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Fishing Reports

It's Damn Damp

Joel La Follette - Thursday, March 16, 2017

It’s not raining this second, so what are you doing inside? This has been a winter of challenging conditions and this week is no different. Drenching rain has filled most of the area’s waterways and it is looking bleak if you want to get out today. Now, tomorrow is another matter as the big drop begins with the sun peaking out from behind the clouds. Even the weekend looks promising! Not to get ahead of ourselves here, but we might even see fishable water into next week!

The only dark cloud in this sunny forecast is the Clackamas River which seems to be determined to stay above the 15 foot mark until after the workweek begins on Monday. I was talking with our man on the water, Corey Koff, and we agreed, 14 ft. is the new 12 ft. on the Clack. If the water is green, fish it. Just don’t fish the whole river, focus on the edges.

The Sandy had color on Monday, a radical change from it’s “spring creek” appearance most of this winter. Constant rain and warmer temps knocked it out on Tuesday and it seems to have peaked at 11,400 cfs this morning and is dropping. It will probably fish tomorrow, but check the gauge.

I wasn't sure what condition the Deschutes was in until my phone beeped a second ago and Marty check in. The river bumped up as rain and snow melt affects the flows on the east side and Mr. Sheppard reports it is off color as well. You could probably catch a fish or two, but it's not optimal. It's a good day to tye some flies or stop in the shop for a cup of coffee. Winter isn't over yet.

An Optimistic Bunch

Joel La Follette - Thursday, March 09, 2017

If you are that person who is constantly checking the river levels and weather report as you plan your weekend, you probably have been flirting with a case of serious angling depression this week. Looking ahead to the weekend you have surmised by now that conditions will be near perfect starting at around 10:00PM this evening and ending around 8:00AM Friday. That gives you a full hour of daylight tomorrow morning and you already called in sick last week. Yup, that is depressing.

Now, before you lose all hope of getting your boots wet this weekend you need to look on the bright side. Trout fishing is still an option and smaller watersheds may drop into shape by Sunday afternoon. You at least need to go check it out.

As anglers we are an optimistic bunch and our current weather pattern seems to be putting that optimism to the test. The ups and downs of our favorite rivers have been a never-ending elevator ride of emotions. It’s like we’re in high school again getting mixed signals from that object of our affection. One minute we’re in love dancing through a day on the water, the next we’re crushed and standing out in the freezing rain promising to never do this again. Ah yes, winter Steelheading, I use to do that until I learned how to make baskets out of old Skagit lines…

Yet, we persevere and seek out these proud fish in conditions that turn most imported anglers into gameshow junkies. A perfect example of this dedication is the tale of Bryan and Brian.

It seems that our friend Bryan Petersen (owner of Cascade Payroll Service, our Royal Treatment payroll specialist. 503.608.4227 for all your payroll needs. End of unsolicited shameless plug.) was fishing with our friend Brian Silvey, AKA Number One. Now before confusion sets in I will just share Mr. Petersen’s email, or at least part of it. After all, this is a family friendly newsletter…

“Around noon we stopped to set up for lunch. A couple of guys were casting bobbers on the other side of the river and Brian told me to fish the seam on this side. I’m fishing it, looking at the guys across form me and thinking, well they’re not catching anything, what are my chances? Step, cast, mend, step, cast, mend, down the run I went.

Brian finally called out, “two more casts.” I thought to myself, lunch is ready, good, I need a break! As I’m thinking about warming up on Brian’s soup and toasted bagel sandwich, the line snaps taunt, the loop is gone and the rod takes leave of my hand. I’m looking down into the water as my rod it now 4-6 feet down river from me and moving away rapidly.

Fortunately, Brian was oblivious to my current predicament or I’d now be a feature on American’s Funniest Home Videos or at the least Brian’s Instagram feed! I started chasing after my rod, which involved “running” in thigh deep water in waders. I almost caught it, but it darted off again. I considered diving into the freezing water after it, but thought better and continued my splashy pursuit.

Thankfully, I finally caught up with my wayward outfit, but was sure the fish had departed. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the fish was indeed still attached to my Silvey's Extractor!

Most of the battle was fought without my participation and after a brief struggle it was carefully brought to the net. Pictures were taken, backs were slapped and soon it was off again to terrorize another angler.

One of Brian’s warm riverside lunches was the reward for my success, as I briefly mentioned the episode to my guide. Please don’t tell anyone about this, Brian missed the show and I may not have shared the whole story. I don’t want him to cut me from the A list.”

Huh, don’t worry Bryan. Mr. Silvey only reads this newsletter when he’s prominently featured, or not fishing because the river is rising.

Perfect Conditions Abound

Joel La Follette - Thursday, March 02, 2017

Optimism is running rampant on local waterways as fishing conditions flirt with near perfection. While it can be argued that the Sandy River could use a little color it has been on its own program for most of the winter months and refuses to conform to predictions. Across the state our wintery mix of weather has kept the dedicated bundled up and soggy for the most part, with only the occasional respite from the dampness.

The reports of doom and gloom on the fisheries front set forth by ODFW managers recently have been offset with epic days afield by those few anglers born under a lucky star. The less fortunate among us take solace and inspiration in their successes. We remain optimistic, but it does seem that the warm waters of 2015 did indeed take a toll on our anadromous friends. Our cast count may have to be adjusted upwards slightly. Coastal streams have seen pockets of success over the past few days.

It should be noted that stream etiquette has taken a hit recently as less fortunate anglers try to find the unfair advantage over their angling brethren. Please refrain from low-holing others, and at least get out of your car first.

Windows of Opportunity

Joel La Follette - Thursday, February 23, 2017

It’s all about windows of opportunity this winter and that window was opened a crack this past week in spite of the torrential rains that doused the area. Dropping freezing levels meant dropping rivers and anglers braving the cold, wet weather were rewarded for their efforts.

The North Coast was the hot spot with plenty of action on the swung fly. Muddy waters in some locations didn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of the fresh fish entering the system. Willing fly grabbers were found in a variety of conditions and those condition continue to improve. Things on the coast are looking good for the weekend.

The Sandy River was the local bright spot as it remained in pretty good shape throughout the week, and the east wind has relinquished it’s grasp. When things get rocking on the Sandy I only hear from Number One and Number Two through their social media feeds. They seem to be making hay while the sun shines and hopefully will be able to file a personal report soon. Both Rockstars have brought some nice fish to hand during this window of opportunity.

As witnessed by the photos in this issue, I made a dash to the Metolius with friends Tracy and Jena. Stream side snow is packed and a little easier to hike on, but watch for soft spots that can trip you up. Rubber soled boots do make for better walking in the snow, but make sure to take care when actually wading with them. Studs do help and can be added to most boots.

The misc. small Mayfly hatch was augmented by the occasional showing of the large winter Caddis that pops out this time of year. While BWOs were the most common insect to make an appearance, there are several other hatches making up the Metolius menu. Surface action gets rolling around 11:00 and fades around 2:00. Soft hackles are a good option before, during, and after, if surface presentations don’t bring results. Cased Caddis trailing a small Mayfly nymph, like Silvey’s Super Sinker, are an effective way to prospect when nothing is showing.

Bull Trout chasers may want to check out Stolis' Ice Pick that our Fly Czar, Josh Linn, added to the Trout fly Streamer Collection this week. It's becoming a full-time gig just testing out the new patterns he had been pulling in each week. Steelhead nuts will love the new pattern from Jerry French that he's added to our collection of fish catchers.

Weather wise we’re not out of the woods yet. So, watch the forecast and plan accordingly. We hit whiteout conditions on the way home last evening on the Santiam Pass, making it a slow trek. Be prepared and make sure you carry emergency snacks, water and warm clothes when traversing our mountain passes. Spring is coming, but not just yet.

Streamer Eaters

Joel La Follette - Thursday, February 09, 2017

Steelhead waters are re-carving landscapes across the state as a hard cold rain drives in from the Pacific. The chances of finding fishable water by the weekend will require creativity and lengthy travel. The best bet is to forego the Steelhead gear, grab some Trout stuff and head east. Even then you may be dealing with water conditions that are less than ideal.

Last week I chatted with Brian Silvey who was going a bit stir-crazy from cabin fever as he remains snowbound in Maupin. The bombardment of winter weather has limited his water time on the Sandy River and added to his time at the tying bench. The upside is with his Steelhead boxes full he has turned to tying big Trout streamers and that is a very timely topic. Now, his creations aren’t yet ready for primetime yet as Brian likes to thoroughly field test new patterns before springing them on the world, but this does allow me a wonderful segue into this topic.

Streamers are the feast that hungry Trout are looking for during the lean times of winter. It’s important for feeding fish to acquire more calories in a meal than they expend in acquiring said meal. Sipping BWOs may keep the hunger pains away, but chomping down on a fat Sculpin puts meat on the bones much faster.

While streamer fishing has remained popular in some circles, it seemed to fall out of favor with the general populace who turned to nymphing to fulfill their subsurface angling requirements. Yet, tossing streamers is experiencing a resurgence here in the Northwest partly due to traveling anglers bringing their flies and techniques back home from streamer friendly locations and anglers looking for another arrow to add to their quiver.

No one is more into this Streamer resurgence than the staff here at Royal Treatment, especially our Fly Czar, Josh Linn. Check out some of the Streamer weapons he’s added to the fly bins just this week. Then grab a Trout stick and hit the water. There’s a big fish out there with your name on it, you two should meet.

Ground Hog's Day Report

Joel La Follette - Thursday, February 02, 2017

Weather has monopolized this newsletter and will dictate the fishing opportunities for the coming week. The best we can do is see what happens and plan accordingly. Forecasts have most area streams bumping up as moisture moves in this weekend. How much they climb will depend on the amount of rain we get and will have nothing to do with a Groundhog.

Fishing on the coast has been good with fresh fish grabbing swung and dead drifted presentations. Dropping rivers there could use a bit of rain to liven things up again.

The east wind has kept all but the brave off the Sandy River, but there have been some very nice fish brought to very cold hands. Black/Blue or Orange/Red Metal Detectors are getting it done. Mr. Sheppard is digging his well earned fame.

While the wind is not as brutal on the Clackamas River, it's still been a bit chilly. Very respectable wild fish have treated anglers to spectacular displays of why we chase these critters over the last week. We've had more than one customer report close encounters that have left them with shaking hands and slack lines for their efforts. Those that do manage to tame one of these beasts are warmed by the memory and drawn back to the river no matter the conditions.

Snow is still covering the banks on the east side, but Trout chasers have not been detoured. Action has been moderate, but the more optimistic among us still make the effort to rush into spring. Which as reported earlier, is six weeks away.

Things are looking up

Joel La Follette - Thursday, January 26, 2017

Opportunities abound as we are enjoying some of the best water conditions of the winter season. Reports are flooding in from all corners of the state as anglers break the bonds of cabin fever and venture out. Our forecasted flood waters receded quickly and most area rivers fell into shape as predicted. The Sandy never really went up and out as freezing levels dropped saving us from a potential torrent. We are looking at very little change as stable weather conditions move in until late next week.

Road conditions have improved on the east side, but there is still snow on the ground. Trout chasers are setting aside the chips and guacamole long enough to break free of the couch and hit the water. Midges, BWOs and Little Black Stones are offering up winter snacks for the residents of the Crooked, Deschutes and Metolius rivers. Getting down and funky with your standard nymphs is always an option if the surface party fails to excite. Bull Trout are chomping streamers on our favorite spring creek for those braving the streamside snow.

For an on-the-water report we turn now to our Fly Czar, Josh Linn...

I fished the Clackamas with Tom Larimer and Jake Zirkle from G Loomis over the weekend. We tested out a bunch of new rods from Loomis including the much talked about Asquith, and a new series that will be debuting soon that will be awesome. The river was in great shape having dropped quickly. We put in a little late and the boat traffic was light. We were able to pretty much fish everything we wanted. There is still a bunch of snow in Hood River and Tom wasn't able to get his jet sled dug out, so we piled into his drift boat. 

This was the first time I have fished with either of these guys and one of the things I noticed was Tom changes sink tips and flies for almost every run we fished. Now, we were testing a bunch of rods so I'm sure that was part of it, but I would have been more content to fish the same tip most of the time, probably 10 or 12' of t-11. This was my first time really fishing the 13' 7wt Asquith and boy is that rod something else. It was loaded with a 540gr Skagit Switch G2 from Airflo and that stick is a real winner. It casts far, throws big flies with ease and is as light as a feather. If you're in the market for a new rod, that would definitely be one to look at. While inventory is limited on all Asquith rods, we do have a few demos rotating through the shop. Call me and I'll hook you up for a test drive. 

As you can see from the photo above, it's a fish catcher too.

My Road is Closed, I'm Going Fishing

Joel La Follette - Thursday, January 19, 2017

My phone beeped on Sunday with a text from my old friend, WaterDog. Due to unfortunate circumstances he had an open seat on Monday for trip on the coast with Water Time Outfitter’s Todd Rettmann. With warm rain forecast to rinse away our record snowfall and send rivers up and out, this seemed like a good chance to get on the water before the storm. I slipped past the “Road Closed” sign on my hill and met Jim somewhere off HWY 26 at o’dark thirty.

River conditions were very low and clear on the North Fork Nehalem, with water temps just a few clicks above solid. At that height swinging water is fairly limited, so I focused on photography. WaterDog did his best to convince a Steelhead to grab dead drifted offerings, but we ended the day without making contact. If you’ve not done this drift you should, as it is very beautiful with stunning waterfalls and rock formations in the upper section.

We beat the rain storm home, but it finally spooled up on Tuesday and started to melt away our Snowman collection. This sent the coastal rivers skyrocketing as well as most streams here in the valley. The one exception is the Sandy River which seems to be ignoring common perceptions of what should be happening with the rapid snow melt off Mt. Hood. The Sandy peaked at 6000 CFS yesterday and is currently dropping. Unless I'm missing something, that should be the trend through the weekend, offering up a cure for cabin fever.

The rest of our favorite Steelhead streams may take a bit longer to come back around, but should be very fishable by midweek. There will be opportunities for the optimistic by Monday. Smaller watersheds could fish by Sunday. Check levels and tie good knots; there will be some fresh hot fish to tangle with.

Oh Baby it's Cold Outside

Joel La Follette - Thursday, January 12, 2017

Current weather conditions have put a damper on fishing opportunities here in our part of the state. Local streams are icy and getting there is challenging. The outlook calls for warmer wet weather as we head into next week. That means we'll see a bump in river levels as the white stuff melts away and rain hits frozen ground. In fact, the forecast for most area streams looks like a space launch with blast off scheduled for Tuesday. Of course, this is just a forecast and we all know how that works. Watch the gage on your favorite river and plan accordingly.

If you find yourself on the Sandy or Clackmas rivers over the next few days, low and slow is the ticket. Cold water will have fish hunkered down and lethargic. Fish deeper and slow down your swing. If you haven't tried the new Airflo F.I.S.T. Skagit head, you may want to think about it.

Travel to the east side of the state is brutal with record amounts of snow covering the landscape. Temps in the single digits or teens through the weekend will give way to slightly warmer and damp weather starting Monday. Things could be a mess for awhile. Trout chasers should be tying massive amounts of BWOs and Little Black Stones for when things sort themselves out in the coming weeks. If you go, be careful.

The coast will fish pretty good the remainder of this week and weekend, if you can get out of town. Conditions are fantastic when compared to what we're seeing here. Temps in the 30s and 40s seem downright tropical. Expect a bump as the next system moves in on Monday.

Be safe out there, drive and wade with caution!

Are you nuts?

Joel La Follette - Thursday, January 05, 2017

Are you nuts? Current conditions dictate a generous dose of commonsense if you are even thinking about venturing out into the bone-chilling temps and high east winds that are pummeling our area. Hypothermia is a real concern and driving conditions are marginal at best once you get off the beaten path. It’s a very good time to tye flies or maybe organize a fly box by the fire.

Looking ahead to next week, a warming trend should liven up angling opportunities and help you break that cabin fever. Fresh fish were showing well in both the Clackamas and Sandy rivers before the deep freeze moved in over the New Year holiday. The warmer temps should make them happy again and more receptive to your swung offerings.

I talked with Brian Silvey last evening and while he was buried in over a foot of snow at his hacienda by the Deschutes, he did manage a busman’s holiday on the Sandy over the weekend. He started off the New Year right by tangling with a couple dandy fish and busting a Winston Spey Rod under the watchful eye of Winston General Manager, Jeff Wagner. Oops. Brian admitted operator error and will be begging the forgiveness of the repair department. Send them some Trout flies, Brian!

If you do attempt to get out before things warm up, please be careful. A dunking can be deadly in these icy conditions. Our mountain passes are treacherous and the Santiam Pass has seen a few avalanches already this season. Put emergency gear in your car and be smart. I don’t want to see you on the evening news.

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