the film

Chinook are (Finally) on the Move

by Michael Teague
News-Register, May 3, 2007

Chinook counts at Bonneville Dam have topped 30,000 with daily numbers very strong. Look for the fishery at Drano Lake and Wind River to improve in the coming week. It's been slow to fair below McNary. The Columbia closed to springer fishing above Bonneville Dam on May 3.

Sturgeon fishing on the Columbia also picked up over the last Thursday through Sunday retention period with a good number of keepers taken. Herring and sand shrimp have been top baits. It's been fair in the gorge below Bonneville Dam. The new deadline is Marker 85. Fishing in the Bonneville Pool to The Dalles Dam has produced little to nothing.

In previous springer seasons, a disclaimer has been posted on the webpage which displays fish counts at Willamette Falls regarding the fact that information is delayed when fish are crossing at a high rate due to peak-season numbers. Counts are delayed recently as counters scramble to review video recordings of fish passage. It appears the floodgates have opened with very good water temperatures. Rain this week could stall the passage for a few days but it's time for these fish to madly migrate.

On May 25, 278 crossed and on the 26th, the counters saw 555 chinook, bringing the total to 1695. Chances are that thousands have crossed since that date. Water temps at the Falls hit 58 on April 30. It's time. Nearly 1,000 summer steelhead also have been counted.

While boaters in the lower Willamette are marking good numbers of spring chinook on depth finders, finding biters has been tough. It's a trolling show in the lower Willamette even on an outgoing tide with the waters of the Columbia backing into the river, slowing the flow and frustrating anchor fishers. It possible to find enough current to sit on anchor around Oregon City.

Springer catches remain low with the most productive areas Multnomah Channel, both down low and at the head, and at Oregon City. About a dozen to 15 fish are being taken daily from each area. Prawn spinners have been at cause for the most hookups over the past week although historically trollers switch to spinners when the water hits 55 degrees.

A few springers have been taken above the Falls, but it's still a crap shoot. Anchor fishing Kwikfish is the routine here, parked in fish lanes near the bank.

Sturgeon fishing has been fair to good in the lower Willamette with the edge going to more experienced anglers who know where to fish and when. Sand shrimp are outfishing everything else for sturgeon but anglers are taking a few on smelt, squid and herring. Lower Portland Harbor near Swan Island has been productive.

With procreation the driving force at this time of year, smallmouth bass action has improved this week and should be good as it gets in the next couple of weeks in both the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Action will slow after these fish spawn. Practicing catch and release on all bass is a really good idea.

Fishing on the Clackamas has been slow in cold water with a few steelhead bring hooked and fewer springers.

The same event that frustrates anchor fishers on the Willamette - that of the Columbia backing up into the lower river, turning it into a virtual lake - signals the start of the spring chinook fishery on the Sandy. Trollers, start your engines. It's occurring now. Traditionally, rainbow spinners are the lure du jour in the Sandy.

North Santiam hopefuls should try from Green's Bridge downstream where warmer water offers the best chance of a hookup with a fresh hatchery summer steelhead.

A few springers are showing in the Tillamook system. Minus tides mid-May should provide a good opportunity for anglers trolling spinners in the upper bay.

A small number of spring chinook are being caught daily on the lower Nestucca. It is hoped that sufficient rain will fall this week to kick off the run. Summer steelhead also are in the system, but if the water is low and clear (as it is now) anglers should use long, light leaders in targeting them.

Despite the theft earlier this year of native steelhead form the holding tank at Cedar Creek Hatchery, late-season angler response has provided sufficient numbers of fish for a successful completion of the broodstock program again this year.

Crabbing has improved but still is only fair in Yaquina Bay.

The lower Umpqua has been kind to a few fishermen, providing them with springer hookups. The run isn't up to speed yet, but every chinook hooked encourages optimism. Smallmouth bass fishing still is slow but will improve as waters warm. Sturgeon fishing is slow but improving. Shad are starting to enter the Umpqua and have been seen moving through the Yellow Creek stretch.

Anglers are taking a few striped bass in the Coquille estuary.

Water temperatures and conditions are conducive for good spring chinook fishing on the lower Rogue. Unfortunately, the springers aren't showing up for anglers. Daily catches are in the low single digits. Steelheading on the upper Rogue is slowing. Sturgeon fishing is slow in the estuary but is expected to improve in coming weeks.

Surf perch fishing for specimens up to two pounds or larger has been very good with many anglers taking limits off southwest beaches.

Crabbing remains slow in bays and estuaries, good in the ocean.

Wickiup is producing good numbers of husky kokanee to trollers. Jigging has been less effective.

Crescent Lake is producing decent catches of brown trout to five pounds and lake trout to 10 pounds or better on trolled plugs. Snow is blocking access to Springs Campground so plan on launching at Crescent Lake Campground.

Trout and kokanee catches have been fair to good for trollers at Odell, but anglers should expect crushing crowds on the weekends.

A few fish are being taken daily at Shearer's Falls in the Deschutes, but it has been slow.

A free youth fishing event will take place from 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday May 5 at Sheridan Pond. ODFW volunteers will have all necessary tackle and how-to tips and will be giving away Zebco Ready Tackle Spincast Fishkits to three lucky kids. Over 2,000 legal size rainbows and 375 larger size trout will be planted for the event.

Another youth event will take place this Saturday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Vernonia Pond for which 800 trout will be planted in addition to the 2,000 stocked last week. Tackle and volunteer help from the Tualatin Valley Chapter of the Northwest Steelheaders will be available.

Carter Lake, Cleawox Lake, Cullaby Lake, Lost Lake (Clatsop County), Sunset Lake and Vernonia Pond are scheduled to be stocked in the Northwest Zone. Scheduled for stocking this week in the Willamette Valley are Bethany Pond, Commonwealth Lake, Dorman Pond, Henry Hagg Lake, Mt. Hood Pond, Roslyn Lake, Silver Creek Reservoir, Detroit Reservoir, Freeway Lake East, Hills Creek, Leaburg Lake, McKenzie below Leaburg Lake and Salt Creek.

Michael Teague
Chinook are (Finally) on the Move
News-Register, May 3, 2007

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