The recent cool-down and a little early fall rain has been a welcome event for anglers across our region. The largest opportunity for anglers in Oregon is always trout: catch and release for wild trout and catch and keep for hatchery trout. The ODFW’s trout stocking program is winding down and in many locations has ended for the year. But typically what happens is the cooler fall temperatures often stimulate those hatchery fish still remaining in the numerous ponds and lakes that they were planted in and fall fishing can actually be very good.
The McKenzie River, both above and below Leaburg Dam, were seeded for the final time of the year last week with about 2,000 hatchery trout each. And Alton Baker Canal got several hundred trout last week too. In the case of Alton Baker, a very popular urban fishery, on the edge of downtown Eugene, the ODFW will continue to plant hatchery trout right up to the end of October at a rate of about a thousand per plant.
In the Willamette angling zone, Hills Creek, Dorena and Foster Reservoirs are all also scheduled to receive late-season infusions of fresh hatchery trout that should carry those fisheries well into winter and with the accumulation already in place maybe even into next year. A visit to myodfw.com will bring up the now modest list of locations in the Northwest and Willamette Angling Zones that are still on the stocking schedule.
One other local fishery that will also hold up, often into December, is our run of hatchery summer steelhead in the Willamette River system. The rivers include the Santiam, the McKenzie and the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. At press time the run size was approaching 6,000 steelhead and it also looks like the run isn’t over yet either. Although in relatively small daily numbers as compared to last June. Summer steelhead are still entering the system and I expect the migration of steelhead into the upper Willamette system to continue for at least the next four weeks.
Like trout, steelhead have also benefited from the cooler temperatures, the fish became more active and that has been reflected in the numbers of steelhead that have been recently landed. Again this year’s summer steelhead run is not a “great” one, I would like to see numbers in excess of 10,000 and that would still only be “good.” But this year’s run is decent and is one that you should not overlook. Diving plug, spinners and wet flies are all effective and in the fall fly fishing becomes particularly effective.
A rough ocean has persisted through much of the late summer and last week a sampling from several ports on the central Oregon coast were sadly consistent with the rough ocean conditions. Anglers fishing out of Depoe Bay did the best, each angler accounting for 1.17 fish each based on a shape size that included 205 coho and 3 Chinook. Out of Newport it was only 0.40 salmon per anger with 107 coho and no Chinook in the sampling. Winchester was slightly better at 0.50 salmon per angler with 78 coho 12 Chinook and finally at Charleston, it was 1.06 salmon per angler with 17 coho and 1 Chinook sampled at the port docks.
Remember the Siuslaw and all its tributaries remain closed to all salmon fishing until the start of the winter steel-head in November. A disappointment to those of us that also fish on Winchester Bay is that an inside-the-bay retention season for wild coho has yet to be set. With very few hatchery coho and the expectations of low numbers of Chinook all up and down the coast, it leaves a pretty sizable hole in central coast bay fishing opportunities and not much to be excited about.
It’s a different scene on the Coos Bay where an in-the-bay wild coho retention season is currently underway and runs until Oct. 15. With a daily bag limit of one wild coho and a seasonal limit of three as part of a two-salmon daily limit, on the Alsea River wild coho retention opened on Sept. 15 and will remain open only until the 30th. It’s a “one and done” season on the Alsea, meaning that you are only allowed to kill one wild coho as part of a two-salmon limit for the entire 2022 season. In the Siletz Bay, it’s also a one-and-done season for coho but like Coos Bay, the season will remain open until Oct. 15.
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