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 day fly fishing trips on two distinct sections of the Wallowa River. The full day Wallowa Highway Section begins 10 miles upriver from Minam and ends at the Store. There is another boat ramp located 5 miles above the Store allowing us to offer an excellent half day option. Depending on current fishing conditions, a half day trip will either begin or end at the 5 mile ramp. As the summer progresses and July shifts towards August, some years this stretch becomes too low or too warm to fish. However, when September rolls around and the nights begin to lengthen fishing improves once again.
The second stretch we guide is the Wallowa Roadless Section which begins at the Minam Store and ends 9 miles down river. Around 1 mile into the float, you pass the state park and leave cars behind entering the roadless stretch of the Wallowa River. The added flow from the Minam River allows this section to be fished even when the Highway Stretch becomes unfloatable. At the end of the float, fisherman receive a one of a kind shuttle back to Minam along the railroad tracks. 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.
The primary season to book half day and full day trips on the Wallowa River begins Memorial Day Weekend and ends the first week of November. These dates may be adjusted due to river conditions. Floats in the Wallowa Roadless Section are only available Saturday-Thursday. For info on booking one of these trips outside of the primary season, reach out to us at the Store by email or phone.
Deposit & Cancellation Policy:
50% down payment is required to book a trip with final payment due 30 days prior to launch. Deposits and final payments are non-refundable and non-transferrable. Effective July 25, 2020 All guests making reservations for multi-day trips are required to purchase CFAR (cancel for any reason) Travel Insurance to protect their investment and ours. We recommend purchasing your CFAR travel insurance through a company like AIG Travel Guard or Travelex. We cannot continue to invest money into equipment, guides, trip supplies, and food to give you the best river trip possible and then refund money when events cause you to cancel, or us to cancel for reasons that may be out of anyone's control. Covid-19 regulations and travel restrictions are everchanging and purchasing CFAR travel insurance will protect your investment. We cannot give cash refunds for any reason whatsoever. We cannot make exceptions due to medical or family emergencies, weather conditions, travel restrictions imposed by local, state, or federal agencies. CFAR travel insurance protects your investment whether you cancel for any reason or we are unable to perform the trip. Most insurance companies require trip insurance to be purchased within a couple weeks of making your deposit so do not put it off.
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.
When the Wallowa River drops below floating stage great action can be had fishing dry/dropper setups and streamers. We often limit our summer highway 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.