Fly Fish Portland – Fall Opportunities

Fishing the Clackamas with Water Time Outfitters

Fly Fishing Portland Oregon- Fall Fishing Opportunities

The warm sun beams down as leaves softly trickle to the green grass; my wife and I walk hand in hand through fall colors along the Clackamas River on the McIver park trail minutes away from Portland, OR.  It’s a special time with wifey but also a secret reconisance mission.  My eyes are glued to the river as we walk.  I invite her to sit and watch the river with me as we soak up the fall colors, sounds and warmth.  I’m watching for a steelhead or salmon to roll, revealing itself in the cool water of a deep pool.  My lovely chats on about life and I listen with an intent eye to the water.   Great hikes, lovely walks and steelhead and salmon fishing is full on in fall for outdoor enthusiast near Portland.

Opportunities abound for the entire family on many Oregon Rivers in the fall.  Fall Chinook salmon are often found in good numbers on the Oregon coastal rivers in October.  Some fall Chinook may also be found on the Clackamas and Sandy rivers.  Both wild and hatchery Coho are also found in many Oregon Rivers in September, October, and November.  Add in hatchery summer steelhead, which linger in NW river’s until late winter and you’ve got a combination of options that adds up to great opportunities.

Enjoying lunch on the banks of the Clackamas River

Fly anglers looking for fall fishing should consider varying water conditions and focus on a variety of water types in the fall.  Coho and Chinook salmon will often be found in the deep cooler pools of the river while summer steelhead lingering until spawn in mid-late winter months will be most commonly found in the boulder strewn runs and pools.  For each of these differing species utilizing a specific approach will help yield best results.

Coho and chinook fly fishing can be a blast!  These fish in the right conditions can be aggressive and snappy biters.  Focus efforts on resting Coho in deep pools, back eddies and slow water sections.  Often Coho will pool up in these areas in large schools.  Chinook are most often found in the deepest pools and like back-eddies with boils and heavy water nearby.  Rolling fish on the surface are key indicators that there are active fish in the pool.  Casting and retrieving flashy flies that have a lot of movement and action will yield best results.  Combine this with a sink tip fly line appropriate to get the fly deep and keep it deep as you retrieve the fly for best results.  Vary retrieve rates to maximize success.

Clackamas River summer steelhead

Fall steelhead will respond to a variety of flies and techniques but fishing for them is best once fall rains have cooled the water.  The swung fly strategy is one of the most fun and effective ways to target steelhead.  This technique uses a floating or sink tip line cast quartering downstream then swinging the fly across the current.  This movement of the fly across the current in front of resting steelhead often elicits exciting grabs that wrench the rod and make the reel sing!  Warning – swung fly steelhead fishing can be very addicting!

As you watch the fall leaves trickle to the ground and softly settle into the green grass listening intently to your wife chat about life be sure you continue the conversation as that big fish from the depths rolls on the surface with a splash revealing itself… that’s the marker for your next trip.  Enjoying the fall!  Rob Crandall.

Less than 2 hour drive from Portland either east or west reveals other great fishing opportunites of the fall.  To the east near the town of Maupin, OR is world renown steelhead fishing on the legendary Deschutes River.  To the west of Portland numerous coastal rivers fill with Chinook and Coho salmon near the town of Tillamook, OR and Nehalem, OR.

Rob Crandall is a full time fishing guide and owner of Water Time Outfitters, Inc. find out more about fall fishing opportunities at:

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