There are no Steelhead in Oregon

Pontoon Rods
The Sandy River is one of the most famous steelhead rivers in Oregon. Known for its runs of native bucks in February and March, this river draws a lot of anglers. Hatchery steelhead make their runs earlier and start in December and January.

The Clackamas, the river for which boat maker Clackacraft is named, is also a great steelhead river with similar characteristics. Both are within a half-hour drive of Portland. Naturally, my first two steelheading adventures of 2008 took place on these two great rivers. The shore of the Sandy was dotted with bait fishermen hoping to bonk a hatchery fish, and the river was lined with boats of both fly anglers and bait guys. The river was packed, and this was a Wednesday. The air was brutally cold with a serious bite. My fingers were numb before we even got our raft in the water.

The water was in pretty decent shape so we got some good shots at hooking one. A good shot in steelheading terms means if you put in a 9-hour day, you might get a bump. Needless to say, it was day reserved for the skunk, but it was also a great day on the river.

Last week we fished the Clack as locals call it, and there were far fewer people on the water, and this was a Sunday! Go figure. As we arrived to the river, snow was falling and the ground was covered. This was true steelhead weather and I loved it. We put in and did about a 5-mile float. My skills with the two-handed rod are getting better and now I can lay down a nice cast almost every time. I'm not shooting 100 feet, but at least I can pick up a sinking line and shooting head and lay it out in a straight line. The water was much lower than we had hoped for, and we didn't see a thing. This was a much slower day, but being out in the snow and having the river practically to yourself is a great feeling. I considered this a great day on the water.

There are so many great rivers that I want to fish in Oregon and I don't know how to fit them all in. I can either fish a couple rivers and get to know them intimately, or travel around and fish as many different rivers as I can learning each one differently as I go. I know I would catch many more fish if I stayed on just a few on a consistent basis, but I can't stay local all the time when there are so many great rivers out there waiting for me. There are coastals such as the Trask and Kilchis, trout rivers such as the Crooked and Williamson and of course the famed Rogue and North and South Umpqua rivers. It may take a while, but I will be on them all eventually.