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Fishing Reports

First Nation Extended Summer Season

Joel La Follette - Thursday, October 18, 2018


It may not be politically correct to say Indian Summer, but how else can you describe our weather? The last few days have been absolutely incredible. Next week though, the Weather Channel girl is threatening a dampish change to the forecast. Enjoy the sun while you can, but look for your fishing options to improve as rain moves in. We could use some water!

The Fly Czar and our new Head of Security headed east this past Monday after overseeing the very successful Fly Fishing Symposium. LT has recently retired from the Portland PD and you will see him in the shop occasionally keeping the peace between the Fly Czar and Mr. Skittles. In any case, the guys found a few willing fly grabbers on their adventure, but also found the take-out gate locked at Starvation. Check in with Josh before you make plans to launch a drift boat.

Meanwhile, the Deschutes continues to be rather good for Trout and not too bad for Steelhead. We are not seeing the best return ever, but it is Steelhead fishing, and it's never easy. Hatches of misc. Mayflies, October Caddis and small tan Caddis are keeping things interesting for Trout chasers.

Our recent infatuation with Czech nymphing has really upped the interest in Trout fishing around the shop. After I graduated from the Fly Czar's clinic last week, I spent 3 days on the Deschutes putting the skills I learned into practice. The number of fish landed over the trip was very impressive given the fact that I never made a cast with the fly line out of the rod. I did keep it a little "West Coast" by fishing a Silvey's Super Sinker and Caddis Pupa instead of the more Euro-style offerings. The Super Sinker was the star until Caddis started to flitter about, then the Pupa rocked it. It's nice to have that one-two punch on every cast.

Sea-run Cutty lovers have one last week to get it out of their system before the season comes to a close. Rain will help their efforts and will also draw fresh fish into tidewater for the Salmon fanatics. All good news for sure.

Closer to home, the Coho in the Clackamas are getting a little stale and the numbers of fresh fish returning are dropping off some. Rain may help, but we now wait for the first of the winter Steelhead to really provide the action. Let it rain.

Field Trip Gone Wrong

Joel La Follette - Thursday, October 11, 2018

by Josh Linn, the Fly Czar

Last Saturday, Mike McCoy from Snake Brand Guides shared a presentation on Czech nymphing. He then followed up with a great tying session at the Tyer’s Table. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the European nymphing techniques are gaining momentum here in the Northwest. If you want to catch fish, it’s a very effective method. 

The next day, Joel had an outing with his Reed College class so Nick and I volunteered to help. By 9:00 AM we were at Harpham Flats ready to meet up with the students. While we waited for the van to arrive I gave the boys a quick tutorial on Czech nymphing.


The first time I used the Czech nymph style of fishing was about 10 years ago. This technique is a little different from the other Euro nymph styles like French or Spanish. Czech nymphing uses a short line, nymphing right off the top of the rod technique. It utilizes a shorter leader with a low rod angle and leads the flies through the water. The other techniques involve a longer leader where you dead drift under tension with a little more range.

Nick and I stepped into the water and in a couple of casts, I had my first fish to hand. I was a little rusty, but it came back fast. We moved just a little further down the run and in no time I landed another Trout. At that point, I looked up at Nick and told him, “That’s how it’s done.”

We headed back to the truck to see what Joel was up to, but he and his truck were nowhere in sight. Thirty minutes later he returned. He had received a phone call from the van driver stating they had just crossed the bridge in Maupin and asked if he could come up there to meet them. Joel drove into town and didn’t see them anywhere. He called the driver and asked for specifics as to where they were. That is when the driver asked Joel to spell Maupin and put it into his GPS. He put the phone down and Joel heard cussing accompanied by, “How the heck did that happen?” The driver picked the phone back up and they were somewhere south of Eugene. Joel instructed him to return the group to the college. They would not be fishing today.

That meant we had the day off and it was time to fish!

We headed up the road to a spot above the boat launch we all love to fish. My Czech nymph rod was still rigged up and Joel hadn’t gotten his lesson yet. We returned to the river. As I‘m explaining the technique of leading the flies through the run, on the second cast I hooked a Trout.


Moving upriver about a step I made another couple of casts and was into another fish. Joel’s got the idea. He took his rod and worked his way downriver. After a minute or two he’s into his first fish. 


We keep fishing and hooking fish throughout the run. Joel is like a surgeon dissecting every nook and cranny of the tail-out. Every time I look down the river he’s got another fish on. I switched to a heavier fly fishing deeper and immediately hooked a much bigger fish. I can’t lift it off the bottom very well with the 10’ 3wt, but when I do it appeared to possibly be a Steelhead. It rolled on the surface and popped off. At that moment I feel doubt creep in and wonder if it really was a Steelhead.

I continue to work my way down and a minute or two later I hooked a steelhead. This one stayed on and there is no doubt it is a Steelhead. I give out excited cheers as Nick made a splashy dash to bring the net. Any doubt about the first fish being a Steelhead dissolved because I can see this fish is smaller than the previous one.

I fought the fish hard to not over exhaust it. It’s a fierce battle and all I can think about is not breaking off the light 5x tippet I’m using. Nick grabbed the net and I lead the fish toward him. The fish turned with a last big thrash and it broke off.

That’s not the first Steelhead I’ve broken off and it won’t be the last. Even just hooking one had me elated, to say the least. I re-rigged the rod and handed it to Nick. I didn’t need to fish anymore, my day was complete.

By now, Joel’s up at the trucks having a sandwich in his kitchen on wheels. I walk up to chat with him about this new technique. While we are talking we watched Nick catch a couple of fish.

We spent about an hour fishing and put on quite a clinic. I don‘t know how many fish we caught, but it was a lot.

While we are eating a little lunch and Nick was polishing off some leftover cake,  a couple of our regular customers pulled up. They tell us about their day of fishing. It was a little different than ours. Joel’s tells them about the Euro technique and offers to give them a little demo. 


We all head back down to the water. As Joel is giving them a quick rundown on what to do, he hooks a fish. We offered them our rods to give it a try. They were getting the hang of it pretty quick but weren't hooking any fish.  I'm guessing they figured we caught them all by this time. One guy handed me back the rod and asked for a further demonstration. I was a little reluctant still riding high from earlier, but I give in.

 

I make a couple of casts and hook my third Steelhead of the morning on my Trout gear. This one is closer to the tail out with a rapid right below us. There is even less hope of landing this fish with such light tackle. It is a heavier fish and I tried to put a lot of pressure on it. It made a dash for the rapid, but I stopped it and turn it back towards us.
 

The pressure to perform was real with an audience cheering me on. By now, I‘ve switched to being confident about landing this fish. A large piece of soft water right behind me would make for a great landing spot. I formulated my plan. Leading it back I realize there is a shallow sandbar between the fish and the promised land. I took a quick look around and reaffirm that this is still the best plan. As I pull it across the bar (bad idea) the leader broke and the fish came off. The fish is surprised at is sudden freedom, so Nick and I both make a move at it with visions of us tailing it. Not so much. The fish gathered his senses and swam off. Like I said earlier, that wouldn’t be the last fish I ever break off.

Oh yeah, I guess you guys were reading through this looking for a fishing report. Some of you may have heard the fishing has been tough and there’s not a lot of Steelhead around, I’ve heard differently.....and Trout fishing is awesome.


No Lack of Talent

Joel La Follette - Thursday, October 04, 2018
Christine Switzer Photo

I did manage to go fishing this weekend if you could truly call it that. I spent some time wading in the cool waters of the Metolius with a fly rod in hand making several hundred fruitless casts and a few not so fruitless. That in itself is not an unusual occurrence; a fact that is well documented by those who ply these waters. What made this day more unusual than most is that I had a film crew recording my every move from several different angles, and a crowd of curious onlookers watching the proceedings.

Megan Gray Photo
This crew, if you must know, was attempting to portray me as a wise graying entrepreneur living out his passion in the fall of his life. Evidently, my unusual career path was found to be intriguing by the account principals so this little band of young talented advertising geniuses was tucked in an airplane in Charlotte, North Carolina and flown out to the Great Northwest. The poor kids didn't know what they were getting into.

When this adventure was first proposed it was to be a simple photo shoot at the shop and perhaps on the Clackamas River. After considering the story I wanted to be told I requested we venture a little further afield to the Deschutes or Metolius. The images of the Metolius I sent evidently won them over, and that is how I found myself casting to Trout with a camera pointed in my face. 

Upon arriving at the river I found that even the simple task of wadering up and tying on a fly needed to be well documented; further delaying my angling efforts and establishing that this was not a fishing trip. I resigned myself to the task at hand and became a tour guide, naturalist, conservationist and ambassador for Oregon. Oh, and as they say in the business, "the talent."

Not wanting to drown David the photographer and be responsible for dampening expensive camera equipment I chose a simple location near Bridge 99. Wearing an ill-fitting pair of boot foot waders David looked like a young fawn taking its first steps as he navigated the rocks and boulders in the river. He positioned himself between me and my casting target to capture the intense action of fly casting and the contemplative expression on my face. He didn't like my expression. 

It was requested that I look happy to be engaged in my passion while counting down the days of my life. Right. There's a thought that would bring a smile to any face. I decided to think about lunch instead.

Having been casting a fly for well over a half century I was able to easily adapt, smiling and casting like a seasoned professional while retaining a steely-eyed focus on the task at hand. Said focus was suddenly interrupted by a Trout rising to engulf my fly just behind David. Like the true professional he is, David continued to fire off exposures unimpressed with the piscatorial encounter. I, on the other hand, was amazed at this development but held on to my poker face as I released the Trout into the clear waters of this magical river.

Back at camp, I whipped up a Skottle full of my world famous fajitas and we recounted the adventure of the day. Our time together would end the following evening after a brief tour of Oregon and a visit to the shop where this story was supposed to be told, but, as I said, they didn't know what they were getting into.



Christine, Megan, and David now have an appreciation for Oregon...


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