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Oregon Steelhead Fishing

The Story of Oregon Winter Steelhead begins with the end of the Salmon runs. During traditional times the Salmon runs would begin in late summer with the early runs of Sockeye Salmon and Pink Salmon. Soon the Coho Salmon would arrive, being followed by the mighty Chinook Salmon. All these Salmon, returning to the stream where it was born. There, at the Spawning Redd's, after spawning, these Salmon will die, providing necessary nutrients for the young fry soon to be born.

Winter Steelhead enter Oregon's Coastal streams in the late fall and by Christmas the run is in full swing. Winter Steelhead, unlike their distant cousin the Salmon, don't die after spawning. They return to the Pacific Ocean and will return to their home stream after a year or two. It is thought that by feeding on the bits and pieces of the remnants of the Salmon that have passed before, that Winter Steelhead are able to make the journey back to sea. This characteristic, along with the Steelhead's sense of curiosity enables these fish to be caught with a wide variety of techniques.

Summer Steelhead, on the other hand, return to their home stream in the Late Spring - Early Summer (May-early July). Most Summer Steelhead streams have sources high in the Cascade Mountains. The run being timed during higher water from the Snow Melt. Summer Steelhead remains in rivers until spawning in the fall (Oct-Nov). Summer Steelhead will actively chase Lures and Flies. The biggest hindrance fishing for Summer Steelhead is the clear water they inhabit during the late days of summer. Using light tackle, and Fly Fishing for Summer Steelhead provides the challenge after the hooking of these wild fighting fish.

Fishing for Steelhead requires many different techniques and methods. Changing water conditions and different types of water require changing methods often.

Drift fishing for Steelhead is the oldest and most traditional method. While drifting your lure or bait downstream while feeling the tapÂ…tap... of the bottom requires much skill and the ability to feel the subtle bite of the fish. Steelhead Drift fishing, though difficult, is a very satisfying way to fish for Steelhead.

Plugging for Steelhead, while relatively new, is the most effective way to hook Winter Steelhead. From a McKenzie Drift boat, lower a plug (Hot Shots and Wiggle Warts) behind the boat allowing the plug to dive into the current. Lowering the boat into the hole and places where the fish lie. My uncle used to say "touch every rock" being sure to lower the boat slow enough to seek out fish where ever they may be hiding.

Fly Fishing for Steelhead, though very challenging, offers the most rewarding of outdoor experiences. Good tackle, along with the anglers ability to understand hydraulics of Steelhead water are needed. Smaller Oregon streams allow the angler to work the Fly into spots where Steelhead live. By using the "swing" technique, either from a McKenzie Drift Boat or along the bank, many Oregon Steelhead are caught on a Fly. The Skunk patterns (green and pink) as well as large Caddis work well. These and all classic Steelhead patterns can be found in all local fly shops near Oregon Steelhead Rivers.

Bobber fishing , or, Float and Jig Fishing for Steelhead is a more recent and very effective way to fish for both Winter and Summer Steelhead. Using a "Slip-Bobber" and jig, allows you to fish many types of water, controlling your depth very effectively. The most important thing is to ALWAYS have control over your line. Long Rods, 10 1/2 foot, for mending a greased line is very important, the bite can come fast and the need to set the hook instantly along with a strong backbone to fight these wild fish.

Steelhead Fishing provides many challenges, but when you feel the power and energy of these fish you will know why educated men, fish in the middle of winter for the chance at hooking one of these great fish.

See you out there...

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Eugene, Oregon

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