Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Winter Steelhead Fishing on Southern Oregon's Rivers

steelhead-Chetco-riverFor the past couple of months we've been experiencing some epic late summer steelheading on the Rogue - hard fighting, acrobatic fish weighing in at 6 to7 pounds, with an occasional 10 pound plus fish really putting a bend in the rod.

Its about this time of year, I start to wonder when the 1st beast of winter is going to show up in the net. For winter steeelhead its all in the timing. Its common for these chrome rockets fresh from the ocean to weigh in at 12 plus pounds.

After the 1st rains, winter steelhead shoot upstream. Coastal rivers like the Chetco get the 1st blast of these big winter fish.  The Chetco is one of the most majestic rivers on the Oregon coast and one of the easier to fish because of wide gravel bottoms. This makes for easy casting and long snag free drifts.

By early to mid-winter steelhead will have migrated upstream. This is when I like to fish the Umpqua. The Umpqua river requires a bit more boating and casting skills, being a rockier and tighter river, and might test your patience, but also may reward you with the steelhead of a lifetime.  A 20 pound trophy winter steelhead is not uncommon here.

By late winter steelhead begin stacking up at  the top of the river, and we return home to the Rogue. With increasing air and water temperatures combined with back trolling plugs makes for some powerful take-downs.

Winter steelheading takes dedication but the rewards are worth the effort. This is the season of big fish.