OREGON: Angler Effort will Shift to the Lower Willamette for Spring Chinook

With the Columbia now closed, angler effort will shift to the lower Willamette for spring chinook. Catch rates slowed by the weekend although some boats fared well in Saturday’s Quest fishing tournament. Fishery managers will now be watching dam counts at Bonneville, making a run size update that will dictate further opportunity for both the sport and commercial fleets. Counts are jumping exponentially and are likely to peak late in the coming two weeks.

Although sturgeon are an option, very few will pursue keepers in the mainstem until late in June when the estuary fishery begins to take off. The Willamette remains full of sturgeon for catch and release opportunities.

This is the historical peak week for the Willamette fishery but anglers remain perplexed for the lack of success in recent days. Water clarity is improving as well as temperature but a steady rise in the river levels has put fish off. Dave Wacker of Portland went 2 for 3 at Sellwood Bridge on Monday however, taking both hatchery fish on slow trolled herring in about 25 feet of water. He was fishing with ace John Shmilenko who tallied number 29 and 30 for the season; about half of what he typically has harvested for this time of year.

Steelhead remain plentiful on the Clackamas River but given the high, cold flows this early in the season, spring chinook are likely to make another late season showing this year. River flows on the Clackamas and Sandy Rivers are scheduled to rise through the weekend, making them both poor options for salmon and steelhead. Plunkers stand the best chance to take fish under these conditions but trollers working the lower ΒΌ mile of the Sandy can take upper Columbia bound chinook this time of year.

Caution is advised on the McKenzie as the water level came up late last week. While water color has remained fair, it was too high early this week to fish well. Summer steelhead have been taken on jigs, spinners and flies.

A few summers have been taken on the South Santiam but it’s early yet for best results. A few were reported over the weekend on the North Santiam as well.

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