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Fishing Reports

Icy flows and Buckwheat Zydeco

Joel La Follette - Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The great chill down of November has seen cars bouncing off each other, pedestrians losing vertical stability and ice covered trees crashing to the ground. Subfreezing temperatures on the east side funneled high winds through the Columbia gorge, spreading the chill into the valley as winter bullied it’s way in.

Those hardy souls I mentioned last week were turned away from the John Day River as ice blocked their passage to the water. Only small channels remained flowing as the river turned to solid and hid under a skiff of snow. Water temperatures are, well, pretty near freezing at the moment compounding the problem. With a change in the weather rattling on the evening news we may get another shot at it if things warm up just a tad.

The Deschutes, while still flowing, was on the chilly side. Snow in the canyon and plenty of deep snow on the plateau made for beautiful images, but skin burning temperatures. Steelhead are still a very real possibility for those willing to layer up. At last check, Gil Muhleman continued to ply his trade hosting anglers seeking hot fish in cold weather. If you would like to test yourself and venture forth into the frosty landscape you will find much more elbow room under these conditions. Call Gil.

Not that you need a reminder, but extra dry clothes are now a necessity as a watery dunk could turn very serious in a hurry. Be careful out there, Campers.

Trouters turned to the Crooked River tailwater this week to satisfy their need for action. BWOs and midges will be the game on the surface until spring, with hatches sleeping in until after 10:00. Nymphing will carry you through the down time if the hatch is missing in action. Pairing up a Prince nymph with a Midge Pupa or small Pheasant tail is a great place to start. The infamous Crooked River Scud is also a fly box must.

The Clackamas is still providing entertainment for those needing to stay close to home. Water temps have dipped into the high 30s, so fish will need to warm up to you. They want to play, you will just need to take the lead. Mix up the speed of your swing until you crack the code. Speed matters. While sink-tips are the logical choice, the river is pretty low and floating lines can still get it done.

While east side rivers slowed with icy flows, rivers on the south coast bumped up as rain moved onshore. This signaled a call to action for Salmon chasers. I headed to Oregon’s banana belt, dialing in some Buckwheat Zydeco driving tunes and setting my GPS for Port Orford. The Elk and Sixes had peaked and were on the drop when I arrived late Saturday evening. Sunday found the Elk clearing nicely while the Sixes still moved some grit to the sea. Both rivers had plenty of fish in them and plenty of anglers seeking them. It’s a different game down there and not one for the timid, but the chance at a chrome bright Chinook Salmon is very overpowering and a call that needs to be answered. At least once.

Hang-on leaves are falling

Joel La Follette - Wednesday, November 12, 2014
The airwaves are buzzing as Snowmageddon blows into the valley today. Some poor rookie on the local news storm team is stuck on the Sylvan overpass wondering if four years in college was worth the rubber snow boots and bad hat. We all expected winter to wrestle fall into submission, but maybe not this soon. Those hang-on leaves are losing their grip and rinsing down the river along with our summer memories. It’s time to bundle up.

There may not be enough layers to block the windchill on the east side. Arctic winds and bone chilling temps have all but the most hardy seeking warmer past times. Those brave souls venturing out have found fish on both the Deschutes and John Day, but they are well earned.

The John Day has been colored up by what has been reported as a mudslide well above Cottonwood. The exact location isn’t clear, but word has it that it make take a spring high water event to fully flush the offending muck from the system. Until then, even small bumps in flow will probably see increased turbidity. Fortunately the slow pace of the John Day allows for sediment to settle fairly quickly as it moves downstream. Corey Koff reported yesterday that the water from Cottonwood down wasn’t perfect, but it was fishable and producing.

The Deschutes has seen anglers moving onto greener pastures, but still has something to contribute to those making the trip. Fishing above Maupin has been good and water conditions favorable. The river guides are mostly done there for the season and are preparing for their winter adventures. As stated, there are still fish to be encountered if you are willing to brave the chill.

Coastal streams are filling with Salmon of all shapes and sizes. Most streams dropped into favorable shape after the last rain and allowed anglers some successes. The annual pilgrimage to rivers on the south coast as begun. There, more rain is needed to spread the love.

Locally, the Clackamas as seen the an early showing of winter fish still mixed in with the summer catch. The traditional winter Steelhead kick off on Thanksgiving may pull a few away from football games if these conditions continue.

Veterans Day on the Elk River

Joel La Follette - Tuesday, November 12, 2013
This past Monday was Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor all of those who have served our country in uniform. Flags were flown, parades were marched, jets rumbled through the sky and heads were bowed in solemn remembrance. Many enjoyed the freedom earned by those we honored by spending the day in favorite pursuits. I was no different; I went fishing.

 

Standing in the Elk River near Port Orford, Oregon, optimistically casting for fresh Chinook Salmon, my focus was derailed when someone called out, "Joel, you're doing that wrong!" The familiar voice brought a smile to my face. I turned to see my favorite WWII veteran, Frank Moore, standing near a well used blue pickup truck with my host for the day, Dean Finnerty. I headed up the bank to greet my old friend and was introduced to his son, Frankie. Soon I was locked into the world famous Frank Moore handshake/hug, which is something you must experience to believe. 
 
Once air returned to my lungs we all visited a bit, then Frank and Frankie readied their tackle while Dean and I returned to fishing. A few minutes after stepping into the pool a bright Salmon broke the surface with a silver flash. "There's a fresh one, Joel! Catch that one!" Frank hollered from the truck. Three casts later my line went tight and the silver flash was streaking for freedom. The battle won, Dean pulled himself away from his fishing to tail the fish and snap a few photos. Then the wild fish was released to finish its journey.
 
Dean, Frank, Frankie and I continued to fish through the pool until my silly cell phone went off signaling the arrival of my slightly tardy fishing partner for the day, Jason Atkinson. Dean was very gracious, volunteering to retrieve my wandering friend so I could keep fishing. Soon the five of us were reunited on the banks of the Elk. Some of us old friends, some of us good friends that just met, but to a man, all of us friends of wild fish and the places they live.
 
There are days on the water that live with you forever. Some are marked by encounters with the creatures we pursue, a special place discovered or the chance meeting of an old friend. As we add to the years those memories weave into the fabric that keeps us warm and dry on those less memorable days. Those days when the rain blows sideways and fish seem to have vanished on the wind. There are some who will never make it past those days. They will miss out on watching a Salmon slipping over the sand to find its way home. They will not feel the solid pull of a big fish and feel its heart pumping through the line. They will not have the chance to greet an old friend stream side and thank him for his service to our country so many years ago. A sacrifice that allows us all to have those days that are so memorable.  
    

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