A Win for the Wily Steelhead

I have caught (and mostly released) steelhead in 15 different rivers and streams in Washington and Oregon. The approach is always the same, hiking and then fishing along river banks with light spinning gear.

The Deschutes River in Central Oregon is acknowledged as one of the premier steelhead rivers in the Pacific Northwest. But, it has always been one of my nemeses.

I have hooked and released one steelhead in the Deschutes River over the years. And, sad to say, it was a Ted Trueblood-style catch & release (the release happened with the steelhead spitting out the spinner in mid-air about 50 feet out in the River.)

On a hot summer day I decided to try again. To get some exercise out of the trip, I hiked up the west side of the River for several miles to a set of rapids.

This was stark, open country with rimrock cliffs on the high canyon walls, sagebrush, rabbit brush, native grasses higher than my waist, a few snakes scurrying out of the way, dried thistles higher than my head and plenty of blackberry bushes near the water with never-ending thorns to terrorize my clothes and exposed skin.

After three hours I returned to the trailhead near the mouth of the River. I didn’t even get a bite. I guess that’s why they call it fishing, not catching.

Still, who can complain about quality time spent on a beautiful river?

Deschutes River Canyon

Deschutes River Canyon

Blanket Flower

Blanket Flower

Deschutes RIver

Deschutes River

Several ubiquitous windmills in the Eastern Gorge

Several ubiquitous windmills in the Eastern Gorge (on the upper right)

Heading back to the trailhead

Heading back to the trailhead



Categories: Central Oregon OutingsTags: , ,


  1. I am wondering….
    I love walking outdoors, but around here with all the white tailed deer, we seem to have quite a few ticks. Can you happily walk through all of that tall grass without worrying about picking up those ‘easy riders.’ I know you said you didn’t get a “bite”…but that was in reference to the fish! 🙂


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