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Weekly Recreation Report: Northwest Zone

April 25, 2017

 Northwest Zone Fishing

Limit of hatchery Steelhead from the Alsea River. -Photo by Sean Kearney-

Weekend fishing opportunities:

  • The Siletz River is now open for retention of wild Chinook – one per day, two per season.
  • Summer steelhead are starting to show up in the Siletz River.
  • The Nestucca River is in good shape and there are should still plenty of hatchery and wild winter steelhead available.
  • The Trask and Wilson rivers are in good shape for steelhead fishing.
  • The following locations will be stocked with trout this week: Cape Meares Lake, Carter Lake, Cleawox Lake, Hebo Lake, Munsel Lake, Sutton Lake, Town Lake, and Vernonia Pond. 

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Most of the North Coast lakes were stocked with trout this week. Water temps are great and fish should be hungry, so go catch them!

So far this season, Town Lake near Pacific City has been stocked with nearly 200 surplus summer steelhead from Cedar Creek Hatchery. 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 began the week of March 20 in most district lakes. The 2017 trout stocking schedule is available online.


Mid coast lakes have been stocked and are fishing well. The 2017 trout stocking schedule is available online.


Steelhead fishing is open on the Alsea River and listed tributaries until April 30. Casting spinners, drifting bait or using a bobber and jig can be effective.

KILCHIS RIVER: steelhead

The Kilchis is getting a little low but there are wild steelhead throughout the system. Use lighter gear and smaller presentations for the lower, clear water conditions.

NEHALEM RIVER: steelhead

The Nehalem main stem should have wild steelhead throughout the system.

Fishing the Nestucca
Fishing in the Nestucca River
-Photo by Kathy Munsel-

NESTUCCA RIVER AND THREE RIVERS: steelhead, spring Chinook

The Nestucca is in good shape, but we are at the time of year when steelhead are winding down and Spring Chinook aren’t quite there yet. That said there should still be some hatchery and wild winter steelhead available, and we’ll most likely see that first Springer show up anytime now. Anglers are reminded that the upper river from Moon Creek (Blaine) to Elk Creek closed to steelhead fishing March 31 to protect spawning wild steelhead.

Fishing is slow on Three Rivers, but spring Chinook should start showing up by next month.

SALMON RIVER: steelhead

The Salmon River closed for wild and hatchery steelhead on March 31 to protect spawning wild steelhead

SILETZ RIVER: steelhead, Chinook

The Siletz River opened for wild Chinook on April 1 (1 per day and 2 per season). A few summer steelhead are starting to be caught in the lower river. Drift boaters are having 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.

TILLAMOOK BAY: spring Chinook

It’s definitely still early and I would expect Spring Chinook fishing to be slow for a couple more weeks, but with the first confirmed Springer having already been caught in the Trask River, there’s no doubt at least a handful are coming through the bay.

TRASK RIVER: steelhead; spring Chinook

The Trask is in good shape and there are steelhead throughout the system. Steelhead should start to wind down soon, but there are definitely still opportunities. The Trask has mostly wild fish, but the occasional hatchery fish is caught.

The first confirmed Spring Chinook has already been caught on the Trask River, that said, it is still pretty early and there’s not many Springers around, but it’ll be starting soon!

WILSON RIVER: steelhead

The Wilson is in decent shape. Steelhead should be winding down but there was still some good fishing last week, although mostly for wild steelhead.

YAQUINA RIVER: steelhead

The Yaquina River and Big Elk Cr. closed for steelhead on March 31 to protect spawning wild steelhead.

  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.

Spring bear hunting is done through controlled hunt tags on the north coast. Bear activity has been minimal so far, likely due to the continuing cold and wet weather. However, it’s possible to see bears out and about, especially on warmer, sunnier days. The better hunting is likely to occur during the latter part of the season, as more bears will have emerged from their hibernation by then.

 Northwest Zone Wildlife Viewing

Neotropical migrants (songbirds) are starting to make their appearance in the forests, fields and marshy areas of the north coast. In the coming weeks, more will continue to arrive and soon the forests will be alive with male songbirds calling to attract mates and establish territories.

Late April and May is typically a good time for observing migrating shorebirds on northern Oregon coast beaches. Many species are moving up from more southerly latitudes, and stop at the beaches to rest and feed before continuing on to the arctic or near-arctic regions.


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.

Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge near Oceanside is often home to bald eagles and peregrine falcons roosting there during the winter months, looking for prey. Another common resident to the refuge on the small rock on the east side of the refuge (Seal Rock) is a group of Steller sea lions. A cousin to the smaller and darker California sea lion, they spend almost all of their time there when they’re not feeding in ocean waters. Binoculars are generally adequate for viewing, but spotting scopes are helpful in finding the peregrines.
American Bald Eagle
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.

The Warrenton Waterfront Trail is a walkway that extends from Ft. Stevens State Park to the Skipanon Boat Basin, and allows for some great birdwatching opportunities. E.H. Carruthers Park in Warrenton is a convenient point to access the portion of the trail that goes along the lower Columbia River. It’s a great place to see wintering birds into the spring months. Recently, loons, grebes, diving ducks and sea ducks were spotted off of the trail, and all were close to the shoreline. Binoculars should be all you need to see and identify the diversity of birds that occur there.

Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area

Viewing opportunities for elk have been good with some animals visible most days. Best times are in the mornings and evenings. As the spring progresses elk should start spending more time in the timbered areas and less time in the open fields especially on warm days. Many of the bulls have shed their antlers and new antler growth is already visible. Look for bulls on the Fishhawk tract adjacent to Hwy. 202. Other elk may be visible along Hwy. 202 or the first 1.5 miles on Beneke Creek Road. Please remember that areas posted as Wildlife Refuge are closed to public access.

Migratory species that have recently returned to the wildlife area include band-tailed pigeons, violate-green swallows, tree swallows, and wood ducks. Look for band-tailed pigeons near viewing areas. Swallows can be seen gliding over open fields and checking out nest boxes along fences near viewing areas. Wood ducks, hooded mergansers, and mallards have been seen on the shallow pond areas, in fields with standing water, and along creeks.

Wildlife Area Parking Permits are required on the Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area.

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