Sunshine and Steelhead

Sean Visintainer - 09/28/20

Bo Brand with a beautiful swung buck from the Grande Ronde River, Washington

Sunny with a chance of chrome

I always wonder why anglers are surprised that you can catch steelhead in the Grande Ronde in September. Like there is a magical date or time that steelhead can only enter the river system.

At some point in early September some of the early summer run steelhead have made it all the way to the Grande Ronde River system. While in early-to-mid September the numbers of fish are very low because they are just beginning to trickle in, towards the end of the month there is generally enough fish around to have a legitimate shot and picking up one, or two, or more.

The other side of that however, is if the returning run has low numbers the odds do go way down. The last couple of years of prime examples. You just simply are not casting to a lot of fish.

With numbers trending better than last year Bo and I decided to give it a shot. With two days of opportunity and a lot of river miles to cover we hoped to increase our odds of crossing paths with these special fish.

The sun was shining down upon launching Bo's raft and before even shoving off he was rewarded with a swung fish. Usually I consider catching a fish within the first 20 mins the kiss-of-death for the remainder of the trip, however, we were fortunate enough to find a handful more along the journey. Couple that with bugling elk, bighorn sheep and plenty of sunshine... I'd say it was worth the chance.

If you don't go, then you'll never know. Good luck out there!

Spey casting on the Grande Ronde River, Washington for steelhead.

A bull elk rounds up the herd along the banks of the Grande Ronde River, Washington.

Sean Visintainer with a native hen steelhead from the Grande Ronde River.

Bo Brand rafting the narrows on the Grande Ronde River, Washington.

Sean Visintainer with a swung Grande Ronde steelhead.

Bighorn sheep on the Grande Ronde River, Washington.

Bo Brand with a solid Grande River River steelhead.

Bull elk on the Grande Ronde River, Washington.

Nightfall in the Grande Ronde canyon.

A native steelhead in the net, Grande Ronde River, Washington.