Apr 11, 2016

Columbia Gorge Fishing Report (4/11/16)

Winter Steelhead fishing is winding down across the area.  The hardcore steelhead junkies are still hitting it like it's batting practice and catching fish too, but effort and catch rates are declining in general as many anglers are focusing on the spring trout fishing.

After months of swinging away, Ryan finally got his first Hood River steelhead on Sunday evening and it was a nice little piece of redemption after a winter of missed opportunities and empty swings.

**Update on the Hood and Deschutes River Spring Chinook Season:

Hood, Deschutes Rivers open for spring chinook in 2016
THE DALLES, Ore. - The popular spring chinook fisheries on the Deschutes and Hood rivers will open this spring.

Deschutes River
According to Jason Seals, ODFW fish biologist, managers are predicting over 4,000 adult hatchery fish will return to the Deschutes, which is well above management goals to obtain hatchery broodstock and other management needs.

"If the run comes back as predicted, chinook salmon fishing on the Deschutes should be excellent," he said.

"The Deschutes River fishery below Sherars Falls is extremely popular because it offers a great chance to catch a Columbia River spring chinook from the bank," he continued. "In recent years, as many as 10,000 anglers have participated in the fishery annually."

Here is a summary of the temporary rules for the Deschutes River adopted by ODFW:

  *   Open for adipose fin-clipped chinook from May 1 through July 31 from the mouth of the Deschutes at the I-84 bridge upstream to Sherars Falls.
  *   The catch limit is one adult adipose fin-clipped salmon per day, and five adipose fin-clipped jack salmon per day.
  *   All non-adipose fin-clipped chinook salmon must be released unharmed.
  *   It is unlawful to continue to fish from Sherars Falls downstream to the upper railroad trestle after taking a daily bag limit of one adult chinook salmon.

Hood River

Managers are predicting far fewer adult fish returning to the Hood River-about 970 hatchery fish.
According to Seals, the Hood River offers another good opportunity to catch a spring chinook from the bank but in conditions that are much less crowded than on the Deschutes.
In addition, the removal of Powerdale Dam in the summer of 2010 expanded the legal angling area and offers anglers considerably more room to spread out.

Here is a summary of the temporary rules for the Hood River adopted by ODFW:

*        Open for adipose fin-clipped chinook from April 15 through June 30 from the mouth to mainstem confluence with the East Fork, and the West Fork from the confluence with the mainstem upstream to the angling deadline 200 feet downstream of Punchbowl Falls.

*        The catch limit is two adult adipose fin-clipped salmon per day, and five adipose fin-clipped jack salmon per day.

All non-adipose fin-clipped chinook salmon must be released unharmed

This is good news for salmon anglers drooling at their chance to catch a delicious, fresh spring salmon.  You can always check the general regulations online before you go:  http://www.eregulations.com/oregon/fishing/pageFlip/
The Hood River regulations appear on page 49 and 50.

Rainbow Trout fishing on the Deschutes River has been good and getting better lately.  It is about time to start drowning stonefly nymphs under an indicator.  March Browns are hatching, but loads of fish are looking for a stonefly nymph first and foremost.  There are prediction of another early stonefly hatch this year.  From now through May should be epic.

Just a word on lakes: Laurence Lake is closed until April 22. We tend to get a few phone calls this time of year asking if the road is open or if the fishing is good, but regardless of the status of the road, the lake is closed.  If it warms up enough, there can be quite a few anglers on the water in April despite the closure.  Other lakes in the Gorge that are closed until April include Spearfish and Rowland.

Other lakes in the area are open, but access is limited due to snow.  I went up to the mountain on Wednesday to see if I could get into Timothy Lake.  The road had a little too much snow for me about a half mile from the highway with about nine to go.

I went over to Clear Lake instead and had to walk in about a mile from the snow blockage, but fishing was pretty good.  I only hooked four fish in six hours, but all four were toads.  I only put one in the net and it flopped out before I was able to snap a picture.  It was absolutely gorgeous up there and very serene to have such a big lake all to myself.  All the fish I hooked were on a brown woolly bugger stripped very slow near the bottom in 6-10' of water near the stumps.

Smallmouth Bass have been somewhat sporadic this past week, but there have been some really encouraging reports.  The Columbia River flows have increased dramatically, which has really messed with the basses' routines, but they really want to eat.  They have started chasing spinners, crankbaits and baitfish patterns when they are on the bite. Things will only get better too as spring gets further along.  Once the Columbia flow stays steady for a few days, the fish should get back into a good routine and be more consistent  They are not in the shallow backwaters yet, but it shouldn't be too far off.

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.

Local Water Flow Reports

Hood River:

Sandy The NOAA prediction site is way upriver from where most of us fish.  It tells us when the river will rise and drop, but does not reflect the flows that we see down below the Bull Run River.  For real-time conditions, we use the USGS site. 


Deschutes near Madras:

Deschutes at the mouth:

Columbia River water temperatures going through Bonneville Dam:

Andrew Perrault
Columbia Gorge Fishing Reports
Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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