New to Portland area. Not sure where to start.

O
olshiftybiscuits
December - February are, by far, the toughest months to be a Portland-based fly angler in pursuit of trout. The good news is from here on out, more and more options will become available.

Most of the streams west of the Cascades that have been mentioned in this thread are closed to trout fishing until May 22, but there are a handful of west side streams you can fish for trout year-round. None of them are great. Very few are actually fishable year-round because it rains so much. The Little Luckiamute and Luckiamute rivers, Marys River, Gales Creek and both forks of the Yamhill are the closest year-round systems in which you can reasonably catch fish. You'll need to go high up toward the headwaters to find trout, if you're downstream of farmland it's a lost cause. The entire Tualatin River system is open year-round for trout, but it's pretty much hot garbage. In my opinion it's well worth your time to drive the extra half hour to fish the Deschutes, rather than one of these.

To the east of the Willamette in that same general area, the Upper North Santiam is open year round above Detroit, as is the Breitenbush River although public access right now is blocked due to fire damage. Quartzville Creek is a cool year-round trout stream in this area, again very prone to blowout after a storm. It fishes under 300 CFS, and the gauge is easy to find on Google. All three of these streams are stocked during the summer, but they also hold wild fish.

Further down, the McKenzie and its tributaries are open year-round, but the McKenzie isn't fishable on foot and the tribs are either at snowy altitudes or blown out during winter. You can fish the mainstem Willamette and all of its forks for trout anywhere upstream of Albany. The Middle Fork and all its tributaries are open too, but the Middle Fork itself is the only one that reliably drops to fishable levels during winter.

For the next couple of months, the Deschutes will be your best and most consistent option coming from Portland, both because the river rarely blows out and because you can get there without having to drive over a mountain pass. When the passes are clear, you can make a day trip out of the Metolius or Crooked, too. The Fall is an overnighter this time of year. A good lake to fish all winter, again dependent on the condition of the passes, is Clear Lake off 126 near Sisters. It never freezes and they rent rowboats year round, just call ahead to make sure the parking lot is plowed.

In February, ODFW will start stocking the coastal lakes and low elevation lakes in more urban areas. Some of the coastal lakes are quite underrated, have wild cutthroat in addition to stocked rainbows, and aren't fished heavily at all. As a fellow fly angler, I'd advise against any of the stocker lakes along the I-5 corridor. They're gross. But take your pick of the lakes along the coast and you won't be disappointed. Most of these lakes have holdovers in them, and you can fish them with varying degrees of success all year minus the hottest months. A float tube or kayak is nice to have. Hagg fishes pretty well all year, and starts getting stocked heavily around the first of March. It's a big recreational reservoir full of families, kids, motor boats and bait dunkers. A decent option when nothing else is fishable. All of the tributary creeks that flow into Hagg hold tiny and fragile populations of wild cutthroat that you can legally fish for year-round but we're talking 3-5 inch fish.

In March, a few lakes on the east side of Mount Hood like Pine Hollow and Rock Creek reservoirs start to get stocked fish, and are usually accessible/thawed by then. In April, head back to the Deschutes for the best trout fishing of your life before everyone and their mother shows up for the Salmonfly hatch in May. A few restrictions start to lift in April, on sections of the Deschutes and protected local lakes like Laurance. 99 percent of our local lakes are year-round, so as soon as they're iced off and accessible they fish incredibly. Once May 22 rolls around, the closed streams open back up to trout fishing, too.

May - October, the opportunities are just about limitless. You can fish every single small stream on Mount Hood, they all hold fish and they all hold fish that'll shock you. Same goes for every single coastal stream that touches the ocean, packed with trout. Expect the average size to run 5-8 inches, but every once in a while you'll run into one well over 16. Sea run cutthroat fishing is amazing in the fall, but it's good all summer long. The lakes on Mount Hood will produce 100+ fish days trolling or stripping a wooly bugger. Most all of them are stocked, and they all hold wild fish, too. You can catch nearly every species of trout in the entire state within the boundaries of the Mount Hood National Forest.

But back to winter fishing -- if I could go back in time and give myself advice when I first moved to the area, it would be this: Spend your winter fishing the Lower Deschutes rather than fumbling your way up and down the mediocre year-round fisheries northwestern Oregon has to offer. I can't tell you how many days I wasted in pursuit of six inch trout battling terrible conditions and high water, when I could have been sticking half a dozen trophy rainbows standing in one spot on the Lower Deschutes instead. Even a trophy trout stream can get repetitive, so when the Willamette system is in shape, fish it. When the passes are clear, get out to the Metolius and Crooked. Otherwise, it's a Deschutes game this time of year if you want to fly fish for trout consistently.
 
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sixteenvolt
You got me pumped up. Going to try the Deschutes this year, especially in April. Not a good fly fisherman; need to get reps in elsewhere so I don't ruin the stream for others with my flailing about haha.
 
troutdude
troutdude
olshiftybiscuits said:
December - February are, by far, the toughest months to be a Portland-based fly angler in pursuit of trout. The good news is from here on out, more and more options will become available.

Most of the streams west of the Cascades that have been mentioned in this thread are closed to trout fishing until May 22, but there are a handful of west side streams you can fish for trout year-round. None of them are great. Very few are actually fishable year-round because it rains so much. The Little Luckiamute and Luckiamute rivers, Marys River, Gales Creek and both forks of the Yamhill are the closest year-round systems in which you can reasonably catch fish. You'll need to go high up toward the headwaters to find trout, if you're downstream of farmland it's a lost cause. The entire Tualatin River system is open year-round for trout, but it's pretty much hot garbage. In my opinion it's well worth your time to drive the extra half hour to fish the Deschutes, rather than one of these.

To the east of the Willamette in that same general area, the Upper North Santiam is open year round above Detroit, as is the Breitenbush River although public access right now is blocked due to fire damage. Quartzville Creek is a cool year-round trout stream in this area, again very prone to blowout after a storm. It fishes under 300 CFS, and the gauge is easy to find on Google. All three of these streams are stocked during the summer, but they also hold wild fish.

Further down, the McKenzie and its tributaries are open year-round, but the McKenzie isn't fishable on foot and the tribs are either at snowy altitudes or blown out during winter. You can fish the mainstem Willamette and all of its forks for trout anywhere upstream of Albany. The Middle Fork and all its tributaries are open too, but the Middle Fork itself is the only one that reliably drops to fishable levels during winter.

For the next couple of months, the Deschutes will be your best and most consistent option coming from Portland, both because the river rarely blows out and because you can get there without having to drive over a mountain pass. When the passes are clear, you can make a day trip out of the Metolius or Crooked, too. The Fall is an overnighter this time of year. A good lake to fish all winter, again dependent on the condition of the passes, is Clear Lake off 126 near Sisters. It never freezes and they rent rowboats year round, just call ahead to make sure the parking lot is plowed.

In February, ODFW will start stocking the coastal lakes and low elevation lakes in more urban areas. Some of the coastal lakes are quite underrated, have wild cutthroat in addition to stocked rainbows, and aren't fished heavily at all. As a fellow fly angler, I'd advise against any of the stocker lakes along the I-5 corridor. They're gross. But take your pick of the lakes along the coast and you won't be disappointed. Most of these lakes have holdovers in them, and you can fish them with varying degrees of success all year minus the hottest months. A float tube or kayak is nice to have. Hagg fishes pretty well all year, and starts getting stocked heavily around the first of March. It's a big recreational reservoir full of families, kids, motor boats and bait dunkers. A decent option when nothing else is fishable. All of the tributary creeks that flow into Hagg hold tiny and fragile populations of wild cutthroat that you can legally fish for year-round but we're talking 3-5 inch fish.

In March, a few lakes on the east side of Mount Hood like Pine Hollow and Rock Creek reservoirs start to get stocked fish, and are usually accessible/thawed by then. In April, head back to the Deschutes for the best trout fishing of your life before everyone and their mother shows up for the Salmonfly hatch in May. A few restrictions start to lift in April, on sections of the Deschutes and protected local lakes like Laurance. 99 percent of our local lakes are year-round, so as soon as they're iced off and accessible they fish incredibly. Once May 22 rolls around, the closed streams open back up to trout fishing, too.

May - October, the opportunities are just about limitless. You can fish every single small stream on Mount Hood, they all hold fish and they all hold fish that'll shock you. Same goes for every single coastal stream that touches the ocean, packed with trout. Expect the average size to run 5-8 inches, but every once in a while you'll run into one well over 16. Sea run cutthroat fishing is amazing in the fall, but it's good all summer long. The lakes on Mount Hood will produce 100+ fish days trolling or stripping a wooly bugger. Most all of them are stocked, and they all hold wild fish, too. You can catch nearly every species of trout in the entire state within the boundaries of the Mount Hood National Forest.

But back to winter fishing -- if I could go back in time and give myself advice when I first moved to the area, it would be this: Spend your winter fishing the Lower Deschutes rather than fumbling your way up and down the mediocre year-round fisheries northwestern Oregon has to offer. I can't tell you how many days I wasted in pursuit of six inch trout battling terrible conditions and high water, when I could have been sticking half a dozen trophy rainbows standing in one spot on the Lower Deschutes instead. Even a trophy trout stream can get repetitive, so when the Willamette system is in shape, fish it. When the passes are clear, get out to the Metolius and Crooked. Otherwise, it's a Deschutes game this time of year if you want to fly fish for trout consistently.
WOW! Among the very best replies of all time!
 
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pcstock
I caught a decent 10” rainbow when fishing for coho in October on the Sandy. It had no business biting on the blue fox I was spinning.
 
akbrad
akbrad
Isaiah...just read through this string...Bisquits gives a great summary of "winter options"... I did my own search for the same question...
(1) one rare "all season" river not included is the Klaskanine River--N. & S. Fork (open above 1st falls)...about an hour from PDX, take Hwy 26 west to Vernonia Hyway ... then check a map... lots of access on both from hiway... nice drive by Elk Viewing Sanctuary (S. fork) ... have explored both but not seriously fished yet--regardless, it is lovely drive that can take you into Astoria via Young's Bay...
(2) also another lake to be aware of Lost Lake (Clatsop Co.) again Hwy 26 @ Elsie (L) @ Spruce Run Cpgrd turn off...parallels the Nehalem River...turnoff just before campgrd--3 mile gravel road to lake...great float tube lake using woolly buggers of any color... small, pretty protected, lots of put and takers, stocked from March...open year round...can probably access most of the winter...
(3) finally, we took a week a few years ago and drove to southern Oregon coast--Reedsport (great lake/campground--open all year-- just next to Umqua River Lighthouse--just S. of Reedsport off 101) and below to Coos Bay area in January...some great lakes to fish down there and no problem with campgrounds/ people/ etc...and often get lovely weather on the S. Oregon coast in late January/February...just watch the weather report...it is 3 hour drive but if you have 4 days--another great winter lake option... enjoy...

yeah, I know it is tough in the PDX area for winter trout fishing... know that the lower Deschutes is another 2 hour drive and ok if the gorge weather is behaving itself... lovely water to fish...try the west side--dirt road/parking/nice trail for 3 or 4 miles--always fish that side of the lower... good
 
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pcstock
If you head south Fall Creek is open year round for trout. I camped there last weekend but did not fish due to the extreme rain. It is (mostly) in the Willamette National Forest so you can dispersed camp anywhere you want.

Despite the rain, the river looked amazing. Apparently there are some nice sized fish in there.

  • Open all year for trout.
  • 2 wild trout per day, 8 inch minimum length.
  • 5 hatchery trout per day, no minimum length.
  • Below Fall Cr Dam: Open all year for hatchery Chinook salmon, hatchery steelhead, and wild steelhead greater than 24 inches.
  • Use of bait allowed Apr 22 - Oct 31.
  • Closed within 200 ft of entrance to the Fall Cr fish ladder.
 
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olshiftybiscuits
pcstock said:
Aren't the Clackamas and Sandy open for trout all year? 5 fish daily bag limit, no minimum length.

https://www.eregulations.com/oregon/fishing/willamette-zone

Unfortunately, no. You have to be careful about the way you interpret the regulations. The over-arching rules go at the top -- Willamette Zone streams are only open to trout fishing May 22 - October 31, unless otherwise noted under exceptions. When you scroll down to the Clackamas River, it says "5 hatchery trout per day" under exceptions, but it does not say "open all year for trout." So the 5 hatchery trout per day only applies during the open season. Unless you see the specific words "open all year for trout" or "open all year for all species," the stream is currently closed to trout fishing.
 
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olshiftybiscuits
akbrad said:
Isaiah...just read through this string...Bisquits gives a great summary of "winter options"... I did my own search for the same question...
(1) one rare "all season" river not included is the Klaskanine River--N. & S. Fork (open above 1st falls)...about an hour from PDX, take Hwy 26 west to Vernonia Hyway ... then check a map... lots of access on both from hiway... nice drive by Elk Viewing Sanctuary (S. fork) ... have explored both but not seriously fished yet--regardless, it is lovely drive that can take you into Astoria via Young's Bay...
(2) also another lake to be aware of Lost Lake (Clatsop Co.) again Hwy 26 @ Elsie (L) @ Spruce Run Cpgrd turn off...parallels the Nehalem River...turnoff just before campgrd--3 mile gravel road to lake...great float tube lake using woolly buggers of any color... small, pretty protected, lots of put and takers, stocked from March...open year round...can probably access most of the winter...
(3) finally, we took a week a few years ago and drove to southern Oregon coast--Reedsport (great lake/campground--open all year-- just next to Umqua River Lighthouse--just S. of Reedsport off 101) and below to Coos Bay area in January...some great lakes to fish down there and no problem with campgrounds/ people/ etc...and often get lovely weather on the S. Oregon coast in late January/February...just watch the weather report...it is 3 hour drive but if you have 4 days--another great winter lake option... enjoy...

yeah, I know it is tough in the PDX area for winter trout fishing... know that the lower Deschutes is another 2 hour drive and ok if the gorge weather is behaving itself... lovely water to fish...try the west side--dirt road/parking/nice trail for 3 or 4 miles--always fish that side of the lower... good

One tiny amendment to this -- only the South Fork Klaskanine is open above its first falls. Regardless, this a very cool year-round find buried deep in the regulations. Thank you!!
 
I
IsaiahW11
OnlyFins said:
Right now most rivers in Oregon are shut down for trout during the winter but please read the regulations because I'm going from memory and it could be faulty (https://www.eregulations.com/oregon/fishing). If you want to stand in a river and catch fish then you're probably going to have to pick up an 8wt and swing for steelhead, luckily there are a number of easily accessible options nearby. The Sandy, Nehalem, and Wilson are my favorites but the Nestucca, Necanicum, Trask, Alsea, and who knows how many I'm missing have steelhead runs at various times. I know people like the Clackamas but I've never put the time in to learn it, access seemed kind of chopped up since I usually rely on parks but if you throw on some camo and figure out where anglers are drinking I'm sure you could dig up some local inside info.

The exceptions to the trout rule are spring fed and tailwaters of which there are a number of fantastic options. The Crooked, Metolius and Fall in the Bend area are all super fun but very different experiences. Lakes are also open but I've never tried them much in the winter so I don't know what the bite is like, I have been to the St. Louis ponds a few times in the winter when I need to scratch the itch and it works fine just make sure they have been stocked semi recently.

The lower Deschutes is open all year round and personally, of all the options I've listed above I would choose this over anything because the potential for a solid fish is way higher. Go to Maupin and do some exploring is my suggestion. Once May rolls around and trout are back in season the Deschutes is still a fantastic option. I think other than Warm Springs, where you need a permit, every other foot of it is fishable from the source to the mouth and I've never had a bad day on any part of it.
This is excellent information to have. I really appreciate it! Im genuinely interested into getting to Maupin and checking it out. I just haven't made the time yet to get down there. Thank you all so much for the information!
 
BeaverFalls
BeaverFalls
Hi! I've lived in Portland for awhile but am excited to get back to fishing. Welcome!
 

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