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Oregon: description of the rivers | Salmon Junkies

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Oregon: description of the rivers


Swinging for winter steelheads is for the hardcore Spey geeks. When that said, you will face days with glorious moments and lots for action, but as In all fishing you will also have challenging days where you have to work very hard for the fish – Expect between 1 or 2 Steelhead per day. As you will be guided by the best guides available, we can guarantee that they will do there very best, in order to optimize your chances

Sandy River

The Sandy River, a tributary of the Columbia River, is a beautiful, intimate river, originating on the slopes of Mt. Hood, running 56 miles long. Located east of Portland; the Sandy River produces good numbers of winter Steelhead. Some years more than 10.000 Steelheads enter the Sandy river. The largest run of wild Steelhead enters the river January and continues through May. In February Steelhead start to enter the system, giving you a chance at hooking a winter or summer fish. We offer day floats on the “wild and scenic” stretch of the Sandy.

These rivers are perfectly suited to be fished in the classic wet fly swing, using a sink-tip. Two handed “spey” rods are very effective. Your guide will always have lunch, flies, and few rods to demo at no extra fee. All of the knowledge of catching Steelhead on the fly will be passed on to you by educating you on fly selection, reading water, mending, casting instruction, and storytelling.

John Day River:


Running over 280 miles, the John Day River is the second longest free-flowing rivers in the United States. It is protected as a “Wild and Scenic” river under Oregon Scenic Waterways Act. The country is characterized by steep basalt canyon walls, juniper, and sagebrush dotted hills, abandoned homesteads, and petro glyphs. Long story short. The scenery like taken from an old John Wayne movie, and you expect to see an Indian on every hill, watching the endless prairie. John Day is one of the most spectacular river corridors in the state with a wild run of summer Steelhead, considered one of the last true wild runs in the lower 48. The John Day is Sheppard’s favorite rivers. Small and intimate with little pressure from other anglers, you will feel you have the river to yourself. Salmon Junkies have exclusive access to some 30 km of John Day. This truly is a unique Steelhead experience.

Clackamas River

The Clackamas River begins as a high alpine stream in the Northern Oregon Cascade Mountains before it descends over eighty miles to the west where it eventually meets the tidally influenced Willamette River in Oregon City. Known locally as the Clack, it drains the forests, springs and snowmelt of the western Cascadian ridgeline between Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson. The source of its most northern fork is less than ten miles from the house I grew up in. This cold, clear, nutrient-rich water is perfect habitat for many fish species, both resident and anadromous. For Jeff Hickman, the waters of the Clack run deep into his memory and heritage. It is where he caught many of his first small-stream trout on dry flies, and also where he was first introduced to wild winter steelhead. Jeff now live only ten steps from a great piece of swinging water.

The Clack’s water from the mouth upstream to River Mill Dam near Estacada is where all of its anadromous fishing takes place. This section of river provides an abundance of awesome year-round opportunity for a steelheader. Its waters beg for flies swung on two-handed rods and chrome fish are there twelve months out of the year to intercept those flies and stretch your backing.

Fishing the lower Clack, we wade in the green water and swing our flies through the river’s countless ledgy slots, boulder strewn runs and broad tailouts. Jeff prefer to use his 20ft jet boat to get from spot to spot, it is key for success. The jet boat gives Jeff and his guests maximum flexibility to adjust and adapt to the changing conditions and the ability to stay in the fish and not waste time floating between spots. The Clack’s bounty is no secret. Don’t expect to be the only boat on the water. Though, with the flexibility of the jet boat you can usually find solitude and be at the right spot at the right time to connect with the river’s awesome ocean bright fish. And remember – Clack fish are very aggressive to the fly, and if your efforts are concentrated in the right places, you are often rewarded.

The Coastal Rivers

Located about 150 kilometers West of Portland, Oregon’s North Coast is a raw land of temperate rainforests that descend directly to the salt. The North Coast is buoyed by the Nehalem River System to the North and the Wilson and Trask Rivers to the south. These steelhead producing rivers along with many smaller streams and tributaries provide ample fly fishing opportunities for the angler to ply their trade within hours of the fish leaving tidewater. This green, lush landscape provides amazing backdrops to the emerald color of these riversduring optimum fishing conditions.  Expect daily wildlife sightings of Bald Eagles and Ospreys, various seabirds, and the occasional Roosevelt Elk.

The Wilson and Trask Rivers parallell each other before terminating in the anadromous fish producing area known as Tillamook Bay.  These rivers offer manageable fishing for anglers of all casting abilities.  Both rivers begin to see fish numbers increase with the first freshets of winter and peak steelhead run times are mid-February though March.  Both hatchery based and native steelhead are available in these river systems.  Fly tackle matched for these rivers would be shorter spey rods or “switch” rods matched to a Skagit head with an assortment of interchangeable sink tips.

The Nehalem River is the crown jewel of the North Coast with regards to spey fishing.  Often temperamental with regards to water clarity, the Nehalem offers the chance to swing flies to large, native fish in a pristine environment.  This larger river really allows the advanced angler to shine as they step and the fly swings over the basalt ledges.  The largest of our coastal drainages, the Nehalem is over one hundred miles in length, but is virtually unpopulated through the lower 40 miles.  It is here where we concentrate our fishing.  At roughly 20 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean, the Salmonberry River enters the main Nehalem.  It is one of the main steelhead spawning tributaries and is a famous fishery in it’s own right.

Read More about Oregon


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