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Weekly Recreation Report: Northwest Zone

January 10, 2017

 Northwest Zone Fishing

Wilson River Winter Steelhead
-Photo by Ross Henshaw-

Weekend fishing opportunities:

  • It’s time to don the winter clothes and get out and get after Oregon’s winter steelhead. Winter steelhead season is open and hatchery steelhead are available on the Kilchis, Nehalem, Nestucca, Salmon, Siletz, Trask, and Wilson. Look for favorable river conditions.

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.


Town Lake near Pacific City has been stocked with nearly 200 surplus summer steelhead from Cedar Creek hatchery, so far this season. 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!


Holdover trout will be available in most 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.


Steelhead fishing is open on the Alsea River and listed tributaries. Fishing is fair when river conditions are favorable. Alsea Hatchery is having a near average return to the hatchery. Casting spinners, drifting bait or using a bobber and jig can be effective.

Chinook Salmon
Brianna's first 2016 fall Chinook. About 25Lbs
-Photo by Sommer Moyer-

KILCHIS RIVER: steelhead

There haven’t been many reports from the Kilchis River yet, and surely it was slow last week, with the freezing air temps and cold water temps keeping fish lethargic, but based on the wild steelhead showing up in other basins there are probably some steelhead in the system. Better weather and good water conditions will be the key to finding them. The Kilchis gets low and clear quickly, so in those conditions light gear and small presentations are going to be your best bet.


Returns to Big Creek and Klaskanine hatcheries have been a little slow this year. Last week the cold temperatures kept fish lethargic and made fishing tough all over the North Coast. The hatchery runs are probably past peak on these systems but there are still some fish around.


The cold temperatures last week kept fishing pretty slow but we have gotten reports of some steelhead being observed in the Necanicum, and as conditions improve so should the fishing.

NEHALEM RIVER: steelhead

Hatchery steelhead are available on the North Fork Nehalem. The hatchery run should be winding down but there will still be opportunities whenever water and weather conditions are favorable.

There should be wild winter steelhead starting in the Nehalem main stem and the Salmonberry River. These runs should improve over the next couple months as water and weather conditions improve. These are mostly wild fish, so we recommend using appropriate gear for easy release and handling fish gently.


Steelhead season is open and Three Rivers is getting some hatchery steelhead returns. Cedar Creek hatchery continues to recycle fish and fishing should be fair to good whenever the conditions are decent. Drift fishing is usually the go to technique on Three Rivers but casting spinners and float fishing can be effective, also.

All the usual techniques such as side drifting, float fishing, and pulling plugs or divers and bait, should be effective.

Anglers are reminded that fall Chinook season closed Dec. 31 on the Nestucca.

SALMON RIVER: steelhead

The Salmon River is open for wild and hatchery steelhead. 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

Steelhead fishing is fair. Winter steelhead opportunities are improving when river conditions are favorable. 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 but improving. Most reported harvest is occurring in the Siuslaw River below the forks. Casting spinners, drifting bait or using a bobber and jig can be effective.

TRASK RIVER: steelhead

Riverside Park, Clackamas
Trask River
-ODFW photo-

Steelhead fishing was slow on the Trask last week due to the cold temperatures and lethargic fish, but there are more wild fish showing up and fishing should improve as the weather and water conditions allow. All the usual techniques such as side drifting, float fishing, and pulling plugs or divers and bait, should be effective.

WILSON RIVER: steelhead

Fishing was slow on the Wilson last week due to the cold temperatures, but even at that some nice hatchery broodstock fish were caught and more should be showing up. Fishing should improve as weather warms up and water conditions improve. All the usual techniques such as side drifting, float fishing, and pulling plugs or divers and bait, should be effective.

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


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. Remember a 2017 cougar tag and license is needed to hunt as of Jan. 1.

Quail Hunt
Quail Hunt

California quail season is ongoing, but these birds are rare along the north coast. The best prospects are along agricultural areas on the eastern flanks of the coast range.

Mountain quail appear to have had a good hatch this spring as they seemed to be plentiful this summer. In general, the eastern slope of the coast range is generally better than areas closer to the coast for finding birds. Look for these forest-dwelling quail on south and west-facing slopes around brushy clearcuts. ODFW is looking for hunters willing to collect and mail in wings and tails from harvested birds. You can obtain some collection envelopes from the Tillamook office of ODFW by stopping by during regular business hours or calling 503-842-2741.

Forest grouse (ruffed and blue varieties) hunting season continues until Jan. 31. There appears to have been a good hatch of young this year, so hunting prospects are looking very good. Blue grouse are found on higher elevation ridges, along with a few ruffed grouse. Ruffed grouse are usually found on mid-slopes and riparian areas. ODFW is looking for hunters willing to collect and mail in wings and tails from harvested birds. You can obtain some collection envelopes from the Tillamook office of ODFW during regular business hours or by calling 503-842-2741.

Crow season goes through Jan. 31, 2017. These birds are plentiful, especially in agricultural settings, but can also be found almost anywhere people live or along forest stand edges.

Duck season in Zone 1 runs through Jan. 29, 2017. Additional migrants (e.g. mallards, wigeons and various diving ducks) have shown up in most of the north coast estuaries, including the lower Columbia River. Generally, the best time to hunt at the onset of a storm when birds get pushed off of larger waters and seek more protected, marshy areas. See the 2016-17 Oregon Game Bird Regulations for details.

The second period of the NW Permit Goose season closed on Jan. 9. The season opens up again for the third and final period Feb. 4 - 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

Northern Pintail Drake
Northern Pintail Drake
- Photo by Keith Kohl-

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 and mallards, which can be seen on mudflats or in shallow tidal areas during lower stages of the tides. Look for diving ducks on lakes or deeper parts of estuaries. A good pair of binoculars are generally all that is needed to find and identify the birds by species.

Although the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s Whale Watching Spoken Here events along the Oregon coast are officially over for now, people can still see migrating gray whales as they journey southward to the warm waters of Baja California. Many of the viewpoints for watching whales occur on the North Coast, including Cape Kiwanda, Cape Lookout, Cape Meares, Neah-Kah-Nie Mtn., Silver Point and Cape Falcon. For a complete listing of viewpoints where the whale watching programs will be in effect, please look visit the state parks department’s Whale Watching Spoken Here web page.


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.


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 conifers along the edge of Columbia River’s Wolf Bay. The bay also holds a lot of wintering waterfowl, including both dabblers and divers. 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.

A bull elk looks over his herd at the Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area
- Photo by Rick Swart, ODFW-

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 from December 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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