By Pat Abel | 03/11/2014

It’s been a tough steelhead season here in Tillamook, Oregon. There’s been fish around, but we started out the season with such low water it was hard getting them to cooperate. We were faced with drought on the Oregon Coast. Then we got snow. Then we get rain. Then we got high water. It’s been a tough year so far. You’ve had to scratch fish.


However, with the water conditions we have now, I think we are going to have some good fishing for the rest of the season. And, based on the fact that we are starting to get fronts coming in, we are finally seeing our broodstock arrive. I’m going to fish through the first week of April. With these 10-14 pound broodstock around there’s a lot to look forward to the next few weeks.


When it comes to forecasting steelhead fishing I always look at the tides. We have some big minus tides coming in so I expect some fish to come in with them. Also, with the storms we’ve had coming in we are seeing fresh fish. They are coming in with every tide change. The fish I’m getting still have sea lice on them, too. I’m confident we’ll have great fishing for a few weeks still.


Here on the Trask and Nestucca Rivers every time we’ve had a big storm come we’ve seen fresh fish coming in and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I’ve been blown out the last few days, but expecting to get back on the water tomorrow.


I’ll be honest, however. I’m not seeing the big fish with the shoulders we’ve had the last few years. I’m not sure why, but they aren’t big and bulky like they normally are. I haven’t seen any real big ones. The biggest for me has been 18 pounds. We are getting average fish, just not the big brooders we are used to getting.


Targeting our steelhead is pretty standard. This is an egg fishery. I’m using eggs everyday. Normally, I run chunks about the size of a nickel. I really like the eggs round, too. I don’t like pieces of the skein hanging, so I’ll take my scissors and cut dangling pieces off.


As for color, some people like pink and red, but I want the pinkest egg I can find. I’m keying in on pink right now. I’m putting my eggs on a red No. 1 octopus Owner hook. I always use Maxima 8-pound fluorocarbon leader. My main line is 10-pound Treasure. The line casts like a superstar.


More important, though, is making sure you are using a pink egg. That’s where the pink Fire Brine came in for me this season. I’m impressed with it. I’m sold on it. The average person can take that Fire Brine and make the eggs look great. In my business I want them to be the best.


Pink is your go-to color for steelhead around here. The pinker, the better. I’m placing my skein in the pink Fire Brine and adding one tablespoon of Fire Power, one cup of Natural BorX O Fire and less than a half-cup of sugar. If you go with more sugar it makes them too hard in my opinion.


What I’ve found is some steelhead eggs I get are really orange and some are red. And, what I found is when I mix the pink Fire Brine with orange eggs I get a neon orange and when I mix the red Fire Brine with red eggs I get a neon red. There’s nothing wrong the red. It’s just that when we have low, clear water like we tend to have later in the season the eggs in the Pink Fire Brine is the killer brined egg. The reason I say that is because it has that neon look to it. Don’t get me wrong I think the red is great, but in my opinion the pink is better in low water.


Editor’s Note: Pat Abel operates Pat Abel’s Guide Service. For info on his guided steelhead fishing trips on the Wilson, Trask and Nestucca please visit