Sandy River Summer Steelhead

Sandy River Summer Steelhead are mostly keepers.

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Summer Steelhead are sexually immature fish that enter fresh water April though October but do not spawn until the following winter or spring. They come from the sea with enough fat reserve to survive in their home river for the entire summer without eating, sometimes for as long as eight months. With all of their reserve energy, summer steelhead are the primadona fish of the West Coast. They are sleek and beautiful beyond words.  Because of the water weather/water conditions summer steelhead are often pretty aggressive and take flies easily.
How to Catch Them More Pictures Flies
  Angling Regulations  

Wild summer steelhead populations in the Sandy River are small. One group crosses Marmot Dam in May. Nearly all of the September and October fish are wild. Total run size is less than 300 fish. These fish are protected by catch and release regulations.

The majority of the Sandy River summer steelhead are of hatchery origin.  Most enter the river from April through August. All hatchery fish are adipose fin marked. Two hatchery steelhead may be killed

each day, with four in possession. Gear restrictions and fishing methods vary by river section. Please consult your synopsis.

All summer steelhead are nickel and gun metal bright when they enter the river and are some of the finest steelhead on the planet. All hatchery summer steelhead are stopped by the Marmot Dam fish trap and stay in the lower Sandy River for the summer. The run peaks in July and averages over two thousand fish annually. (Runs have fluctuated between 1600 to 4500 fish in the 1990's).

All manner of flies and presentations will catch these steelhead. Riffle hitched waking flies are popular on the larger water, bringing strikes early and late in the day. Water temperatures above 47 degrees have proven to be most reliable for floating line fishing.  Sinking tip lines and weighted flies have proven to be most effective during strong light hours. 

Hot weather comes to the Hoodland Corridor by mid-July. The glaciers on Mt. Hood begin to melt, often turning the Sandy River white for weeks on end. This turbid flow continues intermittently into September.

This coloration of the water moves fish and the days just prior to a warm weather trend can be incredibly productive. Summer steelhead use this clouded water for cover and often seek mild flows close to the shore during early morning hours. Riffle hitched flies can be the most productive. There is nothing quite like a steelhead taking a fly from the surface.

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Angling Regulations - Because of the Federal Endangered Species Act, management and fishing regulations have changed to put special emphasis on the survival of wild fish in the Sandy River Basin.  Hatchery fish are no longer planted in the upper basin above Marmot Dam.  A trap at the dam fish ladder also prevents hatchery steelhead and Coho salmon from entering the river above Marmot.

The upper basin is now designated as a wild fish sanctuary.  Angling is open from the last Saturday in May 18 to October 31.  No bait is allowed.  All fishing must be done with artificial lures or flies.  No wild fish may be killed.  Catch and release only is allowed.

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FAVORITE SANDY RIVER BASIN SUMMER STEELHEAD FLIES

#4 PURPLE WOOLY BUGGER

#4 MUDDLER MINNOW (various colors)

#4 GREEN BUTT SKUNK

#4 TIED DOWN CADDIS

#4 Sandy Blue Tube Fly

#6 GREASED LINER

More Information On Steelhead Flies
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Sandy River photos by: Mark Bachmann - all rights reserved.

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