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On Oregon's Deschutes River

By Bill Kremers

Deschutes River
Thanks to Frank Amato Publications, Portland, OR for use permission.

Every October there are a few certainties for anglers in the Pacific Northwest. The broad leaf trees on our steelhead streams are in their fall splendor. Steelhead are on the bite. And you will find the Silver Hilton fly in just about every serious angler's fly box.

My favorite Silver Hilton river is the lower Deschutes in north central Oregon. This section of the Deschutes runs for ninety-five miles, with good steelhead holding areas throughout the entire system.

One of the prime holding areas is the first couple of holes just above Moody Rapids on the lower two miles of the river. These holes are only a fifteen minute drive from The Dalles with public access on both sides of the river.

All you need to fish steelhead here is a pair of waders, seven or eight weight rod, floating line and a Silver Hilton or two. Once you find a likely steelhead run, cast out, mend your line and let the Silver Hilton do it's thing. Chances are you will be shouting, "Fish on!" ~Bill Kremer

Down and Across Method

Thanks to Frank Amato Publications, Portland, OR for use permission.
From Brown Trout Fly Fishing by Chris J. Francis,
illustrated by Tony Amato, 1996.

About Steelhead

South Fork Salmon River Steelhead
South Fork Salmon River Steelhead Oncorhynchus mykiss
Thanks to J. R. Tomelleri for use permission. 1-800-240-3378
Fly fishers from central Alaska to Northern California gravitate to the rivers in fall searching for steelhead. Around the Great Lakes the time of year is late winter - with high water, ice flows, and frozen rod guides. Steelhead have also been planted in the East and in other countries.

Steelhead bring out the hunters. And for good reason. The bright, mirrored shine of a big fish holding in a dark pool brings a rush of adrenaline through the veins of any fly fisher. This fish will take a fly, and the battle from this magnificent fish when hooked makes it a king among fish.

Special flies, like the Silver Hilton and the Umpqua Special were designed for steelhead. Techniques like greased line fishing, (developed by Arthur Wood in Scotland for salmon fishing,) have been adapted to give streamers a longer drift in shallow water.

Steelhead and rainbow trout are often confused as the same fish. Steelhead are separate species. Called 'steelies' by their fans, sizes range from the so-called half-pounders of northern California and Oregon to northern monsters that weigh 42 pounds or more. A rainbow who travels from the river to sea, (or to a big lake) then returns to the home river is still a rainbow. They are sometimes called lake-run rainbows.

Steelhead return to the river where they hatched, spawn, and go back to the ocean or lake again. They provide a very valuable renewable resource to recreational fisherman.

Famous authors Zane Grey and British Columbia native Roderick Haig-Brown wrote about their love for the steelhead. Roderick is probably best remembered for his writing about steelhead.

Physically different in appearance, some steelhead are bright silver-sided with metallic blue top, black spots, white belly and square tail. Great Lakes steelhead have a pronounced pink or red streak on their sides. Many other variations occur, depending (according to experts) on the food and cover available in their home waters. ~ DB

About Bill Kremer:
Bill Kremers' guide service Rivers Path Travel provides some of the finest freshwater fishing Oregon has to offer. Bill's experience includes a degree in biology with advanced course work in fisheries. His knowledge adds to your trip enjoyment as well as improves your fishing.

Bill has written several feature articles and columns for western publications. Combined with partner, Don Hill, you have an unbeatable fishing and boating guide team. Contact Bill at: (541) 747-7430 or 1-800-878-5488 ~ DB

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