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Fishing Reports

Josh's Fishing Report

Joel La Follette - Thursday, March 29, 2018

So, this week Nick and I both went fishing. Oddly in some ways it reminded me of the Civil War: steelhead angler against steelhead angler, the North against the South, beads and indicators against swung flies. I know sometimes there is a division between swinging flies and fishing indicators, but the reality of it is the indicator is a deadly effective technique and some rivers are more suited to it. 

I personally caught my first steelhead many years ago on the Deschutes on a green rock worm fishing with my good friend Doug Cook. That was probably back in 1997 or 98. At that time the only way I knew how to catch a steelhead was with an indicator. It was effective and caught more fish than I can count. 

It’s been a long time since I caught one on an indicator. I barely fish an indicator when I Trout fish and never when I fish Steelhead. It’s kind of like how many anglers move through the stages of fly fishing. At first the goal is simply to catch one fish. Stage two generally involves trying to catch a lot of fish. The third goal most often is trying to catch big fish. Well, I’ve kind of moved beyond that. I have caught my first one, and a lot of them, and even some big ones, but now I choose to fish the way I want too. I mostly dry fly fish for Trout or swing streamers. For targeting steelhead I prefer to swinging flies and honestly, I prefer catching them on a sink tip. It all boils down to personal preference, and should not be a me against him, or this way is better than that. Fishing is fun and at this time of unrest and division in the country we certainly shouldn’t let something as petty as fishing tactics and techniques come between us. If you want to catch trout or steelhead with an indicator, we will help you do it. If you want a little more info on swing techniques, we’ve got you covered. Don’t be afraid to come in and ask for help because we have literally done it all. 

Ok, off of the soap box, I’m sorry for the rant. Anyway, like I said Nick and I did fish the coast on Monday. We met up with Rob and Todd from Water Time Outfitters and then went our separate ways. Nick went north and I went south. The river they fished had been low and clear. I went south to the big river. It was on the rise and a bit colored up, but this is winter fishing and like I’ve said before if there is even some visibility you’ve got a chance. 

Over the years, Bob the shuttle driver has told me a million stories about how he caught 6 or 7 steelhead on the day I didn’t float because I deemed the river unfishable. Nowadays I will pretty much fish unless the river is chocolate brown with trees floating down it. 

As we floated down I saw a fish roll. The water was warmer and fish were moving around. We stopped at the first run and made three or four passes through. While I was standing on the bank talking with Todd he got a good solid grab. It pulled line off the reel, but didn’t stick. We moved on and saw a couple of more fish roll. We pulled into one of my not so favorite runs, but one that I had fished many times in the past. I like to fish runs that are interesting; they have features and structure, maybe overhanging trees with difficult wading. If I’m not going to catch a fish I like the success of not falling in. 

We hopped out of the boat and I went to the top of the run while Todd started low in the tail-out. I was about ten casts in and saw Todd hook up. From what I could tell the fish grabbed the fly and started tail walking across the surface. After a good strong battle Todd won out over the steelhead. We set it free and took a minute to rejoice in the adventure.

Once Todd calmed down he said he had seen a couple of fish roll out in front of him. I stepped in where he had gotten out and started casting and stepping down the run. My fly was ticking bottom a little more than I like, but I opted not to switch tips and kept casting. Todd was moving the boat down to where I was fishing and as soon as he dropped the anchor I got side swiped by a steelhead. There was no tap tap, slow pull, this was straight hit and run. The fish went right to the surface and started thrashing about. There is something magical and energizing about that blind grab. I released my fish and our day was as good as done. Like I said before, I don’t need the biggest or the most. I prefer quality over quantity. Add in some good friends and beautiful scenery, and I’m as happy as can be. 

Nick's Fishing Report

Joel La Follette - Thursday, March 29, 2018

Steelhead fishing has picked up this week with the fresh shot of rain and low level snow. All local rivers got a small surge of water and look to be staying in perfect shape. The coastal rivers seem to be producing more fish then our local waters of the Clackamas and Sandy.

Josh and I both spend some time on the coast this weekend and numerous fish were landed. At this point if you were planning on winter steelheading I would say, “Go now!” The current water levels and aggressive fish mean your chances are probably not going to get much better this.

As we edge our way into April summer steelhead should start showing up in the Clackamas and Sandy. This is when we begin to wind down our winter fishing, but you can still get that Steelhead fix before you transition over to Trout fishing. Both rivers will continue to produce fish all spring. 

Trout fishing on the east side has been lights out. The Deschutes near Maupin and the Crooked River are the subject of some great fishing reports coming in. Anglers have been catching fish mainly on nymphs: Zebra Midges, small Stonefly nymphs, Hares Ears and Super Sinkers. When a hatch appears it most likely will be a March Brown, Blue Wing Olive or Skwalas that bring Trout to the surface. Personally, I’ve done well this time of year stripping streamers like a Sculpzilla. It’s a fun way to break away from the norm and get a tight line grab. With warmer temps and nicer weather this weekend the east side rivers could be a awesome place to find a change of pace. 

No matter whether this week takes you east, west, or painting Easter eggs, fishing is only getting better so get your chores done now. Spring is here and you’re going to find yourself with too many good options and not enough time to do it all. The chaos is beginning. 


And You Know it Don't Come Easy

Joel La Follette - Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Pleasant weather this past week had our local steelhead streams a little low and clear. The fresh push of fish we saw last week has slowed a bit, but don’t loose hope the next push is just around the corner. Hopefully, so is some rain...

The coastal rivers seem to be staying in the best shape and producing the most fish. The Clackamas and Sandy are still providing a few fish to lucky anglers. For those that ventured further north to the Olympic Peninsula steelheading was rather productive although crowded from the stories we’ve heard.

With rain in the forecast one can only get more excited about steelheading. March is my favorite month for winter fish. Warming water temps and more wild fish usually showing up make it a better chance to get grabs. Don’t give up just yet if you haven’t landed your winter fish. Nothing good comes easy.

Speaking of not coming easy, Josh and I both escaped to our own separate rivers this last weekend. With water levels lower both of us know to fish a heavier fly in the deeper runs that fish feel more comfortable in. Apparently, great minds think alike because this thought proved to have both of us touch fish on our respective rivers. So for your steelheading tip of the week, low water fish deep, high water fish in close. As always, you can’t catch them from the couch. Unless your couch is inflatable and has oars. #newraftidea?


Trout fishing on the east side of the Cascades has been fairing rather well. Hatching bugs such as March Browns, Blue Wing Olives and Skwalas have been spotted flying around. The Deschutes, Crooked or the Metolius would not be a bad place to spend some time this weekend with nice weather predicted in the forecast. Along with those dry flies I would recommend bring your favorite smaller nymphs to imitate the BWOs and some March Brown soft hackles, which can really put a hurt on those hungry trout. If all else fails put a streamer on that looks like a sculpin and hold on.

March comes Roaring

Joel La Follette - Thursday, March 01, 2018
Marty Sheppard Photo

March is rolling in like a slightly soggy lion without too much bite in its roar. Our last brush with winter added to the snowpack nicely. We still would welcome any added moisture. What did fall this past week has improved angling opportunities across the region, especially on the Sandy River.

While El Numero Uno breaks in a new bright red boat, the second best guide on the Sandy has been quietly building his reputation as a force to be reckoned with. Although there has been plenty of misdirection on social media, we’ve been able to cut through the static and can confirm a few fish have been encountered and conditions have improved. Black and Blue flies are getting it done. There is a question about red boats and red flies that needs to be addressed, but we’ll hopefully have more intel next week.

The WTO guys are still mining chrome on the coast as the big wild fish return. Black and Blue patterns are getting it done there as well. Is this a trend or a conspiracy? Inquiries as to the success of other patterns have been ignored which leads me to believe there is a blackout on information so that Rob can drop a bombshell at his Steelhead presentation on the 17th. We breathlessly await the unveiling of a potential game changer from the vise of Mr. Crandall.

Trout madness is about to begin as spring hatches pop on our local waters. Vises have been cranking out March Brown patterns for months and well, it’s March. The upper Willamette and McKenzie are great places to test those collections. The Deschutes might even see a few early hatches with the warming weather and lower than last year water levels. Reports from the D have been spotty with the snow blowing in last week, but we should see a few adventurous anglers heading that way this weekend to test the waters.

Don’t forget our Spring Trout Rendezvous on April 29th! Plan on joining us for camping, fishing and the world famous Royal Treatment Taco Bar.

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