Notoriously elusive and much sought after, the Oregon steelhead is the subject of many a tale about icy winter rivers, overcast skies and hours lost to exasperating and fruitless effort.

Here’s a morale booster: The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) wants to remind us that steelhead run in the summer, too. “Summer steelhead fishing is the exact opposite of winter. It’s sunny, it’s warm, and you can hang out at the beach,” said David Lane, ODFW marketing coordinator.

Summer steelhead season opens on May 16 between Tongue Point and the I-5 bridge. Starting June 16, the Astoria-Megler bridge to the Oregon-Washington border is open for steelhead fishing. ODFW, which considers the summer steelhead a stable fishery, estimates that nearly 400,000 will swim up the lower Columbia River this summer. Travel Oregon and ODFW have put together a helpful website for regional anglers complete with maps, fish counts, tide tables and fishing conditions (www.steelheadsummer.com). The map recommends fishing spots from as far west as Jones Beach and as far east as the Deschutes River State Recreation Area. In the Portland Metro area you can cast from more than a dozen locations.

If you are new to steelhead fishing, Rick Sabol, owner of Deschutes Steelheader Co. and a fisherman since the age of four, said the best thing you can do is hire a guide. “There is so much to learn,” he said. After all, they call steelhead the fish of a thousand casts for a reason. “You will cut down on your time and make it more productive,” he said. Many guiding companies provide fishing gear, which is another plus.

Steelhead are born in freshwater, migrate to sea, and return to their birthplace to spawn. Only hatchery-raised steelhead may be kept, while wild fish must be released when caught. (You can tell a hatchery fish by its clipped adipose fin — the one on its back by the tail.)

Sabol agreed with Lane about the accessibility of summer time fishing. “If you have a spouse like mine who only likes fair weather fishing, summer steelhead is key,” he said.

To fish in Oregon’s rivers, you need a standard fishing license as well as a Combined Angling Tag. Check out the ODFW’swebsite SteelheadSummer.com for tips on cleaning, freezing and cooking steelhead and to purchase fishing licenses, find maps, weekly fishing reports and more.

About the Author: Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin is the editor of Travel Oregon’s Seasonal Features, enewsletters and annual visitor guide. When she’s not cooking up trip ideas, Oregon Dreamer profiles and outdoor adventures to write about, she’s out exploring Oregon.

Flag as Incorrect

Is any of the information on this page incorrect?

In this Oregon Story

These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

A Related Story

Looking for more stories like this? Here’s a suggestion…

  1. Lisa’s Cheese/Chocolate Cuisinternship: Day Three

    Editor’s Note: Our Cheese and Chocolate Cuisinternship Winner, Lisa Graff, recently completed her week long…

Share your thoughts Comments

Have something to say? Your Comment

  1. vic says…

    It’s been a long time but I got turned on to mid summer steelhead fishing on the Santiam. Apparently there is a second run in July. It was hot but we both caught our limit within two hours. We fished the tail ins and tail outs with sand shrimp. Using a diving bass lure with the hooks removed and about 18 inches of leader to the shrimp. The lure kept the shrimp just off the bottom. Exactly where the steelhead were. What a day!!

    Written on May 19th, 2011 / Flag this Comment
css.php
Close

Sign up for the

Travel Oregon

Newsletter

Stay in touch and get the inside scoop for your next Oregon adventure. We'll deliver Oregon stories, itineraries, contests and ideas of where to eat + drink and get outdoors and explore - right to your inbox, every month.

Success! You're all signed up to receive Oregon trip ideas delivered right to your inbox.

Hmm, something went wrong, please try later.

can't wait to hear from us?

Follow us Online