Tag Archives: Oregon Fly Fishing

Winter Steelhead Season is Upon Us

With December comes the advent of the Winter Steelhead season. One of the most exciting things about this time of year is that nearly every river and creek along the Oregon coast gets at least some returning adult steelhead. With the arrival of winter rains, a stream that in the drier months is nothing more than a trickle will become big enough to drift boat, with bright fish moving into the system after each high water event.

Wild Oregon Winter Steelhead

Any kind of fishing can be fickle, but winter steelheading with a fly rod can be especially so. The weather and water conditions in the winter can be, to say the least, dynamic. Each river or stream will generally fish best when the water is neither very high, nor very low. Smaller rivers and streams will start to fish well within a couple days of a major rainfall as the water clears from a mocha color to the magical shade of green fishermen dream about. Within another couple days, however, the water on these smaller creeks will become too low for navigations and good fishing. If conditions remain dry, most fishermen and guides will start to fish the larger rivers. Some of the biggest rivers, like the main-stem Umpqua, need as much as two weeks without rain before they will clear enough for good fishing with artificial flies.

Wild Oregon Winter Steelhead

One of the keys to successful winter steelheading is having some familiarity with various rivers in your area of different sizes and paying very close attention to water levels and conditions. As you learn each stream, try to figure out what flows are optimal, then track the water levels and weather on the internet to figure out how to best target your efforts.

The pursuit of winter steelhead can certainly be challenging: the fish may be here one day and gone the next, icy roads may make your morning drive to the river dangerous and the fishing itself unpleasant. It is indisputable, however, that the rewards can be huge.

A Big Winter Steelhead Buck

The winter is the most dynamic and interesting season of the year to be a fisherman in Oregon. There are dozens and dozens of streams and rivers all along the coast range which are worth careful attention. Pick your battles and have fun out there.

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Lower Deschutes Salmonfly Melee

We just arrived back in Eugene from a week-long stint on the Deschutes. We did a four day trip followed by a three day trip. We had great weather, great groups of guests, and the fishing ranged from good to outstanding. The dry fly fishing was good enough that we did very little nymphing. The salmonflies and golden stones were out in force up and down the river. We had warm weather, which makes the bugs more active, and some of the most exciting fishing happened when we had some wind blowing; in effect chumming the water for us with naturals. Top producing patterns were the Norm Woods’ Special and Clark’s Stone (#6-#8), though other patterns work as well. When some anglers hit the Deschutes this time of year, they come armed with legions of stonefly patterns the size of badminton birdies. With the exception of very fast-water spots, I almost always do better with smaller, somewhat more drab imitations.

Deschutes River Fly Fishing

If you are heading for the Deschutes this week, bring a few Green Drakes as well, I saw a couple naturals, but we didn’t really have the weather for the hatch to pop. If you happen to be in the right place at the right time on the Lower Deschutes, the Green Drake hatch can be some of the most exciting dry fly fishing of the year. The Golden Stone and Salmonfly hatch should linger on the upper reaches until past the middle of the month. Later on in June and throughout the summer, dense hatches of small caddises and mayflies will become the most important items on the menu for the Deschutes Redsides.

Deschutes River Fly Fishing

We still have some availability for the rest of the summer and fall if anyone out there is interested in an outfitted and guided trip down the Deschutes. All the guides we work with have over a decade of experience guiding fishermen on the Lower Deschutes. The camp features lots of creature comforts and amenities and gourmet food. The trip is hard to beat.

Deschutes River Fly Fishing

What really makes the Deschutes incredible, however, are the fish, the setting, and the hatches. If you have not done so already, you owe it to yourself to experience Oregon’s finest trout stream.

Deschutes River Fly Fishing

Deschutes River Fly Fishing

Deschutes River Fly Fishing

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