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Fishing Reports

The Return of the Shad Prince

Joel La Follette - Thursday, May 31, 2018

It truly blows me away is how many people are asking about Shad this early in the run. Fortunately, the Shad Prince is in the shop everyday and he loves to talk about “the poor mans tarpon”. If you want to know more about the history of Shad, how to catch a Shad, what to do with a Shad once you've caught one or why you should even care about Shad, Nick has three presentations scheduled over the next few of weeks. The first one will be this Saturday here in the shop at 10:30.

Speaking of invasive species, bass fishing is warming up and carp fishing has been off the hook lately in some of the backwaters. I’m sure the Columbia and Willamette rivers being flooded by runoff keep the fish in the shallow side sloughs where they are easier to catch.

The Deschutes has still been the place to be and the big bugs continue to be the focus. I talked to Brian Silvey the other day and this is what he had to say:

“Stoneflies are going strong in Maupin today. We probably have a few more days until they are all gone. Green Drakes have been hatching almost every day, but not much action on the surface. We've been getting them on Drake nymphs or emergers.”

I would think the Salmonfly hatch will be going on for about another week or so in the Warm Springs area if the weather stays as forecast. If you haven’t hit it yet you still have time to get in on the action.

If the Salmonfly madness isn’t your thing, the Green Drake hatch on the Metolius should be on the upswing. These big Mayflies typically make their appearance around mid-day and the show will be especially good if there is some cloud cover. PMDs and Caddis are keeping things interesting until the Drakes take the stage.

Reliable sources report that the Cascade Lakes have been fishing very very well and offer plenty of opportunities for solitude if you get away from the big campgrounds. Some kind of leech or bugger pattern is a great choice. If you've not tried our Royal Treatment exclusive, the Double-Bug, check it out. It's a Mitch Moyer pattern that has been lighting it up on stillwaters across the Northwest.

If you just can’t put down your the two-handed rods or you’ve got that Steelhead urge there are fresh summer Steelhead entering the Clack and Sandy as well as a few spring Chinook. Some guys have even been getting them on floating lines with smaller summer patterns, but Skagits with winter stuff are still working as shown by the photo above. That's our friend Rob Crandall who took a "busman's holiday" between Salmonfly trips and scored this hot summer fish.

Hopefully, you get a chance to get out to fish this weekend. If not stop by the shop, have some homemade cookies, check out all the cool outdoor gear and listen to Nick wax poetic about Shad. Maybe you’ll catch the bug too.

Springers, Shad and an Island in the Sun

Joel La Follette - Thursday, June 15, 2017

While the consensus is that the Salmonfly hatch did not live up to it’s billing, not all was doom and gloom over on the Deschutes. Anglers plying the river in the later stages of this major emergence were rewarded with some memorable fish. The dandy Redside pictured above was captured by our youth ambassador Ian Wildermuth on a drift with Capt. Skittles. This image missed last week’s edition due to the overflow of Shadness.

The past weekend’s weather was fairly challenging with cooler temps and a bit of a breeze. Forecasts look better for the coming week after we get through this damp lead up to the weekend. Today the weather in Maupin is supposed to be cloudy and hovering around 71F. That sounds like a Mayfly kind of day to me.

I chatted with Brian Silvey Tuesday evening and he reported PMDs and Caddis were keeping things very interesting on the town run and the Pine Tree to Mack’s drift. Competition has been light since the Big Bugs bugged out, and he has been able to fish just about anywhere he’s wanted to. He even exercised a few fish on the lee side of Joel’s Island the other day with a couple friends of mine. Brian noted that the snack bar and t-shirt shop have not yet been rebuilt on the island since the winter high water, and he filed a formal complaint regarding the mooring facilities. Mr. Silvey has a few days available over the coming weeks and will include a personal tour of the island if requested. I’m graciously waiving all landing fees for the next three weeks, so give Brian a call.

Over on the Metolius, the whispered report is that Green Drakes are showing when conditions are right. This mystical hatch favors cloudy days, but in some cases will make an appearance when the sun drops behind the trees. Don’t pack up and head home too early. PMDs and the misc. small Mayfly hatch are adding to the menu.

Meanwhile, the Shad Madness continues with plenty of scales flying in the shadow of Willamette Falls. Grabs by Springers have been adding to the excitement of crashing waters and barking Sea lions. Shad fishing can be a full on sensory overload even on slow days. Add 30 to 50 hook-ups a day and soon you have a boatload of happy anglers.

Speaking of Springers, Steelhead swingers have been intercepting a few brutes as they cast, step, cast, down the Clackamas River. Cooler cloudy days are prefect for this past-time. Keep an eye pealed for a ponytailed bamboo caster teasing fish with skaters. He's fairly harmless, but his affliction is contagious. Stay back.

The Return of The Shad Prince

Joel La Follette - Thursday, June 09, 2016
Rose Festival weather has returned and looks to be hanging out here for at least a week, maybe more. Cloudy skies and a splash of rain here and there shouldn’t stop us from getting out and taking advantage of the season. Just like last week there is plenty of fishing to be done if one was so inclined.

Escaping to the east side of the state has the advantage of pleasant temperatures and a better chance at staying dry. While the Salmonfly hatch may be over for this year, there has been plenty of Caddis and PMDs to keep the Redsides snacking. Green Drakes are also a real possibility if the conditions and location are right. Steelhead junkies are watching dam counts waiting not so patiently for summer fish to return. I will tell you that there is at least one fresh summer Steelhead in the Deschutes right now. Do you feel lucky?

The Metolius has the attention of the guys in the shop because of a big green Mayfly. Our Fly Czar, Josh Linn, has collected an impressive array of patterns for the Green Drake hatch and both he and Nick have been field testing them. While the Drakes may be the focus, there have been good showings of PMDs, Caddis and the famous misc. small Mayfly hatch. A lone Goldenstone was even spotted looking for a date this past weekend, but it’s a bit early to get excited about that one. This is a great time to discover the Metolius.

I’ve tried to avoid it, but it has gotten too big to ignore any longer. The Shad run is here, big-time. If you really want to get someone hooked on fly fishing, this is the fishery for you. While the America Shad is an invasive species, it has become a popular target for anglers this time of year. Millions of these overgrown Herring are swimming in the Willamette and Columbia at this very moment. Millions. Water Time Outfitters is running two boats daily with up to three time slots. Our own Nick Wheeler “The Shad Prince” snuck out for an hour with Rob yesterday and boated over 30 fish. He rolled back into the shop with a bigger grin that normal if you can believe that. There are places you can fish for this “poor man’s Tarpon” from shore, but only if you like company, lots of company. Save yourself the hassle and call Rob at Water Time Outfitters. The Shad run continues through June.


Attention Deficit

Joel La Follette - Thursday, June 02, 2016
This is a tough time of year for the attention deficit angler. There are far too many options out there and all of them are good. While the Salmonfly hatch crawls to a finish on the Deschutes, it's ramping up down on the Rogue. Green Drakes are teasing us on the Deschutes and Metolius with Caddis and misc. Mayflies filling in the void. Eastside lakes are coming into play with spring fully gripping us. Steelhead and Springers are slipping up the Clackamas relatively unmolested. Then there's the invasive invasion as Shad in the Willamette are making our Mr. Wheeler pace the floor at night and Carpers are getting serious on the Columbia. Yup, it's hard to pick what point of the compass to follow. My suggestion? Follow your heart.

Just because we bid good-bye to the big bugs on the D doesn’t mean our favorite river is done with us. On the contrary, summer is just getting going and we’ll have plenty of options when it comes to fly selection as we move through the next few months. PMDs are already a focus, as are the Caddis of summer. The once-a-year Salmonfly crowd will figure out soon enough that it’s pretty much over and head off to dig clams or something leaving us a little more room to roam.

The Metolius comes into it's own as lupines line the bank with Flavs and Green Drakes taking wing. PMDs and a variety of Caddis are also vying for the Trout's attention when conditions present themselves. Watch more and wade less is the secret to success on the Metolius. Then there's the sleep late, fish late thing. No need to be up at the crack of dawn.

As mentioned, Shad are starting to clog the Willamette and are drawing attention from the Dick-Nite crowd. While a boat makes targeting this scaled down tarpon a bit easier, there are shore locations where a fly angler can score. Fast sinking shooting heads and small flashy flies are the ticket to success. Consult our Shad Man for details.

Green Drakes make a showing/Salmonflies slowly depart

Joel La Follette - Thursday, May 19, 2016
The Deschutes is the focus again this week as the Salmonfly hatch garners most of you Trouters attention. The big bugs are slowly fading away below Mack’s Canyon, but fish are still grabbing plump offerings bumped off the grass and brush. Same holds true in the Maupin area, with spotty clumps of Golden Stones still hanging on. Those of you venturing to these areas may wish to arm yourself with a collection of other spring patterns just to have your bases covered.

On Tuesday, I was the guest of Marty Sheppard who chauffeur Shane Blitch and  myself downriver below Mack’s Canyon to do a little exploring. There were hanger-ons in the bushes and a few dropping eggs, but the 2016 Salmonfly hatch was pretty much over. Fish still rose to Goldens, but March Browns, PMDs, Caddis and Green Drakes were more prevalent. Flocks of Seagulls working like Swallows over riffle water are a sign that something big is hatching. After observing several mid-air grabs I was able to spot a few Green Drakes taking to wing even on a bright sunny day. I even convinced a few fish that those might be a good idea.


Above Maupin fishing has been very good as the big bugs continue to be the main course in dining rooms next to the bank. Josh and his buddy Eric did the Trout Creek to Maupin run with great success this past weekend. They reported that the set up to run with is a Hopper/ Hopper/Hopper rig, which for the less adventurous of us is a Salmonfly dry, with a Yellow Sally Dropper, with an Elk Hair Dropper. Not the easiest collection of fluff to toss into the brush, but it does offer fish dining options. Just take a lot of flies with you.

Continuing up the creek we find the hatch is spotty in places and off the hook in others. No doubt this is due to the changes we’re experiencing in the post Pelton Dam mixing tower era. Consistency is not a word that describes any of our insect hatches and that may be the new normal until the issues facing the Deschutes are  rectified. Look for Salmonflies and Goldenstones to continue to hang around for a few more weeks in places up and down the river before fading into memory. It's time to start thinking about that other fly box filled with the bugs of summer and prepare for a variety of hatches over the coming months.

Have fun and be careful! 

Still Rock'n the Big Bugs

Joel La Follette - Thursday, May 12, 2016
Totally Trout this week as the Salmonfly hatch on the Deschutes continues to be the focus. Last Thursday a mega thunderstorm rolled though the area rinsing the big bugs from their grassy villas. While a feeding frenzy resulted in it’s aftermath, the storm rebooted the hatch and it took a few days to see any numbers of insects back in the bushes. Some anglers found fishing slow on Friday and Saturday, only to see it rebound the first part of this week.

The numbers of both GoldenStones and Salmonflies have increased above Maupin all the way upriver to Warm Springs. This weekend looks to be approaching the peak of this annual migration. If conditions remain favorable, fishing should be epic. All of the popular patterns seem to be producing, so just make sure to have your favorites. I started off my day on Monday with a hopper/dropper combo of a Purple Chubby and Silvey’s Pupa. Action at the 9:00 hour was the result. When things warmed up I went full on Salmonfly with Morrish’s Fluttering Stone and didn’t look back. Pick your favorite and toss in the brush where those big fish are waiting.

Observation of other insects should be noted as well and could provide anglers with options in areas where the big bugs are thinning. Green Drakes, PMDs, a few March Browns and plenty of Caddis were all observed taking to wing over the last few days. While it’s early for the Green Drake hatch, be prepared when these big mayflies take flight. Lucky Steve tells us the 16-17th are the dates for that hatch.

The Metolius and Crooked rivers are also good options if you wish to avoid the flotilla on the Deschutes. Spring hatches could include most of your favorites, but it may be a tad bit longer before we see the Green Drakes pop on the Metolius. This popular spring creek tends to come alive on warm cloudy days, or later in the evening. Make plans according.

Steelhead action can still be had on the Clackamas where Springers have also been grabbing swung files. Swing a little slower if you want to tangle with the King. Airflo’s new FIST head is the prefect weapon for that task. Stop in for fly suggestions, Josh has added a few colors just for Springers.

Big Bugs and Goldfish

Joel La Follette - Thursday, May 14, 2015

If you are waiting for things to really get rocking on the Deschutes, you may be too late. Big bugs are flying and hungry big fish are up to greet them. Weather dictates the degree of activity and warm days offer your best chances for success on top. Green Drakes and PMDs have added their presence to this flying feedlot on those cloudy, muggy days. Right now we have temps forecast to just click into the mid 60s through Saturday, then bump into the 70s starting on Sunday. While this isn’t a major heatwave, it should be enough to get those Mayflies to make a showing and probably get the Stones to take wing.


The Metolius had a pretty good hatch of Stoneflies last weekend from Candle Creek upriver. The bugs are more tan than yellow, or orange and smaller. Stimulators or small Chubbys seem to be the ticket. Mid-day temps bring the action up. Green Drakes should pop anytime as temps rise under cloudy skies next week. Look for Flavs, PMDs and Little Yellow Sallies to also be part of the Trout party favors.

I’ve gathered no intel on local Steelheading and Springer fishing this week, only that the Willamette has been a preverbal ghost town. The numbers of fish clearing the falls has dropped so that may have sent the prawn draggers elsewhere. Photos of Springers swung up on the Clackamas have come across my desk, but little information. Since the river is right in our back yard, go be a hero. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

While I was away last week, Nick and a few of his posse tried their hand a Carp chasing. They had limited success out on the island and returned enthused, enlightened and a bit muddy. Meanwhile Corey was gathering intel on the Metolius for me, tossing dry flies to rising Trout. It’s nice to have a team with so much enthusiasm for the sport. We’ll see which way they head this weekend. Me, I’m thinking Springers.

Trout Photo by Mike Olinger
Carp Photo by Nick Wheeler


A special thank you to Nick, Corey, Kellie and Rob Perkin for getting the newsletter out and keeping the shop humming along while I chased bonefish.

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