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Weekly Recreation Report: Northwest Zone

March 28, 2017

 Northwest Zone Fishing

Limit of hatchery Steelhead from the Alsea River. -Photo by Sean Kearney-

Weekend fishing opportunities:

  • The Nestucca, Trask, and Wilson rivers are dropping into shape and may offer some decent steelhead fishing by the weekend.
  • The following North Coast locations were stocked last week with hatchery trout: Cape Meares Lake, Coffenbury Lake, Cullaby Lake, Devil’s Lake, Hebo Lake, Lake Lytle, Loren’s Pond, Nedonna Pond, Seaview Lake, Smith Lake, South Lake, Spring Lake, Tahoe Lake, Town Lake, and Vernonia Pond. Lorens Pond was stocked this week, and access has been restored.

 Send us your fishing report

We’d love to hear about your recent fishing experiences. 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.


Most of the North Coast lakes were stocked with trout this week. Water temps are great and fish should be hungry, so go catch them!

So far this season, Town Lake near Pacific City has been stocked with nearly 200 surplus summer steelhead from Cedar Creek Hatchery. In addition, 66 early run winter steelhead were released there on Jan. 11. Nehalem Hatchery released 200 surplus winter steelhead into Vernonia pond, 57 into Lost Lake and 60 into Lake Lytle. These fish get fairly active in the lake and offer a unique fishing experience, especially when the rivers are blown out. Once in the lake they are considered “trout” and do not require a Combined Angling Tag. Anglers are reminded, however, that only one trout per day over 20 inches may be retained, and these fish will almost all be in that size range.

Trout stocking began the week of March 20 in most district lakes. The 2017 trout stocking schedule is available online.


The trout stocking schedule for 2017 is available online and trout have been stocked in some lakes. Fishing for the various warm water fish species are slow as water temperatures remain cold. There are numerous lakes in the Florence area that can provide good opportunity.


Steelhead fishing is open on the Alsea River and listed tributaries. Fishing has picked up on the north fork around the hatchery. Casting spinners, drifting bait or using a bobber and jig can be effective.

KILCHIS RIVER: steelhead

The Kilchis is in good shape. Fishing has been a little slow but there are steelhead throughout the system.


The Necanicum should be in decent shape this week. Mostly wild fish are in the catch this time of year, along with a few dark hatchery fish.

NEHALEM RIVER: steelhead

This year’s weather is definitely putting the “winter” in winter steelhead fishing. The Nehalem is high and muddy and may be that way through the weekend. Check current river levels before heading out. Steelhead should be well distributed in the system by now.

The Salmonberry River should produce some good fishing opportunity as we approach the peak of the run. Anglers are reminded to check with the Port of Tillamook Bay about access along the railroad right of way.

The North Fork Nehalem has some opportunity for mostly wild steelhead this time of year, although the occasional hatchery fish is still present.

Fishing the Nestucca
Fishing in the Nestucca River
-Photo by Kathy Munsel-


The Nestucca is high and off color again but should be dropping into shape for the weekend. This is generally a good time of year to be on the Nestucca and there should be hatchery fish and wild fish throughout the system. All the usual techniques such as side drifting, float fishing, drift fishing, or pulling plugs or divers and bait should be effective. During high water use brighter colors and larger presentations.

Three Rivers hatchery fish should be winding down this time of year but this small tributary will drop and clear much quicker than the Nestucca and could be a good option for bank fishing this week.

SALMON RIVER: steelhead

The Salmon River is open for wild and hatchery steelhead. Fishing is fair. Wild winter steelhead can be retained on the Salmon River. Daily and annual bag limit on wild winter steelhead are 1/day and 3/year. Casting spinners, drifting bait or using a bobber and jig can be effective.

SILETZ RIVER: steelhead

Steelhead fishing is fair. Drift boaters are having success from Moonshine Park to Siletz and bank anglers are catching hatchery fish in the Siletz gorge. Casting spinners, drifting bait or using a bobber and jig can be effective.

SIUSLAW RIVER: Chinook, steelhead

The Siuslaw River and Lake Cr. are open for hatchery winter steelhead. Fishing is fair. Casting spinners, drifting bait or using a bobber and jig can be effective.

TRASK RIVER: steelhead

When conditions have been good, the Trask has been fishing well this season. It should be dropping into shape mid-week and through the weekend. Check the river levels before heading out this weekend. There are steelhead throughout the system. During high water use brighter colors and larger presentations. The Trask has mostly wild fish, but the occasional hatchery fish is caught.

WILSON RIVER: steelhead

Fishing has been a little slow the past week, mostly due to the high water (again!), but the Wilson should be dropping into prime shape by mid-week and into the weekend, and there are plenty of hatchery and wild fish throughout the system. It’s always a good idea to check the river levels before heading out. There are still some big fish coming off the Wilson this year. All the usual techniques such as side drifting, float fishing, drift fishing, or pulling plugs or divers and bait should be effective. During high water use brighter colors and larger presentations.

YAQUINA RIVER: steelhead

The Yaquina River and Big Elk Cr. are open for steelhead. Fishing is fair. Wild winter steelhead can be retained on Big Elk Cr. with a daily and annual bag limit of 1/day and 3/year. The Yaquina River is open for hatchery winter steelhead. Casting spinners, drifting bait or using a bobber and jig can be effective.

  Northwest Zone Hunting


Cougar are most effectively taken by using predator calls. However, cougar densities are relatively low on the north coast. Successful hunters, remember you must check in cougar (hide and skull) at an ODFW office within 10 days of harvest and bring them in unfrozen. It’s also a good idea to prop their mouths open with a stick after harvest for easier tissue sampling, teeth collection and tagging.

 Northwest Zone Wildlife Viewing

black brant
Black Brant Trio
- Photo by Dave Budeau-

Wintering ducks, geese, coots and grebes are on North Coast estuaries and lakes in good numbers. Most of the ducks are dabblers, such as pintails, widgeon and mallards, and are usually seen on mudflats or in shallow tidal areas during lower stages of the tides. When pastures are flooded, many of these dabblers will seek them out for foraging. Look for diving ducks (e.g. scaup, buffleheads and ring-necked ducks) on lakes or deeper parts of estuaries. Last, but not least, are the sea ducks, such as scoters, which are found on the lowest parts of the estuaries, near the confluence with the ocean. A good pair of binoculars are generally all that is needed to find and identify the birds by species.

Late March kicks off the spring whale-watching season, when gray whales start their migration from the warm waters of southern California and Baja to the food-rich waters of the Bering Sea. There are many locations on the north coast to observe these migrating giants of the sea, including (but not limited to) Cape Kiwanda and Cape Lookout (near Pacific City), Cape Meares (near Oceanside), Neah-Kah-Nie Mtn. and Cape Falcon (north of Manzanita), and Silver Point and Tillamook Head (near Cannon Beach). During the last week of March, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept. hosts Whale Watching Spoken Here, a program where trained volunteers help visitors find whales from some the above-mentioned sites and others. Regardless of how you go about it, if you’re interested in watching the whales, bring a good pair of binoculars and/or a spotting scope. Whales can be seen off of the Oregon coast well into April.


Brant are a type of goose that are only seen in shallow estuaries where there is a lot of eelgrass – their favorite food. On the north coast, they prefer Netarts Bay because of its relatively undeveloped nature, where you can find them in the far southwestern corner of the estuary. Brant also use the more remote western portion of Tillamook Bay on occasion where eelgrass flats are abundant. A spotting scope is a must for viewing these birds.

Three Arch Rocks NWR near Oceanside is often home to bald eagles and peregrine falcons roosting there during the winter months, looking for prey. Another common resident to the refuge on the small rock on the east side of the refuge (Seal Rock) is a group of Steller sea lions. A cousin to the smaller and darker California sea lion, they spend almost all of their time there when they’re not feeding in ocean waters. Binoculars are generally adequate for viewing, but spotting scopes are helpful in finding the peregrines.

American Bald Eagle
American Bald Eagle
-Photo by Cathy Nowak-


The Twilight Bald Eagle Sanctuary is located just off Hwy. 30 on Burnside Road, near the community of Svensen. During the winter, bald eagles can be seen roosting in large trees along the edge of Columbia River’s Wolf Bay. The bay also holds a lot of wintering waterfowl, including both dabblers and divers. Great blue herons are also common in the marsh areas. The facility has a good viewing platform that even illustrates some of local history, such as the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Bring your spotting scope to optimize your viewing experience.

Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area

Elk viewing has been excellent at Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area. Although elk have been visible throughout the day on the Fishhawk Tract, best viewing times are from about 9 a.m. to noon. Good places to look are the Fishhawk Tract along Hwy. 202 and the Beneke Tract along the first 1.5 miles on Beneke Creek Road. Brochures with maps of the area are available at the main viewing area kiosk along Hwy. 202.

Visitors are reminded that areas posted as Wildlife Refuge are closed to public access. Posted portions of the Beneke Tract are closed to entry during any open Saddle Mt. Unit elk season, Aug. 1 - March 15 (see big game regulations for exceptions).

Wildlife Area Parking Permits are required on the Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area.

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