The Wallowa River may be Eastern Oregon’s best rainbow trout fishery as well as one of its best winter steelhead fisheries. The Wallowa River enjoys blue ribbon trout fishing most of the year and great steelhead fishing February and March depending on weather and river conditions.
The Wallowa Mountains are often referred to as the “Alps of Oregon” with the Eagle Cap Wilderness protecting a large portion of the watershed. Draining pristine mountain streams descending from nearly 10,000 feet, the Wallowa River is the life blood of trout and steelhead fisheries in NE Oregon with its cold clear water feeding tributary streams long into the hot summer.
We offer guided fly fishing trips on two distinct sections of the Wallowa River. The Wallowa Highway Section is our day trip stretch offering 10 miles of easily accessible river upstream of Minam. The 10 miles of the Wallowa River below Minam is the start of the roadless stretch of the Wallowa and Grande Ronde Rivers between Minam and Powwatka Bridge and is done as part of a 3, 4, or 5 day trip where we fish both the Wallowa and Grande Ronde Rivers on guided fly fishing trips for trout and steelhead.
Quarter, half, or full day guided fly fishing trips are available on the Wallowa Highway Section and are completely customizable to the client’s needs and desires. With adequate flows, we often float this 10 mile stretch of the Wallowa river stopping to fish the most productive runs. There is also a boat put-in 5 miles upstream of Minam for half day floats. When water flows get too low to float in summer, walk and wade guided fly fishing excursions are still a productive and fun option for fishing this section of the river. Whether you are a seasoned veteran with a fly rod or just learning to cast single hand or spey, our fly fishing guides can fit trips to your needs, skill level, and desire.
Guided Fly Fishing for Trout on the Wallowa River the Prime Seasons:
The Golden Stonefly Hatch:
The last half of June into early July is all about the stonefly hatch on the Wallowa River. Huge golden stones up to 2" long come lumbering out over the water to make dive bombing runs, trying to just dip their tails into the river to drop eggs and many of them end up in the water as trout food. For fisherman that want a chance to raise trout to big dry flies, late June and early July is the time to book a fly fishing guide.
Summer Walk and Wade:
When the Wallowa River drops below floating stage great action can be had fishing dry/dropper setups and streamers. We often limit our summer trips to half day trips with the prime fishing done before noon.
Fall Feeding Frenzy:
After a normally hot August, cool nights come back in September and fish put the proverbial feed bag on. It just so happens we get a very good October Caddis hatch as well. Some may think this is a great time to tie on a dry fly, but since October Caddis pupa swim to shore in the dark and the adults primarily come back to lay eggs at dusk, other methods are more productive. If you want to experience some crazy good fishing action, book a half day trip in September or October for the last part of the day before dark and our experienced guides will let you in on some of our best kept secrets.
Shoulder seasons can offer great fishing, but less predictable river conditions week to week:
Mother's Day Caddis Hatch (if river conditions cooperate):
Early May (normally 4-5 days before Mother's Day) we get an enormous hatch of caddis that can last several days. Clouds of caddis will be flying up river all day. It is a bit ridiculous (meaning a ridiculous number of bugs and trout rising) and if the river conditions cooperate, it can be a great time to fish caddis dry flies.
February - May brings a mixed bag:
Once the winter ice melts off the edge of the river and water temperatures warm, good fishing can be had every day the weather and river conditions cooperate. We have some fantastic days fly fishing for trout this time of year but the conditions vary week to week and year to year. This is not the time of year to plan a trip long in advance, but rather the time of year to check conditions a week out and plan a trip when conditions look good.
Guided Fly Fishing for Steelhead on the Wallowa River:
February and March are the typical prime times to be fishing for steelhead on the Wallowa River. It really depends on the weather and snowpack though. In a "normal" winter, it gets into the single digits or below zero for an extended period of time building ice shelves on the river banks. When things begin to break up as water temperatures rise, it is time to hit the river before it blows out. After the initial ice break up and low elevation snowmelt comes great periods of fishing for steelhead when conditions allow. Again, this time of year is unpredictable year to year so you will want to finalize your guided trip close to the date you want to fish. Our fly fishing guides will be happy to customize your day to suit your needs and skill level.