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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

Fishing with Worms

Joel La Follette - Thursday, November 09, 2017

By Josh Linn

Photos by Corey Koff, Nick Wheeler and Josh Linn



While Joel has been on a three day trip to the John Day with Marty and Brian, Nick and I have been out causing trouble and chasing steelhead. As Nick and I are reporting back on our fishing adventures for the week, I ponder what lessons might have been learned or any insights gained. I ask him if he has gleaned any little nuggets or had some tidbit for me. He tells me sadly, “The early bird doesn’t always get the worm.” 




We were on separate outings, but on Sunday morning I saw Nick, along with Rob and Erin Perkin at the boat launch. We had a quick talk and I told Nick I had heard there were some people camping where he wanted to fish. Apparently, he didn’t believe me because he hiked straight out to the spot. It's always better to see for yourself, and he was sorely surprised when he saw that there actually was a boat camped in there. He was sure that because there weren’t any cars in the parking lot that he was going to have his pick of spots. In a daze Nick came up with a new plan. They moved on to his second choice of runs and again, there were anglers in that piece of water. It was a little confusing considering there wasn’t a single car in the parking lot. By the end of the day they had found some good water and Nick and his companions did end up landing a couple of fish. Really his nugget was; "Be flexible and always have a backup plan or expect the unexpected.... 



I came back with a different lesson in mind. I floated on both of my days off. It was cold and and awesome! I love the fall I like the crisp cold days. The beauty of the hills with their fall colors reds, greens, and yellows is breath taking. The weather had changed as promised. There was snow a little further to the NE and it was raining extremely hard to the West. We were in a little pocket that was cold and cloudy between the two fronts. Daylight savings had moved our start time up an hour earlier, to a 4:30 a.m. wake up call. We were on the water shortly after sunrise, and ready to fish. Our last couple of outings had been really good and we had high expectations. Immediately upon stepping into the water we could feel that the water temperatures had dropped. We could feel the chilly water through our waders. I was dressed how I would typically dress for winter steelheading but you tend to forget that the fall has its own unique cold. Its dry and cold with icy biting winds. In the winter it’s typically rainy so it’s almost always in the 40’s. I’m longing for that weather and it’s coming soon enough.


We fished a ton of prime water on our float. Runs that we have caught fish in in the past, but this time it seemed like no one was home. Had the fish pushed through? Was it so cold that they were deeper in the tanky water? Or were they just glued to the bottom unwilling to eat? Without being able to communicate with the fish it’s hard to know exactly what was going on. What I do know was that we weren’t moving any fish. 

We weren’t losing hope and we were still fishing hard. We got to our last run of the day. It was getting late and had about 45 minutes to an hour left of fishing. This was quite possibly the best run on the river, this thing is a Mecca for steelhead. Eric steps in first and starts more towards the middle of the run. After a few casts I see Eric has hung up on the bottom. I toss out a sarcastic, yet comical remark, and he gets his fly free and is back to fishing. About two casts later I glance down just in time to see his rod start to bounce from the pull of a steelhead and then go limp. Sometimes you get a strong pull and it doesn’t connect. He makes a few more casts from the same station before moving and about 5 steps down to where he gets another good grab. Again I see the rod buck from the hard grab and the fish pulls a little line and then slack. Eric is dumbfounded. He strips in his fly and finds that his hook had broken off when he was hung on the bottom. He ties on a new fly and gets back to fishing. He makes it all the way to the end of the pool and literally on his last cast I look down to see where he’s at and I hear him saying, "Eat it, eat it, eat it," and after the third eat it he drives the hook home. The fish comes flying out of the water. Redemption! That was a sight to see. 




Typically when I’m fishing or guiding I am always resolute in checking my leader for wind knots if I make a bad cast or to check my hook if I hang up on the bottom. Eric had made a quick visual survey to see that he still had the fly but didn’t check the hook and that’s what I probably would have done too. So my lesson or though is don’t get complacent with your tackle. Inspect. Inspect. Inspect. If you have something happen, a bad cast, or tick the bottom, or something else check your gear to make sure it’s all in perfect working order.

Nick and I have been finding fish lately, and all of them have come on the same basic tackle setup. We have both been using lighter rods, I don’t really think it matters too much as long as you can cast it and fight a fish quickly with it. Seemingly the key to our success has been a 2.5’ Floating x7.5’ sinking t-11 MOW tip and a fly that is about 1-1.5” long. We have been fishing mostly Klamath intruders. This sink tip seems to get this smaller lighter fly down to the right depth and still swing into the soft water where fish seem to be holding.



As far as other fish reports go I haven’t heard back from a lot of people, so I don’t have a lot to report, but here is what I’ve heard.

I got a report via Satellite from Joel on the upper John Day. It’s been pretty cold, but his group has gotten into a few fish. Fish were taken on Purple Muddlers, Silveynators and Klamath Intruders.

Rob and the Water Time Outfitters gang are on their last camp trip of the season and they are still hitting good numbers of fish between Warm Springs and Maupin.

I talked with Jake from G Loomis. They were on the Deschutes and ran up from the mouth in a jet boat and they did quite well.

Seems like the Deschutes really got a late start but is fishing good right now. The secret is to cover as much water as possible.

A couple of different friends of ours were out on the Klickitat and they both said it was extremely cold and sadly no fish.

If you are planning on heading east prepare for cold weather and the possibility of snow.


It's Going to Get Chilly

Joel La Follette - Thursday, November 02, 2017

Once again I'm relinquishing the pen to Josh Linn for this weeks fishing report. Since joining our family, Josh has proven he can pick up the slack when I'm faced with other distractions. Like prepping for a 3 day drift trip on the John Day River. While I figure out how to avoid frostbite next week, I'll leave it to Josh to help you make your angling plans...

Fishing report, how about a fishing forecast? This weekend the time changes and so does the weather. Rain is in the forecast and possibly snow on the valley floor east of the Cascades. It could get very interesting for our fearless leader and his party.

A long long time ago, on one of the first adventures I made out to the Grande Ronde for a multi day steelhead trip we had one of those epic cold snaps. Ever since then I’ve gone out of my way to be overly prepared. I had guided out there for a few seasons and couldn’t wait to get out there and do a float on my own. We had been planning this trip for a couple of months and were scheduled to leave the day after Halloween. We launched early, the skies were crystal clear and the air temps were cold. It continued to get colder and the river started to freeze. The water had turned slushy and by the end of the trip the river had frozen over. Well, suffice it to say the fishing was not very good. We did end up catching a few fish, but in the end it isn’t the fishing that I’ll remember about that trip. The hardships make the adventure. It’s called type three fun.

That’s not the only cold trip I’ve been on and I’m sure it won’t be the last. If you fish in the fall you’re pretty much guaranteed to run into that kind of weather sooner or later. Now, it’s not gonna be that cold this week, but it is going to be cold enough and that makes for some great fall fishing.

I’m going to pack my cold weather gear when I head east this weekend. Zero degree sleeping bag, wool blankets, Simms down stream jacket, and of course my bootfoot waders.

So where am I gonna go? So many choices and only so many days. I’m going east to chase steelhead. I know that all the places I usually fish have been fishing good. There are steelhead spread throughout the Columbia river and its tributaries. Rob and the Water Time Outfitters gang have been doing well in the stretch from Warm Springs to Maupin and the Mack’s Canyon area and below is still producing fish.

The Klickitat is still going strong and is open till the end of the November. Fish are spread throughout the river, I would expect to do better higher up in the system.

Marty, Brian, and Corey have been on the Grande Ronde and doing well. I’m sure with that last rain there are fish everywhere in that system. If you want to venture even further the Snake and the Clearwater have been fishing great. So, where am I going to go? Well, I can’t give away all of my secrets.

My forecast is for cold weather, good fishing and the end of daylight savings. I’ll wait to hear your fishing report when you stop in next week.


Floodwaters Receding

Joel La Follette - Thursday, October 26, 2017

My Trout Bum Road Trip turned into four days of photographing animals sprinkled with a few hours of chasing Trout. Yellowstone National Park is a wondrous place in the late season before the snow falls closing it for the winter to wheeled vehicles. The tourists are gone, the animals are everywhere and the rivers are uncrowded. Having no real plans I ended up staying a few extra days in the Park and explored places I hadn't seen before.

I was able to fish the Lamar, Gibbon, Firehole and Madison rivers while dodging snow storms and hurricane winds during my visit. Brown Trout seemed the most willing to grab my streamer selection, while Rainbows preferred my go-to Silvey's Super Sinker. A Sunday morning blizzard finally chased me to the west and home.

Meanwhile here in Oregon, Trouters are lamenting the passing of the general Trout season this coming weekend, but there are still plenty of target rich environs to explore all across the state. Our popular east side streams host the dedicated all winter long so there is no need to sell off the tackle bag just yet. Layer up and get after it. What are you, a mouse?

Speaking of "mouses," my friend and fellow fly shop owner, Jeff Perin, is waging a battle royal with the mouse population around the old homestead in Sisters. I'm hoping that he can break away from the frontlines for a little angling on our favorite spring creek this weekend. Reports from that local have been favorable and demand further investigation. Besides, the dude owes me a burger and shake.

Just up the road, the Deschutes has been blessing anglers with a mix of migratory and resident Rainbows willing to play according to our Fly Czar. Since he covered the fishing report last week and did such an awesome job I've asked him to fill in the blanks for me again this week. Take it away Josh!



Not sure if you guys looked outside or saw the weather this past weekend, but it rained a lot. Like flood level rains. I’m guessing the only way you missed it is if you were in another state, like Montana or Wyoming... 

High water and big rain storms are to be expected this time of year and sadly it takes a little longer for rivers to clear. The ground is super dry, the roads have lots of dirt on them and everything washes into the rivers. Not to mention all the leaves that are falling off of the trees non stop. When the rivers finally drop and clear the fishing will be good!

I’m already planning my next couple of days of fishing and counting down the days till winter fishing starts. I’m thinking the Klickitat would be a good choice or maybe the Deschutes. Both will have lots of Steelhead and should fish good this weekend.

In anticipation of winter fishing I’ve already put my floating lines away, dusted off my skagit lines and sink tips and I’m looking for my boxes of big flies. It’s no secret that I love fishing sink tips and every day I’m thinking about fishing bigger tips and bigger flies. Right now I’m reaching for MOW tips like the medium 5x5 and the 2.5x7.5 sink. Those tips produce really well on those east side rivers like the Klickitat, Deschutes, and Grand Ronde. The flies I’m choosing are 1.5”-2.5” long, typically Black or Red. I like little rabbit tube flies like the Silveynator or mini Klamath Intruders. When I’m fishing these flies I’m typically casting them to the far bank if it’s a smaller river and letting them hang in the deeper water till the current pulls them out. A lot of the time you get the takes when the fly starts to rise up and pull into the current. Don’t be afraid to fish deep into the run where it transitions from the fishy water to the deeper un-fishable tanky stuff. As it gets colder the fish will be holding deeper and deeper.

As I sit here I’m looking at the river gauges thinking about where I should go fish. Deschutes? Klickitat? What will it be? All the rivers are quickly dropping into shape. The Deschutes at Warm Springs is almost back to normal flows. The Deschutes below White River is still pretty big. The Klickitat is up and slowly dropping, but should be in good fishable shape this weekend.

If you’re not interested in Steelhead or you want to stay a little closer there should be plenty of fresh Coho in both the Sandy and the Clack and probably a few Steelhead as well. If you want to chase Trout this is the last weekend before the general trout season closes, and with that closure comes the end of Sea-Run Cutthroat fishing.

Whatever you decide to do this weekend get out there and make your own fishing report. 

Sugar Rush Fishing Report

Joel La Follette - Thursday, November 03, 2016

Hey guys, Joel is out of town, so I’m writing the fishing report this week. Ill try to keep it short and sweet. Happy post halloween, I hope everyone is recovering from their big sugar spike! If you have extra Halloween candy bring some by for Nick and be prepared to be entertained.

So some things to keep in mind. Trout fishing on the west side is changing, most rivers over here close for trout fishing. So make sure to check the regs for the watershed you are planning to fish. Lots of people are still fishing the Metolius and the Deschutes, and it has been really good. Blue Winged Olive hatches have been prolific mid day and fish have been looking up.

I fished the Deschutes around Maupin for a couple of days this week and it rained the whole time I was out there. This is the time of year when our waders and rain coats really get put to the test. Those little leaks that were nice when it was hot are really annoying and detract from the fishing this time of year. This is the perfect time to repair or replace your waders and if you need some help with that we’ve got you covered.
The river was in great shape, and the fishing was spectacular. Tons of Big horn sheep and other critters around. Not much traffic on the road and as a bonus the road was being graded, so that made for a nicer drive. I fished pretty much every run that I wanted to. I started out fishing with a scandi Line and then switched to a sink tip. Like I said the fishing was pretty great, but unfortunately I didn’t stumble across any fish. This season has definitely been like searching for a needle in a haystack and you're surrounded by haystacks. That being said get outside and go fishing because you aren’t going to catch one sitting on the couch.

While I was down there I fished the new G. Loomis Asquith 12’9” 6wt. I am a Loomis fan and I have helped develop a number of their rods and I even used to work for them. When I departed from Loomis a couple of years ago this was a line of rods that we were beginning to develop. These rods are pretty unique in their construction, they are extremely light and very nice to cast. If you want to know more about it call the shop or drop by, I love to talk about rods.

I have talked with a lot of guys fishing both the Grande Ronde and the John Day the past couple of weeks. The fishing is slower as we all know but the fish that are around are big and scrappy. Don’t expect to catch a ton of fish and be ready to put in some time, but the fish are quality. This summer steelhead season has been tough and will definitely test your conviction to hunting for those Unicorns.

I am still fishing the east side for steelhead but will be switching gears over the next 30 days to focus on winter steelhead. I have heard from a pretty credible source that a couple of early winter steelhead were caught on an undisclosed Columbia river tributary earlier this week. If river levels stay up, and it continues to rain, hopefully, we will have a good early season.

High water, high hopes

Joel La Follette - Thursday, December 10, 2015
For the next few weeks I will be leaving the details of the fishing report up to the newest member of our Royal Treatment team, Josh Linn. While voice recognition software handles the problem of my one handed typing for most of the newsletter, it can't replace that "on the water" knowledge from weekly fishing trips. Since I'm benched until the first week in February, I am counting on Josh, Nick and Corey to get out there and harass the winter Steelhead. They should be able to keep you posted on what's going on.

As I mentioned earlier, I did make it over to the Deschutes this weekend for my last shot at summer fish. There were a few grabbers on Sunday, but the changing conditions on Monday ended the day early. The D below White River was on its way out with the increase in glacial flow overwhelming the Deschutes. The river above the White remained in good shape and could provide some entertainment next week if conditions don't degrade much more. You could always go fish for trout on the Metolius.

Take it away Josh…

Working on a fishing report today is hard because I'm still riding a high from the fish I caught on Sunday. The day was short and it was rainy. Nick and I got down to Oxbow and there was an accident on the road that closed the park for the morning. So we headed to another walk in spot, wadered up and rigged the rods. Nick asked me what color fly I was going to use and I told him whichever he didn't. My fly color choices were either going to be black and blue, or pink and orange, because I have complete confidence in both. I have three basic criteria for flies and I'm happy; color, size, and weight. Flies matter as long as you have faith in them and they fish the way you want them to.

I started high in the run just to do my due diligence. I made about three casts. As the fly came over the ledge I felt that unmistakeable stop and then a light pull. I knew it was a fish. Another light pull and I set the hook. Woo ha! Fish on! After about ten minutes and a few jumps and runs the fish finally tipped over. What a way to start the winter.

Now, things have changed dramatically.The rivers are up. Rain is falling and fishing is over for the week. This report is easy. Clackamas flooded. Wilson flooded. Sandy flooded. Trask flooded. Oh yeah don't forget about the east side. The Deschutes is blown out. The John Day fished Monday, but is gone today. If you are thinking about fishing this week it may be best to reconsider tying some flies instead.....

Flooding aside, pretty much everyday for the last two weeks people have been asking if there are fish in the rivers and whether they should go chase winter steelhead, almost asking for permission. Well, I give you permission! I would go when the river levels drop. If you call me and ask if you should go I'm going to tell with a lot of excitement in my voice to go and do it. Get out there and get after it as soon as it is safe again. Go make your own fishing report because if you are reading how good the fishing is you probably missed it. I know it's early, but what's the harm. When the water drops there will be chrome plated unicorns in the river. See if you can find one and then come back and give me a fishing report!

Thanksgiving Fishing Report

Joel La Follette - Thursday, November 19, 2015


It may seem that the last few days of precipitation have rinsed away any hopes of getting out this weekend for some pre-holiday angling opportunities. Not true, my friends! While Salmon swim across roads and through trailer parks on the coast, and our local rivers got a bit silly, the east side rivers are showing only slight increases in flows. Both the John Day and Deschutes spiked just a tad this week as the mother of all rain storms pounded the region. The trend is now for dropping levels throughout the coming week as temperatures drop into fleece zone. The long range prognostication has Maupin chilling down to a nippy 32/17 combo by Thanksgiving. Layer up and get those boots wet.


These cooler conditions may produce ice in the guides for the first part of the day, but once the sun clears the canyon it should be downright balmy. Checking in with Rob Crandall last evening produced an optimistic view for the Deschutes report. Rob and the Water Time Outfitters crew found good numbers of fish on their last outing from Trout Creek down to Maupin, with plenty of fish in the Maupin area. A few of this critters even looked to be fresh new arrivals. While floating lines may find success, a sink-tip will be handy if water temps drop with this big chill down. Trout fishing is a possibility if weather conditions allow. I did not see much activity on my adventure there this past week. Two BWOs and an October Caddis that overslept does not make a hatch.

Reports from the John Day have been mixed with most anglers checking in with little success. The cast count per fish has risen above the traditional 1000, but that should improve. Early season water levels have slowed the migration, but hopefully more fish be on the move after this wet system rinses the trail dust out of their noses. As mentioned, despite the slight bump forecasted for the weekend, the John Day looks to be stable through the Thanksgiving holiday.

Trout chasers can bundle up and head over to the Crooked River for some holiday peace and quiet. Midges and the occasional BWO hatch should provide some fun. Small leach patterns fished on a slow strip can break up the boredom of bobber watching if the hatch fails to appear. No need to be there at the crack of dawn, 9:30 is plenty early. Take your time and have a nice breakfast.  It’s the most important meal of the day you know.

Don't forget the Black Friday Fish Fest coming up on November 27th. Get signed up today!


Photos by Water Time Outfitters
 


Fall/Winter Transition ~ We're Entering the Chill Zone

Joel La Follette - Thursday, November 12, 2015
Cooler weather has slipped into the Great Northwest forcing those favorite flip flops to the back of the closet and sending that lefthand grove or single warm sock into hiding. Rain is bumping the rivers up just enough to wet our appetite for winter fishing, but we still have a little time before that ramps up. Meanwhile the east side of the state has fish now and conditions are looking pretty good.

This transition period from fall into winter focuses the attention of Steelhead anglers on the Deschutes, John Day and Grande Ronde rivers. While some give up on the Deschutes, it still has plenty to offer to both Steelhead and Trout chasers. The crowds have thinned a little as the temps drop into the chilly zone leaving you the chance to fish favorite waters without being low-holed. Cloudy days can bring hatches of BWOs and the opportunity to perhaps break in a new bamboo rod hunting redsided sippers in back eddies. No, don’t give up on the D just yet.

Over on the John Day the defining line between flowing river and solid ice is still many weeks away, but veterans of frosty camp mornings know the importance of being prepared for the changing conditions. The weather forecast looks to be offering up those changes as we move through the weekend into next week. We’ll start off wet and warm then dive into nearly frozen by the time the following weekend rolls around. River flows are supposed to remain good for the next few weeks and that should continue to improve the fishing. Nick Wheeler and the Lost Boys Angling Club ventured out this past weekend and reported that while only one fish fell victim to a swung fly, the team refrained from bobbers and beads. Well done, gentlemen. Floating lines are the rule, with intermediate tips or Polyleaders and your favorite fly. Have faith, Campers, the swing is the thing.

Our newest shop guy, Josh Linn, has just returned from a week on the Ronde having avoided frostbite and bear attack. Fishing was good and should remain so for the near future. Josh can be bribed into revealing details and his secrets if you put him on the spot. I left my wallet at home yesterday and thus couldn’t afford the ransom. I do have it under good authority though that the Dolly Lama rocks the Ronde if you want to double down on Steelhead and Bulls. Olive and white seem to have the right aura.

Close to home the Clackamas is still surprising fly swingers and getting very little attention. The bad news is we’re about to see it blast off and hit 14 feet by the weekend. My Rivercast app has it staying up over 13 for at least a week. Look ahead to a dropping river and perhaps a few winter fish for your efforts in the coming weeks.

Don’t forget we’re all getting together for a Black Friday Fish Fest on the Deschutes, get signed up to join us!

Mudslides and Icicles

Joel La Follette - Thursday, December 04, 2014

This photo to the right was sent to me by Mia Sheppard of Little Creek Outfitters. If you've been wondering why the John Day has been running off-color this fall, this would be the reason. Mia locates this issue 12 miles up from 30 Mile Creek. As you can see this is a big pile of moving debris and it will take a good high water event to flush it out of the system. Slight rises in the river level will draw more of this muck into the stream. Currently, the river is rather chilly and iced up in some location, but if we do get conditions that allow for angling opportunities, head on over. Mia says fishing should be great as there hasn’t been too many flies cast there in awhile. Dress warm.

Mia also wanted me to pass on a special chance to fish with the Little Creek Outfitters team of Marty and Mia Sheppard by buying a trip they have donated to the South Wasco County School fundraiser. Our small school districts get much smaller pieces of the pie and need to bolster funds by counting on the community. Since Marty and Mia are now calling Maupin their home base they’re getting right to work helping in this endeavor. There is only one of these trips available so click over to the fundraiser site and pick up a great deal on a guided trip. You have two hours before I buy it myself, starting at 10:00 AM, today.

Speaking of Maupin, Brian Silvey was iced in yesterday as the back side of the Cascades turned into a skating rink. Cold temps mixed with moisture from the south added a festive, yet dangerous covering of ice. The current system moving though may scour out the freezing rain. If it does, there is the possibility of chasing Steelhead and Trout on the Deschutes. Keep an eye on the forecast and current conditions before heading over. While Brian may be iced in, he's not just watching the tube. Currently he's dusting off the tying bench and working on patterns that he is planning on sharing at the Tyer's Table next month. You won't want to miss his visit.

Both Mr. Silvey and the Sheppards are also getting geared up to chase winter Steelhead on the Sandy. If you are interested in testing the waters there, give them a call. It's never to early to book a trip. Head over to the Guide Shack for more info.

We’re still getting reports of winter fish in the Clackamas River and now a few blips of news are coming from the Sandy. Both rivers will continue to see fresh fish as we move deeper into the winter months. Focus efforts on the lower sections until we see a big push of fish spreading throughout the systems.

On the coast we are seeing enough early returners to interest Gil Muhleman in running a few trips on the North Fork of the Nehalem River in December, from the 13th to the 16th. If you are getting a slight case of cabin fever or just want to avoid the holiday hustle and bustle, drop Gil a note. These trips are discounted to entice you off the sofa. 


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