Wild summer steelhead surprise: Catch of a lifetime on the Row River

Caddis Fly customer Tim Finlayson had a hell of a day on the Row River last week. After a slow day fishing the North Fork of the Middle Fork Willamette River, Finlayson headed back to Cottage Grove and fished in the campground area below the dam on the Row River. From Finlayson’s email:

I caught 4 decent cuts in about 20 minutes. I saw a good fish surface but couldn’t hook in, looked like a big Steelhead. I went back the next day below the bridge and hooked some small trout. On my fourth cast hooked this 30″ Steelhead ” pic attached” I was fishing a Z axis 3wt with 5X which was amazing. I actually caught this hen on the gold bead head you sold me, fishing it under an indicator. I’m glad I had my camera to get some pics before releasing her. I was wondering if this might be some type of record. It took me 45 minutes to land. I estimated it at 11 lbs.

Tim Finlayson steelhead

Tim Finlayson steelhead

This wild (notice the adipose fin) Willamette Drainage Summer Steelhead took Finlayson well into the backing 4 times and he cut his knee on a sharp rock, trying to get a handle on the fish. You can see the blood spilling into the water in the second photo. A great and rare catch, despite getting bruised and battered. Congratulations Tim! Send us your Oregon fly fishing photos and stories.

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4 Responses to Wild summer steelhead surprise: Catch of a lifetime on the Row River

  1. tom waters says:

    There is a big chance that this is a rainbow that got flushed out of the dam. Most of the leftover rainbows that are planted in dorena go upriver to spawn in the spring. But for some unknown reason few of the rainbows will become “holdovers” that stay in the reservoir and get bigger. My biggest rainbow was bigger than the rainbow that is in the picture. But I caught this fish in the river above the reservoir in March as it was going up to spawn. He was a holdover (probably 3 years) and weighed over 10 pounds. Some of the holdovers get flushed out of the dam. There have been many rainbows in the 3 to 5 pound class that are caught right below the dam in early spring … visit my website and I have a whole article about fishing in the cottage grove area …

  2. Jesse says:

    That is indeed a rainbow, while technically the same species that fish has never seen the ocean. Not to bring you down that’s a trophy for the upper row!!!! Good job!

  3. Jesse says:

    As for the weight it looks like your pushing six, a ten pound fish would have not been landed on that gear.

  4. James says:

    I’ve seen much bigger fish caught on lite gear. Jesse you need to learn how to fish if you think it’s impossible. Give the guy props, hell of a fish regardless the gear. Great Job! And yes that is a wild Steelhead straight from the ocean. The fish was caught below the dam which sees Steelhead every year. Again, great fish.

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