Welcome to the
2012 Winter Steelhead Guide
Winter vs. Summer Steelhead
- Oregon Fish and Wildlife-
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 each 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 in 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 prior to migrating to the ocean.