May 25, 2015

Columbia Gorge Fishing Reports


May 25, 2015

This week marks another significant change in the fishing opportunities this week as many of our local streams open up for trout fishing.  The following is a basic briefing of the fishing synopsis for our local streams

East Fork of the Hood River:  Open for catch and release trout from May 23 to October 31.  NOT OPEN FOR STEELHEAD OR SALMON

West Fork of the Hood River:  Closed to all angling above Punchbowl Falls.

Hood River (Main Branch): Open for catch and release trout until October 31.  It is also open for two fin-clipped steelhead year round.  All trout over 20” are considered steelhead.  Open for two fin-clipped adult Chinook salmon and five fin-clipped jack Chinook salmon until June 30. 

Eagle Creek near Bonneville Dam:  Open for catch and release trout from May 23 until October 31.  It’s also open for fin-clipped steelhead and salmon until August 15. 

Deschutes RiverThere is no salmon season this spring.  Two trout 10-13” may be retained.  Two fin-clipped steelhead may be retained, but there is no bait allowed except for the three miles below Sherar’s Falls. 

Klickitat River:  Currently open below Lyle Falls (mile 1.4) on Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.  The entire river opens on Monday, June 1.  From the best that we can interpret the rules; retention of fin-clipped steelhead will be mandatory as of July 1.  You will be required to kill hatchery steelhead and you must stop angling once you have reached your limit.  There will be more on this later, I am sure. 
There has been an “emergency” rule change to increase the limit to three fin-clipped steelhead and up to two hatchery (fin-clipped) Chinook, but no more than three fish may be retained.  Only two of those fish may be hatchery Chinook. 

White Salmon River:  From the old, dilapidated bridge below the old powerhouse upstream to Northwestern Lake bridge:  From May 23 to June 30, two hatchery (fin-clipped) fish may be retained, either salmon or steelhead.  From July 1-31, the limit increases to three.  It appears that retention of hatchery steelhead will be mandatory here too. 
Trout fishing is open on the White Salmon from the first Saturday in June (June 6) upstream of the dilapidated bridge near the powerhouse until October 31.  Trout fishing from the mouth up to the powerhouse bridge is closed until August 1. 

This does not solve the problem of lack of accessible water on the White Salmon.  It is a steady class IV-V whitewater with steep canyon walls and is not recommended to go down there without serious whitewater gear (do not take a framed boat down there, paddle rafts only!)  There are serious waterfalls on every section and no actual boat ramps.  The traditional bait hole at the mouth of the river is still very shallow and filled in with silt, but is starting to carve out a little bit.  It’s a beautiful river with no access and dangerous water, no hatchery or wild fish, just the occasional stray.  It will take twenty years for the stray steelhead and salmon to establish a decent population after the dam (with no fish passage) was removed a few years back. 

Rainbow Trout on the Deschutes River is still the number one destination for local anglers right now.  Although the stonefly hatch has reached its peak, fishing should remain really good for the next few weeks, but anglers must have a variety of flies in the arsenal.  Make sure that you have nymph and dry versions of PMDs/PEDs, yellow sallies, and caddis (mostly in drab/dark colors).  Be prepared, fish can turn on to any “micro hatch” that happens during the day with fish moving from one pattern to the next relatively quickly.  An angler must be prepared to change flies often.  Even if a pattern was working an hour and two riffles ago, there is no guarantee that fish will still be eating it later in the day. 

Remember that there is NO FISHING FROM A BOAT ON THE DESCHUTES and also, fishing on the Warm Springs Reservation is highly regulated, so check the regulations before you start fishing on the wrong side… Some sections require a permit and others are prohibited all together. 

Spring Chinook are still looking good, although catch rates have dropped a little bit lately.  Pressure has slowed quite a bit too.  There have been few, if any anglers (besides Ian) down at the mouth of the Hood River lately.  Salmon can be found in any of our local rivers right now, but check to make sure that they are open to angling before you go. 

The Clackamas River has been kicking out some summer steelhead as of late and pressure (and the flow) is pretty darn low.  Rivers that are closer to the ocean tend to get earlier returning fish than upstream tributaries like our local Columbia Gorge streams.  That being said, there are fresh steelhead in our rivers every month of the year, but chasing steelhead is a numbers game and you should go where the numbers are higher if you want success. 

Smallmouth Bass are an underrated fish around here.  They are big and plentiful and no one really ever fishes for them.  Look for rocky, shallow areas where wind and currents push against the rocks.  You will be mostly unsuccessful if you are fishing in wind-protected areas.  Unfortunately, smallies like to hang out in some of the windiest areas around.  There are tons of places on the Columbia River that a guy could catch a mess o’ bass, but the key is finding some place that is getting pounded by the wind.    

The John Day River is another great place to catch smallies.  The access is easy and the fish are plentiful.  They are not as big as their kin in the Columbia River, but they are tons of fun nonetheless.  Thunderstorms blew the river out last week, but it should clear up by mid-week. 

Lakes have been fishing really well.  Goose Lake is one of my favorite lakes to wet a line.  The fish are plentiful there and there are occasionally some bigguns.  Lost Lake has been fishing well too.  I really like Timothy Lake, Trillium Lake and Clear Lake up near Mt. Hood. Clear Lake is a little quieter than Timothy, but they can both produce some really nice fish.  Trillium is stocked with “jumbo” trout and has some real hogs in it, but it is a small lake that is popular with hikers, swimmers and day-drinkers, so solitude is rare during on a hot day. 

Laurence Lake is a nice option for stillwater anglers too.  It has bait restrictions and is mostly a catch and release fishery.  Occasionally, anglers catch bull trout, but its mostly stocked rainbow trout that are fin-clipped.  Anglers must release all bull trout and all unclipped rainbow or cutthroat trout. 

I would be fishing damselfly nymphs in most of the lakes during this time of year, but Callibaetis hatches can be thick, and I don’t know too many trout that will refuse to eat a well-presented leech pattern. 


As always, we are happy to talk fishing any time.  Give us a call if you have any specific questions on local rivers, gear, and tactics, or if you just want some encouragement to get out of the office.


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