Many of Oregon’s most storied summer steelhead rivers, like the North Umpqua or the Deschutes, generally don’t get good numbers of adult summer steelhead returning until early July. The Willamette River and its tributaries; the North and South Santiam and the McKenzie, however, often have fishable numbers of summer steelhead by sometime in April. This year is no exception, and despite some recent rain and cooler weather, most of our streams are still relatively low and in great shape for swinging a fly.
This season promises to be a great one for summer steelhead in the Willamette Valley. As of April 13th, there were already about 2,150 summers counted coming over the falls at Oregon City. If this trend continues, we might have adult summer steelhead returns rivaling those of the 2004 season, when we had a total return of over 33,000 fish.
I have been out several days this past week looking for some early summer chrome. While the fishing hasn’t been red hot, I have hooked bright summer steelhead on every outing. I have been fishing a few different leech patterns on various sink tips, wading through some of the runs fishing with a spey rod, and using a single hander in other spots I prefer to fish out of the boat. As we move into May, we will have a lot more fish around, and I anticipate very good opportunities for the fly angler to target these fish until the end of the season.
The word has gotten out to some extent that there are some fish around. Yesterday on the river I fished there were a good number of boats out, but very few fly anglers. The Spring season, when there are both bright steelhead and chinook swimming upstream tends to be relatively busy, but the pressure tapers off as the season wears on.
The areas I fish offer a nice mix of opportunities. Some of the spots are best fished out of the boat with a single-handed rod, which allows for very good coverage as I slowly work the boat down through the spot. Wading opportunities also abound; there are a lot of runs, pools, and tailouts which fish beautifully with a swung fly and are ideally suited to the spey rod. Whether you are a veteran steelheader or a neophyte, the Willamette valley summer steelhead streams have a lot to offer. I am an expert spey caster and spey casting instructor. If you want to learn about steelhead flyfishing, how to properly swing a fly in various water types, or how to effectively cast and fish with a spey rod, I am your guy. Give me a call or email and book a trip. It is going to be a great season.