round fishing. Stocked trout and warmwater fish are available for anglers.

Canby Pond: Canby Pond has been re-opened as a youth and disabled anglers only fishing pond. It is open to youngsters ages 17 and under as well as persons who possess an Oregon Disabled Angler’s fishing license.

Under Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations, anglers ages 13 and under can fish for free while those 14-17 will need to have a juvenile fishing license. Canby Pond will be stocked with rainbow trout in April and May.

The pond is generally not stocked in the summer months because warmer temperatures promote the growth of aquatic vegetation, which makes it difficult to fish. The pond also holds a variety of warmwater species.

Cascade Lakes (Lane, Linn, and Marion Counties): Numerous High Cascade Lakes are stocked annually or biannually with rainbow, cutthroat and/or brook trout fingerlings. Released fish grow to catchable size within one or two years, depending on environmental conditions. This unique fishing opportunity provides an excellent way for anglers to enjoy less heavily-fished areas, especially for those anglers willing to hike further distances. Lake access varies, with some lakes easily reached from main roads. A majority of the lakes are open to fishing all year, weather permitting. Fishing can be good most of the summer and early fall, depending on winter fish survival and fishing pressure. Check the weather forecast and with the local Forest Service office for access conditions, especially earlier and later in the year. Conditions can change rapidly and anglers should be prepared for extreme weather at any time.

This year’s low snow pack means that a few of the shallower lakes may not get stocked. Check with the local ODFW office to find out if your destination lake is being stocked this year.

Clackamas River

TROUT: The upper Clackamas River above North Fork Reservoir and its tributaries, the Oak Grove Fork and the Collawash River, offer good opportunities to fish for wild trout. The upper Clackamas and Collawash river are catch-and-release only for wild fish, while the Oak Grove Fork upstream of Harriet Lake has a daily bag limit of two trout (except there are no limits on brown or brook trout). Fish Creek, a tributary of the upper Clackamas River, is now open to catch and release trout fishing after being closed for over 20 years after roads were decommissioned in the area. Gove Fish Creek a try if you want a unique experience fishing in an area that has not received fishing pressure in years.

Bull trout are being reintroduced to the Clackamas. All bull trout must be released. Know how to correctly identify a bull, brown, and brook trout before fishing.

The Clackamas River is one of those rivers where it is possible to catch hatchery salmon and steelhead almost every month of the year.

SPRING CHINOOK: Reports of spring Chinook in the Clackamas are beginning to come in and creel surveys indicate bank anglers are having some success in the lower river downstream of Carver and anglers shouldn’t expect to see these fish in greater numbers until mid to late May depending on water conditions. Chinook passage over Willamette Falls rose sharply over the past two weeks indicating movement of fish into tributary rivers/streams

Anglers should anticipate a change in how spring Chinook move through the lower Clackamas now that the acclimation ponds have been operating for over four years. The Clackamas has two acclimation ponds in the lower river designed to increase sport fishing harvest, and these management tools are working. These sites are located along the Clackamas River and on Eagle Creek with the intention of slowing fish migration and holding the Chinook in the lower river longer. The returning Clackamas River fish can be identified by an adipose fin/left maxillary fin clip while the Eagle Creek returns can be identified by an adipose fin/right maxillary fin clip. ODFW biologists welcome any reports of anglers catching these Chinook as they continue to evaluate the success of this program.

SUMMER STEELHEAD: Summer run steelhead will begin to increase in numbers through spring. Willamette Falls counts are tracking behind the recent 10-year average at this time of year but it is difficult to tell if the run is just late or lower in mubers than anticipated. Anglers should prepare for a decent return of summer steelhead to the Clackamas as anglers are already picking them up throughout the river from McIver Park to the mouth.

Winter steelhead on the Clackamas
-Photo by Garth Wyatt-

WINTER STEELHEAD: The hatchery winter steelhead program on the Clackamas recently consisted of two stocks of fish -- Eagle Creek stock and local Clackamas stock that incorporates wild returning fish. We are currently transitioning the program to all Clackamas stock and removing the Eagle Creek stock due to low performance (survival and constribution to angler creel) of the Eagle Creek stock which is an out-of-basin, non-native stock of steelhead.

Winter steelhead fishing usually begins slowly in December, but noticeable numbers of fish do not enter the system until high water events in later December and January. Eagle Creek stock usually returns from late December through early March, with a peak from mid-January to mid-February. The first Clackamas River stock show up as early as Christmas if we have flooding flows and relatveily warm water in December and continue through May. This run usually peaks in March and April. Counts of fish passing North Fork Dam on the Clackamas River can be found here. The Clackamas River is a very cold river in winter and anglers need to adjust technique and timing of your fishing effort accordingly. Water temperature and flow data are available at the link above…use it to your advantage and fish when the water is warm or warming from a cold snap.

The Clackamas River provides a highly-prized fishery near the Portland metropolitan area and produces the largest recreational catch of winter steelhead of all the Columbia River tributaries.

Hatchery fish are acclimated and released from the Clackamas Fish Hatchery at McIver State Park, the mouth of Foster Creek, and the Eagle Creek National Fish Hatchery on Eagle Creek. When these fish return as adults many of them will hold at or below these release points.

The Clackamas River typically fishes best at flows with a gage reading of 11-13 feet, although anglers have been known to catch fish at levels up to 14.5 feet (measured at Rivermill Dam in Estacada). When the river is high and off color, anglers should concentrate their efforts at the mouths of tributary streams such as Clear Creek, Eagle Creek or Dog Creek (at the hatchery outlet).

The best fishing is two to three days after a high water event, when the river has dropped and fish start to hold in pools or pool tail-outs.

Bank anglers can find access to the Clackamas River in the High Rocks/Cross Park area in Gladstone, Riverside Park in Clackamas, along Clackamas River Drive (there are several pull-off areas), in Carver near the mouth of Clear Creek, Barton Park, McIver Park near Dog Creek, and near River Mill Dam. Easy access to Eagle Creek can be found at Bonnie Lure State Park and Eagle Fern Park. Anglers can also walk down Eagle Creek to its confluence with the main stem Clackamas to find good bank fishing on the Clackamas River.

Boat anglers can find ramps at McIver Park (note: upper ramp should only be used by experienced boaters due to hazardous whitewater), Feldheimer’s Road, Barton Park, Carver Park, Riverside Park or Clackamette Park (closed for 2015).

The Clackamas River above North Fork Reservoir is managed as a wild fish sanctuary and is closed to fishing for steelhead and salmon.

Clear Lake

Clear Lake
-Photo by Rick Swart, ODFW

Clear Lake: Open to year-around fishing and will be stocked with hatchery rainbow trout three times with nearly 11,000 fish going in the month before Memorial Day. No limit on size or number of brook trout taken. Catch limits on other trout species do not apply to brook trout. Boats are available for rent at the lake. Cabin and boat rentals.

Commonwealth Lake: This 3-acre lake in Cedar Hills near Beaverton. It is stocked with rainbow trout in the early spring. From the Sunset Hwy take Cedar Hills Blvd. south ½ mile. Turn right on Foothills Drive and follow to lake.

Cottage Grove Pond: This set of ponds is wheelchair accessible along the asphalt pathway from behind the weigh station on Row River Road about 1.5 miles east of I-5 at Cottage Grove. Warmwater fish are available. Hatchery trout are released into the pond with the dock several times during early spring.

Cottage Grove Reservoir: This popular largemouth bass fishing reservoir also has trout available from spring stockings. Travel south of Cottage Grove on London Road to the reservoir.

Detroit, Foster and Green Peter Reservoirs: The lack of snow this winter will have an impact on the water levels this summer at these large storage reservoirs. Green Peter and Foster will be lower than normal this year, although most boat ramps should be available. Detroit Reservoir will be below normal as well. Many boat ramps, including Kane’s Marina will not available because the water level will not reach the toe-slope of the ramp. Check with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for availability of boat ramps. Mongold State Park is your safest bet to launch a boat, but be prepared for long lines. All of these reservoirs have been stocked with catchable-sized rainbow trout this season. Cool early spring water temperatures will allow anglers to fish quite close to the surface and be successful, so bank fishing can be most productive in the spring. In addition to trout, Detroit and Green Peter support kokanee and Chinook populations that give anglers a chance to catch a larger fish. Both kokanee and Chinook are more sensitive to warmer water temperatures than rainbow, and will move deeper into the lake as summer comes on. Foster and Green Peter also support good numbers of bass that will start to bite as the water becomes warmer. Most boat ramps should be usable by late April.

There will be a Free Fishing Weekend event at Detroit Reservoir’s Hoover Campground on June 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call Isaac Morris at (503) 854-3522 for more information.

Dexter Reservoir: This reservoir receives stocked trout regularly throughout late winter and early spring, and again in early fall. Bank anglers can do well fishing for trout from the picnic area along the causeway near the covered bridge.
Travel east on Hwy 58 from I-5. Dexter Reservoir is on the north side of the highway near Lowell.

Dorena Reservoir: A popular largemouth bass reservoir east of Cottage Grove. Holdover trout from spring and fall releases are also available.

Dorman Pond: This 8-acre pond near Balm Grove (at the junction of Hwy 8 and Hwy 6) was stocked with trout in March and is scheduled to be stocked again in April. Access and parking are excellent.

Eagle Creek (tributary of lower Clackamas)

Eagle Creek
Eagle Creek
-Photo by Rick Swart-

SPRING CHINOOK: Anglers on the creek should begin preparing for the second year of returns of spring Chinook from acclimation releases done in 2011. A total of 240,000 Chinook smolts were released three years ago from the Eagle Fern Park facility and a nice return of adult fish to the creek is expected as long as flows remain good. Expect these fish to move into the creek by late May and they should be found in the lower Clackamas and then Eagle Creek if the water conditions hold up. These springers can be identified by an adipose fin/right maxillary fin clip.

WINTER STEELHEAD: Eagle Creek offers a popular winter steelhead fishery with easy access for the bank angler. The first steelhead of the season will typically start showing up in the creek right after Thanksgiving, but it is usually late December before anglers will find numbers of fish in the creek. Quality winter steelhead fishing can be expected in Eagle Creek from January on into March. Many of the steelhead caught at Meldrum Bar and in the lower Clackamas aredestined for Eagle Creek National Fish Hatchery. The fishery in Eagle Creek will be changing in two to three years as returns from Clackamas stock fish released into Eagle Creek find their way home. The change to Clackamas stock will shift the fishery to a later time period than anglers are typically used to (December to March). The fishery will now begin in January and last through April, two months longer than the Eagle Creek stock.

Fishing conditions on Eagle Creek are dependent on precipitation and its flows can change dramatically after a good rainfall. Often it will blow out quickly and be unfishable in a matter of hours. On the flip side, it also clears very quickly. It doesn’t take long for the water color to improve, even though the flows may be somewhat high. If there is a long period of cold, dry weather it can get very low and clear, making steelhead fishing a bit more of a challenge. In the past few years, the number of smolts released in Eagle Creek has been reduced from 150,000 to 90,000; anglers have started seeing this reflected in the number of returning adults.

Many different types of lures can be successful on the creek, with color often dictated by water clarity. Try brighter colors during the murky water conditions and darker, and less flamboyant colors during times when the creek is crystal clear.

Types of gear that have consistently proven successful include bobber and jig, sand shrimp, corkies and yarn, and small egg clusters with yarn. The skilled fly angler can do very well using steelhead flies.
There are several public access points along Eagle Creek:

  • Starting from the mouth of the creek, the first place to try would be Bonnie Lure Park, which is off of Dowty Road. Take a right from Hwy 224 in the community of Eagle Creek to find the park area. From Bonnie Lure Park you can also access nearly a half-mile of the Clackamas River for bank fishing.
  • Eagle Creek passes under Hwy 224 about a mile past Eagle Creek Store and there is also some bank access there.
  • Very close to the Hwy 224 crossing is Wildcat Mountain Road. Go left towards the hatchery and follow the hatchery signs on Eagle Fern Road. You will soon see several pull-offs on the right that provide great access to the creek.
  • Eagle Fern Park that has many good holes. This access area runs for about a half mile on up to Snuffin Road Bridge.
  • From Snuffin Road you can continue up Eagle Fern Road (also called George Road), and after about three miles, turn right down Rainbow Road to Eagle Creek National Fish Hatchery. Fishing can be very good below the hatchery if you are willing to make the hike.

Much of Eagle Creek flows through private property. Longview Fiber and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are the largest landowners along the creek and they are not usually concerned about anglers for most of the year. However, it is advisable to get permission before accessing Eagle Creek on individual private landowner’s property.

Estacada Lake

Estacada Lake
-Photo by Rick Swart, ODFW

Estacada Lake: Estacada Lake up to the Hwy 211 Bridge is open year-round for adipose fin-clipped Chinook salmon and adipose fin-clipped steelhead. The trout season is open May 23-Oct. 31. Anglers are reminded that the bag limit is five adipose fin-clipped trout. The boat ramp at Estacada Lake has been relocated to the McIver Park side of the lake (enter through the park) and can be accessed at the campground.

The lake will be routinely stocked with trout throughout the spring and summer seasons. There is limited access for bank fishing, but you can reach the lake through the Timber Park on the Estacada side and McIver Park on the south side of the lake.

Summer steelhead and spring Chinook often migrate past Clackamas Hatchery and into Estacada Lake where they can be very susceptible to anglers who know how to fish flatwater for salmon and steelhead. There are a number of different techniques used but many use standard salmon trolling gear with herring or spinners as their terminal tackle. Bobber and egg/jigs also work well when fished 10-20 feet below your bobber. Fish move around the lake in schools so just wait for your rod to jiggle and hold on!

Fall Creek above Fall Creek Reservoir: Fall Creek above the reservoir is stocked with trout at campgrounds and other access points up to Gold Creek through mid-to-late June. Fall Creek is northeast of Lowell.

Fall Creek Reservoir: Fall Creek Reservoir is stocked with hatchery trout in early spring. This year with low water levels, fish will be concentrated in the pool area and boaters are limited to using the North Shore boat ramp.

Faraday Lake: Faraday Lake will be open this year for trout fishing but anglers should be aware that recent modification to the lake reduced the available fishing area. We continue to stock the lake with trout and occasionally release hatchery summer steelhead for a trophy fish opportunity. The lake is located just east of Estacada on the right of Hwy 224 near the PGE offices and offers bank fishing only.

Gales Creek: Gales Creek opens May 23 to the catch-and-release of trout with artificial flies and lures only. This stream now has a late trout opener to reduce the catch of steelhead smolts, which are abundant in the creek during April and May.

Haldeman Pond: This pond on Oak Island at Sauvie Island is open from April 16 through Sept. 30. It will be stocked with rainbow trout several times this spring. Anglers are reminded the daily bag limit is five trout, and that a permit is necessary to park on the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area.

Harriet Lake: This lake on the Oak Grove Fork of the Clackamas River was stocked in mid-April and will be throughout the spring and summer. There are good opportunities for anglers to catch hatchery rainbow, cutthroat, brook and brown trout. A detour road off Hwy 224 near Ripplebrook takes you directly past this popular lake. Snowpack is much lower than normal this year; call with the U.S. Forest Service at (503) 630-6861 to check on road conditions.

Hagg Lake
Hagg Lake
- Photo by Rick Swart-

Henry Hagg Lake: Henry Hagg Lake is a large, 1,100 acre lake, located 30 miles west of Portland near Forest Grove, and offers some of the best standing water fishing opportunities in the Willamette Valley. Hagg Lake is open from March 2 through Nov. 24. The lake is heavily stocked throughout the spring and again in the fall with rainbow trout to support a very popular and successful fishery. In recent years, large brood trout have been released on occasion to enhance the fishing experience. Excellent fishing also exists for largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, bluegill, yellow perch and catfish. The state records for smallmouth bass (over 8 pounds) and brown bullhead catfish were caught here.

Trout fishing is best from March to mid-June, and again in the fall when the water is cooler. Fishing for bass and crappie is best in the spring when the fish move into shallow shoreline areas to spawn. Summer is a good time to fish for panfish and catfish. Two boat ramps are maintained to provide boating access, and bank anglers can reach most of the lake shore via trails or family picnic areas.

Light or medium weight spinning tackle provides a good all-around set-up. Trout can be caught on a variety of lures or baits. Spinners work well while worms, salmon eggs or artificial trout baits can be fished using a bobber or with a weight on the bottom. Bass anglers can also use spinners, but jigs and plastic baits or lures that imitate prey such as small fish and crayfish are also effective. For crappie, try fishing a small white or red-and-white jig at different depths by suspending it below a bobber that can be adjusted up or down the line. For other panfish, use a small hook baited with worm or other panfish bait suspended 12-18 inches below the bobber to keep the bait off the bottom. Catfish anglers will want to fish on the bottom using bait. Refer to the Sport Fishing Regulations for bag limits on specified species.

Hagg Lake will be part of the tag/reward pilot program starting this fall. Anglers should contact Ben Walczak 971-673-6013 if they catch a trout with a tag in it. The tags may be worth $50.

Hills Creek above Hills Creek Reservoir: Hills Creek above Hills Creek Reservoir is no longer stocked with hatchery trout. Wild (mainly cutthroat) trout are available for harvest and bait may be used through Oct. 31.

Hills Creek Reservoir: Variety abounds at Hills Creek Reservoir where anglers can catch and keep crappie, largemouth bass, adipose fin-clipped trout and salmon, as well as catch-and-release wild trout – all on the same fishing trip! Anglers are reminded to release all bull trout and all other non-adipose fin-clipped trout unharmed, preferably without removing them from the water. Catch rates for warmwater fish will increase as surface water temperatures climb above 60° F, usually around mid-May. By early May this year, water in the reservoir had risen only to the level of Packard Creek and CT Beach boat landings.

Huddleston Pond: This pond, off of NE Yamhill Street in Willamina, has changed names and was formerly known as Hampton Pond. Trout stocking begins in December and typically continues into early June, or until water conditions are no longer suitable for trout.

Leaburg Lake: Leaburg Lake is stocked weekly through late July with rainbow trout, and then every other week through August. Two-rod angling is allowed with a Two-Rod Validation. All non-adipose fin-clipped trout must be released unharmed. The lake is open to fishing through Oct. 31.

Luckiamute and Little Luckiamute River: The mainstem Luckiamute and Little Luckiamute up to the falls at Falls City open May 23 with a limit of two trout per day, 8-inch minimum length. The Little Luckiamute above the falls at Falls City opens for trout April 25 with a limit of two fish per day, 8-inch minimum length. Fishing in both streams is restricted to artificial flies and lures. Both streams support healthy populations of native cutthroat trout, particularly in their upper reaches where excellent bank fishing opportunities abound.

Marys and Long Tom Rivers: Opened April 25 to the harvest of trout with a limit of five fish per day, 8-inch minimum length; bait allowed. Both streams support healthy populations of native cutthroat trout, particularly in their upper reaches. The Long Tom below Fern Ridge Dam is well-populated with an assortment of warmwater gamefish (e.g. bass, crappie, bullhead catfish), though bank fishing access is limited.

ODFW will host a Free Fishing Weekend event for kids 10 and younger on June 7 at the Willamette Fish Hatchery from 9 a.m. to noon. Call Tami Edmunds at (541) 782-2933 for more information.

McKenzie River: To protect wild trout above Leaburg Dam, trout season opened April 25 for Leaburg Lake and the McKenzie above Leaburg Lake. Upper McKenzie River trout releases begin in early May when slightly warmer water temperatures will potentially provide higher early season catch rates. The upper river trout releases will extend through mid-September.

McKenzie River
McKenzie River
-ODFW Photo-

The lower river (Leaburg Dam downstream to Hendricks Bridge) will be stocked regularly from opening day (April 25) through early September. Highlights of the 2015 McKenzie River hatchery trout releases follow:

Upper McKenzie River: The first hatchery trout boat release took place in early May and releases will continue through mid-September. Truck releases at the upper river boat ramps will start in mid-May and continue through mid-late August. Releases of hatchery trout from Forest Glen Boat Ramp downstream to Finn Rock will be delayed until late June to reduce impacts to wild trout in this section of river. Boat releases will occur on an approximately three-week rotation, and truck releases will occur 2 weeks after boat releases to maintain catch rates.

Lower McKenzie River: Large numbers of hatchery trout will be released into the lower river (generally from Leaburg Landing to Hendricks Bridge Wayside) to benefit anglers this year. Hatchery trout releases will occur every three weeks, beginning on opening day until early-to-mid September. Hatchery rainbow trout are not released below Hendricks Bridge Wayside.

Additional Information: All hatchery rainbow trout released into the McKenzie River are marked with an adipose fin clip. Anglers must release all non-adipose fin-clipped trout caught in the mainstem McKenzie. The lower 20 miles of the McKenzie River below Hendricks, Bridge and the McKenzie River from Forest Glen Boat Ramp at Blue River upstream to Trail Bridge Dam are restricted to fishing with flies and lures only, and all trout must be released unharmed, with the exception of the area between Hendricks Bridge and Hayden Bridge where 5 adipose fin-marked trout may be harvested.

The McKenzie River is open for adipose fin-clipped steelhead and non-adipose fin-clipped steelhead greater than 24 inches in length the entire year. Anglers may retain 3 adult steelhead per day, 2 of which may be non-adipose fin-clipped steelhead greater than 24 inches in length. There is an annual limit of 20 non-adipose fin-clipped steelhead per year, although additional hatchery harvest tags may be purchased to record harvested adult hatchery salmon and steelhead. Summer steelhead are not native to the basin and harvesting these fish before they spawn will benefit wild rainbow trout. Although native rainbow trout over 24 inches are extremely rare, anglers who happen to catch one are encouraged to release it unharmed.

The McKenzie River is open to salmon fishing from the mouth to 200 feet below Leaburg Dam all year. Only adipose fin-clipped Chinook salmon may be harvested. The daily bag limit on spring Chinook salmon is two per day. Every effort should be made to release wild (non-adipose fin-clipped) Chinook without taking them out of the water. Bait is not allowed downstream from Hayden Bridge. Between Hayden Bridge and Hendricks Bridge bait use is restricted to the period May 1- June 15 when angling for salmon and steelhead with hooks 5/8-inch gap or larger. . Bait may be used for salmon beginning April 26 from Hendricks Bridge to 200 feet below Leaburg Dam, although from Leaburg Dam downstream to Trout Creek, any attached weight must be less than six feet above the lowermost hook (in addition to existing hook and weight regulations on page 11 of the 2014 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations).

The McKenzie River is open to salmon fishing from the mouth to 200 feet below Leaburg Dam all year. Only adipose fin-clipped Chinook salmon may be harvested. The daily bag limit on spring Chinook salmon is two per day. Every effort should be made to release wild (non-adipose fin-clipped) Chinook without taking them out of the water. Bait is not allowed downstream from Hayden Bridge. Between Hayden Bridge and Hendricks Bridge bait use is restricted to the period May 1- June 15 when angling for salmon and steelhead with hooks 5/8-inch gap or larger. Bait may be used for salmon beginning April 25 from Hendricks Bridge to 200 feet below Leaburg Dam, although from Leaburg Dam downstream to Trout Creek, any attached weight must be less than six feet above the lowermost hook (in addition to existing hook and weight regulations on page 9 of the 2015 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations).

Molalla/Pudding River:The river opens May 23 to catch-and-release fishing for trout. All unmarked trout in the Molalla basin must be released unharmed. The exceptions to this rule are Silver Creek above Silverton Reservoir, Abiqua Creek above Abiqua Falls, Butte Creek above Butte Creek Falls, and Drift Creek upstream of Victor Point Road which open April 25 and where the retention of two trout per day, 8-inch minimum length is allowed (consult 2015 fishing regulations for more information on the use of artificial flies and lures per Zone Regulations).

Anglers may find that a few summer steelhead will nose into the lower Molalla after they have passed Willamette Falls. Give it a try from the Turner Creek Bridge down to Canby in April and May for winter and summer steelhead, as well as fresh spring Chinook.

Spring Chinook are already known to be entering the Molalla early this year and we should be seeing the first returns of 3 year old “jacks” from the first release of smolts from the Trout Creek acclimation pond. Spring Chinook typically do not tend to show up in the Molalla until late May/early June with the majority entering in June/early July.

The Molalla River in the upper Willamette is no longer stocked with hatchery winter steelhead but is a popular destination for catch-and-release fishing for wild winter steelhead. The Molalla has good numbers of wild winter steelhead and offers the adventurous angler an opportunity to catch this majestic fish in relative solitude. Limited numbers of naturally produced and stray summer steelhead may be present in the system in many of the same areas where winter steelhead are typically found.

Keep an eye on Willamette Falls fish counts as approximately 20 precent of the total number of steelhead passing the Falls are destined for the Molalla River. Head for the Mo’ when daily counts pick up to over 50 fish per day or total count exceeds 1,000 fish.

The Molalla up to Turner Creek Bridge is open year-round for the retention of adipose fin-clipped Chinook salmon, adipose fin-clipped steelhead, and coho. It is open to the harvest of non-adipose fin-clipped steelhead July 1 – August 31. The use of bait is allowed May 15 – July 15. The use of single barbless hooks is encouraged.

Fishing at Mt. Hood Pond
Fishing at Mt. Hood Pond
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

The Molalla/Pudding River also offers some warmwater fishing opportunities. There is no limit on size or number of bass taken.

Mt Hood Pond: The pond has been designated a youth only fishing venue from April 1 – August 31. It is open to youngsters ages 17 and under as well as holders of a Disabled Anglers permit. The new rules make it illegal for adults to fish in Mt Hood Pond between April 1 and August 31.

Under Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations, anglers ages 13 and under can fish for free while those 14-17 will need to have a juvenile fishing license. All fishing regulations continue to apply. It should be noted that Mt Hood Community College now requires parking permits to park a vehicle anywhere on campus property. Contact the college for further information on parking permit options or visit their website.

ODFW will host Youth Fishing Events at the Mt. Hood Pond on Saturday, May 30 and Saturday, Oct. 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 971-673-6034 for more information. College parking fees will be waived on days of these events.

North Fork Reservoir: The reservoir (up to milepost 32 on Hwy 224) is open May 23 through October 31 for the retention of adipose fin-clipped trout, five per day. The reservoir is stocked frequently throughout spring, summer and fall. There are a number of good access points along Hwy 224 where anglers can fish from the bank.

The boat ramp and marina at Promontory Park (pdf) will be closed to all public access until the summer of 2016 while PGE constructs a floating surface collector to improve the downstream passage of native salmon and steelhead juveniles at North Fork Dam. The reservoir will be open to fishing from May 25 through Oct. 31. All other access points to North Fork Reservoir will remain open, and ODFW will stock the lake with hatchery trout as in the past.

Rickreall Creek: The mainstem of Rickreall Creek opens May 23 with a limit of two trout per day, 8-inch minimum length. Fishing is restricted to artificial flies and lures. The stream supports a healthy population of native cutthroat trout though bank fishing access is somewhat limited.

Salish Ponds
Salish Ponds
-Photo by Bob Swingle, ODFW-

Salish Ponds: The City of Fairview is working on an extensive restoration project at Salish Ponds Wetlands Park that was expected to be completed in 2013. ODFW will not be stocking here until further notice and anglers are asked to avoid the area until newly planted vegetation has a chance to grow and mature.

Salmonberry Lake: This small reservoir in the Milton Creek drainage, west of St. Helens, will be stocked with rainbow trout in late April and likely again in May. The road in is gated and anglers must walk in about 1/3 mile to access this secluded pond.

Salmon Creek: This stream just east of Oakridge is stocked every 2-3 weeks through late August at campgrounds and access points up to the Black Creek Road Bridge. Salmon Creek has great public access throughout the stocked area from about ½ mile above Willamette Hatchery to Black Creek.

ODFW will host a Free Fishing Weekend event for kids 10 and younger on June 6 at the Willamette Fish Hatchery from 9 a.m. to noon. Call Tami Edmunds at (541) 782-2933 for more information.

Sandy River

TROUT: The river and its tributaries open May 23 for catch-and-release fishing for trout. The use of bait is allowed up to the ODFW markers at the mouth of the Salmon River.

SPRING CHINOOK: Anglers began catching the first spring Chinook on the Sandy in early May. Anglers fishing for spring Chinook this year may find that the best areas for success will be in the middle Sandy, mainly from Oxbow Park up to Dodge Park near the mouth of the Bull Run River.

Acclimation facilities located on the Bull Run River will change where spring Chinook will hold in the river. Anglers should now focus their efforts from Dodge Park downstream as a result of this management change. Spring Chinook are in the Sandy River from early April through July.

STEELHEAD: There are winter or summer steelhead in the Sandy River every month of the year.

Among Columbia River tributaries, the Sandy River is second only to the Clackamas River in producing winter steelhead. This makes it a very popular destination for Portland area anglers. The hatchery program has been comprised of a native broodstock, meaning that the hatchery fish are derived from a portion of wild fish returning to the river. Winter steelhead begin returning to the river in December, but larger numbers do not start showing up in the catch until early February. The fishery usually runs from January through April.

Fishing the Sandy River
Sacirovic Mustafa checks his bait while fishing on the Sandy River.
-Photo by Rick Swart-

All Sandy River winter steelhead are released from the Sandy Fish Hatchery on Cedar Creek, so anglers should focus their efforts from Cedar Creek downstream. There also are good opportunities for catch-and-release fishing for wild steelhead above Cedar Creek in the gorge above and below the former Marmot Dam site.

Summer steelhead are also released into the Sandy River, and return from May through August. The season usually peaks in May.

The Sandy River is a glacier-fed system that typically runs very muddy when warm winter rains melt the glaciers on Mt. Hood. The river will clear up within 3-4 days after high water if the snow level drops below 4,000 feet and the rain stops or slows to showers. The Sandy fishes best at gage readings of 8-11 feet (measured below the Bull Run).

The River up to the ODFW markers at the mouth of the Salmon River is open year-round for adipose fin-clipped steelhead and from Feb. 1 through Oct. 31 for adipose fin-clipped Chinook salmon. Fishing is restricted to artificial flies and lures (see the 2015 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for restrictions pertaining to flies and lures).

Anglers can access the Sandy River from many parks including Lewis and Clark, Dabney, Oxbow and Dodge. Access is also available at the mouth of Cedar Creek near the Sandy Fish Hatchery. However, the area near Oxbow Park is closed during the fall to protect spawning Chinook salmon (see the 2015 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for these special regulations).

Boat anglers access the river at Dodge Park (recommended only for expert boat operators due to hazardous rapids), Oxbow Park, Dabney Park and Lewis and Clark Park near Troutdale. Jet boats are allowed downstream from Dabney Park. Also, fishing from a floating device is only allowed starting from a point that is 200 feet downstream of the Oxbow Park boat ramp.

North Santiam (above Big Cliff Dam), Breitenbush Rivers, and streams above Detroit, as well as Quartzville Creek on the South Santiam and streams above Green Peter Reservoir: Will open for trout fishing on April 25 and several, including Breitenbush River, upper North Santiam River and Quartzville Creek, will be stocked with rainbow trout for Memorial Day weekend. These streams will provide anglers an opportunity to retain a standard bag limit of five trout per day and the use of bait is allowed.

North Santiam (below Big Cliff Dam), South Santiam (below Foster Dam), and mainstem Santiam River: Will open for trout fishing on May 23 with a limit of five adipose fin-clipped trout per day, no minimum length.

North Santiam (below Big Cliff Dam),Little North Fork Santiam, South Santiam (below Foster Dam), and mainstem Santiam River:

Both the North and South Santiam are well-known for their summer steelhead fisheries. The peak in summer steelhead fishing usually occurs in June on both rivers, though steelhead begin entering the system as early as March. Fish that have their adipose fin clipped are considered summer steelhead and may be kept. During July and August, non adipose fin-clipped adult steelhead may also be retained. New regulations provide anglers the opportunity to catch one additional fin-clipped summer steelhead (daily bag limit of 4). Fishing for spring Chinook is also popular on these rivers. Look at ODFW’s website under Fishing Resources to see how many steelhead and Chinook are passing Willamette Falls and headed into the upper basin.

Bank anglers need to pay attention to the fishing deadlines at two locations on the North Santiam: at Packsaddle Park and Mill City. The deadline boundaries are clearly marked and described in the fishing regulations booklet. Anglers must adhere to these deadlines, making sure to fish and cast downstream of them.

Although known primarily for their summer steelhead fishing, these rivers also offer a fair catch-and-release fishery for winter steelhead.

Approximately one-quarter to one-third of all winter steelhead that pass over Willamette Falls enter the Santiam system.

The best time for catching winter steelhead is from early March through mid-May, and almost all fishing methods work well including bobber and jig, spinners, bait, swinging wet flies and drifting egg patterns.

Anglers should look for dropping water levels with good visibility and water temperatures above 45 degrees. Water conditions in the North and South Santiam Rivers vary. Typically, flows are relatively high in November and early December as the Corps of Engineers draws the reservoirs down to accommodate flood waters. After that, flows are driven by precipitation until reservoir refilling begins in February. Up-to-date flow information.

Foster Reservoir

Foster Reservoir
-Photo by Rick Swart, ODFW

Summer steelhead may be present in the river beginning in April. Salmon and steelhead fishing is closed above Foster Reservoir on the South Santiam and above Detroit on the North Santiam, as well as most tributaries with the exception of the Little North Fork Santiam.

Little North Fork Santiam: Fishing is restricted to artificial flies and lures only.

Sauvie Island

There are several miles of open beach suitable for salmon and steelhead fishing on the Columbia River at the Sauvie Island Wildlife Refuge just north of Portland. The best public access to the Columbia River from Sauvie Island is on NW Reeder Road, which runs from south to north along the western side of the Island. Getting to Sauvie Island is easy. Just take Hwy 30 out of Portland and head north toward Scappoose. Look for the bridge crossing onto the island about two miles north of Linnton. After crossing the bridge, drive north on Sauvie Island Road to Reeder Road. Take Reeder Road west across the island about 6 miles to NW Reeder Road where it runs north along the Columbia for several miles. There are several points to find parking in easy walking distance of the river.

NOTE: Once on the island, you will need a parking permit. Daily permits are $7 and can be purchased at Sam’s Cracker Barrel, Reeder Beach RV Park, Island Cove Café and the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area headquarters (during regular business hours). Purchase permits in advance.

Spring Chinook are available from March to the season closure sometime in April. Check the ODFW website for the exact season dates, which can vary from year to year.

The best time of the year to fish for winter steelhead at Sauvie Island is from December to March as steelhead bound for tributaries upstream move past the Island. Many of the fish hug the shoreline in six to 15 feet of water.

The most popular method is to plunk using a weight or sinker heavy enough so it doesn’t move with the current. The technique is similar for both salmon and steelhead, but use heavier line and larger terminal tackle for spring Chinook. The preferred lure is a Spin-N-Glo. Some anglers also attach salmon eggs or sand shrimp to the back of the lure for added attraction. Use 15 pound test line or heavier to adequately hold your gear in place and to fight fish in the strong current. Watch other experienced anglers and ask questions about best rigging methods. Be courteous to other anglers and give lots of space so you don’t crowd in on other’s space. This area is also intertidal, and depth will change 3-5 feet with the tide.

Scout Lake: This small scenic lake is a fairly new trout stocking site and will likely be stocked in early May. Take Hwy 30 toward Clatskanie; take the Swedetown Rd. exit; follow Swedetown Rd. about a quarter of a mile to Olson Rd. Turn right onto Olson Rd. Follow Scout Lake signs posted along Olson Road about three miles to locked gate. From there hike in about a mile to the lake or sign out a key to the gate from the City of Clatskanie at 95 S. Nehalem and drive in. For more information, contact the City of Clatskanie at 503-728-2622.

Sheridan Pond: The pond is stocked year-round with catchable trout along with larger (12 to 14-inches) and trophy (14 to 18-inches) trout to enhance the fishing experience. Keep a look out for periodic stocking of brood trout that can exceed 4 pounds. The local community hosts a kids fishing day in June.

Shorty’s Pond: This is 4-acre pond is located within Ivor Davies Nature Park in the city of Molalla. Shorty’s is scheduled for stocking in April and May as long as water conditions hold up. Shorty’s Pond can be accessed by the Fifth St. Trailhead across from Heckard Football Stadium.

Silverton Reservoir: The gate at Silverton Reservoir will be opened for the April 25 weekend and the lake stocked with rainbow trout. It will be re-stocked in May and June.

There will be Free Fishing Weekend events on Silverton Reservoir on Saturday, June 6. One from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; call Dawn Olson at (503) 873-2681 for more information. The second from 1-4 p.m.; call Skip Bouskill at (503) 873-7269 for information.

Small Fry Lake: Closed for the season due to ongoing construction activities at Promontory Park. This lake is located on the Clackamas River 7 miles south of Estacada off of Hwy. 224.

Smith Reservoir: This reservoir is directly north of Trail Bridge Reservoir and will be stocked through late June. Unlike Trail Bridge Reservoir, Smith Reservoir is not visible from the highway and although there is a good amount of bank angling opportunity near the dam, a boat can increase your angling success. There is a 10 mph speed limit for motorboats on Smith Reservoir. Bait use is allowed.

St. Louis Ponds: This is a 240-acre public fishing complex owned by ODFW. It contains 54 developed acres of water in seven ponds, which provide habitat for trout and warmwater species, including catfish, largemouth bass, redear sunfish, green sunfish, white crappie and black crappie.

An ADA-approved paved pathway and several fishing platforms and floating docks that make it possible for people in wheelchairs to reach many of the ponds in the complex.

St. Louis Ponds is located west of I-5 about 15 miles north of Salem and 2 miles west of Gervais. From Gervais, take St Louis Rd west to Tesch Lane, turn left onto Tesch Lane and follow road into the St. Louis Ponds public fishing area.

Fishing from a floating device is prohibited on all ponds. Pond #6 has provided some excellent trout opportunities this spring though weed growth may limit stocking later in the spring as the water warms.

The North Willamette Watershed District will host a Family Fishing event at St Louis Saturday, Oct. 10 from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will also be a Free Fishing Weekend Event at St Louis Ponds on Saturday, June 6 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Timothy and Trillium lakes: Timothy Lake is home to rainbow, brook and native cutthroat trout as well as kokanee salmon. Both lakes will receive rainbow trout in late April or early May, depending on accessibility due to snow. Snowpack is lighter than normal this year and ODFW will stock the lake as soon as the trucks can get it. Call the U.S. Forest Service at (503) 630-6861 to check on road conditions.

Timothy Lake

Timothy Lake
-Photo by Rick Swart, ODFW

Timothy Lake has a catch limit of 25 kokanee per day and five adipose fin-clipped rainbow trout. However, there is no limit on size or number of brook trout taken.

Trail Bridge Reservoir: This reservoir, visible from Hwy 126, is stocked with adipose fin-clipped trout from mid-May through late July. Only artificial flies and lures are legal to use and only adipose fin-clipped trout may be harvested.

Trojan Pond: This is a 15-acre lake located just east of Rainier on the north side of Hwy 30 at the Trojan nuclear facility. The pond is stocked several times in the spring and the park-like setting at Trojan Pond can make for a great day of family fishing and picnicking.

Tualatin River: Lower elevation streams in the drainage are expected to be good for native cutthroat trout as well as warmwater fish, including smallmouth and largemouth bass, and bluegill. The trout season is open from May 23 through Oct. 31 for catch-and-release only. The use of bait is allowed in the Tualatin River up to the Hwy 210 Bridge at Scholls. Artificial flies and lures must be used in the area above Scholls up to the Hwy 47 bridge in Gaston. A small boat or canoe will provide the best access to more water in this slow moving meandering river. Access points exist at major bridge crossings and some riverside parks.

Willamette River, Lower:

The Willamette River below Willamette Falls in Oregon City is open for adipose fin-clipped Chinook salmon and adipose fin-clipped steelhead year-round.

SPRING CHINOOK: The 2015 spring Chinook season has been good with anglers reporting some decent catch rates throughout the river. Expect good fishing on the Willamette to last at least through May. Then look for good spring Chinook fishing on the upper Willamette and tributaries in June and July.

SUMMER STEELHEAD: All steelhead passing the falls after May 31 are considered summer steelhead. These fish originate from releases of hatchery smolts in the Middle Fork Willamette, Mainstem Willamette near Eugene, McKenzie and the North and South Santiam rivers.

WINTER STEEELHEAD: The fishery for winter steelhead in the lower Willamette River (below Willamette Falls in Oregon City) usually begins in early December, although passage counts at Willamette Falls commence Nov. 1. A dry spell followed by a high flow event in late November/early December typically brings the first flush of winter steelhead into the Willamette. With the change to a native broodstock in the Clackamas River, winter steelhead should be available in the lower Willamette from November through the early part of the spring Chinook season. Steelhead caught in the lower Willamette River are headed for the Clackamas River and tributaries above the falls including the Molalla, Tualatin, Santiam and Calapooia rivers.

The most popular and accessible bank-angling site in the lower Willamette is located at Meldrum Bar in Gladstone. Many long-time Meldrum Bar anglers are successful in high, muddy water when fishing close to the bank (within 15 feet) using brightly colored gear such as Spin-N-Glos or spinners.

The Meldrum Bar fishery can be a little different than most bank fishing so a good tip is to spend some time on the bank watching other anglers to see how it’s done.

Winter steelhead are known to hold in shallow margins of the Willamette below the mouth of the Clackamas River, waiting for higher flows and warmer water temperature. Steelhead in the Willamette can be very lethargic and less prone to taking the bait during low, cold winter flows.

Willamette River Steelhead
A 12+ pound Willamette River Steelhead
- Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Look for river flows ranging from 12,500 – 20,000 cfs and water temperatures from 45-55 degrees for the best opportunities. Willamette River flows, temperatures, and Willamette Falls fish counts


  • This area is open to retention of adipose fin-clipped steelhead and adipose fin-clipped Chinook salmon the entire year under permanent rules.
  • Daily bag limit is 2 adult salmon or steelhead in combination per day, and 5 jack salmon per day.
  • See 2015 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for more information.

STURGEON: The lower Willamette is also a very good catch-and-release sturgeon fishery. Although retention is now prohibited out of concern for juvenile recruitment, it is still a wonderful fishing opportunity in the heart of a major metropolitan area. Bank anglers can take advantage of the fishing dock on the west side of the river below Willamette Falls. This is a very nice structure constructed specifically for anglers with some of the fees they have paid through purchasing fishing licenses. The new dock is 350 feet long and has dozens of rod holders. It is a good place to fish for sturgeon, salmon and steelhead, especially for anglers who do not have access to a boat.

WARMWATER SPECIES: The lower river and sloughs are also a great place to find warmwater fish, including bass, crappie, bluegill and walleye. Special Regulations for walleye specify a 10 walleye per-day limit, and no more than five walleye per-day can be over 18 inches and only one may be over 24 inches. Trout are not stocked into this portion of the river. Use of bait is allowed in the lower river. Also keep in mind that the Willamette River regulations have recently changed under a temporary rule.

Willamette River above Willamette Falls: Upstream to Hwy 20 Bridge at Albany is open for adipose fin-clipped Chinook salmon, adipose fin-clipped steelhead, coho salmon and the retention of white sturgeon (1 per day, 2 per year) for the entire year. The use of bait is allowed. Bass fishing can be excellent in late spring and summer from the Falls up to Albany.

Willamette River, Mainstem: Prospects should be excellent for native cutthroat and rainbow trout upstream of Corvallis. The stretch of river above the highway bridge at Albany to the Hwy 99 bridge at Harrisburg opens April 25 to the harvest of trout with limit of 5 fish per day, 8-inch minimum length; bait allowed. Trout fishing is restricted to catch-and-release/artificial flies and lures between the Hwy99 Bridge at Harrisburg and the mouth of the McKenzie River. There are also excellent opportunities throughout summer for smallmouth bass, crappie, and bluegill in the Willamette River from Salem to Willamette Falls. Retention of white sturgeon is allowed all year.

Middle Fork Willamette River (below Dexter Dam): ODFW anticipates spring Chinook and summer steelhead will arrive in peak numbers during May and early June. Some early catches may be possible depending on fish numbers, flow and weather conditions. Anglers should follow fish passage over Willamette Falls on ODFW’s website and allow 10-14 days for these fish to hit the upper basin. Most anglers target the area from Dexter Dam downstream to Pengra Boat Landing; however, during May boat anglers catch spring Chinook from Pengra Boat Landing downstream to the confluence with the Coast Fork Willamette. Summer steelhead will remain available through the fall.

Middle Fork Willamette River (Lookout Point Reservoir to Hills Creek Reservoir): Open to fishing all year to artificial flies and lures only. This is a wild trout area and all non-adipose fin-clipped trout must be released unharmed. Up to five adipose fin-clipped trout may be retained per day. These hatchery fish originate from upstream stocking locations.

Middle Fork Willamette River (Upstream of Hills Creek Reservoir): This section of river is managed for wild trout and is no longer stocked with hatchery rainbow trout. All wild trout must be released unharmed. Hatchery trout previously scheduled for this area will be released into Hills Creek Reservoir where we expect a much higher harvest rate. Anglers must use artificial flies and lures only.

Willamette River (confluence of Middle and Coast forks to Beltline Bridge): There are summer steelhead throughout this section (“the town run”), which offers some great fishing close to town. Steelhead smolts released at various boat ramps in this section of river return to the same area as adults, providing a popular fishery. This section is open the entire year for adipose fin-clipped steelhead and non-adipose fin-clipped steelhead greater than 24 inches in length.

Willamette Valley Lakes (Freeway Lakes, Wilsonville Pond, and Woodburn Pond): Warmwater fishing will start to improve as water temperatures become warmer. Bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish are available in many of the valley ponds. Sloughs and backwaters of the Willamette River also offer good opportunities for warmwater fishing.

Junction City Pond, EE Wilson Pond, Freeway lakes, Timber Linn Lake, Roaring River Pond, Waverly Lake, Walter Wirth Lake, Walling Pond, and St. Louis Ponds #1, #3, #6: Trout stocking will continue through mid-May or early June, depending on the water body and water conditions. The locations of and directions to many of these lakes are listed on the trout stocking schedule on the ODFW website.

Yamhill River: Fishing for warmwater fish with bait is allowed from March 1 – Oct. 31 up to the confluence of the North and South Forks. Fishing in the South Yamhill River from the confluence with the North Yamhill upstream to the mouth of Rock Creek is restricted to artificial flies and lures. This section of river is open May 23 – Oct. 31, five adipose fin-clipped trout per day, and no minimum length. The South Yamhill River will be stocked with trout in late May.

The rest of the Yamhill river system, and its tributaries, are open from May 23 through Oct. 31 for artificial flies and lures only. An excellent catch-and-release opportunity for native cutthroat trout that may exceed 14 inches exists in the main stem reaches and larger tributaries. Access in the Yamhill may be difficult due to large tracts of private ownership, so please ask property owners for permission before accessing the river. Fishing from a small boat would provide the best opportunity to access more water. Access points may exist at bridge crossings and small parks along the river.

For more information about fishing opportunities in the Southwest Zone, contact the nearest ODFW office:

North Willamette Watershed District Office
Clackamas, OR 97015

South Willamette Watershed District Office
Corvallis, OR 97330-9446

Springfield Field Office
Springfield, OR 97478-5800

Select an angling zone: Northwest Zone | Southwest Zone | Willamette Zone | Central Zone | Northeast Zone | Southeast Zone | Marine Zone | Snake Zone | Full Report (pdf)


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