Apr 30th, 2019
Clackamas River Lodge
The Clackamas River Lodge is a fantastic all-inclusive Winter/Spring steelhead experience. The Clackamas River begins as a high alpine stream in the Northern Oregon Cascade Mountains before it descends over eighty miles west where it eventually meets the tidally influenced Willamette River in Oregon City. Known locally as the “Clack,” it drains the forests, springs and snowmelt of the western Cascadian ridgeline between Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson. This cold, clear, nutrient-rich water is perfect habitat for steelhead. The river’s classic and seductive water along with its chrome bright steelhead are all conveniently close to the Portland Airport. The small group size of 4 anglers make for an intimate experience and the staff is on hand to take care of every detail. The beautiful and modern riverfront lodge is very comfortable and even offers cell service and wi-fi. Guests will sleep in private bedrooms with queen beds. The bathrooms are shared with the group. There is a comfortable living area where a good fireside story can be told to all.
Contact Andy at 800.552.2729 for more information on Clackamas River Lodge
Expert Q & A with Fly Water Travel’s Pacific Northwest destination manager, Andy Archer
Top reasons to go.
1. To fish a river where a prolonged winter steelhead season provides opportunities for chrome bright winter fish from January – April.
2. To travel to a stable winter steelhead system that rarely blows out, and when it does it typically clears quickly (within a day or two).
3. Clackamas River Lodge is only a 45 minute drive from the Portland International Airport (PDX) making it an incredibly easy winter steelhead venue to travel to.
4. To swing the large gravel bars, broad tailouts and seductive bed rock slots of the Clackamas River and improve your two handed spey casting thanks to the phenomenal guide staff.
5. To experience spacious, private and incredibly comfortable accommodations at the riverside lodge complete with gourmet meals and single occupancy rooms.
Where is the lodge?
The Clackamas River Lodge is located approximately 45 mins southeast of the Portland International Airport (PDX).
How do I get there?
Guests fly into the Portland International Airport (PDX) where they rent a car and drive 45 mins SE to the lodge. A shuttle service can also be arranged ahead of time to take you to the lodge from the airport, which is an extra fee.
When should I go?
The Winter Steelhead season on the Clackamas is from January – April, with prime time being March and April.
Where do they fish?
The fishing is most often done on the 10 miles of river below River Mill Dam.
Where do we stay?
Guests stay in a large riverside home which functions as the lodge. It is clean, spacious and very nice. The grounds are well-kept and there is a nice outdoor patio area for guests to rig up gear, take off their waders at the end of the day and enjoy a nice cocktail. The lodge is private and tucked in amongst towering Douglas Fir and Cedar trees. One of the most productive steelhead runs on the river is directly in front of the lodge. Inside there is a large common area with cozy couches, chairs, a television and fireplace where guests can relax in the evening. Attached to this room is the kitchen and dining area where breakfast, evening appetizers and dinners are enjoyed. 5 total single occupancy rooms are split between the upstairs and downstairs, with shared bathroom and shower facilities on both levels. Upstairs there is additional seating and a spacious deck overlooking the river.
Who is best suited to this destination?
Those who wish to spend long days on the water swinging flies for steelhead using two handed rods will most appreciate the Clackamas River Lodge.
What are the meals like?
Meals are gourmet, prepared fresh in house and served by Chef Mark, the lodge’s cook. Breakfasts are a fresh and delightful mix of eggs, fresh bacon, avocado toast, fresh fruit, juice and coffee. Lunches are taken on the boat each day and consist of gourmet sandwiches, homemade soups and assorted snacks. Dinners consist of the freshest ingredients and are served up with a style and smile from chef Mark.
How would you describe the general vibe and atmosphere?
The general atmosphere is laid back, casual and comfortable. There is no dress code, cocktails can be taken throughout the house and the overall vibe is relaxed and accommodating.
Is there an on-site manager, owner or point person at the lodge?
Chef Mark is on site morning and night and is there to assist with anything that comes up. The guides join the clients for breakfast and dinner but rarely stay the night, as they typically head home to Portland.
Is there internet and cell service?
Yes, there is cell service at the lodge but strength is determined by carrier. Wifi is solid and reliable throughout the lodge.
How do they fish?
The guides at Clackamas River Lodge focus on targeting steelhead using swung fly techniques on two handed rods. Transportation is via jet boat, allowing anglers to access prime runs both upstream and downstream throughout the day. Expect to be on the water early in the morning to maximize the shaded, low light period of the day. This is also to give yourself the best chance at being the first flies through fresh water in the morning. All fishing is done out of the boat, wading through various steelhead runs. First thing in the morning with good water conditions you may fish a bigger fly on a light sink tip over a broad tail out to rested fish. When you pull into another run later in the day, your guide assumes that you are not the first person to fish that spot and switch to a smaller fly with a larger sink-tip and concentrate your efforts on the deepest slot of the run. Depending on the conditions of the day, Fishing a “high percentage spot” more than once in a day is not uncommon on this river.
How many fish will I catch?
As is the case with winter steelhead fishing across the board, one fish per day is good fishing.
What are the guides like?
The guides are professional, great instructors and are knowledgeable about the Clackamas. They are kind and enjoyable folks to spend a day on the river with and whether you are new to steelhead angling or a veteran fisherman, you will certainly gain something from their knowledge and teaching. They are also safe and highly skilled boatman.
Will we see other anglers?
Yes, most likely. The Clackamas is a public waterway within an hours drive of Portland, Oregon. However, the Clackamas is a large river with many runs, so there is enough water for all parties to enjoy.
Is there wade fishing?
Yes, almost 100% of the fishing is done while wading. There are a few mid river spots or deep pools where the guide may have you swing out of the boat, but expect to be wading all day while fishing on the Clackamas.
How far is it to the fishing grounds?
One of the most productive steelhead runs is directly in front of the lodge, 100 feet from where you will be enjoying breakfast in the morning. You may start your day off there or venture no longer than 15 minutes to your first spot of the day.
Does the lodge provide equipment?
Yes, the lodge can provide rods, reels and terminal tackle upon request. Guests must bring their own waders, wading boots, fishing licenses, steelhead tag and Columbia River Basin Endorsement.
What is your favorite rod(s) for the trip?
12 – 13.5 foot spey rods in line weights 6 – 8 all have their purpose on the Clackamas. In my opinion, the perfect set up is a 13’ 7 weight medium-fast action spey rod.
What are the top flies?
Fish taco, Ho-Bo Spey, assorted marabou tube flies.
Are there other activities?
Clackamas River Lodge is definitely a destination for anglers looking to spend long days on the water each day targeting steelhead. There are plenty of parks, recreation sites and trails along the Clackamas River and there can be great bird watching on the river. The Portland Metropolitan Area is only 45 minutes drive from the lodge, featuring plenty of restaurants, events and tourist attractions.
What is the cost?
$2,750 per person for a 4 night/4 day package
Does this trip combine well with other trips?
Yes, day trips on the Northern Oregon Coast for winter steelhead with Scott O’Donnell are only two hours away from the lodge.
Are there special skills required?
Decent balance and stamina for fishing and wading all day. Some experience steelhead fishing and two handed casting is preferred but the lodge regularly hosts new spey casters and loves to include plenty of education and instruction in their guide days.
What are the physical demands?
Expect to fish long days on the water while wading. While the wading isn’t strenuous, the cobble and rocks can be slippery so decent balance and wading experience helps.
Dangers and annoyances?
The Clackamas is a public waterway within an hour of Oregon’s largest city: Portland, OR. Because of this, the river can be busy at times. Additionally, while many sections of the river are distanced from roads and houses, there are some sections where you are fishing near private residences or around public parks and recreational areas.
A prolonged winter steelhead season provides opportunities for chrome bright winter fish from January – April.
The Clackamas is a stable winter steelhead system that rarely blows out, and when it does it typically clears very quickly (within a day or two).
Clackamas River Lodge is only a 45 minute drive from the Portland International Airport (PDX) making it an incredibly easy winter steelhead venue to travel to.
Swinging the large gravel bars, broad tailouts and seductive bed rock slots of the Clackamas River makes it a spey angler’s paradise.
Spacious, private and incredibly comfortable accommodations complete with gourmet meals and single occupancy rooms.
Slip out of your waders, grab a cocktail, munch on some appetizers and relax in front of the warm fire while dinner is prepared.