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Weekly Recreation Report: Northwest Zone

March 3, 2015

 Northwest Zone Fishing

Send us your fishing report

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

Coffenbury Lake

Fishing on Coffenbury Lake

Most rivers and streams will re-open to trout on May 23, 2015.


Trout stocking is scheduled to resume in March. The latest trout stocking schedule is posted to the ODFW website. Stocking of Coffenbury, Cullaby, Lost, Vernonia, Cape Meares, Smith, Spring, and Lytle lakes has been moved to the week of March 2. This is 1-2 weeks earlier than originally planned. Some surplus hatchery steelhead have been released in Town Lake, Lorens Pond, Coffenbury Lake, Sunset Lake, Lost Lake and Vernonia Pond this winter.


The rainbow trout stocking program is underway with many of the mid coast lakes been stocked. Most water bodies will be stocked multiple times until early June. Be sure to check out the 2015 stocking schedule for the most up to date information.

Fishing for the various warm water fish species can be productive during the winter months. Anglers may need to target different areas of a lake (typically deeper) versus when fishing more shallow areas in the spring or summer.

ALSEA RIVER: steelhead

The winter steelhead fishery has slowed down as river conditions are low and clear. Look to fish the deeper holding water and use smaller more subtle presentations. This time of year more native fish tend to show up in the catch. Casting lures, bobber and jig/bait or drifting beads along the bottom can be effective techniques.

KILCHIS RIVER: steelhead

Winter steelhead fishing will likely be slow until we get more rain. With extended dry weather, the river is very low and clear. Look for mostly wild fish in the catch. Use light lines and small, subtle offerings, and approach the water stealthily.


Winter steelhead fishing should be slow until the next rain. Fish are spread through the system. Many hatchery fish are dark or spawned out, with more wild fish showing in the catch. Go to smaller offerings in the clear water, such as a bobber and jig. Boaters should use caution as woody debris can impede passage.


Winter steelhead fishing is slow in the north fork. Almost all hatchery fish are now dark or spawned out, and more wild fish are showing in the catch. Drift fishing, bobber and jig, or spinners have all produced some fish. Fishing should be fair to good in the mainstem Nehalem River basin, especially in the lower river. The lower river is in good fishable condition, with lower, clearer water the further upstream you go.

Anglers who catch a steelhead or salmon with numbered tag(s) are encouraged to report catch information via the internet or by calling ODFW at 503-842-2741 and asking for Derek Wiley. All live tagged fish that are not legal to retain or are voluntarily not kept should be released quickly and unharmed with tags intact.


Winter steelhead fishing should be slow to fair this week. Due to the extended dry weather the river is getting very low and clear. Fishing likely won’t improve until the next rain. Fish are spread throughout the system, with the best chance of a hatchery fish in the river below Blaine. Fish are being caught on a variety of techniques depending on the conditions.

SALMON RIVER: steelhead

Winter steelhead fishing is slow to fair. River conditions are low and clear. Anglers should focus on the deeper holding water. The river is open to harvest of wild winter steelhead (Jan. 1 – March 31).

Anglers are advised to read the new regulations as there are harvest restrictions and new deadlines in effect. The deadline for steelhead fishing is at the confluence with Prairie Creek which enters the Salmon River west of the Van Duzer rest area at the same point as where Sulpher Creek enters the Salmon River.

Fishing the Siletz
Fishing on the Siletz River
-Photo by Andy Walgamott-

SILETZ RIVER: steelhead

Steelhead fishing is slow as river conditions continue to drop and clear. New fish will continue to move in but this time of year tends to produce a good percent of native fish. Bank fishing in the upper gorge area or floating the lower reaches will produce the best results until the next good rain event. Typical steelhead tactics apply such as side drifting, bobber and jig / bait, or casting spoons or spinners.

SIUSLAW RIVER: steelhead

The winter steelhead fishery has slowed down in both the Siuslaw and Lake Creek as river conditions continue to drop and clear. Fishing the mid to lower river and focusing on the deeper holding water will produce the best results. The next good rain event should produce a final good push of fish for the season. 


Catch-and-release fishing for sturgeon should be fair to good. Fish the channel edges on the outgoing tides and move often until you find fish. Sand shrimp on the bottom is a good bet.

TRASK RIVER: steelhead

Winter steelhead fishing should be slow until more rains come. The river is low and clear. The catch is a mix of hatchery and wild fish. Fish are spread out, with some fish available in the north and south forks, but the best chance at bright fish will be in the lower river until the next storm. Drift fishing and bobber and jig or pink worm are good bets, with boaters also catching fish side drifting.

Anglers who catch a steelhead or salmon with numbered tag(s) are encouraged to report catch information via the internet or by calling ODFW at 503-842-2741 and asking for Derek Wiley. All live tagged fish that are not legal to retain or are voluntarily not kept should be released quickly and unharmed with tags intact.

WILSON RIVER: steelhead

Winter steelhead fishing should be slow as the river is low and very clear. Adjust your gear to these conditions by using lighter lines and smaller presentations. Fish will hold where there is cover; look for depth, choppy water, or large wood or boulders.

YAQUINA RIVER: steelhead

The winter steelhead fishery is slow in the Big Elk. River conditions are low and clear. The fishery is typically very slow for the rest of the season. Anglers are advised to watch for private property. Typical steelhead fishing tactics apply but the Big Elk is bed rock dominated and does have a lot of snags.

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  Northwest Zone Hunting

OPEN: COUGAR, NW PERMIT GOOSE (closes March 10, see regs)

Use the Oregon Hunting Map to see where to hunt.

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. See regulations for details.

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 Northwest Zone Wildlife Viewing

March and April are months where migrating shorebirds start showing up on north coast beaches. They typically are not shy of humans, but having binoculars handy to watch them from a distance minimizes disturbance to them.


Black Brant
Black Brant
- Photo by Greg Gillson-

Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge is located east of Pacific City and is situated mostly along Hwy 101. It is host to a wide variety of wintering Canada geese, many of which are the relatively rare Dusky variety. For best viewing, go to the refuge’s viewing area off Christensen Rd. and bring your optics.

Brant geese are common inhabitants of Netarts Bay during the winter months. This small, dark goose is generally rare in Oregon, wintering only in a few estuaries including Yaquina and Tillamook Bays as well. They feed exclusively on eelgrass that grows on tidal flats in the estuaries, and are generally shy of human activity. In Netarts Bay, look for them in the southwestern corner of the bay, along the base of Netarts Spit. For best viewing, bring your spotting scope.

With winter here, seabirds such as common murres and tufted puffins have left the near-shore rocks months ago at Three Arch Rocks and Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuges near Oceanside. Instead, bald eagles and peregrine falcons hang out at these and other near-shore rocks. It’s not unusual to find several bald eagles at Three Arch Rocks NWR. Bring you binoculars or spotting scope for best viewing.

Netarts Bay is home to sea ducks that are usually not seen in estuaries.  Perhaps due to its high salinity levels throughout the year, scoters of various types are often seen in the late winter and early spring months along the eastern edge of the bay, easily visible from the paved road.  Bringing binoculars along to view ensures great bird watching success.


Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area

Roosevelt Elk
Roosevelt Elk
-Photo by Jim Yuskavitch, ODFW-

The winter elk feeding tour program at Jewell Meadows Wildlife area has been completed for the season.  Elk may still be provided supplemental feed on an irregular basis throughout the month of March depending on natural vegetation growth.  Elk viewing continues to be good.  Best viewing times are mornings and evenings, but elk may be visible throughout the day depending on weather.  As spring progresses and temperatures start to warm, elk will use the timbered areas more during the middle of the day. Bull elk have started to shed their antlers and will continue through March and April. New antler growth is visible within about 2 weeks after losing their old antlers. Other wildlife to watch for include: coyotes in the fields, bald eagles perched in tall trees near creeks or soaring overhead, and songbirds near the viewing areas.  Additional species that should start showing up this month include band-tailed pigeons, swallows, and numerous species of migrant songbirds.

Visitors are reminded that areas posted as Wildlife Refuge are closed to public access. Posted portions of the Beneke Tract are open to the public starting March 16 and will remain open until August 1.  Wildlife Area Parking Permits are required on the wildlife area.

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