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Fishing Reports

Black Friday and Winter Steelhead

Joel La Follette - Thursday, November 30, 2017

Our Fly Czar, Josh Linn, knocks out another fishing update complete with photos to prep you for the month of December. Get after it!

November is coming to an end and hopefully all of the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone. In my world the John Day and the Deschutes are in the rear view mirror. Today is the last day to fish the Klickitat as it closes the end of November and since I'm working that's off the table too. I’m looking for chrome bright Steelhead and my gaze has turned west towards the local and coastal rivers that are easily affected by the rains. There the fish move in on the tides and high water events. The nastier the weather the better.


I get people asking me all the time if there are winter Steelhead in the Deschutes? There are fish that winter over in the Deschutes, but they are summer fish. They have been in the river a long time and need a rest as they mature to spawn in the spring. Those fish aren’t winter steelhead.

Winter steelhead are hard bodied chrome bright fish that enter the river systems on the west side of the Cascades starting around Thanksgiving and going well into April. These fish are sexually mature and are ready to spawn the moment they arrive. Winter Steelhead really don’t exist east of the Cascades, as they are basically coastal fish.

This past Black Friday's Fish-A-Long cemented my drive to keep pushing and searching for that first winter Steelhead. Due to all the high elevation rains we had last week the east side rivers were high and blown out. A few folks did catch a some Trout, but I didn’t even bother to wader up. The young guns did catch fish right in front of our lunch spot and one even hooked a Steelhead on his Trout rod. What a deal! Overall it was a very fun time and you should plan on joining us next year!

And if you’re still looking to get your Trout fix I would be thinking about the Deschutes or the Metolius now that the rivers are dropping again. Fishing will be good, but I would focus on nymphing. Stoneflies nymphs with egg patterns trailing would be a good option as a few Salmon are still spawning. Small greenish nymphs like a caddis or BWO would also be a good choice. You still have about 30 days to fish the Warm Springs stretch of the Deschutes for both Trout and Steelhead before it closes for the season. Remember that the west bank is closed. There are good numbers of fish around.

Personally, I’m looking towards the Sandy River. I fished there the past two weeks both days the water was high. It was rainy and blustery typical of late fall fishing. We had a couple of encounters with fish, but they were non-committal.

I know for a fact that winter Steelhead are beginning to be caught and I'm already planning my Sunday/Monday fishing outings. Sandy, Clack, or maybe somewhere on the coast, anything is possible, but I’ll be keeping an eye on the river gauges. For the next few months my fishing will be decided by the USGS gauges. When it rains and the rivers are swollen, I’ll pack my rain gear knowing that I’ll have a good shot at one of those elusive fish.


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