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Fishing Reports

Lunch Meat Fishing Report

Joel La Follette - Thursday, January 25, 2018
By Nick Wheeler

As we get into the meat of our winter Steelhead sandwich we should see more fish starting to show up in better numbers. The end of January, February, and beginning of March is where you can have confidence that you're showing your fly to fish. With rain patterns the way they are rivers have been acting a little more like roller coasters, so timing is everything. Look for falling river flows and green tinted streams and you should find some chrome swimming around.

The Sandy River has picked up as reports of lucky anglers share their stories. The river gauge on the Sandy is now back in working order. So, for all of you that panicked thinking it was at flood stage, sorry it was fishable all along. The Clackamas and the coastal rivers have also been producing a few fish. With all this rain the last few days most of these systems will probably be blown out today (Thursday). Look for dropping rivers which makes for happy fish, rising rivers can be a little tougher. Another storm system might be heading our way this weekend, but fear not the weather man is wrong most of the time. Unless those gauges are rocketing up, go fishing. You can’t catch them from your couch.

In other news, trout fishing on the east side has been in it's normal winter routine with spotty BWO’s hatching mid day and subsurface tactics being your most productive method of getting a hook up.

If your looking for that humdinger of a fish or want to break away from Steelheading for a day like I wanted too, some of the lower elevation lakes could give you your fix. I headed out to some of those Washington lakes which are known to produce hatchery brood stock rainbows. Now these fish may not be the prettiest or the hardest fighting, but sometimes you just want a gimme and boy can they supply that. If you do find your way out chasing these monster pellet feed trout I would recommend a larger leech pattern, red worked well for me, a intermediate sinking line and at least a 6wt rod. These fish averaged around 5 pounds, and we found some that were close to 10. In the short 4 hours we fish we landed over a dozen in that size range. So, if you're looking for something different this week or are tired of steelhead fishing beating you up there’s always another fishery to try.

The Law of Averages

Joel La Follette - Thursday, January 18, 2018

I’m sure you’ve heard steelhead referred to as a fish of 1000 casts. Sometimes it’s more and sometimes it’s less. Steelhead fishing is about playing the odds. You might go four, five, or six days, maybe even a few weeks without catching a fish, but then you might get into a little streak and that brings you’re average back up. It all about the Law of Averages.

I know steelhead fishing has been tough the last couple of weeks, I keep blaming it on the weather. These high pressure systems that push the rains north and south and cause the strong east winds really wreak havoc on our winter fishing. Another thing that might get be causing the slower fishing is there might not be all that many wild fish around. I know when I look back on my steelhead catches over the years that I end up catching about 75% wild fish and 25% hatchery fish.

Quite often when I land a fish I will do a quick inspection of said fish to see what condition it’s in. I have a mental checklist - is it male or female, how bright is it, check out the anus to see how far or close to spawning the fish might be (more important in the spring when there is a mix of fresh summer and winter fish around), quick inspection of the inside of the mouth to see if there are any other hook scars. Sometimes you catch a fish and it will still have a hook buried in its mouth and another scar in the gum line and then the fly that you hooked it with still dangling out of the corner of its mouth. Those fish are biters! You don’t see a lot of hatchery fish like that and it might just be because most hatchery fish get whacked for the table or that they just don’t bite as well. It’s hard to say.

I guess the point of this long tale is that fishing is tough right now, but that will change soon hopefully. I fished with this guy in Russia and his saying was one cast can change your life, meaning that the next cast might be the one that you get a fish on and then you're looking up. Your outlook has changed and instead of talking about all the days you went without a fish you're talking about all the jumps and runs the fish made. Your outlook just made a 180 degree turn.

This week, the weather was like a roller coaster ride and I would expect the same for the upcoming week. It’s supposed to rain pretty hard the next couple of days. If the snow level stays low the rivers will bump up a little bit, but will be very fishable. If the snow level rises we won’t be fishing for a couple of days. Whatever happens we are going to have some great conditions the next couple of days. Fishing should be good on the front end of the river bump and then once it peaks. As long as there is a little visibility the rivers will be fishable.

I talked to guys on both the Sandy and Clack and fish are still being caught. As a matter of fact Corey did a guide trip on Wednesday and his client hooked two.

Rob Crandall of Water Time Outfitters has been fishing the coast and they are starting to pick up fish out there as well.

I also heard a couple of reports from guys fishing trout on the east side. The Deschutes was pretty slow with no real hatches to speak of, but very few anglers to compete against. The Metolius on the other hand was pretty good with a good BWO hatch midday.

I haven’t landed a fish yet this winter but I know it’s about to happen. Keep going, keep playing the odds and sooner or later It will happen, it has to happen.


Checking in with Friends on the River

Joel La Follette - Thursday, January 11, 2018
Report by Josh Linn and Friends...


I’m still making good on my New Years resolution to fish more. I know it’s early in the year, but it all adds up in the end.

I probably sound like a broken record, but the fishing is only getting better and every time it rains more fish enter the system. This rain will be no different.

After last week's outing Eric and I were pretty confident about there being a reasonable amount of fish in the river. Eric went at it with a renewed vigor and was fishing with supreme confidence this week as we again drifted the Clackamas. Every run he stepped in he knew he was going to get a fish, and he was ready for it.

The water was much lower than the week before. The runs where we had been standing in the willows fishing from we were now wading 30-50’ out. We fished the same 12’ t-11 tips, but had to adjust our angle to cast a little more downstream. Almost immediately Eric was in to his first fish. It was a good hard take, but sadly turned out to be a sucker. We continued fishing throughout the day and fished many prime pieces of water. We got to one of our last spots of the day. Eric stepped out of the boat and flipped his fly out there to start fishing short and work his line out. Immediately a fish grabbed the fly and started pulling line off the reel. Hooking one in close like that reminds me that every time you step in and make a cast, even the close ones, you have to be ready for that take. We had our only fish grab on the first little flop cast right in front of the boat, remember every cast counts. Fish it like you mean it.

I gathered a few Fishing Reports from out in the field. I don’t really have a trout one this week. Sadly, it seems like everyone has turned their attention to winter steelhead which is good if you are a trout angler, because there won’t be much pressure.

Here's the news from our friends on the water...

Brian Silvey-
The Sandy has been fishing good when water levels are up, slower when water levels drop. So far it’s been a mix of wild and hatchery fish landed.
Should only get better in the next few months.

The Deschutes has also been good for trout. The water around Maupin is in perfect shape. Not many hatches right now, so nymphing is the best technique.

Dave Hendrie on the Sandy...
Sh$&# show today...15 plus boats at Oxbow. Guides floating over water, guy motored up to last chance... Still good times. Couple great guys found fish... Next rain will be good.

Todd Rettman on the coast...
Fished the S Fork today and water was prime. I actually got to swing a fly in a sweet run! Fished behind the client of course, but no big tugs from any of those wild chromers. This next rain should move a fresh batch of winter steelhead into the streams. Tight lines!!

Rob Perkin on the coast...
Erin and I pushed off at 9:30 thinking our best bet would be to fish behind the early risers and not try to beat people down the river. The conditions were perfect, with a dropping river and good color. Half way through the first run I had a solid grab that didn't stick, but with a start like that my expectations were high all day.

Later in the day gear guys making their second run, began passing us and they weren't shy in sharing how good the day had been for them. Most of them had found at least a fish or two. We're in a good weather pattern and the fish are in!


Southwest Washington and Olympic peninsula...
Jackson Golik of Jackson Golik Guide Service
Fishing has been pretty good the last few weeks with more native fish coming in by the day. They’re are still good numbers of hatchery fish in the Kalama, and so far the pressure hasn’t been too bad from other anglers. We are supposed to get a fair amount of rain over the next few days so fishing might be patchy. Once the rain stops and the rivers start to drop then it’ll be time to catch some fish!

My trip to the Olympic Peninsula was incredible. On the first day we floated the lower river. We fished hard all day for two grabs, but no hookups. We were the only ones on the float all day and the water looked incredible, but feeling the need to change it up we decided to float the upper river for day two. While fishing in the national forest is beautiful, there were even less fish in the upper river and quite a bit more pressure. With our tails between our legs we decided for our last morning we would go back to the extreme lower Hoh about a mile above the salt and try our luck to find some new fish. And by pure dumb luck we walked right into them. I hooked 5 in one hole and my mom hooked her first fish on the swing. A perfect ending to a fun trip.

Happy New Year Fishing Report

Joel La Follette - Thursday, January 04, 2018

It turns out that the Fly Czar, Josh Linn, had something to do with last weeks fishing report as he "coached" Mr. Skittles though that literary endeavor. This week, Josh takes center stage as he regales us with his New Year's exploits and kicks off the year with friends.

I hope everyone is off to a great start to the New Year. Turning that corner into a new year is exciting with new seasons and fishing adventures on the horizon. Adventures can be both good and bad, you never know what’s going to come your way. I personally have made a New Years resolution to fish more and I started on day one.

So this week, while Joel was busy remodeling the kitchen in his 4Runner (or finishing up the year-end inventory) and Nick was busy taking down his Christmas lights it was left up to me to write the Fishing Report.

I tried really hard to get Nick to forgo his family obligations, but while that didn’t work out I did find a couple of volunteers for the New Year’s Day Fishing trip. This cast of characters have appeared in other featured Fishing Reports over the past few years and are no strangers around the shop. Rob and Erin Perkins and Eric Gunter have been seen in box office hits such as John Day Bass Report, John Day Steelhead Report and my favorite, the Deschutes Salmon Fly Hatch Report. We have all fished together many times and make a great team.

We didn’t meet up too early for our trip as we were looking for a casual New Year’s Day float, plus you never know how busy it’s going to be out there. I used to float the Sandy for my annual New Year’s Day float, but the Oregon Whitewater Association or some similar group does a rafting trip that puts about 100 boats on the river that day. So, a few years ago I gave up on that.

We headed over to the Clackamas River which is definitely a favorite winter steelhead haunt of mine. It has plenty of classic swing runs and quite a few short little tucked-in hidden spots to explore.

I’ve been fishing the Sage Mod quite a bit lately and I like that rod immensely. It has a deep loading action that is perfect for tossing sink tips and bigger winter flies. My typical winter setup is a 13' 7wt rod, like the Sage Mod 7130, matched with a Skagit head. I strongly favor the Rio Skagit Max and generally I’m tipping it with 12’ of T-11. My fly choice is simple, either black and blue or pink and orange. I carry a lot of both. Which one I tie on is usually decided by whoever I am fishing with. Whatever they choose I pick the other. This day was no exception as my buddy, Eric, put on a red and orange fly so I went with black and blue. My winter flies are usually between 2.5”-3.5” with some medium sized barbell eyes for weight.

The river was up since we had that rain in the middle of the week so that meant we were going to have a little less fishable water. Not so many little tuck in spots on this day. The bright side is that when the river is up it’s typically a little more colored up and warmer. The fish will be sitting more in the soft edges closer to the bank and easier to get a fly in front of.

We pushed away from the boat launch and we were the only boat on the water. That was a surprise considering how late we were putting on. We stopped in the first spot and the clouds started to break up as mist was rising off of the river. It felt very fishy. We moved down the river a bit farther and pulled into one of my favorite spots. We parked at the top of the run and I spread Eric and Rob out in the bucket as I headed down towards the tail out.

A couple of rocks showed themselves at the bottom of the run and I was pretty confident about fishing over them. Sure enough when my fly was swinging into them I felt that little tug. The sudden stop and little twitch could only be one thing. A second later my reel was screaming as line melted away. What a great way to start the New Year!

A few minutes into the battle the fish positioned itself straight down below me not allowing me to get an angle on him. In my opinion, that is like the kiss of death and sure enough the he came unbuttoned. Oh well, I don’t need to touch the fish to be satisfied.

We fished plenty of awesome spots throughout the day, but didn’t encounter anymore takers. I did see a couple of fish landed and that just helps to build confidence for the next time out.



If you guys are thinking about going out and wondering if it’s time, well I have been saying this for the last month. It's time. Folks have been getting fish in both the Sandy and Clackamas rivers for the past several weeks. The coast has dropped back into shape and fish are being caught there as well.

Down south, the Umpqua is low with fish being caught in the lower river. The same holds true on the Rogue. Conditions will change for the better if we get rain.

Over on the east side the John Day is not frozen over yet so there are still opportunities over there if you're a hardy soul. Personally, I'd save the gas and stick closer to home. I wouldn't want you to freeze to death.

On the Trout front, guys are doing well on the Deschutes, Crooked, and the Metolius depending on the day, but I'm a Steelhead guy this time of year and that's my Jam.

As I look at the weather forecast for the week ahead all signs point to favorable Steelhead conditions west of the cascades. I’m already planning my next trip, but my biggest problem is deciding where to go. Stay local or head to the coast? Whatever I choose to do I’m pretty confident there will be fish.



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