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.
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
Drift fishing for Steelhead is the oldest and most traditional method.
While drifting your lure or bait downstream while feeling the 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.
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
you out there...
Drop me a line Jon@o2fish.com