Winter Steelhead fishing for 2019 in general has been off to a slow start. Run numbers are down on many hatchery streams which typically boast good early return numbers. Arrival of some good quality wild fish early in January is a good indicator for our later runs in Feb, Mar and April.
NF Nehalem- Typically this is a top producer for January but so far numbers have been far below normal. A total of 300 steelhead have arrived at the hatchery and only a few fish have been recycled down river. Often there are over 1000 fish by this time of year. Some wild steelhead have been caught.
Clackamas River & Eagle Cr- Winter Steelhead on the Clack has been spotty with some decent wild fish arriving early. Seeing these fish is a good sign of hopefully a strong wild run. Run timing for Clackamas hatchery steelhead is best February and March; often into April. This year will be the first year of Eagle Creek run will be all Clackamas Stock hatchery steelhead which prime time returns will be February and March instead of Dec/Jan like the old steelhead stock.
The Nestucca River has two different hatchery winter steelhead stocks, one of which is early returning, and most prevalent in the lower river and Three Rivers which return late November through the end of January. In contrast the broodstock hatchery fish return late December through mid April, and should now be throughout the basin. January is a great month to be on the Nestucca as both of these stocks are coming in as well as wild steelhead (catch-and-release only). Last weekend there was heavy pressure on the Nestucca, but some fish were caught.
Three Rivers will likely slow down with low flows but expect a push of fish with the next rain event. Fishing has been fairly decent, and Cedar Creek Hatchery has recycled 132 hatchery steelhead that came into the trap back to Pacific City in the past two weeks (70 last week and 62 this week). New fish should be coming in as well.
Good luck out on the water!
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Water Time Outfitters is owned and operated by Rob Crandall and his team of hard working guides. Rob has been past editor of Flyfishing & Tying Journalmagazine, a licensed fishing guide for over 26 years, featured speaker in Oloughlin’s Sportsmans Shows, seen on Flyfish TV, Columbia Country TV, Frontier Unlimited TV as well as featured in the DVD-Winter Spey Strategies; the Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine, the Flyfisher, Flyfishing & Tying Journal and Salmon Steelhead Journal. Rob grew up on the Clackamas River and loves to share his passion for fly fishing with others.