Major waterfalls are present below Loup and above Bugaboo Creeks and there are numerous smaller falls and cascades. On my first cast, I hooked a wild steelhead that flashed upstream through the fast water with such force that the sinkers were pushed up the line. This is where winter steelhead bunch up before entering the Clackamas River. A dark area will indicate where a pinhole’s present. In the winter the water level is much higher and flows faster. Staying with Brazda’s means taking part of an authentic Northwest way of life. Gearing Up for Winter. Large old-growth deciduous forests dwarf anglers as they swing flies on the green-tinted rivers below. Fresh fish, in the vernacular, are both bright and hot. Make sure to bring that warm hat you have lying around the house. We were using roe with split shot sinkers. The lower five kilometres are relatively gentle as the river slides by the old Deacon and Beauchene Farm and into its estuary depositing its burden of gravel and sediment ripped off the mountainsides by hundreds of tributaries many of which collect logging induced landslides. Of course we were by no means the first fishermen to discover the river. Bugaboo Falls is the upper limit of salmon and winter steelhead migration although it’s possible that a few of both make it over the falls once in awhile. The steelhead returns on the Hoh have continued to be strong, largely because of the many miles of protected spawning habitat in the upper Hoh drainages that originate in Olympic National Park. The hardcore freshwater angler can target the mighty steelhead in San Juan River, Gordon River, Harris Creek, and Caycuse River from December to February. The huge fish leaped high in the upper pool as I threw the rod down on bowling ball boulders and tried to pull the weights back down the line. Lots of movement and weight is the perfect recipe for a great steelhead fly. Lastly, and something that can quickly put a damper on your steelhead trip is leaky waders. He also hooked a good fish that broke him off. A good rule-of-thumb is to pack in layers. Coweeman River This stream is a tributary of the Cowlitz River. Developed by Charles St. Pierre, the fly is hands-down our go-to on any steelhead river. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll wake up to the local elk herd grazing the nearby meadow. For my winter setup, I use a thin-diameter floating running line instead of a … The North Central Island Region covers a vast area of Vancouver Island and centres around the communities of the Comox Valley , Campbell River and Gold River . The water is cold and winter fish won’t move far for the fly so low and slow is the way to fish. Loup Creek Falls has been worked on since 1985 and is no longer significantly restricting summer steelhead access into the Upper Gordon and Loup Creek and Forest Renewal BC has funded several studies of the river and its fisheries improvement needs and opportunities. So when Anthony DeiCicchi and Ryan Bibeau told me they were determined to go steelhead fishing this winter a couple months ago, we checked our schedules and and talked to our significant others and landed on the weekend of January 16 and 17. Spinners Have an Advantage in Dark Water Winter rain or snowmelt can turn the rivers murky and swift. Before you leave thoroughly check your waders for any leaks and pinholes. Until earlier that year, I had been barely aware of the Gordon River. Before too long we found a place where we could scramble down to the river. Unfortunately, many were meat fishermen who did most of their angling with treble hooks in the pools below Loup Creek Falls. The hard-fighting, acrobatic Oregon Winter Steelhead start entering Oregon coastal rivers in late November and run through March. One of the most pronounced differences between winter and summer fishing is the level of the Cowlitz River. Gentle areas are few for the next twenty three kilometres as the river races past Gordon River Camp which has been operating since the 1940’s and picks up dozens of small and large tributaries like the East and West Forks, McBain, Lookout, and Loup. It’s difficult to pick just a few, but the following rivers are synonymous with strong returns of steelhead and should be on the list of anyone traveling to the Olympic Peninsula. The Olympic Peninsula is widely known as producing some of the largest and wildest steelhead found in the Lower 48. Over the next few months our steelhead rivers will get pummeled with fierce storms and high water events. Fall runs of actively-chasing fish, migrating from the lake, or the coveted 7-14 day window in spring where anglers literally have to watch every step … But if the sun’s behind clouds or there’s a little moisture in the air, then packing good warm clothes is absolutely necessary. We start by navigating various logging roads which wind through our lush coastal forest, possibly catching a glimps of wildlife such as beers, black tail deer, wolves or maybe even a cougar, before hiking down to a pool full of wild steelhead. Special thanks to guest blogger Lisa D. Jenkins. ... Until earlier that year, I had been barely aware of the Gordon River. That conversation was the reason Earl and I were tangled in the salal wishing I’d kept my ears shut. Related Tips “The crew was looking for bridge sites in the Gordon River canyon last week and they saw steelhead, lots of them. There were three fishable places: a long lower run, a middle piece of racy water with some And there are many in the Gordon – over 500 slope failures have occurred and 93 percent happened in logged areas. Swinging flies is typically the best by the middle of September, and the preferred method until the “egg drop” later in the season. With lots of movement in the water, these flies are irresistible to fish. Winter steelhead tend to be line-shy, making it necessary to use a relatively light tippet—4- to 6-pound-test fluorocarbon. Remember that the Molalla river is the list of rivers federally determined to be navigable, so hike around with confidence, just stay below the normal high water line. Steelhead are always thinking about two things… The South Umpqua can be quite good for hatchery winter steelhead, often a better bet than the main Umpqua, and it should come into shape ahead of the bigger river. Feature Photo Credit: Exodus Wilderness Adventures. This part of the river is highly unstable. The precipitous slopes are hard pressed to process the torrential rain and quick snowmelt in their natural state. After about ten minutes of struggle, we were in cool timber cruising easily along the old trail to the abandoned Black Prince Mine on Bugaboo Creek, a tributary of the Gordon. Steelhead is an adronomous species meaning they spend part of their lives in the freshwater and part of it in the salt. Duncan Conservation Officer Jack Fox mentioned hunters bringing out a few in October and a one time camp cook spoke of occasionally catching the odd one at Christmas for the men that stayed in camp over the break. I do have openings that come up randomly. However, for anglers that want to target winter-run steelhead Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is the perfect location. Each winter at this time some of the steelhead/rainbow trout naturally spawn in the Feather River but the majority of the spawn takes place in the Feather River Hatchery. Its confluence with the Cowlitz is at Kelso. The winter steelheader has the opportunity to catch both Campbell winter steelhead and Quinsam River winter steelhead in those pools below the confluence of the Quinsam with the Campbell. Pick ‘Yer Pocket – Purple, Orange, Black If you’ve been looking for an Olympic National Park fishing trip with an outfitter who truly believes that fly fishing is not just a sport but a way of life then a trip with Brazda’s Fly Fishing is a must. However it wasn’t until the mid-seventies and beyond that the Gordon began to be known as a great stream among steelheaders of Southern Vancouver Island. , movement, and something that can quickly put a damper on your steelhead trip is leaky waders imposed. Stories of the surplus fish will be sent to the bottom in the cold winter months been well-stocked trout. Fish returns an incomparable prize we are Oregon winter steelhead is my steelhead! 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