Anglers Log, Outdoors

Anglers Log: Chinook season has likely peaked

Let me start by wishing all of you a happy and safe 4th of July weekend, we have a wonderful stretch of sunny and warm days in our forecast and I hope you are all able to take advantage of the delightful Oregon summer weather. …

The number of spring salmon reaching our local rivers will likely fall considerably short of the 2023 NOAA Marine Services predictions. Although over 18,000 chinook have passed over the Willamette Fall at Oregon City. About 2/5th of the run are Santiam River fish but the balance are heading to the McKenzie, Coast Fork of the Willamette and to the upper basin’s largest tributary, the Middle Fork of the Willamette. 

The fishing has been generally fair to good in the last week but unless there are a bunch of chinook hiding somewhere below the Willamette Falls we may, just this week, have seen the peak of this season’s run arrive in the south valley.  Good news is the run looks ample enough to provide for some fair to good salmon fishing through the July 4th holiday.  “Back bouncing” from your drift boat or under a “slip bobber” from the bank.  Freshly cured salmon eggs, live sand shrimp or a combination of both baits secured by an egg loop at the hook. Accounts for the largest percentage of salmon hooked and landed in our local rivers every spring. This year is no different, it is an egg and shrimp show.

Even better news, In preparation for the long 4th holiday weekend, the ODFW has been very busy stocking mostly rainbow trout but in some locations kokanee salmon. Into lakes and rivers essentially across the entire state of Oregon.  Traditionally Oregonians and the thousands of tourists that visit often take the opportunity to extend their Independence Day celebrations into the following week. With plans that are often anchored around camping and fishing at or near one of our popular rivers or lakes. Responding to tradition the ODFW ramped up last week and continued to spread trout across the state right to the eve of the 4th holiday. The locations are numerous and include several southern Willamette Valley rivers and lakes. Top of the list, the Crown Jewel of western Oregon trout fishing, the McKenzie River received a generous portion of hatchery trout last week. Bring the total number of hatchery trout spread by boat from Forest Glen Landing in Blue River down to Hendricks Park near Walterville to nearly ten thousand trout.  This is on top of several other distributions of hatchery trout on the McKenzie that began in late April. 

First timer McKenzie Wills and her father Evan on a calm stretch of the McKenzie River. McKenzie had a pretty good day of fishing, she was one for two and made it clear that the fish was for grandma.

Several local small creeks, near to state and Federal forest campgrounds but close enough to town for a day outing. Also received what in some cases will be the only distribution of hatchery trout for the season. In the Willamette drainage, Salmon Creek near Oakridge, Fall Creek above Fall Creek Reservoir and McKenzie a tributary, Blue River above Blue River Reservoir. All received plenty of trout to keep anglers occupied well into the fall. These are wonderful wading streams, in fairly remote parts of Lane County with poor cell phone reception. So in addition to my wading/walking staff, I carry a small 1st aid kit, water, snacks and a modest amount of fishing gear makes negotiating trails much easier. There are no gear restrictions on these fun little creeks so in addition to flies and lures, organic baits are also allowed. Also on the McKenzie, Leaburg Lake has a lot of easy bank access and was planted with several hundred hatchery trout this week too.  Lastly, for all of you wanting to avoid the holiday weekend crowds, with plans of a “staycation”?  But still wanting to do a little productive trout fishing, the Alton Baker canal in downtown Eugene was stocked this week with nearly 1,000 legal sized trout. 

A similar scenario is in place across the state, the ODFW has sent the last few weeks gearing up. Citizen anglers and the thousands from across the country that visit the Beaver State will find some of the best early summer fishing conditions of the last five years. With lakes and rivers stocked with thousands of hatchery trout, Kokanee and resident bass, with wonderful water quality… It’s summertime in Oregon, let’s go fishing.


In my June 14 column I reported the fall chinook retention limits on the Siuslaw River for 2023 as a 1 per day 5 per season limit. Based on further information gathered by the ODFW and shared at a June 14th press conference. That the “chinook limit will likely be reconsidered” and will potentially be lowered to a 1 per day, two chinook per season. To that seasonal limit on chinook the ODFW added a one coho per season limit. The final decision will come in the second week in July, but I do expect the limit on salmon to be lowered to the suggested 1 & 2 and 1 & 1 limit. 



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