WILLAMETTE RIVER: The record rainfall this past weekend has left the Willamette high, on the rise, and very muddy. When conditions reach this point it can take several days for the river to round back into shape. With more heavy rain in the forecast before the weekend it will likely be early next week before we see fishable conditions on the Lower Willamette again.
Winter steelhead passage has been slow so far this season and the high, turbid water has brought fish movement to a near standstill. Chinook are still nowhere to be seen but the first ones are usually caught in early to mid-February. Trolling or plunking near the mouth of the Clackamas for steelhead is one good option in the Willamette right now, as is catch and release sturgeon fishing. One thing to say for the muddy water conditions is that the sturgeon dont mind it one bit.
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 Feb. 7 has flows way up and rising at 80,000 cfs, the water temperature at 42°F, and visibility extremely poor at less than 1.0 ft.
The Middle Fork Willamette River is open to bait below Dexter Dam only. 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.