Northwest Zone Fishing
|Limit of hatchery Steelhead from the Alsea River. -Photo by Sean Kearney-
Weekend fishing opportunities:
- Several coastal rivers are now falling into shape following periods of high water. That makes now a good time to get out and get after Oregon’s signature winter steelhead. Biologists say the Nestucca, Trask, and Wilson are poised to fish well with more favorable river conditions in the forecast. Other steelhead fishing destinations to consider include the Alsea, Kilchis, Nehalem, Salmon, Siletz, Siuslaw, and Yaquina.
- If you haven’t purchased your license yet, now would be a good time to stop by one of our offices or website and get one. With lots of fishing opportunities coming up in 2017 you’ll want to have the paperwork out of the way already.
Send us your fishing report
We’d love to hear about your recent fishing experiences. Send us your own fishing report through ODFW Fishing Reports ― the information will be forwarded to the local biologist who may use it to update various ODFW resources such as the Weekly Recreation Report.
NORTH COAST LAKES
Town Lake near Pacific City has been stocked with nearly 200 surplus summer steelhead from Cedar Creek Hatchery, so far this season. In addition, 66 early run winter steelhead were released there on Jan. 11. Nehalem Hatchery released 200 surplus winter steelhead into Vernonia pond, 57 into Lost Lake and 60 into Lake Lytle. These fish get fairly active in the lake and offer a unique fishing experience, especially when the rivers are blown out. Once in the lake they are considered “trout” and do not require a Combined Angling Tag. Anglers are reminded, however, that only one trout per day over 20 inches may be retained, and these fish will almost all be in that size range.
Trout stocking is complete in the other North Coast lakes, but there are still hold over trout available and winter can be a great time to fish for them as these trout will be larger now, and getting hungry! The trout stocking schedule for 2017 is available online, and printed versions will be out soon.
MID COAST LAKES
The trout stocking schedule for 2017 is available online and trout have been stocked in some lakes. Fishing for the various warm water fish species will slow as water temperatures cool. There are numerous lakes in the Florence area that can provide good opportunity.
ALSEA RIVER AND BAY: steelhead
Steelhead fishing is open on the Alsea River and listed tributaries. The river is shaping up after last week’s rain. Fishing is slow. Alsea Hatchery is having a below average return to the hatchery. Casting spinners, drifting bait or using a bobber and jig can be effective.
KILCHIS RIVER: steelhead
Fishing on the Kilchis was slow last weekend. Although it was one of the few North Coast rivers that looked good, with regards to water conditions, there was heavy angler pressure and only a few fish were caught.
LOWER COLUMBIA TRIBUTARIES: steelhead
Hatchery steelhead runs on Big Creek, and the Klaskanine River are definitely winding down. Both systems are fishable this week and there are probably still a few fish around.
NECANICUM RIVER: steelhead
The Necanicum blew out Thursday of last week, along with the rest of the North Coast rivers, but was back in shape by Sunday. The hatchery run is winding down but there are still fish available.
NEHALEM RIVER: steelhead
The Nehalem was down to 9.86 ft. as of Monday, but was still off color. This is a large system that carries heavy sediment loads and it’s hard to say when it will come back in shape. When it does there should be steelhead throughout the system. These are mostly wild fish, so we recommend using appropriate gear for easy release and handling fish gently.
The Salmonberry River was high and off color through the weekend, like many of the North coast streams, but it should be dropping into shape and will fish well by the weekend. There should be steelhead throughout the system. These are mostly wild fish, so we recommend using appropriate gear for easy release and handling fish gently.
The North Fork Nehalem has come back into shape already and is green. The hatchery run on the North Fork Nehalem is winding down but there are still some fish available.
|Fishing in the Nestucca River
-Photo by Kathy Munsel-
NESTUCCA RIVER AND THREE RIVERS: steelhead
Fishing was slow on the Nestucca last weekend due to high water and marginal conditions. It should be dropping into prime shape by the end of the week and through the weekend. This is the time of year to be on the Nestucca and there should be brood stock hatchery fish and wild fish throughout the system. All the usual techniques such as side drifting, float fishing, drift fishing, or pulling plugs or divers and bait should be effective. During high water use brighter colors and larger presentations.
Three Rivers hatchery fish should be winding down this time of year but this small tributary will drop and clear much quicker than the Nestucca and could be a good bet for bank fishing this week.
SALMON RIVER: steelhead
The Salmon River is open for wild and hatchery steelhead. Fishing is slow. Wild winter steelhead can be retained on the Salmon River. Daily and annual bag limit on wild winter steelhead are 1/day and 3/year. Casting spinners, drifting bait or using a bobber and jig can be effective.
SILETZ RIVER: steelhead
The river is shaping up after last week’s rain. Steelhead fishing is fair. Drift boaters are having fair success from Moonshine Park to Siletz and bank anglers are catching hatchery fish in the Siletz gorge. Casting spinners, drifting bait or using a bobber and jig can be effective.
SIUSLAW RIVER: Chinook, steelhead
The Siuslaw River and Lake Cr. are open for hatchery winter steelhead. Fishing is slow. Casting spinners, drifting bait or using a bobber and jig can be effective.
TRASK RIVER: steelhead
Fishing was slow on the Trask last weekend due to high water and marginal condition. It has dropped some and is greening up as of Feb 21. It should be in good shape later in the week, and there should be steelhead throughout the system. During high water use brighter colors and larger presentations. The Trask has mostly wild fish, so we recommend using appropriate gear for easy release and handling fish gently.
WILSON RIVER: steelhead
Fishing was slow on the Wilson last weekend due to high water and marginal conditions. It should be dropping into prime shape by the end of the week and through the weekend. There should be plenty of broodstock hatchery and wild steelhead around, and there have been some big fish coming off the Wilson this year. All the usual techniques such as side drifting, float fishing, drift fishing, or pulling plugs or divers and bait should be effective. During high water use brighter colors and larger presentations.
YAQUINA RIVER: steelhead
The Yaquina River and Big Elk Cr. are open for steelhead. Fishing is fair. Wild winter steelhead can be retained on Big Elk Cr. with a daily and annual bag limit of 1/day and 3/year. The Yaquina River is open for hatchery winter steelhead. Casting spinners, drifting bait or using a bobber and jig can be effective.
Northwest Zone Hunting
- Royalty Free Image-
OPEN: COUGAR, NW PERMIT GOOSE
Cougar are most effectively taken by using predator calls. However, cougar densities are relatively low on the north coast. Successful hunters, remember you must check in cougar (hide and skull) at an ODFW office within 10 days of harvest and bring them in unfrozen. It’s also a good idea to prop their mouths open with a stick after harvest for easier tissue sampling, teeth collection and tagging.
The NW Permit Goose season continues through March 10. Large numbers of geese have been present on north coast estuaries and surrounding private lands. The flocks generally fly to grass pastures during the day and then back to the estuary before evening. Hunters are reminded that again this year dusky Canada geese are completely protected and there is no check station requirement. See pages 22-23 in the 2016-17 Oregon Game Bird Regulations for details.
Northwest Zone Wildlife Viewing
Migrating ducks, geese, coots and grebes are on North Coast estuaries and lakes in good numbers. Most of the ducks are dabblers, such as pintails, widgeon and mallards, are usually seen on mudflats or in shallow tidal areas during lower stages of the tides. Look for diving ducks (e.g. scaup, buffleheads and ring-necked ducks) on lakes or deeper parts of estuaries. Last, but not least, are the sea ducks, such as scoters, which are found on the lowest parts of the estuaries, near the confluence with the ocean. A good pair of binoculars are generally all that is needed to find and identify the birds by species.
|Black Brant Trio
- Photo by Dave Budeau-
Brant are a type of goose that are only seen in shallow estuaries where there is a lot of eelgrass – their favorite food. On the north coast, they prefer Netarts Bay because of its relatively undeveloped nature, where you can find them in the far southwestern corner of the estuary. Brant also use the more remote western portion of Tillamook Bay on occasion where eelgrass flats are abundant. A spotting scope is a must for viewing these birds.
Cape Meares Lake, located west of Tillamook on Bayocean Spit, is a great place to watch diving ducks, including canvasbacks, ruddy ducks, and ring-necked ducks. Generally, binoculars are sufficient, but bring your spotting scope just in case.
Nestucca Bay NWR is a place where you can see a variety of races, or subspecies, of Canada geese. Situated right along Hwy 101, just east of Pacific City, it was established originally to conserve Aleutian and Dusky Canada geese, which still occupy the refuge in good numbers. Other races of Canada geese known to be there include Western, Lesser and Cackling. Binoculars are all you should need to view them.
Wintering bald eagles occur in good numbers the upper reaches of Tillamook Bay, and can best be seen Bayocean Road, which skirts the upper end of the bay. Spotting scopes are almost a requirement to find the birds in the distant spruce trees along the various rivers and sloughs that feed into the bay.
|American Bald Eagle
-Photo by Cathy Nowak-
The Twilight Bald Eagle Sanctuary is located just off Hwy. 30 on Burnside Road, near the community of Svensen. During the winter, bald eagles can be seen roosting in large trees along the edge of Columbia River’s Wolf Bay. The bay also holds a lot of wintering waterfowl, including both dabblers and divers. Great blue herons are also common in the marsh areas. The facility has a good viewing platform that even illustrates some of local history, such as the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Bring your spotting scope to optimize your viewing experience.
Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area
Elk viewing has been excellent at Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area. Although elk have been visible throughout the day on the Fishhawk Tract, best viewing times are from about 9 a.m. to noon. Good places to look are the Fishhawk Tract along Hwy. 202 and the Beneke Tract along the first 1.5 miles on Beneke Creek Road. Brochures with maps of the area are available at the main viewing area kiosk along Hwy. 202.
Elk are currently being fed a supplemental diet of alfalfa hay. Staff try to feed close to the viewing areas especially on weekends to enhance viewing opportunities. We will continue to provide supplemental feed through February. Reservations for the winter elk feeding tour program have been completely filled for the three-month season.
Visitors are reminded that areas posted as Wildlife Refuge are closed to public access. Posted portions of the Beneke Tract are closed to entry during any open Saddle Mt. Unit elk season, Aug. 1 - March 15 (see big game regulations for exceptions).
Wildlife Area Parking Permits are required on the Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area.
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