Steelhead Road Trip

February 21, 2016

When the pineapple express hit Washington State blowing out most of the rivers I decided it was time to pack up, select my favorite winter spey rod for tight quarters, and load up the yeti cooler for Southern Oregon.  Southern Oregon offers winter steelhead on many rivers in the area of Roseburg.  The Coquille and the the Umpqua are two area favorites.   Trey Combs once said, "The North Umpqua is steelheader's finishing school".   I think he was referring to summer river flows because in the winter the high flows can be very dangerous.   A wading staff and wading boots with good cleats are required.   

Exploring the Umpqua river along Highway 138 offers steelhead beats both in the 33 miles of "Fly Fishing Only" and in the many miles of river access below the fly water to Roseburg.  This adventure started with the river in excellent condition for swinging winter steelhead flies.  The following winter steelhead flies show the heavy lead eye intruder style flies I selected for this quest. 

Yes, you will spend days exploring the scenic beauty of the river without a fish, but sometimes lady luck happens.  This winter steelhead was hooked spey casting my Hardy Zenith 12 1/2 foot, 7/8 wt Spey rod rigged with a OPST 50 lb lazar running line, 540 grain Skagit head, 12 1/2 MOW Medium sink tip and 6 ft of 12 lb Maxima Ultragreen leader to the fly.

Look for slow moving water and swing your fly from the fast water edge into the pool.  
This chromer hit on the hang down just as I started to strip my Skagit head for another Spey cast.


Heavy rain the last two days has the Coquille "blown out" and the North Umpqua river at Winchester Dam at 10,800 cubic feet per second, both are currently not fishable.  If you are new to winter steelhead fishing, or if you would like to begin the rewarding adventure of spey casting for steelhead, Red's Fly Shop offers both Spey Lessons, and complete Spey Packages that will get you on the river.  March is a top producing month for winter steelhead on many Northwest rivers like the North Umpqua, Sandy, Hoh, Quinault, Sol Duc, and Queets rivers.  

Cheers,  Roger

  1. Looks like a great trip! Wish I was there too.
  2. Hey Roger, Nice report, hope to get on those water one day. Thanks for the preview sir!