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Spring Fly Fishing Opportunities-Looking Forward – Portland Oregon

Fly fishing the Clackamas River near Portland

(Update 2020)

This spring brings us a new appreciation for our backyards and the natural beauty around us here in the NW as our country and the world battle the Covid19 Pandemic.  While NW states all have “stay at home” orders in place – we are hopeful that these will be lifted soon and we will again be able to safely enjoy our great fishing opportunities in this amazing part of the world.  While your cooped up in the house here’s some good stuff to look forward to.  Be safe, stay well!  Rob C


Spring fly fishing near Portland Oregon is ripe with opportunities for steelhead, trout and shad.  April, May and June have much to offer and the traveling angler’s plans should include a visit to this beautiful region of the state.  Spring blooms, the Portland Rose Garden, the vibrant greens combine to thrill the senses and relax the soul with some quality time on the water.  Add in the mix of wild creatures so prevalent in this region like the daily doses of Canadian geese, mallard and merganser pairs, blue herons, bald eagles and osprey are common in the river corridors.  Spring has so much to offer the fly angler in this NW corner of the country and the guides at Water Time Outfitters can take you there.

Spring Steelhead

This time of year is a mixed bag of steelhead strains combined in the river starting in April both wild and hatchery steelhead are available.  This fishery is as addictive as it is challenging; one grab and battle on the swung fly you will be hooked for life but know these fish don’t come easy and are often the result of diligent work and many casts.  Wild steelhead are catch and release only.  Brood stock steelhead based on this wild run are found in April and dwindle out in May.  One of the hardest fighting steelhead on the planet shows up this time of year and that’s the Skamania stock hatchery steelhead.  These fish are often termed “unlandable” for their incredible battles that take your breath away!  Averaging 8 pounds these fish can be found into the double digits and are aggressive to the swung fly.  Using spey rods we swing flies with both weighted and unweighted flies in the many riffles and pools of the Clackamas River.  Depending on water levels we may use jet boats or drift boats to access the fish.  While close to Portland this gem remains very quiet on most weekdays during this time of year.  Expect peak numbers of summer steelhead to arrive in May and June and provide fishing opportunity into the fall.  Get more info on guided steelhead trips here.

Wild Clackamas River Steelhead caught by Water Time Outfitters Client

Accessing the river with the jet boat allows quick transportation to the many runs and riffles of the Clack. When water levels drop the drift boat is the preferred way to access the river.

Spring Trout Fishing

The Deschutes River is home to the best wild Redband Rainbow Trout fishing in Oregon and is widely known as a blue ribbon trout stream.  This river is located east of Portland about 2 hour drive and is found in the high-desert region of the state.  The rich abundant waters of the Deschutes produce some of the best dry fly fishing in the state and spring time hatches revolve around the biggest bug of all the Giant Stonefly also know as the Salmon fly.  This hatch is by far the most fun dry fly fishing around and is prime time in May and early June.  Our preferred way to access the river is in drift boats where we provide three day float trips in the wild and scenic canyon away from the crowds.  Experience the best of the Deschutes with our quality, experienced guides, comfortable camps and relaxed atmosphere.  Find more info on Deschutes Trout fishing here.

Deschutes River trout get fat, loading up on springs bounty of salmon flies.

Salmon flies and golden stones are big bugs that trout can’t resist and are fun to fish with a fly rod.  Typical rods are #5 or #6 weights.  We like to use short leaders like 7.5′ 4x or 3X to fish around brushy banks where clumsy salmon flies fall into the water and get gobbled by trout.


Spring time camp on the river is a great place to be where stories are told and memories made.  Our camps are comfortable with big tents that are easy to walk around in with the best cots and comfortable sleeping pads to make your “home away from home” on the river as comfortable as possible.  Camp chef keeps you happy too with warm chocolate chip cookies coming out of the oven!

Fly Fishing for Shad

Right in the town of Oregon City, just 20 minutes south of Portland, OR is one of the largest runs of American Shad in the world.  Here we fish in an iconic and historic location at the base of Willamette Falls (the second largest falls by volume in America) for these hard fighting fish.  Averaging 1-5 lbs shad run up the river from the Ocean to spawn and hit a dead end at the falls.  This creates an amazing fishery where literally hundreds of thousands of fish congregate.  Fun for experience anglers or for those who have never held a fly rod before this fishery is a must do for any traveling angler in the Portland area in June.  More info about Shad fishing.


Fishing near Willamette Falls is a spectacular setting.  We use 20′ jet boats to access the river and provide stable fishing platforms to cast and retrieve to thousands of Shad.


Shad are great fighters and are often referred to as the poor man’s tarpon for their tarpon like characteristics.Steelhead, Trout and Shad fishing opportunities are all around in the spring months near Portland.  Join us for an amazing adventure on our home waters.  See more info at:












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