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Best bets for winter fishing

Trout and steelhead top the list

Oregon anglers relish the fact they can fish year-round. With the official start of winter just a few weeks away, it’s time to “fish out” the fingerless gloves, toe warmers and thermal underwear.

Winter whale watching

This year it’s a DYI adventure

It’s that time of year, when whales travel south along the Oregon coast. While there won’t be a visit to the Depoe Bay Whale Watching Center or with a volunteer from the Watching Spoken Here program (due to the Coronavirus), you can still go on your own. An Oregon State Parks has put together a brochure, Oregon Coast Whale Watching, includes a map with the best whale watching sites and tips for whale watching. So, bring a pair a binoculars and scan the horizon slowly to catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures.

Pick up the 2021 big game and fishing regulations

The new regulations are available online or at most ODFW license vendors. Check this article for a summary of the major changes from 2020.

Gifts for hunters and anglers

Ideas for your favorite outdoors person

Stumped for gift giving ideas? We’ve got you covered with tons of ideas for both anglers and hunters.

Report your 2020 hunt

It's not too early

If all that’s left of your 2020 hunt are the memories, there’s still one last thing to do. You need to report your hunt and why wait until the last minute? You can report online or with an ODFW license agent. ODFW offices remain closed to walk-in traffic.

FISHING

NW FISHING

Send us your fishing report

We’d love to hear about your recent fishing experience. Send us your own fishing report through ODFW Fishing Reports―the information will be forwarded to the local biologist who may use it to update various ODFW resources such as the weekly Recreation Report.

FISHING UPDATES

LAKE, PONDS, RESERVOIRS

North Coast lakes are done with trout stocking until next spring, but many lakes have holdover trout from earlier season’s stockings. Warmwater fishing should be over for the year as water temperatures are too cold to keep those species active.

Some mid-coast lakes are stocked with trout in the spring and have some hold over opportunities as well as native cutthroat trout that remains open all year. These lakes include: Big Creek Reservoirs, Mercer, Munsel, Cleawox, and Siltcoos.

Ollala Lake (mid-coast district) is owned and operated by Georgia Pacific in Toledo and will remain closed through the fall due to COVID restrictions and social distancing concerns.

Wild coho fisheries in Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes are open and provide a unique opportunity to catch a coho in a coastal lake.

Lakes and ponds to fish this week:

· Town Lake has been getting some surplus summer steelhead from Cedar Creek hatchery this fall. These fish get surprisingly active in the lake and can be a fun and unique experience. Last updated 12/2/20.

· Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes are open for Coho fishing. Late November to mid-December is typically the peak for these fisheries. 12/9/20

RIVERS AND STREAMS

Fall Chinook fishing is winding down a little on the North Coast as many of the fish are on the spawning grounds now. But there are still a few fresh fish coming in and some opportunity.

It’s definitely early, but a handful of steelhead are showing up on the North Coast, especially on the streams that get early hatchery fish like Three Rivers, North Fork Nehalem and the Necanicum.

Fall Chinook fishing is pretty much over on the mid-coast streams. Time to get the steelhead gear out and switch species. The Alsea River is the best chance for an early returning winter steelhead on the mid-coast.

Rivers and streams to fish this week:

· The Lower Columbia Tributaries (Big Creek, Klaskanine River, Gnat Creek), North Fork Nehalem, Necanicum, and Three Rivers all have early returning hatchery steelhead and will be the best opportunity.

· Fall Chinook is mostly done, but there are still a few fresh fish coming in and limited opportunity to catch them. The Kilchis normally get some late Chinook, and should be in good shape following the coming rains.

· The Alsea River is low and clear but is producing a few winter steelhead and has an early returning component that peaks in December and January.

RECENTLY STOCKED

Where’s the stocking schedule?

Our plans to begin posting the trout stocking schedule have been scrambled by the recent wildfires in the state. Several state-owned hatcheries were damaged in the fires, and thousands of fish were lost or released early.

It will take us a while to re-figure the current schedule to reflect these changes.

In the meantime, trout stocking is essentially done for 2020, except for a few locations noted in the Recreation Report.

TROUT STOCKING MAPS: Find your place to fish

Check out the ODFW fishing and trout stocking maps to find nearby fishing locations, driving directions and descriptions of amenities.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: closures, special events, etc.

2020 wildfire effects on fishing: Check before you go

ODFW can’t tell you whether to go fishing or not. We will try to steer you to information about fire closures, access issues and air quality considerations so you can make an informed decision about whether to go.

You’ll now find all wildfire information related to hunting, fishing and recreating, on both public and private land, in one central location on MyODFW.com. This page will be updated frequently, so be sure to check again before you go.

Tips to recreate responsibly

We continue to urge anglers and others recreating outside to stay close to home, keep your social distance, and travel safely. Here’s more information about how to recreate responsibly.

Ollala Lake (mid-coast district) is owned and operated by Georgia Pacific in Toledo and will remain closed through the fall due to COVID restrictions and social distancing concerns.

UPDATES BY WATERBODY

ALSEA RIVER: winter steelhead

Winter steelhead fishing opened on the popular NF Alsea fishery Dec. 1. Low and clear water has created some tough conditions to start the season but the forecasted rain this weekend will stir things up and get fish moving throughout the system. Target the lower portions of the mainstem Alsea River until the river levels increase and get fish heading for the hatchery located on the NF Alsea.

****Reminder****The popular winter steelhead bank fishery around the Alsea Hatchery remains open but the hatchery grounds are closed to the public. Anglers are required to park in the designated parking lot to access the river and are not allowed to park near or enter the hatchery grounds. Please be respectful of the hatchery staff and follow these rules to ensure this popular fishery remains open for the 2020/2021 season.

Cutthroat trout fishing closed for the season on Oct. 31. Last updated 12/2/20.

KILCHIS RIVER: Chinook, steelhead

The Kilchis is known for late season Chinook, and with a good freshet predicted for this weekend it should be in prime shape early next week. This will be one of the better opportunities on the North Coast to hook a late Chinook.

It’s still early for steelhead on the Kilchis, which gets mostly all wild fish. Last updated 12/9/20.

LOWER COLUMBIA TRIBUTARIES (Big Cr, Klaskanine R, Gnat Cr) steelhead

Early returning hatchery steelhead should be hitting these streams, and once the flows start to drop from this weekend’s predicted rains conditions should be good. Last updated 12/9/20.

NECANICUM: steelhead

Steelhead fishing on the Necanicum was slow last week, probably due to low flow. With a good rain predicted for this weekend, and an early hatchery run, this small river should be in great condition and have some opportunity early next week.

Chinook on the Necanicum is mostly over, with most fish actively spawning or spawned out, and in pretty rough shape. Last updated 12/9/20.

NEHALEM RIVER and NORTH FORK NEHALEM: steelhead

Winter steelhead fishing was slow on the North Fork last week due to low and clear conditions, but the hatchery run has started and a few fish are being caught. Heavy rains predicted for this weekend should bring the river up and once it starts to drop conditions will be good, and hopefully fish will be moving.

The mainstem Nehalem is mostly a wild steelhead river and as such it is still a little early.

Chinook on the Nehalem are mostly over with most fish actively spawning or spawned out, and in pretty rough shape. Last updated 12/9/20.

NESTUCCA RIVER: Chinook, steelhead

The Nestucca is just getting started for winter steelhead with a few early hatchery fish showing up. Numbers will still be low, but the rains predicted for this weekend should get fish moving, and once the river starts dropping there should be opportunity. The lower river is probably the best bet.

Three Rivers should be getting some hatchery steelhead back, and with decent rain and high water predicted for this weekend; it could be a good bet.

Chinook on the Nestucca should be winding down as most of the salmon are actively spawning, or spawned out. There is usually a late push of fresh Chinook into the Nestucca in December, but numbers will be low, and they tend to move through the fishery quickly. Last updated 12/9/20.

SALMON RIVER: winter steelhead

Winter steelhead fishing is open on the Salmon River and should start to pick up later in December and into January. The peak for winter steelhead on the Salmon River is typically January to March. Last updated 11/18/20.

NOTE: Reminder, the Salmon River hatchery remains closed to walk in anglers. Anglers can use access points upstream and downstream of the hatchery to access those traditional fishing locations.

SILETZ RIVER: winter steelhead

Winter steelhead are starting to show up on the Siletz River. It’s still early but a few fish have been caught. The forecasted rain this weekend will move fish around and improve conditions. After the rain expect fish to be distributed throughout the system but the lower portions of the river will be best until more fish arrive in January. The typical peak for Siletz winter steelhead is January to March.

The 4.0 mile bridge (aka Steel Bridge) in the Siletz gorge is open to motorized vehicles on the weekends only. Anglers can walk/bike in the road during the weekdays. There is a parking area located at the 1-mile gate where anglers can walk/bike upstream from there. Last updated 12/9/20.

SILTCOOS AND TAHKENITCH LAKES: coho

Coho fishing in Siltcoos and Tahkenitch has slowed down with the dry and clear weather. The forecasted rain this weekend will stir things up and get some fish moving throughout the lake systems. Mid-November to early December is typically the peak for these lake coho fisheries. Last updated 12/9/20.

SIUSLAW RIVER: winter steelhead

Winter steehead will start to show up in the Siuslaw system in December and typically peak in January and February. The Whitaker Creek area on the Siuslaw is the best location to target the returning hatchery fish and should improve when we get the next shot of rain which is forecasted for this weekend.

Hatchery fish are also planted in Lake Creek and are released into Green Creek. These returning hatchery fish will start to show up in December and peak in January and February. Last updated 12/9/20.

TRASK RIVER: steelhead, Chinook

It’s still a bit of an in between time of year on the Trask River; fall Chinook is winding down with many fish actively spawning or spawned out, while it’s still pretty early for the winter steelhead run. That said, there’s probably a catchable fish of either species somewhere in the system, and the freshet predicted for this weekend may bring in more. Last updated 12/9/20.

For anglers fishing near the hatchery, please be advised that Trask Hatchery is currently CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC. There have been compliance issues recently; please DO NOT walk past the hatchery closed signs.

The hatchery grounds closure does not affect fishing on the river itself, only access through the hatchery grounds. During the hatchery grounds closure, all vehicle and angler access is prohibited until further notice to ensure public safety while the construction is in progress.

Parking is available to anglers on Chance Rd. near the entrance to the hatchery, and anglers can continue to access the river on the trail from the parking area but from there must remain on the riverbank without accessing the main hatchery grounds. Please remember to practice social distancing.

WILSON RIVER: Chinook, steelhead

It’s still slightly on the early side for winter steelhead on the Wilson, but with a good freshet predicted for this weekend I would expect a few fish to show up. Watch the river levels and wait for the river to start dropping for the best chance to connect with an early fish.

Fall Chinook fishing on the North Coast is winding down as many of the fish have moved above the fishery and are actively spawning, or spawned out. The Wilson always gets a few late but bright fish, so there’s still some opportunity, but the numbers will be low. Last updated 12/9/20.

Above Jordan Creek, the Wilson River is closed to all salmon angling (including catch and release). Steelhead fishing is open in the upper river, but anglers MAY NOT target salmon.

YAQUINA RIVER: winter steelhead

Winter steelhead will start to show up in the Yaquina/Big Elk in December and typically peak from January to March. Last updated 12/2/20.

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