Steelhead Fishing

They call it the fish of a thousand casts. The steelhead is one of the most exciting—and frustrating fish to go for. Steelhead fishing techniques are important to know before your first steelhead fishing trip, and you can find them here. Whether you're fishing for steelhead in eastern Oregon on the Wallowa or the Deschutes or fishing the coast—Gary's steelhead fishing tips and stories can help you get inspired about your fishing trip, as well as informed on what you need to know!

  • Steelhead in Indian Country

    Anyone who has drifted from Warm Springs to Trout Creek, anyone who has swung a fly at South Junction or bounced through White Horse Rapids has seen Al Bagley or one of his boats, working River Left.

  • For Spring Steelhead Action, Go Early and Often

    Gary Lewis and Mia Sheppard Spring Steelhead fly fishing on the Sandy River in Oregon. Spey fishing on a downstream swing.

  • Beaver Pelts and Bobber-doggin'

    The hunt for "chromer" steelhead on the mainstem Umpqua.

  • Jousting with Steelhead

    Late in the morning we switched to pink plastic worms, which Palmer says has become his go-to bait when the fish won't touch eggs. Kremers touched a fish right away and then, at straight-up noon, a streak of rainbow-splashed chrome slammed my bait.

  • Unexpected Gifts - Steelhead in Prose and Otherwise

    Steelhead rivers have always been my escape and that is why I was drawn to a book called Steelhead Fly Angling with the subtitle Not your grandpa’s primer on how to catch steelhead.

  • To the Craft Store for Steelhead, Salmon and Trout

    I was interested in beads for steelhead, but I didn’t feel I needed to get deep into a new system, when I have a garage full of tackle already. Then I met Loren Dunbar, one of the founders of the Hevi Bead system. Dunbar moved to Eastern Washington from Colorado 18 years ago and started fishing for steelhead. He came not from a tackle background, but from furniture sales and a passion for fly-fishing.

  • Beaver Pelts and Bobber-Doggin’ on the Umpqua

    In 1832 the Hudson’s Bay Company built a fort that was to become the southernmost outpost of the fur company’s influence. From here the HBC controlled the trade for beaver on the Umpqua, the Rogue and the Klamath. And the beaver pelt became the medium of exchange until the winds of fashion in Europe changed. There was a time on the river when to buy five fish hooks, glass beads or brandy or just about anything else you had to pay in beaver.

  • Summer Steelhead are Suckers for the Right Spinner

    It was already warm when I stepped from the truck at 7:00 in the morning. Heavy clouds kept the warmth of the previous day from escaping in the night. I was wearing camouflage, all gray, to help me pass for a rock. The water was low and the rip-rapped channel provided no cover to hide me from the fish. As long as I could blend in to my surroundings I had a chance to catch a fish. There wasn’t anything special about this place other than that it held fish. It wasn’t particularly pretty, no white water, no long smooth pool - just a few boulders and some fast water giving way to a short bend hole.

  • Pitching Steel for Deschutes River Chrome

    There were a lot of empty trailers in the parking lot. We were in for some competition, not just for fish, but for a rock to stand on. The word was out. By the first of July, summer-run steelhead make a hard right turn out of the Columbia into the cooler water of the Deschutes. Before the first snow flies, they’ll be spread from the mouth up to Pelton Dam.

  • All Aboard – For Steelhead on the Wallowa River

    It wasn’t going to be easy. We took a left turn at La Grande and headed for Minam, but not before we stopped at the Mt. Emily Ale House, eight of us armed with long rods and chest waders. Jerry Grant introduced himself, a fisheries biologist turned brewmeister with creations like Heifer-Weizen, Paleface Ale, and Northwest Porter on tap. I can vouch for their root beer. But we couldn’t stay, we had to catch a train.

  • A Guide to Deschutes Steelhead

    The 252-mile Deschutes is a river of many moods, draining a large part of central Oregon on its way to the Columbia. Bighorns and mule deer are often seen on the canyon walls. Chukar call from the rimrocks and wild turkey live among the oaks that line the tributaries. The river is known for blue-ribbon trout fishing, but its steelheading is also world-class.

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