The calendar may say winter but there’s no need to put the fishing rods and reels on the shelf because Oregon owns too many places to catch big fish year round.
It pays to be ready when winter steelhead fishing season is in full swing according to longtime “steelheader,” Jack Hargrave.
“It a super sport – it’s outdoors – it’s a good, clean healthy sport. You have to put in your time, but if you do, you’ll catch them.”
George Backlund also puts in his time on the North Fork Nehalem River Hatchery’s disabled angle platform.
It is an Oregon Dept of Fish and Wildlife fishing hot spot when the steelhead are on the bite.
State Fishery Biologist, Todd Alsbury, said this year the fishing season is off to an early start:
“They are sea going trout – rainbow trout, that go out to the sea for 2 or 3 years and return to spawn. So, that seaward migration allows them to put on a good number of pounds. The average size steelhead might be 7 or 8 pounds but they can get up in the 20’s and even 30 pound range.”
ODFW even shows you how to get started with a brochure titled “Oregon Steelhead Fishing” that nails down the basics – it’s free and available on-line.
“One of the best feelings you can have is to catch a winter steelhead in the middle of winter, added Alsbury. “It’s a beautiful fish and a beautiful time to be out in the woods and be on the river.”
State Fishery Biologist, Tom Murtagh, said that ocean going rainbows aren’t the only Oregon game fish available to catch in winter.
“We also have plenty of places to catch rainbow trout. Try “Highway Lakes”
out on Interstate-84 or “Blue Lake,” “Hartman Pond” and “St Louis Ponds” are all good bets to catch a trout because they were all were recently stocked.”
A free fishing guide titled “50 Places to go Fishing Within 60 Minutes of Portland” is available at Oregon Fish and Wildlife offices or you can download it from the agency site.
If you’re lucky enough to catch a stringer of trout or a nickel-plated winter steelhead, you may be wondering what to do with the catch?
Longtime angler Birt Hansen said that he fishing adventure doesn’t end when rods are stored away at the end of the day, but continues indoors –in the kitchen.
He encourages his grandson, Cole Hansen, to prepare the catch, but he likes to keep things simple with quick, easy recipes that taste good and allow the kids to do the cooking.
We recently met the duo to learn about a unique recipe of mustard and lemon juice topped with brown sugar.
“I just liked the idea of the sour and the sweet coming together; it catches a lot of folks by surprise because they think: ‘Oh no – not mustard!” But it’s interesting because the two flavors offset and result in an exciting taste.”
Cole applied a thick coat of yellow mustard across a medium sized filet, followed by lemon juice and then topped with another thick coat of dark brown sugar.
The fish was placed in a 350-degree oven for 15-18 minutes and then served alongside salad and sour dough.
It was a delicious and unique recipe that didn’t interfere with the fine taste of the fish and Cole beamed at the results: “Yum – if I can do this anyone can,” he exclaimed.
Anyone can because the beauty of fishing in Oregon is that angling is right at hand — anytime of year.
About the Author: Grant McOmie
Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.
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