greg hedricks guide service

Oregon Fishing Seasons

Winter Steelhead  ( December 1st - April 30th)
Winter Steelhead begin to enter the Oregon coastal rivers around Thanksgiving, with the peak of the run ranging from early February to late March, depending on the river system. Winter Steelhead also enter some of the Willamette River tributaries but typically don't arrive until late winter or early spring. Steelhead are a truly incredible species that pound per pound, fight as hard as any other fish. Steelhead are not a species of salmon but are actually a rainbow trout that goes to the ocean for a couple years where they grow into an adult, just like all other salmonid species. The difference between steelhead and salmon is that steelhead don't die after spawning, which is one of the many reasons that make steelhead so special. After spawning sometime in late winter or early spring, some steelhead will be strong enough to make it back to ocean where they will live and feed for another year before coming back to the same area where they were born and spawn again.

The technique primarily used by Greg to catch winter steelhead is side drifting and bobber dogging. Pulling plugs is another great way to catch steelhead but has become somewhat of a lost art these days. Its a technique that can often times put fish in the boat when other techniques are not working. Plugs are responsible for catching some of the larger steelhead every year too! Some of the presentations Greg uses to catch winter steelhead include:
  • Yarnie & Eggs (where bait is allowed)
  • Beads (hard & soft)
  • Rubber Worms
  • Jigs
  • Prawns/Coon Shrimp/Sand Shrimp
  • Plugs
Summer Steelhead  ( May 1st - October 30th)
Summer Steelhead begin to enter the river systems shortly after the winter fish complete their spawning. Although there are Summer Steelhead in some of the Oregon coastal streams, there typically isn't enough water in those streams come June and July when the majority of fish are in the river to safely access them from a boat. Because of this, the majority of the Summer Steelhead fishing is focused on the Willamette River and its tributaries like the Middle Fork, McKenzie, North & South Santiam, and Clackamas Rivers. By August, the bulk of the summer steelhead are already in the river, but due to the long, hot days of summer and gin clear water, catching them can become quite difficult. Changing up your presentations or the type of bait you're using can be critical when trying to entice these fish to bite. As the fall weather brings cooler temperatures, the steelhead fishing can be phenomenal! When most people are at the coast chasing salmon, Summer Steelhead can still be caught well into October.

Depending on the river system, almost any technique can work on Summer Steelhead, but knowing what techniques to use on what river system and in what holes is what turns a good day, into a day of limits! Greg employs a variety of techniques while Summer Steelhead fishing and is willing to focus on specific techniques if clients desire, just ask when booking. Techniques Greg specializes in include:
  • Side Drifting
  • Bobber Dogging
  • Bead Fishing (hard & soft)
  • Backtroll Plugs
  • Bobber and Jig
  • Hardware (Spinners & Spoons)
  • Float & Bait (eggs, prawns, sand shrimp, coon shrimp)
  • Diver & Bait
Spring Chinook  (May 1st - July 30th)
Spring Chinook, also known as "Springers" are one of Oregon's most amazing salmonid species. Springers begin to enter the Columbia River and continue into the Willamette beginning as early as February and continue to hold in the Willamette until river temps rise, typically in late April or early May. Once the Springers begin to make their move over the Willamette Falls, they move quickly through the warm water of the Willamette River back to the tributaries where they originated from. Springers return to both the Coast and Middle Fork of the Willamette River, as well as the McKenzie, Clackamas, and Santiam Rivers. Springers will hold in the deepest holes on the river throughout the summer and wont spawn until after the fall rains arrive. Because of this, Springers contain high amounts of fat content in order to survive in fresh water through the Oregon summer months. This means their meat quality stays good despite the darker appearance from living in warm, fresh water.  Spring Chinook can often times be referred to as "lock jawed," so coming prepared with a variety of baits and fishing techniques is crucial to a successful day on the water. Techniques that Greg uses to catch Spring Chinook include:
  • Float Fishing
  • Back Bouncing
  • Diver & Bait
  • ​Plugs

Fall Chinook & Coho   (August 1st - November 30th)
Fall Chinook, also known as "Kings," begin to enter the Oregon coastal rivers in late July or early August and will stage in the upper bay and lower portions of the river until the first fall rains. Coho salmon, also known as "Silvers," follow right behind the first big push of Chinook, but due to low returns in recent years, the wild component of the Coho returns have been mostly catch and release on many Oregon rivers. Typically by early October there's enough water to get both the fish into the river as well as the drift boat.  ​Both Chinook and Coho will continue to push into the rivers through the month of November, and most years fresh Chinook can be caught all the way up to Thanksgiving. 

The fall salmon fishery can be broken down into two distinct fisheries, the bay/tidewater and the upriver fishery. Fishing in the bay and lower tidewater consists primarily of trolling with herring or spinners and then bobber fishing the tidewater section with eggs, sand shrimp, sardines, etc. Once the fish enter the river they're focused on reaching their spawning grounds, not looking for a last meal, so using a variety of baits and techniques can sometimes be the key to getting them to bite again. Techniques Greg specializes in include:
  • Trolling
  • Float Fishing
  • Back Bouncing
  • Diver and Bait
  • Plugs
  • Bobber Dogging
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