ODFW Recreation Report

by OR Department of Fish & Wildlife Staff

Free Fishing Weekend, Feb. 19-20

Make fishing part of your Presidents’ Day Weekend plans. Everyone can fish, clam and crab for free in Oregon on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 19-20. Grab a friend or family member and take them steelhead fishing on the coast, hit a newly stocked trout fishery or try ice fishing for the first time. But remember, all other rules and regulation still apply.

Winter steelhead fishing videos

Check out our steelhead videos on YouTube. ODFW fish biologists will take you fishing on their favorite local rivers, showing you how to read the water and offering tips and techniques.

Statistics for big game hunters

Find links to population, harvest and point summary reports that can help you decide what hunts to apply for.

Apply for a Premium Hunt

Premium Hunts offer a long season at the peak of the rut, no preference point advantage (great for new hunters) and an extra chance to hunt on top of your controlled or general season tag. Learn more about what’s available and how to apply.

Two rods allowed on lower Willamette 

Beginning March 1, anglers with a two-rod validation will be able to use two rods when fishing the lower Willamette for all game and non-game species. Except sturgeon, where there’s a one-rod limit. Find more details.

Best bets for Free Fishing Weekend: 

Free Fishing Weekend is a good time to invite a friend or family member to go fishing with you. We have some suggestions:

  • Chase winter steelhead. Good options include most coastal rivers and streams, as well as basins in the Willamette Valley and SW Oregon. A bit of rain this week may have put fish on the bite in some areas.
  • Bag a few hatchery trout. Several locations in the “warmer” zones (NW, SE and Willamette) have been stocked just in time for Free Fishing Weekend. There also will be some holdover trout in larger waterbodies that were heavily stocked last summer.
  • Harness a worm for walleye. Walleye fishing has been good in the John Day Pool of the Columbia River. Time for a fish fry?
  • Land a lingcod from shore. This is a good time of year to catch a lingcod from the beach or jetty as they’re guarding their nests in rocky areas.
  • Lower some pots for crab. Dungeness crab are still in good shape with hard shells that are full of meat.
  • Go fly-fishing for trout. The central Oregon rivers – Fall, Metolius, Deschutes – support healthy winter trout fisheries. Look for hatches during the warmer parts of the day.
  • Fish through the ice. Ice fishing has been fair to good for yellow perch at Lake of the Woods and for trout at several locations including Diamond Lake, Walton Lake, Phillips Reservoir and Pilcher Reservoir. To be on the safe side, review these safety tips before venturing out on the ice.

Need more details? Check out the zone reports in this week’s Recreation Report.

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