By: Dave Manners

We haven’t had a steelhead city like this in the Tillamook area for as long as I can remember. Despite having one of the wettest years in recent memory there’s lots of fish around. And, there’s going to be fish around for a while. We know it’s going to be consistent through March. To be honest, it’s been an average year. When we’ve been able to fish we’ve seen some great days, but the fishing pressure has been high too.

Mother Nature has handed us several challenges. We saw the coldest January that I’ve seen in years. Then it was the wettest February in history. Fishing has been off and on due to the weather. It was 15 degrees in Tillamook one morning and that never happens. This season hasn’t brought any consistency.

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On the other hand, fishing has been good when it’s been fishing. Meanwhile, there’s been a lot of blown out and high water days, which is why we don’t know how long the run is going to go. The high water brought so many fish through the system already. The good news is we are getting fresh fish now. I know the run will go through March and into April. However, we don’t know how long it will go into April because of the high water we’ve had. Some years it goes through April. I don’t think this is going to be one of those years.

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We are even starting to see more native fish now. Sure, the native fish are always around, but we start to see more of them later in the run and fewer hatchery fish. This is the time of year we see larger natives and it’s no secret there’s a few of those around, too. Last Tuesday we caught a 42 by 22-inch fish. On the mathematical scale it would be about 26-pounds. We caught it on a Nightmare jig with a Fire Brine shrimp.

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If you’ve been on our boat you know we always bring the kitchen sink. I’ll run plugs, roe and jigs with shrimp every day. Eggs are good this time of year because there are spawning fish in the river. I’ll be using mostly Natural BorX O Fire cured eggs. Earlier in the year when it was dirtier I was using more red eggs, but right now they want natural. As long as we get less rain and lower and clear conditions persist I’ll stick to natural.

I’ll fish every hole with eggs first and before I leave I’ll run a Maglips 3.0 or 3.5. A lot of times I’ll use jigs in slower, deeper water and I’m always tipping the jigs with Red or Natural Fire Brine shrimp.

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Editor’s Note: Big Dave Manners owns Big Dave’s Fishing & Wilson River Lodge. For more info on his guide trips please visit www.bigdavesfishing.com or https://www.facebook.com/WestCoastFishingAdventuresAndWilsonRiverLodge.