General Info: Winter-run steelhead are on a pedestal. No other freshwater fish has such mystiqur. Anglers can spend an entire season swinging away without so much as a tug. Its almost par for the course. But when that big, chrome winter steelhead finally pulls on your fly.... OOOOHHH. There is nothing like it. Most of the employees at Big Y would consider themselves to be some type of "winter steelhead junkie" or are in some sort of steelhead recovery. While we get plenty of trout, bass and salmon fishing done, we live and breathe for winter steelhead season.
Winter steelhead are more pervasive on the coastal streams of the Pacific Northwest than their summer cousins. Summer fish are found further up the Columbia and its tributaries, and less in the coastal streams. However, winter fish do travel up the Columbia River, and summer fish are found in most coastal rivers.
Fun Fact: The Hood River (home of Big Y) is the furthest upstream tributary on the Columbia River that winter steelhead will travel. We are at the end of the line for winter steelhead, and we are OK with that.
Most winter steelhead anglers prefer to swing flies on a switch or spey rod using a Skagit line system (Developed on the Skagit River, WA). While winter steelhead can be caught on nymphs, the majority of anglers prefer to swing articulated intruders in the winter. These are our favorite flies for swinging up a winter steelhead. For steelhead nymphs, you can visit the Great Lakes Page.
nymphs can be found on the Great Lakes steelhead page, and bigger
swinging patterns can be found on the Winter Steelhead or Chinook Salmon
Rods: 7-8wt switch/spey rods as long as needed for river. Rods up to 13'6" rods are common, but most anglers would be fine in the Pacific
Northwest with a 7wt switch rod between 11'-12'.