Year-Round Fishing and Flyfishing for Steelhead and Trout, Salmon in the Spring

The North Umpqua River has some of the healthiest runs of wild spring Chinook salmon and both summer and winter-run steelhead in the world. Its 33 miles of fly-only water begin within 2 miles of the Retreat.

This reach is World-famous as "the graduate school of steelhead flyfishing." The fish are finicky but strong, the rocks slippery but solid, the current powerful yet soothing. The casting is demanding and frustrating -- which emphasizes the satisfaction of your successes. The weather and scenery are awe-inspiring. There are no bad days.

This is also a special river in that steelhead can be fished for, and potentially caught, every day of the year! The summer and winter runs of steelhead overlap so there is never an empty month. That said, fishing for summer-run steelhead is best June-October, and fishing for winter-run steelhead is best January-April. Trout can be caught and released year-round; wild rainbows and coastal cutthroat trout up to 18 inches long are typical, as are steelhead, right in front of the Retreat.


Fly fishing in front of the Retreat, evening sunlight.

Stretching the fly line
Stretching the fly line on a steelhead strike!

Wild steelhead release
Wild steelhead release.


Big buck steelhead.

Chinook are most present and active in these parts May-June...but are never easy to catch. Mostly chinook fishing is a meat-fishing show using eggs, sand shrimp, and/or other baits either dead drifting, bottom-bouncing, plunking, or suspended as much as 20 ft deep from a large float. They mostly weigh in at 10-25 pounds of the most delicious omega-3 fatty-acid infused meat on the planet. Most of the best Chinook pools in the North Umpqua River are in the Rock Creek, Swiftwater, and Narrows areas within 2 miles of the Retreat.

 

Wild coastal cutthroat trout being released.
Wild coastal cutthroat trout being released.

Fresh-run Spring chinook -- strong and tasty!
Fresh-run Spring chinook; strong and tasty!

Drift fishing is also excellent for steelhead and chinook, and the uppermost limit of legal boat fishing is at the Lone Rock boat ramp only a mile downstream of the Retreat. A larger ramp at Colliding Rivers is only 5 miles downstream. Either of these ramps can provide a full day of productive driftboat fishing all within 20 miles of the Retreat.

Within 50 miles of the Retreat you can also reach the famous smallmouth bass and shad fishing on the main Umpqua River (July-August, and May respectively) or head up the mountains to a variety of lakes, ponds, and streams, some open year-round, for wild brown, brook, and rainbow trout. Or get some of those monster hatchery trout from Diamond Lake (May-October).

The above info may help guide your visit, but be sure to check the latest ODFW fishing regulations and also the weather forecast. And remember that, as my old friend John Voelker (a.k.a. Robert Traver, author of "Trout Madness") advises, "The best time to go fishing (and hence visit the North Umpqua Retreat) is whenever you can get away!"

Fishing licenses and regulations can be obtained at the Idleyld Trading Post, only a quarter mile from the Retreat.

 

Dr. Terry Roelofs ties up in the flywater.
Dr. Terry Roelofs ties up in the flywater.


Bank fishing the Rock Creek Hole.
Bank fishing the Rock Creek Hole.

Custom Ray's River Dory driftboat, pulling plugs.
Custom Ray's River Dory driftboat, pulling plugs.

 

A wild steelhead caught drifting downstream of the retreat.
A wild steelhead caught drifting downstream of the retreat.

heron
A native fisherman, patient and precise -- Great Blue Heron.


Baby steelhead feeding in the pool right at the North Umpqua Retreat!

Looking for an experienced local fishing guide?

Tony Wratney, SummerRun Guide Service, www.SummerRun.net, 541-496-3037; " Summer Run Guide Service is the longest-running guide service in the fly water. Specializes in stalking and wading to locate and flyfish over wild steelhead."

Dean Finnerty, www.DeanFinnerty.com, 541-942-3051; "We offer year round fishing opportunities on the World Famous "Fly water section" of the North Umpqua River for Steelhead on the fly, also Umpqua Smallmouth Bass and Shad as well as many Southern Oregon coastal streams and estuarys for opportunities to catch Salmon on the fly. Walk-in trips and boat trips from either a 16' Willie guide model McKenzie style driftboat or a 16' jet-sled.

Darren Roe, Roe Outfitters, www.RoeOutfitters.com, 541-884-3825; "Guided drift boat trips on the North, South and Main Umpqua. Fly fish or gear fish for steelhead or smallmouth bass with experienced guides."

(For more links see the Local Attractions page.)