We asked our buddy and avid outdoorsman Niklas Isaac to share some of his favorite Pacific Northwest Steelhead and Salmon honey holes. Whether you've been dreaming about fishing these waters for years, or were born on the banks of the Willamette with a pole in your hand, we hope this inspires you to Better Adventures™ in the evergreen wilderness that Cowbucker calls home.
Famous PNW Steelhead and Salmon Waters
Washington is where the most legendary steelhead rivers in the world flow. We could drop names all day, but just do yourself a favor and look up the Skagit River, which pours into Puget Sound just south of Fidalgo Island. Get ready for a history lesson in the development of modern steelheading.
Then hop over to the Olympic Peninsula where the Bogachiel, Hoh, Sol Duc, and several other rivers host anglers from all over the world who come to fish this steelhead mecca. Unfortunately, the steelhead runs of these famous rivers have been in steep decline over the last few decades. But conservation efforts by many different groups like the Wild Steelhead Coalition are in full swing and brigades of passionate anglers continue to show up dutifully for the fight. The region also supports runs of all five salmon species with stocks being heavily supplemented by state-run hatchery programs.
Down in Oregon, rivers all along the coast — from the Wilson and Trask on the North Coast to the Rogue and Chetco on the South Coast — provide exceptional fishing for winter and summer steelhead as well as chinook, coho, chum, and sockeye salmon. This is where rain gear gets put to the test and keeping a flask tucked away in your waders can make all the difference.
Then there’s the Pacific Northwest Salmon and Steelhead Superhighway: the Columbia River.
In addition to salmon fishing in the main river itself, solid runs of steelhead ascend the Columbia bound for the Deschutes and John Day rivers of Oregon’s high desert.