Stream fishing for dummies


New member
Hey all, just came back from a productive trip to Clear Lake. Came home with a cooler full of smoked trout and a wicked sunburn. Anyway, on the way home we cut across the mountains to Oakridge. Ended up on the Middle Fork Willamette just above Hills Creek Reservoir looking for a swimming hole for my boy. We found a great swimming spot and a bit of shade on the bank, and I noticed a few fish jumping in a deep pool at the end of a riffle upstream. I'm mostly a bait fisherman, pretty casual about it, but I have a few spinners in my tackle box. I crimped the barbs on the treble hook of one lure, cast it just upstream of where the fish were jumping and drifted it down past the zone. Did maybe 10-15 cast and retrieves trying to work a few different spots, then tried to get my lure down a bit deeper and got it snagged on a rock. Repeat the process with a second lure, spent maybe half an hour total but no bites. Due to the structure of the near bank I had to stand slightly upstream from where the fish were jumping, so I think maybe I spooked 'em. But really I had no idea what I was doing and more importantly what I was doing wrong.

What are some tips would you give a casual fisherman looking to upgrade my fishing skills for stream fishing? I've got a couple spinning rods, decent casting ability, and a somewhat limited budget. I'd just like to know where I should start as far as techniques and gear for fishing in mountain streams. Bait fishing is fun when I've got my boy with me, but I'd much rather find myself next to a secluded mountain stream hunting for elusive native trophy fish than a crowded lake slaying hatchery 'bows by the dozen. I know fly fishing is probably the way to go, but I can't really make a large investment in either time or money right now. I dig the forum here and I'm hoping someone can point me in the right direction.

Tight lines


The one thing that most anglers do incorrectly, with spinners, is the retrieve them too fast. According to the Jed Davis school of spinner fishing ("Spinner Fishing for Steelhead, Salmon, and Trout")...if you don't lose a few on each outing, you're not getting the spinners into the strike zone. So the first thing to do is to slow down your retrieve speed. Also...try various speeds too. Even during a given retrieve. Reel it in, let it drop a bit, reel again, stop and jig it, etc. These things will increase your strike and catch ratio greatly.

Also...get yourself some Little Cleo and Thomas Buoyant spoons. You can cover a lot more water with spoons, than with spinners. The Cleo's are heavier and good for deeper pockets and pools. The Buoyants are lighter for shallower areas and skimming the top of the water. Use the same type of retrieve suggestions as for spinners.

Good luck.

P.S. Get yourself a copy of Jed's book and read all of his advice. It's Oregon's "Bible" of spinner fishing.


New member
Both of the books troutdude suggested are really great Definitely a must have or at least read a few times. I’m not sure exactly where you’re located but Powell’s Books in Portland has 1 copy of both right now for under $12 bucks. Sometimes they can be a pain to track down. They do ship as well. Good luck and tight lines hope you find that fish your looking for.
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