Steelhead, Summer Steelhead
Destination Type
Fishing Style
Spey, Wading
October - November
Why We Go
  • Fine-tune your Spey casting and swing fishing skills with some of the Pacific Northwest's finest instructors
  • Experience both lodge stays or float trips from late September through October (lodge trips available into November as well)
  • Enjoy the beautiful scenery and wildlife of Eastern Oregon and the Grande Ronde Canyon
  • Target steelhead ranging from 5-12 pounds with a range of swung fly techniques
  • Enjoy delicious meals served and prepared by friendly and helpful staff

If the name of this lodge seems biased, wait until you meet the guides! Located on the Grande Ronde River, near Troy, Oregon, this low-key, high-value operation is where some of the Northwest’s finest steelheaders and Spey casters congregate for two months of guiding and instruction. Renowned Spey casting instructor Scott O’Donnell heads a crew of diehard steelhead guides who love the Ronde and the steelhead it sustains. As much a Spey casting and fishing school as a hard-charging guiding operation, this is the best place we know of to learn the art of Spey casting and improve your swing fishing skills. Now offering two distinct options on different sections of the river, Speywater Lodge continues to improve and impress.

Scott has deep roots in the sport stemming back to the 1980’s and his time serving the Navy in Washington State. There he met another like-minded soul, Dec Hogan, and together they learned to steelhead fish and Spey cast. Scott guided for winter steelhead on the Sauk and Skagit Rivers for many years before relocating to the northern Oregon coast to do more of the same. In the meantime, he spent more than 25 seasons guiding in Alaska, designed the very first RIO Products Skagit lines and enjoyed the pleasure and recognition of being named a Sage Ambassador.

It has now been more than 20 years since Scott O’Donnell first laid eyes on the river that he would eventually call home. For much of that time Scott had a simple game plan: run multi-day float trips on the lower portion of the river in the early season and move the operation upriver to a rental house turned short-term lodge later in the season when temperatures dropped. Over time, Scott expanded his operation, and more importantly, he and his wife Stefanie fell more deeply in love with the Grande Ronde. In 2014, with the purchase of their own permanent Speywater Lodge facility, Scott and Stefanie are now proud to call the Grande Ronde home and share their love and knowledge of this river with their guests.

Fishing Program

The Grande Ronde is a Snake River tributary and is considered one of the best late season steelhead rivers in the Pacific Northwest. Grande Ronde steelhead are known for their willingness to move to a fly and range from five to 12 pounds, with the average fish typically weighing in around six pounds. Throughout the month of October, the Ronde is as good a dry fly and greased line fishery as there is. At the beginning of the month, anglers can expect to fish with a floating line 75% of the time or more. As the season progresses and water temperatures drop, anglers spend more time fishing light sink tips. The RIO Products MOW Spey tips were developed by the Speywater guide team (MOW = McCune, O’Donnell, Ward) and are very useful on the Grande Ronde. The most common MOW tips will have a 2.5-, 5- or 7.5-foot sinking section. Fishing can remain excellent through late November and later if water conditions permit.

To take advantage of the lower and the middle sections of the river Scott has two distinct programs - Speywater Lodge and Speywater Floats.

The lodge is located on a productive stretch of the Grande Ronde River upstream of Troy, OR. This comfortable lodge is the ultimate hub from which to fish the Ronde in October and November. Anglers depart the lodge each day with their guide to float a different section of the river, getting out to wade prime runs. Lodge trips are great for the later part of the season when air temperatures make camping less desirable. Additionally, the river around the lodge differs in character from the broader, more open river downstream, giving guests the opportunity to develop an entirely different set of skills centered around the technicalities of fishing deeper pools and pocket water. Guests fish two per guide, utilizing rafts to float from one run to the next. Each day, anglers will fish a different section of river, floating to or from the lodge, or driving a short way downstream.

The multi-day float trips start during the last week of September and continue through the last week of October. These trips cover the lower portion of the river and take out very near the mouth, where Grande Ronde flows into the Snake River. For those who want to maximize their time on the water, these six-person, multi-day float trips are a great option. Deluxe camps are set up on great home pools and move each day. These mobile river camps consist of large, stand-up, double-occupancy tents complete with cots and vestibules and a 12- by 14-foot wall tent for dining. Each trip includes a night’s stay at Speywater Lodge on the evening of arrival. Optional day trips on the Oregon section near the lodge can be arranged before the float trip starts.


Accommodations and Meals:

Speywater Lodge sits on a hill overlooking the Grande Ronde River, just upstream of the tiny town of Troy, Oregon. Guests stay in double-occupancy cabins, each with a shared bathroom. The cabins are rustic, but warm and comfortable and are located a short walk away from the main lodge. The driveway to the lodge continues downhill to the “Flat,” where the guides stay. Guests are welcome to enjoy the grounds in between fishing times and there is a productive run on the property as well. The main lodge, where Scott and Stefanie stay, is where all meals, except lunch, are eaten. All meals are home-cooked by Stefanie, are very hearty, and differ from day to day. Breakfasts consist of a variety of hot, filling dishes like eggs benedict or French toast, and dinners are multi-course, with salads, soups, thoughtfully prepared meats, and desserts. After breakfast, a buffet of deli meats, vegetables, breads, condiments, and snacks are laid out for guests to make their own lunch and bring with them on the raft for the day. After returning from the water, appetizers await in the main lodge.

The mobile river camps consist of stand-up tents with large vestibules to accommodate two anglers each and a twelve- by fourteen-foot wall tent for dining. The sleeping tents each have a cot, but float trip participants need to bring their own sleeping bag, pad, and head lamp.

Each day, anglers move downstream in three self-bailing rafts, wade-fishing runs, while an all-star camp crew floats ahead to set up camp and start preparing appetizers and dinner. Meals in camp are tasty and extremely satisfying after a long day on the water. Given the remote nature of the float trip, they are equally impressive!


Day 1: Arrive at Speywater Lodge outside of Troy, Oregon between 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM.

Days 2 - 4: Three full days of guided fishing. Accommodations and meals at Speywater Lodge.

Day 5: Depart lodge for home or points beyond.

Sample Float Trip Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive Speywater Lodge outside of Troy, Oregon between 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM. Organize gear into personal day pack and personal river items in dry bag provided by lodge. Arrange and pay for vehicle shuttle at lodge (not included). Overnight at the lodge.

Day 2: After breakfast, the guide will transfer you to Boggan's Oasis where you will put-in and begin your first full day of guided fishing on the Grande Ronde. Camp on the river.

Days 3 – 4: Two full days of guided fishing. Overnight at different river camps.

Day 5: Fish into the afternoon and reach the take-out near Lewiston, Idaho in late afternoon or early evening. Overnight in Lewiston at your elected accommodations (independently arranged, not included).

Day 6: Depart Lewiston for home or points beyond.

Rates & Details

2024 Rates: Per person based on double occupancy

  • Float Trip: 4 night/4 day package: $2,825
  • Lodge Trip: 4 night/3 day package: $2,375

Included: Accommodations and meals at lodge, guided fishing, flies and leaders.

Not Included: Airfare, rental car, gratuities, fishing licenses, and alcohol.

Included: Pre-float accommodations and meals at Speywater Lodge, camp accommodations and meals, camping gear, guided fishing, flies and leaders, WA state sales tax.

Not Included: Round trip airfare, rental car, staff and guide gratuities, fishing licenses, alcohol, shuttle and parking fees, accommodations and meals in Lewiston, synthetic sleeping bag/pad/head lamp.

Species: Summer steelhead

Season: September to November

Capacity: 6 anglers

Fly Water Q&A

Who is best suited to this destination? Any angler that wants to improve their spey casting and/or swing fishing skills. Any steelhead angler that has not swung a fly through Grande Ronde owes it to themselves to experience this river which has some the finest fly water in the west.

Where is the lodge? Speywater Lodge sits on the banks of the Grande Ronde River near Troy, OR. Troy is the northeaster corner of the state not far from Hell’s Canyon of the Snake.

How do I get there? Anglers can either drive to the lodge or fly into Lewiston, Idaho and rent a car for the 1.5-hour drive to the lodge.

When should I go? Late September, October and the first half of November.

How will I fish? They swing flies while wading, either with single hand rods or spey rods.

Is there wade fishing? All the fishing is done while wading.

Where will I fish? Float trips access the lower 30 miles of river. Lodge trips focus on floating and fishing the water around Troy, OR.

How long does it take to reach the fishing grounds? The longest morning drive to the put-in is around 25 minutes.

What type(s) of fish will I catch? Steelhead. Generally, a mix of wild and hatchery fish. There is also a impressive bull trout population.

How many fish will I catch? Anglers should consider a fish per day a good trip.

Will I see other anglers? Yes. That said, all of the guides know the river like the back of their hands, and because the river has so much incredible steelhead water they will make sure you’re always fishing productive runs.

What are the guides like? The guides are all passionate steelhead instructors. Most have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of these fish, usually with spey rods. They have a deep well of knowledge when it comes to the intricacies of spey casting and swinging a fly but can also stand back to give you quiet time to soak it all in.

What are the physical demands? Guests should be prepared to do all their fishing while wading. The wading is easy – moderate in terms of difficulty.

Are there any special skills required? Wading experience is beneficial, as well as good balance and mobility. Experience swinging flies for steelhead and Spey casting is helpful but by no means a requirement.

Does the lodge provide equipment? The lodge and guides are prepared with rods/reels and flies for guests’ use. Guests should come prepared with their own waders and boots.

What is your favorite setup for the trip? 6- to 7-weight Spey rods between 12-13 feet are perfect for the Grande Ronde. Both Scandi and Skagit-style heads are effective on this river during times of the day/season. Useful tips range from full floating to T-14. 7- to 8-weight single handed rods between 9-10 feet, paired with a weight-forward floating line are great as well.

What are the top flies? Anglers who want to tie or bring along their own selections should have traditional hairwing patterns in size 4 to 8. Examples of traditional hairwing flies that are standards on the Grande Ronde are the Silver Hilton, Green Butt Skunk, Purple Peril, and Lady Caroline. Size 4-6 Muddler Minnows in black, tan, purple and olive are great as well. When fishing sink tips, marabou tube flies or leech patterns work well in black or purple.

What are the options if water conditions become challenging? While very rare, if conditions become unsafe or unfishable, guests will return to the lodge or head to camp to wait out the conditions.

What is a typical day like? At Speywater Lodge, anglers typically rise around 6:00 AM for a 7:00 AM breakfast. Coffee will be available before then. After breakfast, guests depart around 8:00 AM for fishing. Lunch is served on the river during a mid-day break. Around 5:30 PM, everyone returns to the lodge for appetizers and cocktails. Dinner is served at 7:30 PM.

On the float trips, the timing of meals and fishing is similar. The only difference is that guests will be staying along the river in camps each night and floating into a newly established camp each night of their trip.

What is the general vibe, atmosphere, and style of the lodge? The lodge is a fun and casual environment. Guides will usually hang out with the guests during cocktail hour and appetizers and are quick to swap stories about the days’ events. Float trips are also casual and laid-back, with the guides and camp hosts available and willing to help with anything that comes up.

Is there an on-site owner, manager, or other point-person at the lodge? Scott O’Donnell lives at Speywater Lodge and is also the head guide. His wife Stefanie runs the lodge and kitchen. They are both dedicated professionals with many years of experience in fly fishing lodges. The float trip crew is a team of veteran guides that have worked for Scott on the Ronde for many years. They will always be available during the trip to assist with any questions or issues.

Where do we eat, and what are the meals like? Meals on the river are hearty and delicious and served in the main dining tent. Meals at the lodge are always creative and tasty. It seems like Stefanie is always perfecting a new dish or technique in the kitchen!

What is the alcohol policy? Lodge and float trips are BYOB. Feel free to bring whatever you would like, as there will be plenty of space to store it at the lodge or in the guide’s coolers.

Where do we stay, and what are the accommodations like? On float trips, guests sleep on cots and pads in spacious two-person wall tents. Bathroom facilities on the float trips consist of a groover in a tent to give you some privacy. At the lodge, guests sleep in double occupancy rooms with bathrooms. The lodge is simple and comfortable.

Is there internet and/or cell service? There is no cell reception at the lodge but there is Wi-Fi available. It isn’t very strong but is capable of sending texts and emails or supporting basic browsing. The lodge also has a land line phone in case of emergency. No cell service or Wi-Fi is available on the float trips.

Are there other activities? No, this is a trip for dedicated anglers looking to spend long hours on the water.

Are there any other expenses? Airfare, rental car, guide and staff gratuities, fishing licenses and tags, alcohol, shuttle fees (float trip only), parking fees (float trip only).

Do I need a visa? No.

Are there any health concerns, dangers, or annoyances? There are a few rattlesnakes in the Grande Ronde canyon. Sightings are uncommon in the fall and are more likely to occur in the early part of the season rather than later. We recommend that guests always consult with the U.S. Department of State and the Center for Disease Control websites for general travel information and guidelines.

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