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Fishing Reports

Deschutes Temperature Research

Joel La Follette - Thursday, July 16, 2015
Last week while I was researching water temps and opinions regarding the safe temperatures for angling opportunities, I learned that one of my contacts has a built-in thermometer. No, not a cyborg like implant, but a uncanny ability to read the water temps accurately with his bare skin. I decided that this revelation required further research so I arranged to meet up with him on the river and put this superhuman skill to the test. Besides, a day of fishing in the name of research is not a bad thing.

I met up with Mr. Silvey in Maupin and we loaded the required equipment into his rig before heading upriver. I carried several rods, reels, fly boxes, misc. tackle, sunscreen, rain jacket, cameras and my handy FishPond thermometer. Brian had a couple rods rigged up, tippet, nipper and a box of flies.

Knowing beforehand that the water was rumored to be 58-59 degrees we both decided that wet wading would be uncomfortable, especially with darkish clouds to the south threatening to rain on our research. While Brian launched his modified Cataraft I took a temp to set a baseline and reported our starting temperature to be 59 degrees. Brian stepped into the water and reported the very same. Like I said, uncanny.

At our first stop we split up, with Brian heading upriver, while I fished the water near the boat. Caddis shucks covered the shallows and a variety of adult insects fluttered from the stream side brush. Misc. small Mayflies also took to wing and danced in the morning light. After covering the water and raising a few fish, unsuccessfully, Brian returned and reported that in his opinion the water was perhaps a degree cooler that I had previously reported. He had not taken into account the insulating properties of his Simms G4 waders and to confirm his suspicions had ceremoniously stepped into an indentation in the river bottom exactly 3 inches over the top of said waders. With a much better sampling of the water he was able to accurately place the water temperature at 58.5. This number was confirmed when I calibrated my thermometer the next day and recorded a +.5 degree difference. Taking that into account, the maximum reading at the end of day was 60.5 just above Sandy Beach. A very good range for healthy interactions with fish.

While to many this exercise may seem trivial, it is an example of the kind of dictated research I have often found myself involved in all in an effort to bring you up to date angling information.

Once we had established an official baseline for water temperature we continued to sample the fishing and temps as we worked our way downriver. Caddis patterns on the surface, or Hopper Dropper combos with a Caddis Pupa or Silvey’s Super Sinker fish around 19 inches below proved to be the ticket, requiring very little from the multitude of fly boxes I carried. All of the many fish we sampled were healthy, happy and very active. All were played quickly and carefully released.

It is important to note that very little angling pressure (none) was observed during this float. At the same time, several rafts filled with yellow helmeted Minions did splash the giggle their way down river, but they did not cause any ill effects on the angling while providing some interesting comic relief.

Overall, the success of this trip was solely due to the knowledge and dedication of my guide and good friend, Brian Silvey. His understanding of the river, it’s invertebrates and it’s fish proved to be the winning combination for a great day on the water. While low water and high temps threaten many rivers and streams across the west, the Deschutes from Warm Springs through the Maupin area is in fine shape and capable of producing some very memorable days. Contact Brian if you'd like to see this very talented river guide in action.

Cigar Box Guitar Picker Reporting

Joel La Follette - Thursday, April 16, 2015

While fishing reports gleaned from professionals plying our local waters reflect current conditions and catches, those random notes that pop into my text inbox, Twitter feed or Facebook page sometimes prove more interesting to the masses. Such is the case of this Deschutes report from my good friend, Shane Blitch. Shane is a potter by trade, a maker of useful and beautiful clay creations. Our Saturday morning cookie bowl is one of his art pieces and a treasured possession. He’s also a cigar box guitar maker and player of note. Those qualifications alone lend credence to the following report…


“I didn't see much in the way of hatches. I got about 16 to hand with another few ldr’s ( Long-distance releases) in about 4hrs. All were on top with a little midge dropper. So I would say the fishing was pretty good. I'm heading back over tomorrow. The weather shut me down on Monday. Up came an epic wind storm and that was that.”


“I was fishing BWO size 16...and the secret black string midge in size 18 or 20. 50/50 split between what the fish wanted. The fish were definitely looking up. I nymphed for a bit, but why when you can get them to come to you?”

“Cheers. I'm off to Massachusetts next week to sell some art and to steelhead in New York. Should be fun. We should go fishing together some Monday. It would be a lot of fun.”

With a cigar box guitar picker, a box of secret black string midges and a bowl of cookies it probably would be a lot of fun. I’m putting it on the calendar, Shane!

Meanwhile, one of the hardest working guys in showbiz has been trading time between the spring Trout on the Deschutes and Steelhead on the Sandy. Brian Silvey stopped in yesterday and reported steady fishing on the slope of Mt. Hood in spite of the lack of snow on the volcano. Wild fish have been grabbing with gusto daily and testing backing knots all week. Summer fish are slow to show, but should be nosing in soon. We still have a month of good opportunity before other fisheries draw us away. Traffic on the river is light.

Brian also commented on the Deschutes and the upcoming craziness that is the Salmonfly hatch. With Pelton only releasing around 4000 cfs and the Moody gauge measuring 4500, we are at summertime levels here in the middle of April. Make a note of it. Water temps may rise a bit sooner than normal affecting hatch timing. Just saying. 

Top photo by Brian Silvey and Trout photo by Shane Blitch #keepemwet 

Howling winds, pounding rain and sunshine

Joel La Follette - Thursday, March 19, 2015

That last stormed lived up to it’s billing and brought not only the rain as promised, but tossed in some pretty impressive winds to spice things up. By Sunday most area rivers were rising fast and changing to un-fishable colors. Howling winds and pounding rain drove most anglers to shelter were power outages rekindled the art of conversation. By Monday the sun was out and the drop had started and by Tuesday  life was good again, if your power was on.

This much needed surge in river levels brought fresh fish in and cheered up those already here. While it’s still winter Steelheading and not a sure thing, fish have been encountered fairly often on both the Sandy and Clackamas rivers. Brian Silvey called last evening and his anglers tangled with three fish just yesterday. Tangled doesn’t mean landed, but fresh fish are a handful and these proved that theory. Marty Sheppard has been finding a fish for his clients on most days as well.

Rob’s Crandall was taking a few guide days off and was working on a film project. He stopped by the Lodge on Monday to borrowed a rod from me and reported last night that it’s working quite well. I’ve decided to charge him by the fish, so I should be able to raise enough cash for my Bahamas guide tips in May. From this you should guess that things on the Clackamas are looking pretty good at the moment.

Most of Monday’s coastal trips were canceled due to high off-colored water on Sunday, but the coast went back on-line quickly as proven by our “2014 Clipped Champion” George Marshall. He got a hall pass from Mom for a little fly R&D this week and scored this lovely wild buck. Mom is out of the doghouse she got tossed into after scoring a Sandy fish as George lay dying from the plague in Silvey’s boat earlier this winter. Of course, that fish did give George a little pep in his step and got him back in the water. Mom’s are good at motivating their offspring.

The warm weather has flipped the switch on many anglers and they’re now clicking into full on Trout mode. The Deschutes and valley rivers have seen a few March Brown hatches when the weather allows. Skwalas and Caddis are also flitting about in limited numbers. With very little snowpack, we should have minimal runoff to cloud streams when we transition into serious Trout chasing. Look for hatches to be even earlier this year if this warming trend continues.

Warm up, Wet down

Joel La Follette - Thursday, December 11, 2014

While another Pineapple Express tracks towards the west coast it looks like most of the real heavy rain will be making it ashore in southern Oregon and California. For California it’s one of those be careful what you wish for things. Plenty of snow, rain and mudslides are in-store for our drought stricken southern neighbors with this coming storm. If your holiday plans include driving south to the Bay Area or the Mouse Kingdom, take your Muck boots.

That’s not to say that we will dodge the all of the precip as 2 to 4 inches of the warm wet stuff are scheduled to dampen the area. To us Oregonians, that’s just a drop in the old rain bucket. While the rivers are forecast to rise through the weekend on the coast, they start their drop at the first of the week and should be in fishable shape my mid-week.

The good news is there are fresh fish in most of the north coast rivers. Dave Harrison spent a day on a small coastal stream with Rob Crandall this past week and sent me his version of the adventure…

“What a blast that was! My favorite memory was getting within inches of Rob's inflatable raft with a chainsaw. Nerve-racking in the extreme! There's also the hillbilly cardboard sign on the banks of the river proclaiming the owner has a gun and isn't afraid to use it, no hunting or fishing or you will die, etc, etc, etc... ending with a "I WANT MY SIGN BACK YOU JERKS!" as apparently the former sign had been stolen. I also learned about (CENSORED BY THE EDITOR) for coho and saw the biggest Chinook I've ever seen moving through shallow water. It looked like a dolphin in that small water - I'd say it was 30+ lbs easy, and looked about 4 1/2-5 feet long. My jaw dropped.”

And you thought fishing was all about the fish. Rob reported that Dave has signed up for the Estacada Timber Festival in 2015 when his newfound chainsaw prowess. Rob also concurred as to the size of the Chinook encountered, adding there were several bright fish moving into the river. We should be very near the end of the Salmon run with this last shot of rain.

Over on the Deschutes things finally warmed up, but with that change came a bit of a breeze. I talked to Brian Silvey yesterday and he said temps were near 60, but the wind was blowing. As things stabilize we may have a chance at some winter dry fly action with BWOs on the menu. Last week, the freezing rain kept them from popping and made driving conditions iffy. Steelhead are still hanging out all through the river, with a few fresh ones finally arriving to the party.

The Clackamas has been bouncing up and down with each passing cloudburst, but overall the color has been good. Winter Steelhead are spread all the way up to the Park and their numbers should increase as we wind down the holidays. Don’t forget to ask for a new fishing license for Christmas….

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