Oregon Fishing Forecast - May 16, 2019
Portland/Metro - Spring Chinook fishing in the Willamette River has nosedived. Creel numbers show the worst week 19 of the season in more than a decade. Despite fair water conditions, warm weather and a high pressure system has caused the bite to tank. The water temperature has eclipsed 62 degrees and spring Chinook should be passing at a strong rate right now. The cumulative total to date is now over 10,000 spring Chinook, about a quarter of the 2019 overall prediction. Catch rates in the Multnomah Channel and mainstem below the St. Johns Bridge were nearly twice as good as the rest of the river. Hatchery fish made up a larger ratio of the catch in the lower reach too (80/20 vs. ~65/35 in the middle and upper reaches of the Willamette).
Shad are now in the Willamette, and as the water continues to warm, the bite will improve. This is a great fishery for kids, especially under sunny skies. Small spoons in nickel and gold work well under bright skies and chartreuse grubs works well under cloudy skies. The best action will take place above the mouth of the Clackamas River.
And speaking of the Clackamas, it's been another week of no recorded salmon or steelhead in the Clackamas creel check. Water conditions are getting low, but we're entering peak season for biters for both species.
The Sandy has also been mediocre at best. Summer steelhead are starting to show in better numbers, but spring Chinook here are also slow to show. The lower reaches of each of these two systems will be the more productive sections, but Clackamas springers have to run a gauntlet of trollers in the lower Willamette before getting to the Clackamas. The mainstem Columbia remains closed so Sandy River spring Chinook will be more apt to bite under current conditions.
The Columbia will open for hatchery steelhead starting May 16. Strong minus tides this weekend bode well for beach plunkers. Use brightly colored spin-n-glos close to shore for the best success. Keep lures scented since plunking is the only technique anglers employ where the fish have to come to you.
The Tillamook Report - Spring Chinook are in the Tillamook system although the Trask River bite has tapered. With dropping and clearing flows, Tillamook Bay itself will become the target for salmon, with big tides most productive in the upper bay, and during low tide exchanges, target springers along the jetty on the last half of outgoing. Mid-May has traditionally been the start of a peak 4-week season, but springers have made stronger showings later in the month of June in recent years. Spinners should work well in the upper bay on outgoing tide, trolled herring near high slack.
Halibut season opened fairly strong out of Newport, but Garibaldi produced fairly poorly last week. Anglers may find better success in the nearshore fishery although the nearshore halibut fishing is often more spotty than the all-depth openers.
Bottomfishing remains excellent and ocean crabbing is good too.
Astoria sturgeon fishing is off to a fair start and will only improve in the coming openers.
For a more detailed report, go to www.theguidesforecast.com
Bob Rees is a sixth generation Oregonian and a 20-year veteran fishing guide of Oregon's Northwest region. Bob Rees' column, The Guide's Forecast, has been a trusted fishing resource for over 16 years and will appear in the Thursday edition of the Portland Tribune. He welcomes the opportunity to partner with the Portland Tribune to bring the sport fishing community timely and accurate fishing information so you can catch more fish!