CLACKAMAS, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife recently approved a temporary rule increasing the combined steelhead/salmon bag limit to total of three fish a day on the Willamette, Clackamas and Sandy rivers, effective June 18 through Oct. 31.

Under the rule change, anglers are permitted to retain up to three adult adipose fin-clipped fish per day. The combined three-fish total allows for retention of steelhead, salmon or both, of which no more than two may be salmon.

The temporary measure was enacted in response to strong early returns of summer steelhead that have been observed at ODFW fish counting stations in the three rivers. To date, more than 18,000 steelhead have passed ODFW’s fish monitoring station at Willamette Falls, which is nearly double the previous five-year average. Similar trends have been observed on the Clackamas and Sandy rivers.

“We have a lot of steelhead returning to the lower Columbia and Willamette systems this year,” said Todd Alsbury, district fish biologist for ODFW’s North Willamette Watershed. Alsbury said the same favorable ocean conditions that buoyed coho salmon runs last fall and chinook salmon runs this spring are now showing up in big steelhead returns.

For anglers who want to catch these fish, the long, cold spring weather is providing additional benefits.

“The lower water temperatures and higher flows are creating very, very good – almost ideal – fishing conditions,” said Alsbury. “Plus, there haven’t been a lot of people out fishing.”