We have had an interesting weather pattern so far this winter in western Oregon. We have had only 3 major rainfalls since Thanksgiving with extended dry periods between these events. The storm systems that began to wash ashore earlier in the week with drenching rains and gale-force winds have dropped a monumental amount of precipitation particularly on the central oregon coast and inland areas and have triggered some massive flooding. While it appears that the floodwaters have crested on most rivers and are starting to drop, the rain persists, and it is anyone’s guess exactly when the high water will abate enough to get out do some fishing.
That being said, it has been a good winter of steelhead fishing thus far, with nice numbers of fish in most systems. Just before this last system rolled in, the water had gotten low enough that conditions were perfect on the lower reaches and mainstems of some of the central coast’s larger rivers. This is some of my favorite fishing: when the water conditions are amenable to fishing this close to salt water, it is the best opportunity to intercept extremely fresh fish. I have seen a lot of bright, two-tone steelhead this winter that redefine the term “chromer.”
I have had good results in the past weeks swinging flies with a spey rod and skagit line system, as well as nymphing various egg patterns under an indicator. Depending on the conditions of the day, and the character of each individual spot, both techniques can be very effective.
As flood waters recede, we should have some good opportunities to get out and fish soon. Flood events, though destructive and potentially lethal, are cleansing for rivers. Any accumulated flotsam and jetsam; from deadfalls to old tires and rotten cohos will be swept away, and the gravels will be turned over and cleaned of sediments. We are likely to find some of the reaches of our rivers resculpted by this event. A few old fishing spots will be gone, while new ones will appear. It is part of the natural order of things. It will be intersting to float some stretches as the water recedes to see what changes the flood might have wrought.