Oregon’s Department of Fish & Wildlife provides guides on the best fishing and whale watching this season.
Ice Fishing Tips & Safety Precautions:
-Beware of unstable ice. Fish with locals who know the area. Stay in close quarters until you feel confident to inch out to an area that is less crowded.
-No fancy gear required! A 4# test line on a rod for light trout or warm water is plenty sufficient.
-If you want fancy gear incorporate ice rods, tip ups, and two-rod validation into your fishing.
-Rent an ice auger to save time and frustration. Ice digging bars might not do the trick for thick ice or moving often about the lake searching for a spot.
-Drill your holes just off the shore and gage if there is any action. If not, work your way out 5 yards at a time from your original hole until you find the perfect spot with the most bites.
-Use 1/8 to 1/64 of an ounce lead heads that glow and/or are either chartreuse, orange, yellow, or purple. The fish are slow in winter so use smaller jigs.
-5 gallon bucket is the go-to accessory to carry all your gear and acts as a chair.
-Bring a spoon or scoop to strain out the newly formed ice that will develop over the hole.
Winter Fishing Tips for Steelheads:
-Before you leave, check the fishing recreation report on the ODFW website to see where the fish are active, water levels, and run timing. Make sure to find your river access point on a map and organize your gear ahead of time.
-Find a couple consistent fishing spots that you can get to know how the fish respond and where they are most active. This will give you an advantage over simply trying a new spot every trip and hoping for a bite. Take notes and track your findings in a notebook or on your phone.
- Consider joining a fishing club. Veterans can help familiarize you with the waters and teach you their tricks to a big catch. You can also meet your new fishing buddy! If interested, there are many local chapters of the Association of Northern Steelheaders.
-Hiring local fishing guide that knows the waters in-and-out can prove to be extremely beneficial to navigating in new waters and teaching anglers how to better track down that trophy catch.
-Explore a variety of fishing techniques, so that you can adjust based on the elements. Easy first techniques are spinner and bobber.
-In high water, drift fish with a brighter, heavier lure in calm spots of the water.
-In lower water, use a lighter lure in the deeper spots or head of holes.
-To make adjustments a breeze, use a heavier line as your foundation and adjust the lure weights depending upon the conditions.
-To safely release a fish back into the water first off use barbless hooks, pull it in quickly, keep the fish in water while holding it underneath for support, and finally guide the fish through the water to activate its gills.
Winter Fishing Tips for Trout:
-Winter fishing calls for nymph baits below the surface but be prepared for surface dry flies too.
-Light and small is the way to go for winter trout. Downsize your flies and tippets
-Fish in slow, shallow areas like inside current seams and off the channel.
-Fish during the warmest part of the day.
-Thoroughly fly your line all over an area, as trout in the winter are not very active and would rather catch bait that is right in their face.
-Beware of thin ice and use a wading staff in unpredictable areas.
-The best areas for trout are the lower Deschutes, Crooked, Metolius, Fall, Klamath, Blitzen and Owyhee rivers. Check the ODFW’s website for weekly fishing updates.
Whale Watching Tips (Self Guided due to COVID-19)
-Use binoculars to spot along the horizon many of the 20,000 whales that will be traveling south along the Oregon Coast from Mid-December to Mid January.
-The Depoe Bay Whale Watching Center is not open, but do not let that stop you from a self-guided tour to see these beautiful creatures.
-The best whale watching locations (from north to south): Lewis & Clark Center, Fort Stevens State Park, Ecola State Park, Neahkahnie Mountain, Cape Meares Lighthouse, Cape Lookout State Park, Cape Kiwanda, Inn At Spanish Head, Boiler Bay State Park, Whale Watching Center (No volunteers on site), Rocky Creek State Park, Cape Foulweather, Devil’s Punch Bowl State Park, Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Don Davis Kiosk, Cape Perpetua Center, Cooks Chasm, Sea Lion Caves, Umpqua Lighthouse State Park, Shore Acres State Park, Face Rock State Park, Battle Rock Wayfinding Point, Cape Ferrelo, & Harris Beach State Park.