Fall steelhead fishing and chukar hunting cast and blast trips
From late September through mid-October, we offer five-day trips on the Lower Gorge of the Salmon River, fishing for steelhead and hunting chukar partridge. We may also fish for small mouth bass, trout or sturgeon. This is primarily a combination trip-on a particular trip, focus will depend on interests of the participants and which activity is productive at the time.
There is some good whitewater, primarily in a half-day segment of the river.
We float on the Lower Salmon River in two-passenger McKenzie River drift boats
Cast and blast fishing trips are five days, in early October, camping on sand bars along the river. A supply boat breaks down camp after we leave in the morning and has camp reset, with tents, chairs, dining tables, and lanterns, ready to lay meats over the coals, when we pull into camp. This enables us to start fishing early and stay on the river through evening shadows.
Cast and blast days are spent
drifting, fishing for steelhead from the boat in productive water, watching for a covey of chukars on the bank, sometimes tying up to walk into the hills for birds. We run some major whitewater through remote canyon scenery. We usually fish a few sturgeon holes. On the earlier trips, when the river temperature is warmer, we catch smallmouth bass. Sometimes we pick up a rainbow trout.
Salmon River steelhead weigh from 5 to 15 pounds. Steelhead fishing is primarily backtrolling from the boat, though fly fishing is an option in some runs. Set your hook in a steelhead as long as your arm, and you’ll know why they are the premium game fish in the Northwest.
Chukar partridge are among the most challenging of western game birds. We hunt rugged country. Chukar may be close to the river, especially in dry conditions, or we may have to climb for them. The canyon here is about 3000 feet deep. You may not have good footing when a covey flushes; I have missed opportunities because I was holding on to a bush with one hand to keep from sliding down the slope. You can get any kind of shot–rising, flushing below and diving, overhead, incoming. Eventually you may even get a classic covey rise with both feet on flat ground. There is a saying that you get the first bird for sport–and the rest for revenge. Limits are generous–and mostly pointless. But there is a great satisfaction in making those difficult shots.
You will frequently wake up to hear chukars calling near camp at daylight. You can hunt from camp, or pull over during the day. We have dogs available, or you can bring your own. During dry periods, chukars are very close to the river. If we have had rain, we may find some birds close to the river, but we have to do more walking. Some hunting is in easy terrain, but serious hunters will find themselves in rugged country. Much of this area is accessible only by boat, so hunting pressure is low.
The Lower Salmon is excellent chukar habitat, with populations dependent on winter and nesting conditions. Success also depends on weather immediately prior to the trip; birds are closer to water sources, such as the river, during dry periods, but are more scattered after a rain. Daytime temperatures in clear weather are in the 70s, with possibility of frosty mornings. We have some good rapids on this trip, but the McKenzie boats are very dry. They are the most comfortable of whitewater boats
Cast and blast is a unique sportsman’s opportunity
These Salmon River cast and blast trips differ considerably in atmosphere from our summer trips. The combination of pursuing premium game fish and birds on a whitewater river in a back-country canyon is truly a rare experience. Taste fresh steelhead fillets grilled over driftwood coals…chukar from the dutch oven…you’re livin’ good!