Copyright 2017 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Sandy River Oregon
The Sandy River is a 56-mile long tributary of the
Columbia River located in northwestern Oregon. It's
confluence with the Columbia River is only about
fourteen miles upstream from the city of Portland. Fly
fishing the Sandy River is about as simple as taking an
afternoon walk for Portland anglers.

The Sandy River starts on Mt. Hood beneath the Reid
and Sandy Glaciers. On its way to the Columbia River it
passes through the little towns of Welches, Sandy and
Brightwood. The flow of the river is quite unpredictable
and throughout the year the stream-bed undergoes all
some rather drastic changes, yet the Sandy River
remains one of the most beautiful, wild rivers in the
World. What's even more amazing about this is the
surrounding area is heavily populated.

The Sandy River's wild steelhead are well guarded and
the current "Catch-and-release" regulations. Fly fishing
the Sandy River for steelhead should remain productive
for a long time because the regulations help to insure it
will remain a great steelhead river.It  has the best
year-round run of steelhead in this region of the

The size of the steelhead in the Sandy River average
around 28 inches long. Those that have spent three
years in the ocean may reach 36 inches. Most of them
have spent two years at sea. The last part of January
brings on the largest run of wild steelhead. This run
continues on through May. Summer steelhead start
entering the river in April.

Sandy Glacier is the largest of Mt. Hoods glaciers and
the Sandy River its largest river. It collects water in a
canyon-like area and flows through a fast water, steeply
inclined mountain stream with lots of small cascades and
plunge pools. Huge boulders help form its course
downstream to the Old Maid Flat area where the water
slows down considerably. The wide and relatively level
valley is about eighteen miles long.

This valley section of the river has a large number of
small tributaries entering the Sandy River from Clear
Fork Creek downstream.  Alder Creek,.Lost Creek, Bear
Creek, Zig Zag River, North Boulder Creek, Still Creek,
the Salmon River, Wild Cat Creek, Jewel Creek and
Alder Creek are the major ones. All of these small
tributaries hold trout and most of them probably die
without ever seeing a fly.

The stream beds are filled with gravel that provides the
perfect spawning habitat for both spring and fall runs of
chinook salmon, coho salmon, both sea-run and resident
cutthroat, resident rainbow trout as well as both summer
and winter steelhead. It is possible to enjoy a good day
of fly fishing on the Sandy River just about any day of
the year the weather is reasonable.

The steelhead fishing is at its best from the middle of
February through May.
Summer run steelhead enter the Sandy River in April.
Fly fishing the upper headwaters of the Sandy River for
rainbow and cutthroat is good throughout the Summer.
Fall is generally good for the trout and steelhead.
Type of Stream

Steelhead (Wild and Hatchery)
Coho Salmon
Chinook Salmon
Rainbow Trout (Wild)
Cutthroat - Sea Run
Cutthroat Trout (Native)

Small to Large

Northwest Oregon

Nearest Towns

Varies by species. See current

Very Good

Non-Resident License
State of Oregon

National Weather Service

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and Flies

USGS Stream Flow Data:
Below Bull Run
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Sandy River Fishing Report - Archive:
11/26/13 Customer ordered flies for the Sandy River
but stated the winter run hasn't started. He is
expecting that to change very soon.
01/03/13 Low water still continues to be a
problem. Some steehead may be in the river
but rain is badly needed. Very low, clear
water exist at this time but steelhead should
be coming in any day now.
02/04/14 Still low water but not for long.
Plenty of rain int he forecast and
conditions should improve soon.
03/21/14 Winter steelhead are spread
throughout the river from Cedar Creek
downstream to Troutdale. Angler are
nymphing and swinging flies. Our
flies are producing some large fish.
Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.

2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.

3. Email us (
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.

All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $100 are shipped via
Priority Mail.  
12/17/13 Water still very cold but warmed up
some but low water levels preventing the
winter steelhead from entering the creek. No
reports of fish being caught yet.
04/17/14 High water levels have hampered
the fishing for the past month but
conditions have improved greatly. The
levels are fine and steelhead and a few
Chinook Salmon are being caught on our
Steelhead and Salmon flies.  
Updated Fishing Report
(bottom of page)
10/18/14 Coho are spread throughout the
river up to the hatchery. There are also
some summer steelhead and Chinook.
Anglers are catching some even thought
the water is still low. More rain is in the
forecast and this should help.
12/05/14 Get ready for the steelhead
action to begin. This should be perking up
by the middle of the month. Bring your
own rock to stand on.
12/24/14 Stream levels have been very
high but falling. Kept a close check on them.
02/10/15 Sorry for the lack of reports. Low
water conditions slowed the catching down
until about a week ago and now the water is
up and stained from rain and melting snow.
Sandy River Fishing Report:
01/28/17 There are some steelhead being caught around
Cedar Creek. More fish are headed to the hatchery.