The beautiful Wallowa River runs about 50 miles from its outlet on the north end of Wallowa Lake at the foot of the Wallowa Mountains – rightly called ‘The Alps of the West’- in Northeast Oregon to its confluence with the Grande Ronde River.
The Wallowa is a classic western rainbow trout fishery with a good steelhead run thrown in just to make things interesting.
The resident rainbow population is in the river year-round and provides excellent spring, summer and fall dry fly and nymph fishing for Bows up to 16-17”. Our standard Western and traditional trout dry flies like Humpies, Wulffs, Adams, Blue-wing Olives, March Browns and all the various caddis patterns all produce well on the Wallowa. Don't forget a really good assortment of bead head nymphs and double-bead nymphs.
Steelhead begin showing up from the Grande Ronde in the lower 8-10 mile, mostly inaccessible, stretch of the river in late January, gradually moving upriver to the more accessible reaches below Minam and upriver towards Wallowa, Lostine and Enterprise as the year unfolds into February, and then peaking between early March to mid-April, when the season for steelhead fishing in Oregon closes. Probably the best tip we can give you for winter steelhead, or trout, fly fishing is to use Stanley's Ice Off Paste from Loon Outdoors on your line. It definitely cuts down on the swear words on the river, which can only be a good thing. All of the standard traditional steelhead patterns and newer wet flies perform well on the Wallowa: Consider a well-rounded selection of light and dark patterns. Steelhead on the Wallowa River run from 3 to 10 pounds, with 3- to 6-pounders being typical.
The Wallowa River’s most accessible stretch borders Highway 82 for about 9 miles above Minam. There are quite a few pull-outs along the highway, and it’s amazing how alone you can feel on the river with tourists and logging trucks zipping by just a few yards away. It’s a beautiful mountain canyon stretch of trout water despite the highway and is the first water that you should hit on your first visit to this country. It’s also a perfect stretch for beginning fly anglers, or for teaching western fly fishing: It’s easily accessible, the wading is fairly easy despite the size of the river, the pocket water is an open book, and the trout are notoriously agreeable. The 10 miles below Minam to the Grande Ronde confluence are hiking- or rafting-accessible only, and take a little more commitment. The rewards can be rich, including sightings of literally dozens of bald eagles, elk, bear, river rafters and other wild animals.
HOME WATERS: THE GRANDE RONDE RIVER The Grande Ronde River is born of mountain snows in the Blue Mountains of Northeast Oregon and embarks on a 200-mile circular journey to join the Snake River in Southeast Washington. This is a serious steelhead river...Read more about the Grande Ronde river.