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ODFW WEEKLY RECREATION REPORT
Fishing, Hunting, Wildlife Viewing
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Northwest Zone Map

Weekly Recreation Report: Northwest Zone

December 6, 2016

 Northwest Zone Fishing

steelhead
Wilson River Winter Steelhead
-Photo by Ross Henshaw-

Weekend fishing opportunities:

  • It’s still not too late to catch fall Chinook on the Kilchis and Wilson Rivers.
  • It’s time to target winter steelhead on the Nestucca, Three Rivers, the Wilson, and the North Fork Nehalem River.

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.

2016 trout stocking schedule

The 2016 trout stocking schedules for the North Coast Watershed (pdf) are on the ODFW Trout Stocking Page. Take a look to find out when and where Oregon’s hatchery trout are being released around the state.

NORTH COAST LAKES

Town Lake near Pacific City was recently stocked with 170 surplus summer steelhead from Cedar Creek hatchery, and more should be released soon. 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!

MID COAST LAKES

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.

Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes are open for wild coho until December 31. Fishing has been fair to slow. Casting spinners near the weed lines and trolling plugs or spinners can be effective on fish that recently entered the lake.

ALSEA RIVER AND BAY: Chinook, steelhead

The Alsea River and bay is open for Chinook salmon. Fishing is slow. Fish are throughout the bay and river. Eggs and bobber can be productive in the upper bay and river as the season progresses.

Steelhead fishing opened on the Alsea River on Nov. 1. Fish are entering the mainstem. Steelhead are up to the town of Alsea. Casting spinners, drifting bait or using a bobber and jig can be effective.

  • Open for hatchery steelhead Jan 1 – Apr. 30 and Nov 1 – Dec. 31.
  • No fishing from a floating device upstream from Mill Creek.

The North Fork Alsea, Five Rivers and Drift Cr. will open for hatchery steelhead up to their respective deadlines on Dec. 1, 2016.

NOTICE: DEC. 5 PUBLIC MEETING ABOUT ALSEA RIVER BOAT RAMP

The possible development of a recreational boating facility at Don Lindly Park on the Alsea River will be the topic of a public meeting scheduled for Dec. 15 from 4-6 p.m. at Waldport City Hall. Lincoln County and the Oregon State Marine Board will host the event and are asking for input on development of a public boat ramp, docks, parking and sanitation at Don Lindly Park on the Alsea River at Hwy. 34 milepost 7. For more information, contact Keith Andresen, Lincoln County Parks Superintendent at 541-574-1215, or Janine Belleque, Oregon State Marine Board Boating Facilities Manager, at 503-378-2628.

KILCHIS RIVER: Chinook , steelhead

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

The Kilchis looked great by the middle of last week, and although it bumped back up a little Saturday night, it’s probably going to be in better condition than most of the North Coast Rivers this week.

Most of the North Coast Rivers are about done for fall Chinook but the Kilchis is known for having some later fish, and it’s not uncommon to catch bright salmon well into December on this river. All of the usual techniques, such as bobber fishing, divers and bait, and back bouncing should be effective.

Anglers are reminded that catch-and-release chum fishing is now closed.

It’s a little early for winter steelhead on the Kilchis but there should be a few showing up this month.

LOWER COLUMBIA TRIBUTARIES: steelhead

It’s still early but some fish have returned to the Big Creek and Klaskanine hatcheries the past couple weeks, and a handful have been caught.

NEHALEM RIVER: steelhead

Steelhead fishing on the North Fork Nehalem was slow last week despite a fair amount of pressure. A handful of fish have already been recycled from the hatchery, and more should be on the way. This river has a good run of December hatchery fish and should just get better throughout the month.

The main stem bumped back up Saturday night and is probably going to be too high for much fishing this week. Fall Chinook is pretty much over, and it’s a little early for winter steelhead on the main stem.

NESTUCCA RIVER AND THREE RIVERS: steelhead

The Nestucca dropped into fishable condition late last week but bumped back up on Saturday. It looks like it’s going to be on the drop for the next couple days and may get in shape towards the end of the week, then back up again.

Three Rivers is getting a handful of winter steelhead and Cedar Creek hatchery has recycled a few already. With high water on the North Coast this week, Three Rivers is probably a good bet for steelhead.

The lower main stem Nestucca should be picking up for these early hatchery steelhead as well, but this week high water conditions could be challenging. Chinook fishing is mostly done on the Nestucca although there may still be a few late fish around.

SALMON RIVER: Chinook, steelhead

The Salmon River and bay is open for Chinook salmon. The run is near the end but a few fish are still entering the system. Trolling herring in the lower bay is an effective technique. Eggs and bobber can be productive in the upper bay and river as the season progresses. Parking can be limited at Knight Park during the fall salmon return. Anglers are reminded that from Knight Park boat ramp to Sulphur Creek from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, fishing is restricted to single point hook metal lures, fly, or salmon bobber angling.

The Salmon River opens for wild and hatchery steelhead Dec. 1. 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, Chinook

The Siletz River and bay is open for Chinook salmon. Fishing is slow. Fish are throughout the bay and river. Trolling herring in the lower bay is an effective technique. Eggs and bobber or drifting eggs can be productive in the upper bay and river as the season progresses. Consult the regulations for changes in deadline locations through the season.

Steelhead fishing is slow. Winter steelhead opportunities will improve in December. Casting spinners, drifting bait or using a bobber and jig can be effective.

SIUSLAW RIVER: Chinook, steelhead

The Siuslaw River and bay is open for Chinook salmon. Fishing is slow. Trolling herring in the lower bay is an effective technique. Eggs and bobber can be productive in the upper bay and river.

The Siuslaw River and Lake Cr. open for steelhead Dec. 1. Casting spinners, drifting bait or using a bobber and jig can be effective.  

TRASK RIVER: steelhead

Riverside Park, Clackamas
Trask River
-ODFW photo-

The Trask dropped into fishable condition late last week but bumped back up on Saturday. It looks like it’s going to be on the drop for the next couple days and may get in shape towards the end of the week, before going back up again.

A handful of winter steelhead showed up at the Trask hatchery already. However, this week high water conditions could be challenging. Chinook fishing is mostly done on the Trask, although there may still be a few late fish around.

WILSON RIVER: Chinook, steelhead

The Wilson dropped into fishable condition late last week but rose again on Saturday. It looks like it’s going to be on the drop for the next couple days and may get in shape towards the end of the week.

The lower Wilson should start to pick up for early hatchery steelhead as soon as high water conditions resolve. When the river does green up, pulling divers and bait, plugs, and side drifting or drift fishing should all be good options.

Most North Coast rivers are about done for fall Chinook. However, the Wilson is known for having some later fish, and it’s not uncommon to catch bright salmon well into December on this river.

YAQUINA RIVER: Chinook, steelhead

The Yaquina River and bay is open for Chinook salmon. Fishing is slow. Trolling herring in the lower bay is an effective technique. Eggs and bobber can be productive in the upper bay and river as the season progresses.

The Yaquina River and Big Elk Cr. open for steelhead on December 1. Wild winter steelhead can be retained on Big Elk Cr. with a daily and annual bag limit of 1/day and 3/year. Casting spinners, drifting bait or using a bobber and jig can be effective.

  Northwest Zone Hunting

OPEN: COUGAR, BEAR, ARCHERY DEER (until Dec. 11 in some units) FOREST GROUSE, MOUNTAIN AND CALIFORNIA QUAIL, CROW, DUCK, NW PERMIT GOOSE, BRANT

Hunting Bear
Kid's first bear. Taken in the McKenzie Unit, Aug. 1, 2015
-Photo by Justin Arient-

Black Bear season continues through Dec. 31 on the north coast. With the onset of colder temperatures, stormy weather and the general lack of food sources, most bears will likely be denned up by now.

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.

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 goes through Jan. 9, 2017. After another closure, the season opens up again for the 3rd and final period of Feb. 4 through March 10, 2017. Large numbers of geese have been showing up on north coast estuaries and surrounding private lands; moving 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.

Brant season opens closes Dec. 11. Most brant on the north coast will be found in Netarts and Tillamook bays. These shy and elusive birds are challenging to hunt, and generally require a skull boat or other low profile craft to sneak up on them on the water or on mud flats.

 Northwest Zone Wildlife Viewing

Western Grebe
Western Grebe
- Photo by Greg Gillson-

Migrating ducks, geese, coots and grebes have shown up 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.

November and early December is a good time to hit the beach to look for migrating shorebirds. Many of these birds have stopped on north coast beaches to take a rest before they resume their migration to warmer and more southerly climes. Winter storms may also bring pelagic species much closer to shore – and occasionally even to estuaries and inland lakes – affording an opportunity to view these species (fulmars, petrels, shearwaters and albatrosses) usually only seen many miles out to sea. Binoculars and favorable weather are all you really need to view these birds.

TILLAMOOK COUNTY

In estuaries and pastures it’s not too difficult to find the large white wading bird that spends the fall, winter and spring in Tillamook County. It’s the great egret, and it has been in the county in seemingly increasing numbers in recent years. The only known roost site for these birds in the county is Hathaway Slough, located along Hwy 101 between Tillamook and Bay City. The birds typically start flying into roost site near dusk, and create a stark contrast to the dark green spruce trees they occupy.

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.

CLATSOP COUNTY

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

Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area

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.

Elk viewing has been good at Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area. Best viewing has been in the mornings and evenings until dark. The elk breeding season or “rut” is over for the season and elk have gathered into larger groups. With the cooler and wetter weather, elk are spending more time in the open fields and recently some elk have been visible throughout day. Good places to look are the Fishhawk Tract along Hwy 202 and the Beneke Tract along the first 1.5 miles of Beneke Creek Road.

Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area will start taking reservations for the winter elk feeding tours on Dec. 1, 2016. Tours run during the months of December, January, and February each winter.

Visitors are reminded that areas posted as Wildlife Refuge are closed to public access. Additionally, posted portions of the Beneke Tract are closed to public entry during any Saddle Mt. unit elk season. Closure dates are Aug. 1 through March 15 (see big game regulations for exceptions).

Wildlife Area Parking Permits are required on the Wildlife Area.


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