Fly fishing for summer steelhead close to home

Eugene summer steelhead report from Greg Hatten

We fished purple and we fished deep on Thursday evening out on the river “close to home”. Dr. Dan Phillips was in the boat and while we’ve covered a lot of water together, we’d never done this little stretch before.

Since we only had a few hours of daylight (evening floats are getting shorter and shorter these days), we went directly to one of my favorite spots.

Twenty minutes after launch we were positioned perfectly on the up-river side of a unique bedrock break that stretches all the way across the river. At low water it resembles a small irrigation dam. At higher levels, like now, it creates a series of chutes and ladders and provides great cover for returning Steelhead.

The purple leach was swinging in a perfectly lazy arch just in front of the Table Rock when a powerful Steelhead came blasting out from beside the rock to rip it apart. Violent.

Greg Hatten Summer Steelheading

Dan took the rod and I dropped the anchor as the Steelhead moved, a little slower than most, right for the boat. For such a wicked take we were a little surprised by the whitefish tactic.

It didn’t last long. When he got close to the boat, he turned down river and shot, like a bullet directly for the break. I assured Dan “he’ll turn at the rocks and you can recover some line.”

Not this fish.

He didn’t stop or even pause at the rocks and Dan was already into backing. This fish was through the chute and on the other side of the break before I could even get the anchor up.

We followed quickly and Dan recovered line as fast as he could reel. The fish finally turned and our boat was a hundred yards down river from where we started. Dan continued to apply steady pressure and we finally brought the fish to the net. Quite a fight, quite a fish!

Greg Hatten Summer Steelheading

Since we caught that fish on the first pass – we did what any sensible fishermen would do… jumped out, roped up and drug the boat back up through the break so we could fish it again… but first, we had a
beer and a toast!


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