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    Summer Steelhead     Winter Steelhead
angler releasing steelhead

angler and steelhead

Although Summer Steelhead begin to enter streams in May and continue through August they don't spawn until the Fall which make them a very different fish than their seasonal brethren, the Winter steelhead. Since they spend so long in the river, Summer steelhead exhibit more trout-type behavior like holding in shallow water and striking at natural insects (including dry flies). These fish are very wary, due mostly to low water and intense sunlight. The best time to target these fish is before the sun hits the water and in the evening once it begins to set. Cloudy days are also excellent and a little rain or mist is even better. On the coast these fish tend to stack up in certain areas (big pools and prime runs) throughout the Summer before making their way to spawning grounds with the first good rain of the Fall. September and October is the best month to chase these fish upriver with a fly, although numerous fish are taken in the heat of the Summer. Summer steelhead are generally smaller than Winter fish and average 6-8 pounds with big fish in the 12 pound class. 6 and 7 wts with floating lines and long leaders are the ticket for these fish. The swing technique is most often used and fish are taken on skated dry flies every year!

RIVERS TO CHOOSE FROM: Siletz, Nestucca, Clackamas, Sandy, McKenzie, Hidden Stream Beta
SEASON: Late Spring, Summer, Fall

release of winter steelhead

angler holding steelhead in water

Winter steelhead are available to fly anglers for over five months. Their size, power, numbers and willingness to take a fly make them our most guided fish. We begin chasing hatchery fish in around Thanksgiving and gradually transition over to native runs by early Februrary. We'll then continue chase native and broodstock fish through late-April. Winter steelhead are a hearty species surviving well in numerous rivers on the Coast and in the Willamette Valley. Water conditions throughout the Winter months vary greatly and can affect fishing. We're always keeping a careful eye on the river levels, so feel free to contact us for the most current conditions. Oregon winter steelhead range from 6-25 lbs. with average fish around 10 lbs. Fish over 15 lbs. are often hooked on fly rods, however landing them is a true challenge. Winter steelheading with a fly rod is a unique experience and one that every fly angler should participate in. For some, the wet, cold, blustery weather and hours between strikes isn't their cup of tea, but for others the anticipation, excitement and chance to land one of Oregon's most powerful and beautiful gamefish keeps them coming back again and again. On average, anglers hook-up 1-5 times daily and land just under 50% of fish hooked. 8 weight fly rods and floating lines are the most commonly used equipment. Currents and river levels dictate the amount of additional weight on the line needed to present to these amazing fish. Both swing and nymphing techniques are used, although nymphing has proved time and again to be more effective.

RIVERS TO CHOOSE FROM: Siletz, Nestucca, North Fork Nehalem, Hidden Stream Alpha, Hidden Stream Beta, Sandy, Clackamas
SEASON: Winter, Early Spring

    Chinook Salmon (Spring and Fall Runs)     Coho Salmon
large hen chinook salmon

bright fall chinook salmon

The Fall run of chinook is the most prevalent of the two different runs and is limited to the Coastal streams only. These fish begin to enter the bays on the Oregon Coast as early as late August and tend to hang out in estuaries until the Fall rains come. Once the big rains come, these fish bolt into all the river systems and make their way to spawn. We'll chase the chromers in tidewater early in the season and then move upriver with the fish as the rains come. Oregon coast fish average 20-25 lbs. with a few fish in the upper 30's and low 40's. Our largest fish taken on a fly was a buck that weighed nearly 55 lbs.! Come prepared to do battle using 9 and 10 wt fly rods. A mix of sinking a floating lines are used. Sparse, bright patterns are popular in tidewater and big leeches as well as egg patterns are effective upriver. The peak time for these fish is mid-September to mid-November.

Springers are native to Willamette river tributaries like the Sandy and Clackamas. Anglers go crazy for these prized fat rich fish and can be seen by the hundreds trolling the Willamette and Columbia throughout the Spring. Not exactly our cup of tea, we'll wait until May and June when these fish move into the smaller streams. We like to target these fish in conjunction with Summer steelhead. Springers are smaller than their Fall cousins and average in the high teens and low twenties. A 30 pound fish is massive. Equipment and flies used are very similar the the Fall equipment above.

RIVERS TO CHOOSE FROM: Fall Run; Siletz, North Fork Nehalem, Nestucca, Hidden Stream Alpha, Hidden Stream Beta. Spring Run; Sandy or Clackamas
SEASON: Spring or Fall

small coho and clouser minnow

Jesse with client and silver salmon
In the last few years (especially 2009) the Coho salmon runs both on the coast and in the valley have made a tremendous comeback. Selected native coho openings are now beginning to appear on rivers like the Siletz and Yaquina. Rivers with hatchery runs like like the N. Fork Nehalem and Sandy traditionally fish very well from mid-September through mid-October. Other coastal streams with good runs of native fish like the Nestucca and Siletz peak slightly later in the year. Catch and release fishing for native coho can be good into late-November. When angler timing is spot-on it is not uncommon to catch coho, chinook and sea-run cutthroat on the same fly in the same day. Favorite patterns for these fish include clousers, bunny leeches and egg patterns.

RIVERS TO CHOOSE FROM: Sandy, Nestucca, Hidden Stream Alpha, Hidden Stream Beta, N. Fork Nehalem

    Cutthroat Trout (Sea-Run and Native Species)     Rainbow Trout
sea-run cutthroat and leaves

harvest trout image

Perhaps the most under flyfished on any species in Oregon, the coastal sea-run cutthroat is a favorite of ours and holds a special place in fly boxes and hearts. The sea-run finds its' way to coastal tidewaters by mid-August and its' numbers increase throughout September before moving upstream with the chinook in October. These fish are most often angled for with 4wts and floating lines. In the early season streamers are fished almost exlcusively. As the salmon begin to spawn, fly patterns move towards glo-bugs and other egg patterns. Fish range from 8-22" and average fish are 13"-14". Fish over 20" are considered trophy class.

The oregon coastal cutthroat was the first fish my dad and I chased together and still brings back memories of Summer afternoons, a pocket with a spool of tippet, a handful of flies and some Gink and off you went to dabble dry flies in small coastal streams for stunningly beautiful trout that were eager and willing. These fish range from 6"-14" and are generally dry fly fished with 3wts. Big fluffy dries work best, although a coastal cutt never met a fly he didn't like a little bit.

RIVERS TO CHOOSE FROM: Siletz, Nestucca, Hidden Stream Alpha, Hidden Stream Beta, N. Fork Nehalem
SEASON: Late-Summer, Fall

chunky rainbow trout

red-band rainbow trout image

Aside from stocked trout in lakes and juvenille steelhead, the Oregon Coast does not have a population of native river rainbow trout. To chase this famous fish you'll have to make your way to the Willamette Valley to chase them in one of several West Cascade streams. Our favorite is the McKenzie which fishes from March-October for both hatchery and wild rainbow trout. 4 and 5wts are generally used along with floating lines and traditional trout patterns. Most standard western stream trout patterns have a place here, but there are several specific seasonal catches. Check with your guide for the prevailing hatch during your stay.

RIVERS TO CHOOSE FROM: McKenzie River, Clackamas River
SEASON: Spring, Summer, Fall