June 5-6 is one of three annual free fishing weekends in Oregon.
And, this year especially, it is one of the best of all time.
No license or tag will be required for sport fishing in Oregon, including two-rod endorsements, all salmon, rainbow trout, sturgeon and halibut tags, and shellfish licenses ( crab, clams, etc.).
That said, the caveat is that everyone should also know and respect current regulations – it’s just free fish, not for everyone.
The stars are lined up for a productive weekend.
If the weather cooperates (cloudy Saturday, more pleasant Sunday, depending on the long-term outlook), the recent surge in fishing license sales during the pandemic could be another boost from happy newbies.
• Free fishing community events are largely canceled due to COVID concerns. But whatever. Spend the next week with Dr. Google to find out the places to go, the techniques and the rules.
• Although the trout stocking schedule is posted online, the schedule has been problematic and is more accurate every Wednesday myodfw.com. Click on “Recreation Report” in the top bar, then on “Fishing Reports” and follow the instructions to the area of interest.
• Salmon, rainbow trout, sturgeon or halibut tag holders do not have to record their catch, although biologists would like them to do so on a voluntary basis.
• Dual state approval is also not required, even if you already have a license without the approval. This means two rod fishing per angler will be legal for everyone next weekend on most lakes and reservoirs and the entire Willamette River (including the Multnomah Canal) and its tributaries.
• Clam operations are closed from the Columbia River to the North Pier on the Siuslaw River and open from the South Pier to the California border due to declining domoic acid levels. All the berry clams are open. Clatsop’s Beach Razors shutdown could last until the seasonal shutdown on July 15, but will hopefully reopen as planned on October 1.
• Some redfish (copper, pricklyback and china only) can no longer be kept while fishing from a boat.
That said, this year’s fishing bonus includes:
• The Columbia River will be open on both days for hatchery salmon and hatchery rainbow trout from Tongue Point to the Oregon / Washington border. Only one of each can be kept within the daily limit of two fish.
• Sturgeon can be held Saturday (only) in Oregon from buoy 10 to the power lines crossing the Columbia River at Wauna. This is the only retention season open for the weekend.
• The inshore halibut fishery (40 fathoms or less) is open from Cape Falcon (Manzanita) in the south to Mount Humbug (Port Orford). Check the quota numbers for the inshore fishery off the mouth of the Columbia.
• Timothy, Trillium and Harriet lakes will be accessible from the government camp.
• Extensive stocking of trout will take place in various local ponds, lakes and reservoirs.
Washington: The Free Fishing Weekend only takes place once in Washington and this year’s celebration will take place on June 12 and 13.
As with Oregon, two-rod approval is also not required.
Unlike Oregon, however, catch cards are required to fish for rainbow trout, sturgeon, halibut, salmon, and Dungeness crab. However, those who do not have a card can obtain one for free (valid for both days) from a licensing agent.
Optimists take heart: Chinook jack spring salmon counts at Bonneville Dam and Willamette Falls, the trend is twice as high as last year through May 25, although they are still slightly below the 10-year average.
Nonetheless, it’s a good sign for next year’s race, as sexually precocious male males return a year before technical adulthood in somewhat predictable percentages, reflecting the strength of the adult’s race. Next year.
End of sea lion season: The Oregon Department of Fisheries and Wildlife reports the end of spring trapping and euthanasia operations for sea lions at Willamette Falls and Bonneville Dam.
Male California and Steller sea lions go to sea to find females.
In their seasonal heyday, 14 Californias and five Stellers lurked in Willamette Falls, well short of previous years when they jeopardized the wild rainbow trout race of the river. No maximum number has been given for the Bonneville dam.
Biologists said eight of the 14 Californias and one Steller were trapped in the falls and euthanized.
In Bonneville, where the Stellers also pose a significant threat to sturgeon, 21 Californias and 13 Stellers were captured.
Trapping will likely resume there this fall for Stellers.
Proposed bow hunting restrictions: The Oregon Department of Fisheries and Wildlife wants limit the number of bow hunters in several units in eastern Oregon and suggests extensive controlled hunts and perhaps even forcing hunters to choose between east and west for general tags.
His proposal to the state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission will be discussed at the commission’s monthly meeting on June 18. A final decision is expected on August 6.
– Bill Monroe for The Oregonian / OregonLive