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Fishing Reports

Breezing into Fall Fishing

Joel La Follette - Thursday, November 08, 2018

You may find this hard to believe, but all across our state fly rods are being ceremoniously tucked away for the winter. It seems that for some anglers the end of the season comes with the turning of a calendar page and is tied more to tradition than reality. While the restraints of winter weather may preclude some adventures during the colder months, there are still many positive distractions available to the dedicated...

As we wait for additional rain to draw fresh winter Steelhead home, the precipitation we received this past week has had a positively influenced east-side streams. Unfortunately, the unstable weather of fall tends to bring pressure differences that transform gentle breezes into gale-force winds. These blustery conditions materialize this past weekend on the Deschutes and John Day providing quite the challenge for those swinging for the last of our summer fish. With the wind forecast dropping under 10 mph this weekend, it would be worth the drive.

Meanwhile, winter tactic Trout fishing fever has taken hold in the shop and the team has been spending more time creating BWO imitations than winter Steelhead box fillers. This recent uptick in Trout interest is due in part to the infectious enthusiasm shown by the Reed College students we hosted this past week. Daily discussions on the attributes of hook styles, tippet material, and Euro nymphing rods have overshadowed evaluations of grain-weight windows and sink-tips. This is a refreshing change of pace for fall/winter, but I'm sure when the first rumors of winter chrome echo in the shop the guys will be layering up and swinging again.


Until then, the Fly Czar has restocked the bins with some of our most productive patterns. Whitefish and Redsides have been recently fooled by this fresh collection of Baetis and Caddis imitations as we field tested them on the Deschutes.

During the aforementioned jaunt to the river with the Reed College class, we utilized three different rigging techniques. All three caught fish, but small nymphs fished deep during the full sun hours produced the best. The high winds and pressure change probably had something to do with that, but we'll retest that theory this weekend. October Caddis are still flitting about in addition to the hatches of BWOs and tan Caddis, so ask Josh for his OC Special.

I will admit to being more enthusiastic about haunting the banks of the Metolius this winter after she served me a large helping of humble pie during the Trout-a-thon. Look to see me trekking through the snow this winter as I practice for next year's event. Mayflies, Caddis and floating Kokanee carcasses are currently providing protein for the residents. Whitefish spawn is also something to consider this time of year as they cuddle up to reproduce.

The weather may get a little more challenging for some, but layer up and get out there. You have a few weeks to train for our Black Friday Fish-a-long so get to it! You want to be in top form for this event!

Last Cast Native Trout-a-thon Report

Joel La Follette - Thursday, November 01, 2018
This week the fishing report is being preempted by a travel log of my efforts on the Last Cast Native Trout-a-thon. As I never was much of a runner or jogger, an actual marathon would never be on my list of things to do. A Trout Bum road trip, on the other hand, is right in my wheelhouse and I took on the challenge of the Trout-a-thon with a focus garnered from years of planning such an adventure.

First, you should know the idea for this event came to me at 3:30 in the morning as most of my silly ideas do. I got up, wrote out the concept, and sent it to several of my friends at Trout Unlimited and the Native Fish Society at that very early hour. The plan was simple:
  • Bring awareness to the general population of the importance of wild native Trout to our society and our world. 
  • Challenge local anglers to discover native Trout species they may not have known about. 
  • Encourage local anglers to explore more of their state and its waterways. 
  • Raise money for restoration projects to benefit native Trout.
  • Have fun.

Since I wanted to participate and not oversee this event I passed the idea off to TU and NFS and acted as a consultant. Then I started making my plan.

The first order of business was to choose the species and their home-water that would score the most points. Then I determined the best driving route to be on location at the optimal time thus maximizing my success. Understanding the odds and setting a time limit on the effort for each location would hopefully lead to accumulating enough points to take home the title. After several revisions, I made a plan and fished the plan.


Appropriately, my day started at 3:30 on Saturday morning when I got up, tossed a few extras into the 4Runner and headed to the Deschutes.

The number one target on my list was a wild native Steelhead and the 15 points it would tally. It was also the species I was most concerned about. Given the current state of the Steelhead population in the Columbia basin, finding and landing a wild Steelhead on demand would be only slightly more likely than finding a hundred-dollar bill in the couch cushions at a Motel 6. Add to the fact that the Deschutes has a larger population of hatchery fish and you can see why I was concerned.

The odds of scoring a wild fish would have been better on the John Day, but the chance to add a Redband Rainbow and Whitefish, both 10 points, made the choice of starting this adventure on the Deschutes easy. The Deschutes was a target rich environment; if I didn't score a Steelhead, I could always focus on Redsides and Whiteys. At least I'd score points.

Having swung flies on the Deschutes since the 70s I have a few places up and down the river that stick out when it comes to encounters with Steelhead. I needed a place I could get to by first light and close enough to the highway as to allow a timely transition to my next target watershed. I picked the spot and hoped that no one else had the same idea.

Daylight came slowly as clouds prolonged the night. At 6:51 AM the phone in my backpack buzzed with a “Good Luck!!” text message from Tracy at the Native Fish Society. I thanked her and slipped the phone back in the pack and waited for enough light to fish.
My first cast touched the water a few minutes after 7:00, but I didn’t work down the run until I could see the line clearly on the surface. Keeping close to the bank to maximize the swing I worked down to where I expected the fish to be. When the fly swung through my perceived bucket there was a light tug on the fly, followed by another. The fly continued swinging but was intercepted again, this time a little more enthusiastically. One last jolting grab and the game was on.

From the hook set, it was obvious that this was the holy grail of Trout-a-thon fish, a wild native Steelhead. The fish ran frantically for the tail-out, but I was able to turn it back by easing on additional pressure. It then turned and charged straight at me, breaking the surface in an aerial display that gave me a brief glimpse of its adipose fin as it reentered the water. Now I was nervous.

After a few tense minutes, I was finally able to slide the fish towards shore and slip my net under its powerful body. A quick photograph to record the catch and prove its wild origins, then a gentle release to continue on its journey.
 


I must have looked crazy to the unknowing observer as I tossed my Spey rod into the grass and sprinted for my Trout rod as the Steelhead made its way back into the current. I dropped in at the head of the run and start to cover the water with a Silvey’s Super Sinker and a Perdigone dropper tied by Mike McCoy. Recent Czech nymphing experiences have increased my faith in this technique to produce quick results. In a few casts, a scrappy Redside lay in my net followed minutes later by a chunky Whitefish. It was time to move on to the next target. I checked my watch, and it was 8:30 by the time I was out of my waders and heading up Hwy 197 towards Antelope.



A couple years ago I had been infatuated with the idea of finding a healthy population of West Slope Cutthroat in Oregon. I spent hours pouring over maps and documents before settling on two watersheds to investigate. During an unusually good water year, I mounted an expedition to see if my research was correct and check a West Slope Cutty off my list of Oregon species. I found a short section of stream in one watershed where the gradient allowed for pools and riffles. There I found my Cutthroat living happily as they had for hundreds of years. I was now counting on them to still be there.

After hours on winding back roads and highways, I made my way up the rough trail to my destination. As I approach the stream I rolled down the window to listen for the sound of water. All was silent. I worried that my efforts would be met with a dry creek bed and a very long drive to the Metolius. I continued on and finally arrived at the GPS coordinates I had saved only to find my worst fears had come true. The creek was a shadow of its former self and trickled through the rocks and boulders without much fanfare. I was deflated.

Rain wept from the low-hanging clouds that encircled the mountaintop. I grabbed a jacket and headed into the brush to see if there was a pool or riffle that might hold a fish. I hiked upstream only to find my path blocked by a downed tree, its branches making an impenetrable barrier to any progress in that direction. I turned and headed downstream, quickening my pace as I saw my efforts slipping away. Suddenly ahead I could hear the sound of water falling into a plunge pool. I pushed through the brush and came upon a Cutthroat oasis in the middle of a dry landscape.

Back at the 4Runner I pulled my vintage Winston 4 wt. from the rod rack and grabbed my net, camera and a box of flies. Retracing my steps I once again pushed through the brush and took a position below the pool. There was no room to cast and only a small part of the pool that could offer any cover for a hungry Trout. With the fly in my left hand, I bent the rod back and fired a “bow and arrow” cast to the head of the pool. The little foam Humpy drifted about a foot and was engulfed by a fat West Slope Cutty. He knew his home waters well and raced for the cover of an exposed tree root. Carefully I guided him through the tangles and into my net. A quick photo and he was gently released, no worse for the experience.



I broke down my rod as I made my way back to the truck, arriving slightly damp from rain and perspiration. I peeled off my jacket and made a sandwich to fortify me for the long drive ahead. I now had 55 points on the board and over a three-hour drive to figure out my next move.

Night had descended on Sisters and a much-needed rain was dampening the streets. I fueled up the rig at the Chevron station and pulled into a parking lot to file an email report with my sponsors and post a few photos to my Instagram account. I would be out of communication once I made the turn to Camp Sherman, so I checked in at home and headed down the highway. It was now time to find a camp spot on the Metolius and get some rest.

The rain had splattered on the roof of my tent during the night, but the morning was dry and overcast. I broke camp, slid into my waders and grabbed my Bull Trout rod. The prize was in sight. I would score quickly and head toward the coast. I would be casting for Sea-runs before mid-afternoon and dining on clam chowder as the sun set in the west to mark the end of this adventure.

About this time the wheels came off the bus. I hiked upriver and down, unable to find a fish willing to grab my feathery offerings. I switched to a hunting mode and stalked the shore looking for targets in the cold clear water. All of my unusual spots were empty, and others held fish that charged the fly but backed off and lost interest. Two large fish connected briefly, but retired deeper into the pool, refusing to be tempted again. I watched one fish charge at my fly only to veer off at the last second and destroy a floating Kokanee carcass. Leaving a cloud of fleshy debris to drift off, adding decomposing nutrients to the river. The giant satisfied now settle into his place in the pool and ignored my offerings.

Bent, but not broken I changed my tactics and went to focus on improving my Redband and Whitey score by finding a couple of bigger fish. I ran into an old friend that I hadn’t seen in years and we stopped and visited for a while. It was clear that a Bull Trout was not to be, so I relaxed and took in the beauty of the river, and enjoyed a conversation with a friend. Soon we parted, and I grabbed my Trout rod and stepped into the pool. Two casts and the line twitched, and I set the hook. Expecting a large Whitefish to break the surface, imagine my surprise to see a foot long Bull Trout putting the bend in my rod. The net flashed, and a photo was quickly taken. The little Bull Trout rejoined the rest of the fish in the pool and I headed to the truck. 



Time was no longer on my side. My watch told me I wouldn’t be able to make it to the coast, and even a shot at the Santiam was in question. A traffic jam on the pass ended those hopes so I head home and pulled into my driveway 42 hours from when I left. I had driven 651 miles, caught 5 different species of native salmonids, scored 70 points and had a fairly dirty ride to show for my efforts. Was it worth it? Yup. I’m already making plans for next year. You should join me.

UPDATED!!!
I'm happy to report that in this past weekend's Last Cast Native Trout-a-thon yours truly cleaned up in the prize department taking top honors for most points, biggest fish and most money raised. This is great news for all of you who sponsored my efforts and donated $3885 to the North Creek Campaign through the Native Fish Society. I'll be raffling off all the prizes and adding a hosted trip on the Metolius to the collection.  Of course, after reading the report of the adventure above you might want to rethink spending the day on the river with me.

In any case, once all the donations have been gathered I'll be holding a raffle and announcing the winners here in the newsletter and on Facebook/Instagram. The prizes to be raffled off include:
  • Guided trip with Kyle Smith on the McKenzie.  WINNER:  JK Hussa
  • Guided trip for two with Mark Sherwood on the Rogue. WINNER: Rocky Dixon
  • A hosted trip on the Metolius with Joel La Follette (includes lunch) WINNER: Jeff Evershed
  • YETI Cooler WINNER: Michael Gentry
  • YETI Growler WINNER: Jeff Howard

Ode to Smelly Cat

Joel La Follette - Thursday, September 27, 2018

Kinetic Type // Smelly Cat // Final Iteration from Emma Thompson on Vimeo.

Report by Josh Linn, the Fly Czar

I spent another weekend floating the familiar water of the Deschutes from Mack’s Canyon to the mouth. I first started making this trip nearly 20-years ago. Every year new stories layer on making it more and more special. Sadly, this year the lower 24 miles was ravaged by fires from canyon rim to canyon rim all the way to the water. I’ve seen fires down there before, but nothing like this. To add insult to injury the run is at an all-time low. Now that sounds ominous, but the only way to catch a Steelhead is to actually go fishing, and I want to catch a Steelhead.

So we packed up the truck and made a mad dash to the river after work. We pulled at sunset, packed the boat, and pushed off from the boat launch in the dark, heading for our first night's camp. It was cloudy and warm making me suspect that fishing had been good earlier in the day.

We made our meager little camp of a couple of cots and chairs and were all set. A small camp that’s fast and light is the best way when you are on a Steelhead mission. You can be out of camp at first light, no dishes and very little packing to do. If you fish with me there aren’t going to be many luxuries. I come to fish, not camp.

We fished our camp water at first light and were running and gunning all day. There were very few other boaters around and we had our choice of prime water. We cover about 10 miles of water by the time we got to camp with zero fish to hand. By mid-afternoon, the wind was howling and I wondered if the evening fishing was even going to be a possibility.

We made camp at the Corral, in prime Steelhead territory. In years gone by I’ve guided quite a few people into steelhead there and even caught some myself. Sadly, this wasn't going to be one of those times.

The next morning we pushed away from Camp at first light and rowed for one of my favorite spots, a steep ledgy run right at the bottom of a hard corner. I let Eric fish the run first last time so this time it was mine. I had been fishing a Green Ant for the past few days with no success and decided it was time for a change. I don’t carry a lot of flies so the choice was pretty easy. I pull out a size 5 Smelly Cat, my purple and chartreuse go-to fly.


I started by fishing short making every cast count. I got to about 10 strips of line and start working my way down the run. I came to a small boulder section about halfway down the run. I know this spot to be one of the buckets, I started fishing more intensely. If it’s going to happen, now would be the time. At that moment I felt it, that familiar feeling. A little tug, not hard, but I knew it was a fish. It kept pulling slowly. I’m not 100% confident it’s on, so I don’t set the hook, I keep waiting. All of a sudden it jumped out of the water. Woo-ha! Fish on. It made a few more jumps and a couple of hard runs but in the end, I won the battle. We snapped a couple of pictures and sent her back on her way. 



We finished up and pushed off in search of more fish. By the time we got to the boat launch we had put three on the beach and I’m feeling like we had a successful trip. Fishing might be tough right now, but they are harder to catch from the couch.




A Quick Trip Around the State

Joel La Follette - Thursday, September 20, 2018

There is a sense of urgency from our patrons in the shop as anglers rush to cram as much as they can into the fleeting days of this shoulder season. There is still a touch of summer in the air, but fall has let us know that those warm days with soon be just a memory. This is the season we wait for all year long and it is here. The only problem is we have far too many angling choices and not enough time to enjoy them all.

While the Deschutes is still the number one destination for Trout and Steelhead anglers at the moment, there are other fisheries calling for our attention. Let's just take a quick tour of the state...


Down in Southern Oregon the Rogue River has been the highlight with Steelhead returns well above average. Half-pounders and adults are drawing fly swingers including yours truly. I fished with a friend above Gold Hill and swung up this feisty native on last week's Fly of the Week, the Green Butt Silver Hilton. I'm heading back this weekend. Trout fishing on the Rogue would be a good option too as Rainbows and Cutthroat were hard to keep off my Steelhead flies.

Marlon RampyMy buddy, Marlon Rampy continues to score monster Rainbows in the Williamson River down near Chiloquin. These Steelhead size Trout are an impressive opponent on 6 weight rods. If you have never tested this fishery, now is a good time. Goat leaches, Damsel nymphs, soft-hackles and sparsely tyed Woolly Buggers should be in your box and an intermediate sinking line on your reel.

Over on the coast, Salmon are nosing into tidewater and making their way upriver on many of the North Coast streams. I battled a dandy on Monday until she sliced through my tippet with her pearly whites. Seeing 20 pounds of chrome take to the air is a thrill for sure! Sea-run Cuttys are following the herd and I saw several chasing bait on the surface. Streamers on a fast swing will insight hard grabs from these migratory Trout. I also like to skid a fall Caddis imitation across the surface of faster tail-outs to pull the action to the top. Give it a try.

Closer to home, the Clackamas is seeing a fairly healthy return of Coho Salmon this year. While our local fly guys are just starting to take notice, there have been more than a few taken on feathers. We can give you some pointers when you stop in for flies. Ask the Fly Czar for his secret weapon.

Green Drakes, or at least the fall version of this legendary hatch have been the talk of Metolius anglers over the last few weeks. Bull Trout are also getting some attention as they await the passing of returning Kokanee. I'm scheduled to be on the Met at the end of the month for some silly photo shoot and will have a better report then.

Back on the Deschutes it's business as usual. While Columbia basin Steelhead numbers are down, fly swingers are still hooking some impressive fish in the Deschutes. You may have to cover some water, but there are fish to be found. While some have resorted to sink-tips and winter patterns, true believers are still scoring on dry line presentations of artful traditionals.

Trout fishing on the D continues to be good, but most anglers are chasing the migratory versions. Watch for hatches of misc Mayflies to bring back-eddies alive with gorging Redsides.

This cornucopia of opportunities won't last forever. Get out and enjoy some of the best fishing of the season, right now.


Riding the Heat Wave

Joel La Follette - Thursday, July 12, 2018
Nick Wheeler Photo
We're heading into a warm spell this week that will make standing waist deep in a cool stream sound like heaven right here on planet earth. As long as you're wet you might as well make a few casts. You just might have to think outside the box to find water void of swimmers, floaters and stick chasing canines, but there are options.

First on the hit parade is our favorite spring creek, the Metolius. Running at a chilly 48 degrees most of the year the Metolius is consistently inconsistent when it comes to fishing, but with a little leg work and some patience it can pay off with fat Rainbows and broad shouldered Bull Trout.

I found myself boots wet on the Met this past Monday and would gladly repeat the adventure even with the lack of measurable success. PMDs and misc. small Mayflies failed to draw much attention, but stories of bent rods filtered through the smoke in the filled campgrounds. Look for Mayfly hatches from 11ish into the evening. From the Gorge Campground upriver Goldenstones are crawling out on the bushes and getting fish and anglers excited. Old school Clark's Stones are getting it done pushing popular foam creations to plan B status. Bull Trout are present and taking nymphs and streamers much to the surprise of light tackle Trouters sharing the tales in those smokey camps.

Mr. Silvey rang me up the other day from his ranch near Maupin with a favorable report from the Deschutes. It seems the dry fly action has been good most mornings and that has recently extended into the early afternoon before the hot sun drives everyone including the fish into the shade. Evenings have been very good if the wind doesn't kick up. Misc. Mayflies, Caddis and Craneflies have been giving glimpses of what's possible with cooler river temps. So far, the Deschutes has been running slightly cooler than last year at this time. Brian does have some availability this month and reported that the fishing pressure has been light. Give him a call at 800-510-1702 to get in on the action. I find that Brian takes it to another level if you bring cookies. Just say'n.

Higher elevations offer another escape from the heat as the Callibeatus hatch kicks into high gear on our Cascade lakes. Clouds of these Mayflies are pulling timid lake residents to the surface on Mt Hood impoundments and Central Oregon lakes. My buddy, Jeff Perin from the Fly Fisher's Place in Sisters has threaten to take me out in his aluminum yacht to sample the action first hand. If I can free up some space on the calendar that might be a very interesting trip.

The last time we fished together I learned a new hook setting technique that involve not letting the fish know it was hooked. It's very effective for releasing the fish closer to where he was feeding and follows the #keepemwet mantra nicely. No, Jeff, I'm not going to forget the Sister's hook set.

For those ready to swing flies for summer Steelhead there have been confirmed encounters in the lower Deschutes. Floating lines, your favorite fly and a sack full of optimism is required. Fish numbers over the dams are optimistically creeping up.

Locally, it's going to be tough sledding on the Clackamas with the warmer temps and the rubber boat hatch in full swing. If you can pull yourself out of bed in the dark and be on the water when the sun pops up you have a chance at some fresh summer chrome, but note the river is already warm enough for a morning swim. It's not impossible, but maybe the mouth of the Deschutes or Klickatat is a better option.
Mitch Moyer Photo
Last, but surely not least is our theater of operations for this weekend's outing on Puget Sound. Reports filtering out of the Evergreen State have been exceptional and we're hoping for a repeat of last year's success for our group of adventurous anglers. Baitfish are plentiful and the resident Coho and Sea-run Cutthroat has been feasting on the abundance. The tides are identical to our last visit so our hopes are high. In any case, there will be S'mores involved.

Say Good-bye to Big Bug Love

Joel La Follette - Thursday, June 07, 2018

Big bug love is winding down on the Deschutes, but there are a few pockets of activity still drawing interest from gorging Redsides. This annual feeding frenzy finishes up much earlier than in pre-tower times yet, there seemed to be some areas that showed more of an abundance than in recent memory. A welcome change for sure, but the hatch remained relatively inconsistent throughout the lower river compared to pre-tower emergences. Smaller offerings and our favorite Purple Chubby are still producing as the hatch fades into memory.

Green Drakes will continue to make appearances for the next few weeks if conditions are right. With clouds in the forecast a collection of these big Mayflies would be a good bet. Pay attention to the waters below faster riffles where Trout gather to intercept this delicacy. As mentioned in previous reports, Seagulls sometimes will announce the presence of Drakes with their aerial displays over the river.

PMDs, Yellow Sallies, Caddis and smaller insects now take center stage as we progress into summer. Mornings and mid-day find us seeking surface takers in riffles and shaded back eddies until the sun dips below the canyon walls. The now famous Hopper/Dropper combo is a good option until a hatch is observed. Evenings become our focus as these insects draw fish to the surface in the fading light of day. Wise anglers will pace themselves in the well heated canyon and do their work when the temperature moderates. Soft-hackles on the swing are a good pre-hatch choice when the sun leaves the water.

On the Metolius, Green Drakes have made brief appearances when conditions are right. PMDs have been more dependable and the fish seem to respond to them. Personal observation this past Monday did not log a single Drake encounter. Sunshine and blue sky kept the big Mayflies grounded all day and into the evening. PMDs were sporadic throughout the day and pulled the occasional fish to the surface. Caddis flitted about, but didn’t draw much attention from the local residents.

Steelhead swingers are still connecting on the Clackamas when cooler temps keep the rubber boat hatch at bay. Rain in the forecast this weekend will draw in fresh fish, keep the pool toys beached and offers a great option if you need a Steelhead fix. There are some Springers still around too.

I fully expected a page long Shad report to ping my inbox this morning, but it seems the Shad Prince has focused his attention on irrigation installation this week. My reliable sources report numbers climbing on the Columbia and Willamette and fishing has been good. Shad Skittles seem to still be the go-to fly here on the Willamette.

Not to downplay this popular invasive fishery, but I’m passing up on a trip to the falls next week in favor of a short flight to San Diego. Mako sharks are staging in the warming waters of SoCal, and I feel like tugging on a real big fish. Stay tuned.


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. 


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.

Crittering Around (ask Josh)

Joel La Follette - Thursday, February 15, 2018
By Josh Linn
Apparently, I was the only one out of the crew that went fishing this week so I drew the Fishing Report straw. 

Normally on Tuesday everyone comes in and tells us all about their trips over the weekend, Trout fishing on the Deschutes or the Metolius, Steelhead out on the coast or in our local waters. Not this week. It seems like the lack of rain, nice weather, and the low clear water has turned people's attention elsewhere. I know a lot of people needed to catch up on yard work in this unusually early “spring”. I sure hope this weather does't last and we get some rain soon. I mean seriously, sooner or later that has to happen right?

So, I actually did get a couple of Fishing Reports from around Northwest, but none of them are very close to here.

Guys on the OP have been getting fish, but the water is starting to get low. 

The Clack and Sandy are both really low and clear. With that being said, I did hear about a couple of fish caught on the Sandy, but unless we get some rain the rivers are going to continue to drop and clear. I jet boated around the Clackamas on Sunday and got to fish some of my favorite pieces of water. Similar to a lot of peoples stories we were also blanked. 

The coast is also getting low, but Rob and the Water Time Outfitters gang are still getting fish out there.

I have heard that the fishing on the Mackenzie river has been good and it seems possible that the March Hatch could come off early.

Earlier this week, I did a presentation at a Fly club and I was commenting on how it used to be back in the old days before marmot dam came out. In the old days it seemed like 1800-2600 cfs were great flows for the Sandy. The river was very fishable, and it would still have a little color. Now when it’s at that level we are pretty much complaining about how low and clear it is. One of the things we really need to do when it’s like this is change up our tactics a little. When the river’s low there are a lot more spots to fish. We need to critter around more and fish all the little nooks and crannies. Find the deeper buckets. Fish heavier sink tips down in them and see what you can dredge up. The fish aren’t necessarily going to be in the shallower runs.

It probably sounds like I’m saying the fishing is hard and I am, but I’m also telling you you can’t catch one from the couch. So have some faith and play the odds. The more days you spend on the water the more likely it is you’re going to catch one.




A River Between Them

Joel La Follette - Thursday, February 08, 2018


This week, Nick and Josh are tag teaming the fishing report and taking on this new responsibility with gusto. It's understandable that after working all week together they might need to take a break from each other over the weekend. With Nick living in Washington and Josh in Oregon, one would assume that they would find plenty of personal space on the water to recharge their batteries. Well, they both ended up on the Sandy this past weekend. Go figure. We'll kick it off with Nick...


From lots of rain to lots of sun this winter weather can’t decide what it wants to do. If you're not fishing, we hope you’re enjoying these warmer temperatures. 

Trout fishing on the east side has been heating up, literally. Pleasant temperatures have been leading to a better Trout bite. Nymph fishing has been working the best. So try using smaller patterns like Silvey’s Super Sinker or a Prince Nymph. We should start seeing better BWO hatches so don’t forget to make sure you also have a few of those in your box. This spring-like weather isn’t going to be around forever, so take advantage of it while you can.


Steelheading has still been a little lackluster in the local area. There are fish around, but not in any big numbers. The best way it seems to find fish this year is to play the numbers game; fish as much as possible and you're bound to find one at some point. Last week, the Sandy River was fishing better, this week it was the Clackamas. Josh and I both had decided to fish the Sandy because of the reports, but apparently even us shop guys can get it wrong. A few fish were hooked, but nothing was brought to hand. We decided to make the best of it and enjoyed the sunshine and good company.

With fishing looking better this week on the Clackamas who knows what will be in the cards for this coming weekend, but that’s steelhead fishing. As Josh likes to say, “the best report" is the one you go out and make yourself. So, what are you waiting for? Go out there and make yours!

Mr. Linn adds...

Every week when we open up on Tuesday a lot of people come in to share fishing reports with us. While Nick is being Nick and regaling everyone about his outings, I’m busy listening. People come in to share their weekend exploits, some are looking for sympathy while others are looking for reassurance and a few new flies. Whatever the case may be, I take note so I can relay back via a fishing report what has been happening on the water. Here are a few things I took note of.... 

I fished the Sandy this week and I don’t know if you saw it, but a few weeks ago the gauge was on the fritz. When I went out this week the gauge read 5790 cfs and noticing how few runs were fishable and how deep I waded I would guess the river was really around 7000 cfs.

While I was out I got to talking to some other guides on the Sandy and they said that 80-85% of the fish they’ve caught this season have had fresh seal marks on them. Combine that with the fact that people have regularly been seeing sea lions up in Oxbow Park and this is something that is very scary to me. It seems to me that those guys are detrimental to the survival of all Steelhead.

On a brighter note, the Clack has been fishing really well. I was talking to one of the guys that comes in from PGE and he said they passed 40 winter fish into the upper Clackamas on Monday. Nice to see some wild fish returning.

Down on the coast, Rob Crandall and the guys are tearing it up on the swung fly. Yes, there is still some bobber lob'n being done, but with Rob's Devil's Candy arriving in the shop there has been a whole lot of swinging going on. A bit of rain wouldn't hurt, but there are fish to be found all along the North Coast. 




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