The Upper Sandy


The Sandy is one of the easiest rivers to access from Portland; only a 30 minute drive out to the mouth at Troutdale. There’s plenty of bank access on the lower river: Lewis & Clark, Dabney and Oxbow, as well as a few pullouts along the highway. I thought I’d try my luck further up the river as it’s getting later in the winter steelhead season and the fish should be spread throughout.

I first stopped at Dodge Park. The park has a couple hundred yards of access downstream from the bridge, and a nice looking drift just in front of the parking lot, but it’s always full of bait chuckers who don’t feel like walking. I did try to chat up a few of the guys on the drift, and thought they were being surly and rude when they didn’t talk to me (probably afraid I’d horn in on their territory!), but after hearing them discuss amongst themselves, realized they were Russian and didn’t answer because none of them spoke English! I still wished them good luck and headed downstream.

The bank access at Dodge Park ends with the mouth of the Bull Run River. The Bull Run was closed to fishing for a long time, but is now open for trout, salmon and steelhead. Apparently there isn’t much access, but the river is rocky and clear, and looks like a great trout stream. It’s now added to the list…

The river goes into a canyon up above Sandy, with only a couple spots marked in Fishing in Oregon. Off Marmot road a dirt road winds down to a park with tons of bank access at what was previously the site of the Marmot Dam. The dam is gone, but the footbridge over the river remains in what seems an odd place for such a bridge, with nothing surrounding it now:


The Marmot dam park looks like a great spot to swing flies, with a long stretch of wide-open bank that allows for long casts without getting caught up in the back cast.

In spite of the water having dropped after the last storm, and having a great color, it was another bust in the pursuit of my first winter steelhead, but definitely neat to explore yet another new piece of water.


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