Winter Steelhead Fishing: Holiday Options

a beautiful tillamook county steelhead

With Thanksgiving behind us and December upon us, I believe it is safe to talk about the upcoming steelhead season. I have already seen a few confirmed pictures of steelhead that have been caught, and that makes me optimistic for what’s to come considering we’re hardly in the thick of it at this point.

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Different Rivers, Runs & Timing

While it is easy to just lump all the components of a steelhead run, and generally say that steelhead come back from December through April, it is not the most productive way to really fish our coastal streams for steelhead. What is neat about the Oregon Coast is there are lots of rivers very close to each other that are all different. Some have hatchery fish, some don’t, and some runs are earlier while others are much later. Yes, all of the rivers will have fish in them by December, but we are in the business of fishing where the MOST fish are. Some streams have hatchery components that will see their first fish very soon and their last one by mid January, whereas other rivers will not really get going until January. The rivers we fish are North Fork of the Nehalem, South Fork of the Nehalem, Kilchis, Wilson, Trask and Nestucca. Moving is key, and here at Lance Fisher Fishing we have patterned the steelhead runs to know where to be throughout the long season.

fisherman looks down at winter steelhead in his hands over the river

Steelhead Fishing: Hands-On Approach

While trolling from the power boat in generally nice weather is always fun, it is still trolling and waiting. When we fish for steelhead, the approach is much more hands on. While we do back troll plugs at times, most of the fishing on our steelhead trips will be casting oriented, with a variety of baits or artificial lures. You will learn to work a run in the river and mend your line, presenting your bait perfectly to the chrome fish hiding below.

Different Types of Fishing Trips

As mentioned above, there are many rivers we float out here on the Oregon Coast, and they are all different. This allows us to customize the trip to your skill or comfort level. We offer whitewater trips for the hardcore steelheader, where waders are required, as you are in a raft, not a dry drift boat. These trips are very scenic and have less people on them. While this may be a good option for some people, others might want to do a different river, where the gradient is long and not steeply sloped. This allows for a more beginner-friendly system where there is more room to cast and work on honing your skills for the day.

We start our steelhead season on December 15th and run it to the end of March. Know that we have gift certificates available for the holidays. Here’s some more information for you if you’re interested. For booking information, recommendations on where to stay, or eat after your trip feel free to contact us. We are more than happy to answer any questions you may have, as well as set you up on a trip you soon won’t forget!

two grinning fishermen hold up a beautiful winter steelhead