Runs have been solid this winter with good returns on most of Oregon’s winter steelhead streams. Over the last couple of weeks, we have had periodic showers, keeping water levels on many of the coastal streams in the sweet spot for an extended period of time. Over this weekend, weather forecasters predict that somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.25″ of rain will fall in the coast range. If anything, this is a good thing. Some rivers were getting a little too low and clear for ideal fishing conditions, and the freshet should bring in some fresh bright fish. When river levels start to drop again next week, flows and clarity should again be prime.
The fish have been responding well to both dead-drifted and swung offerings. On the smaller, bed-rock-lined streams, nymphing egg patterns has been extremely effective. In bigger, broader water, warmer than average water temperatures have made the fish more willing to chase well-presented intruders or leeches swung on various sink tips.
During the tail end of winter steelhead season, the catch is often a mixed bag. I have been seeing good numbers of both wild and hatchery fish. Some are bright, some are colored, and some have already spawned and are on their way back out to the salt. Though many runs are at their peak or already past their zenith, fresh fish will continue to enter the rivers and creeks along the coast until after most winter steelhead fisheries close at the end of March.