Willamette River Steelhead Fishing Tips

Willamette River Steelhead Fishing TipsLocated in western Oregon, the Willamette River offers steelhead fishing. The river also has fishing for salmon, shad, sturgeon, walleye and smallmouth bass. The Willamette is a large river, and most of the fishing on it requires a boat. However, it can be accessed above Willamette Falls on foot, and the numerous tributaries offer fishing without the use of a boat. The most popular method of fishing is with spinning tackle from boats and bait from the shore. Fly fishermen can also catch steelhead on the river but usually focus more on the tributaries.

Seasons and Regulations

The Willamette River has a summer and winter run of steelhead. The winter run supports more steelhead than the summer run because of the cooler water temperatures. The summer run is productive, but many anglers focus on the colder tributaries where the fish will eventually spawn. The average Willamette steelhead is between 8 and 12 lbs., with larger fish being common. The regulations should be checked frequently because they are subject to change. The summer and winter runs are both productive for keeping hatchery fish since more than 300,000 fish enter the river system.


Bank Fishing

Steelhead on the Willamette River will hold close to the bank as they migrate upstream. Bank fisherman have success by finding deep troughs within casting range and dropping bait into the deep water. Lures can also be used in the deep troughs, but bait fishermen have the advantage of keeping their hooks in the water until a steelhead passes through the area. Effective baits include salmon eggs, powerbait and custom steelhead baits found at local tackle shops. Fly fishermen can also fish from the shore by spey casting wet flies and streamers. Fly fishermen can also have success with drift fishing techniques.

Boat Fishing

Boat fishing provides anglers with a major advantage on the Willamette. Although the steelhead will hold close to the shore, using a boat allows you travel quickly and change locations easily. Boat fisherman will travel until a deep bank-side trough is located, and they will anchor within casting range. Once anchored, it is possible to work the area thoroughly with plugs, bait, lures and drift fishing techniques. Other areas where boat anglers will find steelhead include points and natural barriers. Points and barriers provide and obstruction that the fish will predictably swim around.


Article Written By Zach Lazzari

Zach Lazzari is an outdoor writing specialist. He has experience in website writing as well as standard newspaper writing. He wrote an outdoor column for the Silver World in Lake City, Colo., and articles for Colorado-mountain-adventure.com. Lazzari is currently completing his bachelor's degree online through Arizona State University and lives in southwest Montana.

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