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I will be in the Columbia Gorge the first week of March and wonder about steelhead fishing in the area, including the Hood River as well as SW WA rivers. I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who's fished there for the winter run.

Is the mouth of the Deschutes another option? I've also heard the lower river has good trout fishing in the early spring with baetis hatching etc.

Thanks for helping.
 

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Mother Nature's Son
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Depending upon how far east you'll be in the Gorge, I'd recommend fishing the Sandy River for winter steelhead. The Sandy flows from Mt. Hood to later meet with the Columbia near the town of Gresham. The Sandy is one of the better drainages for winter fish and it is starting to get a few natives moving through now. Highly recommend that you give it a shot. The Hood river is more of a pocket water river, and I've not fished it. I'm not sure if it is open or not. Hood river does sit above Cascade Locks, something to think about.

If you're looking for trout fishing, the Deschutes is definitely worth your while. March is a great time to hit the river, depending upon flows, and it does get some early mayfly activity. Some of the best stretches are below that town of Maupin to Sherar's falls and then again below the falls to Max Canyon. Fish average 14-16 inches, with fish to 20" or so possible.

Skinny
 

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Years ago, I got spooled at the mouth of the Deschuttes and the fish ran right back into the
Columbia and was gone. It was closed to fishing then but we didn't know this. An Oregon biologist came by and was just steaming and hollering at us. Then he demanded to see our licenses( he had no authority to do this). He sulked off, mad as hell.
There was justice: the wind blew the truck door shut and it busted two rods, one of them mine--a ten wt. 9ft. graphite Fenwick. I cried my eyes out.

So be careful and check the regs. before you fish the mouth. I would imagine it is still closed. If not, there is a hell of hole there just ahead of the train bridge. Also, if you do hook one, you'll probably get spooled. Use an old fly.:thumb
 
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