Winter and Spring is for the mossy banked, forested westside rivers of Northern Oregon. The season of emerald green water, big flies, sink tips and thick shouldered mature steelhead. Crisp mornings, fog, drizzle, rain, and occasional breaks of warm sun. This is the season that shapes us as steelheaders. There is no anticipation like that of a Winter steelhead tug. From December through April, we obsess over river graphs, freezing levels and weather forecasts. Winter steelhead require dedication.
In May and June our focus shifts. The Willamette Valley hosts numerous opportunities for chrome bright Summer steelhead and Spring Chinook salmon. If you have never done it, a Spring Chinook on a swung fly is nothing short of amazing. The river is vibrant green and full of life this time of year. These early returning Summer Steelhead are as hot and chrome as steelhead get!
CLACKAMAS RIVER, OREGON:
Our Clackamas River Lodge program is the ultimate all-inclusive Winter/Spring steelhead experience. Small group size of 4 or 5 anglers, 2 or 3 anglers per boat/guide. Beautiful and modern riverfront lodging is very comfortable with cell service and wi-fi. Each guest gets their own private bedroom with queen bed. Our talented chef prepares all the meals, and our fun yet professional guides will keep you in the best water for 8-10 hours each day. They will give you the best odds of success while improving your spey casting and fishing skills, we love teaching technique and enjoy our time on the water. Overnight, the jet boats stay in the water right in front of the lodge which also happens to be a great steelhead run...Steelheading doesn't get any more convenient than this!
all-inclusive RATES FOR Clackamas river lodge TRIPS:
$2200 - 3 days/3 nights
$2750 - 4 days/4 nights
$3300 - 5 days/5 nights
Watch the "Winter Run" video above filmed at the Clackamas River Lodge...More Clackamas River photos and info below...
Classic and seductive water, chrome bright steelhead all conveniently close to the Portland Airport. 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 Jeff grew up in. This cold, clear, nutrient-rich water is perfect habitat for many fish species, both resident and anadromous.
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. We prefer to use our 20ft jet boats to get from spot to spot, it is key for our success. The jet boat gives us 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 angler on the water. Though, with the flexibility of the jet boat you can usually find plenty of solitude and be at the right spot at the right time to connect with the river’s awesome ocean bright fish.
The fact that there are others on the water factors into our fishing techniques. First thing in the morning with good water conditions we may fish a bigger fly on a light sink tip over a broad tail out to rested fish. When we pull into another run later in the day, we assume that we are not the first person to fish that spot and switch to a smaller fly with a larger sink-tip and concentrate efforts on the deepest slot of the run. Taking into consideration all of the factors on the river greatly increases the odds of finding fish on a swung fly. Luckily for us, Clackamas fish are very aggressive to the fly, and if your efforts are concentrated in the right places, you are often rewarded.
COASTAL RIVERS, OREGON:
The coastal rivers of northern Oregon are legendary and secretive. Fish on the coast are close to the ocean and fresh from the salt. These river systems are short and steep. Whitewater on the coastal rivers is common, we use an excellent 13ft raft to access water away from the crowd. These are wild rivers and flow predominantly through public state forest lands. Floating through these deep green canyons you will feel like you are far away from civilization. The weather on the coast is unpredictable and changes fast, dark clouds and wet rain storms come in strong off of the North Pacific, but clear sunny weather can move in just as fast. Rain effects each system differently, and they all drop and clear at their own pace. Having the flexibility and experience to go where the water conditions are best, gives us the best odds of success. Timing is everything on the coast, but when it all lines up there are few rewards that can compare with a feisty coastal steelhead.
SANTIAM RIVER, OREGON:
Solitude, gorgeous swinging runs, easy wading, and multiple river options. Both forks of the Santiam River system begin high in the Mt Jefferson wilderness, flowing west, eventually converging and then entering the Willamette River in the heart of the Willamette Valley just south of our state capital Salem. Due to its origins high in the Cascade Mountains the water stays cold and clear for most of the year. Fish the Swing concentrates on the lower 30 miles of river, targeting the fresh anadromous fish destined for the upper reaches of the river system. Having access to fish the North Fork the South Fork and the lower mainstem all in one day gives us great odds of being at the right place at the right time.
Most of the river consists of cobblestone, creating big, broad, classic steelhead runs that are a joy to fish. Receiving both Summer and Winter Steelhead as well as Spring Chinook there are many opportunities for us to find fish willing to eat a swung fly. Utilizing our 20ft jet boat we have the ability to cover lots of water, making sure your flies swing through the most prime runs all day. The jet boat also allows us to follow the pods of fish as they work their way up the river, maximizing our chances for success. From dredging big flies with Skagit heads and sink-tips in the winter to skating dry flies on a floating line in the summer, this system is a blast to fish. We would love to spend time with you out on this lesser known river system. With solitude, beautiful scenery, beautiful water and chances at chrome bright anadromous fish, this trip must be experienced.