WILLAMETTE RIVER: The Lower Willamette continues to be unfishable for salmon anglers as poor water conditions remain in place with high flows, high turbidity, and plenty of debris moving down. It can take several days for the Willamette to clean up when this high, turbid water takes hold so anglers shouldnt expect to see much improvement until perhaps this weekend, as long as no significant rainfall moves into the area. Although these water conditions will affect salmon angling there is still some sturgeon fishing taking place with ODFW personnel recording many sublegals and oversize in the catch.
Winter steelhead passage continues to be very slow, and the turbid water still has a hold on fish passage at Willamette Falls. Not a single Chinook has passed at the falls so far this spring but there were a couple of confirmed catches prior to the high water moving in so there are some fish out there. Trolling or plunking near the mouth of the Clackamas for steelhead is one possible option in the Willamette right now as fish seek out the slightly cleaner Clackamas River water but a blown out Clackamas has made this a tough opportunity also. Due to the extreme high water many boat ramps on the Willamette have been closed temporarily including Sportcraft, Meldrum, and Gilbert.
Beginning Feb. 1, 2017, the use of barbed hooks is allowed when fishing for salmon, steelhead, or trout in Willamette River downstream of Willamette Falls (including Multnomah Channel and Gilbert River) and in lower Clackamas River upstream to Highway 99E Bridge. Barbless hooks are still required when fishing for sturgeon.
USGS hydrological data for the Willamette River on March 20 has flows high and increasing at 72,900 cfs, the water temperature holding near 48°F, and visibility at <1.0 ft.
The Middle Fork Willamette River is open to bait below Dexter Dam only. Reminder: Restrictions from Dexter Dam to appoximately 700 ft downstream to the markers: No angling from the north shore, from a floating device, or while wading (pg 44 in regulations). This river reach is open to retention of adipose fin-clipped salmon and steelhead and non-adipose fin-clipped steelhead greater than 24 inches in length. A Columbia River Basin Endorsement is required for anglers targeting salmon and steelhead in the Middle Fork Willamette below Dexter Dam.
The Middle Fork Willamette above Lookout Point and Hills Creek reservoirs is open to fishing using lures and artificial flies. All wild trout must be released upstream of Lookout Point Reservoir. The Middle Fork Willamette River is not stocked with hatchery trout.