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2014 Winter Steelhead Guide


General Overview | Northwest Zone | Southwest Zone | Willamette Zone | Central Zone & Northeast Zones | Oregon Fishing Regulations


Winter vs. Summer Steelhead

There are two main runs of steelhead in Oregon, a “summer” run and a “winter” run. Some river systems have both types of runs while other streams may have one or the other. Both winter and summer run fish spawn in the spring, but they enter the river at different times and at different stages of reproductive maturity.

As their name suggests, summer steelhead begin migrating to their birth streams as early as May in some streams near the coast and as late as October/November is some rivers in eastern Oregon. They will remain in the river for several months before spawning. All steelhead returning to rivers east of the Cascade Mountains are considered summer run fish.

In many northeast Oregon rivers, fishing for these “summer” fish can last well into the winter.

Winter steelhead migrate into freshwater when they are closer to reproductive maturity and are generally larger than their summer run cousins. Winter steelhead begin their migration in early winter with some fish continuing to migrate well into spring. Unlike the other salmonids, steelhead are not pre-determined to die after spawning and may live to spawn multiple times. After the eggs have been deposited in the spring, the fry emerge in summer and may spend the next one to three years in fresh water before migrating to the ocean.

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