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Fishing Reports

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

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.


The Dog Ate His Fishing Report

Joel La Follette - Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Fly Czar had Christmas shopping to do this weekend and I was tasked with getting a couple hundred tulip bulbs in the ground so we turned the duties of writing the fishing report this week over to our very own Mr. Skittles, Nick Wheeler. Nick and his buddy Kevin hit the Clackamas River on Sunday for a little winter Steelhead action and Nick filed this report...

Well, I guess the dog ate his fishing report... he sent this.

Not much to go on I know, but I'll try to fill in the blanks...

Last year at this time we were dealing with snow and plenty of water in our local rivers. This year, we could use a bit of the wet stuff to freshen up the action. The Sandy River is running low, cold and clear and would benefit from a good winter storm. Over on the Clackamas we have near summer water levels, but it remains the best local option for Steelhead chasers. Rob will fill us in on the action there during his Winter Steelhead Seminar as he has been on the water a few times this past week. Nick reported only a possible tug during this weekend float and that was optimistic. 

While the Deschutes area was cloaked in freezing fog occasionally this week as the temps dropped, it should be a fair bet for Trouters wishing to escape the holiday rush. Overcast skies and warmer temps forecast for the weekend could bring hatches of BWOs to your favorite backeddy. This might be the best option for stretching a fly line this weekend unless you feel like hitting the Metolius.

There you'll find the same warming pattern, with Sunday and Monday looking like the best chance for surface activity. Temps should reach into the high 40s during the day, with lows near freezing. No need to be there at the crack of dawn, so take your time and drive carefully over the passes. Bull Trout are always an option.

The north coast needs some rain as well and we may or may not get it. Any bump in river levels will help bring fish in as we have 8 foot tides over the next few days to encourage them to come home. We just need a little help from the sky. Go wash your car.


   

Black Friday and Winter Steelhead

Joel La Follette - Thursday, November 30, 2017

Our Fly Czar, Josh Linn, knocks out another fishing update complete with photos to prep you for the month of December. Get after it!

November is coming to an end and hopefully all of the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone. In my world the John Day and the Deschutes are in the rear view mirror. Today is the last day to fish the Klickitat as it closes the end of November and since I'm working that's off the table too. I’m looking for chrome bright Steelhead and my gaze has turned west towards the local and coastal rivers that are easily affected by the rains. There the fish move in on the tides and high water events. The nastier the weather the better.


I get people asking me all the time if there are winter Steelhead in the Deschutes? There are fish that winter over in the Deschutes, but they are summer fish. They have been in the river a long time and need a rest as they mature to spawn in the spring. Those fish aren’t winter steelhead.

Winter steelhead are hard bodied chrome bright fish that enter the river systems on the west side of the Cascades starting around Thanksgiving and going well into April. These fish are sexually mature and are ready to spawn the moment they arrive. Winter Steelhead really don’t exist east of the Cascades, as they are basically coastal fish.

This past Black Friday's Fish-A-Long cemented my drive to keep pushing and searching for that first winter Steelhead. Due to all the high elevation rains we had last week the east side rivers were high and blown out. A few folks did catch a some Trout, but I didn’t even bother to wader up. The young guns did catch fish right in front of our lunch spot and one even hooked a Steelhead on his Trout rod. What a deal! Overall it was a very fun time and you should plan on joining us next year!

And if you’re still looking to get your Trout fix I would be thinking about the Deschutes or the Metolius now that the rivers are dropping again. Fishing will be good, but I would focus on nymphing. Stoneflies nymphs with egg patterns trailing would be a good option as a few Salmon are still spawning. Small greenish nymphs like a caddis or BWO would also be a good choice. You still have about 30 days to fish the Warm Springs stretch of the Deschutes for both Trout and Steelhead before it closes for the season. Remember that the west bank is closed. There are good numbers of fish around.

Personally, I’m looking towards the Sandy River. I fished there the past two weeks both days the water was high. It was rainy and blustery typical of late fall fishing. We had a couple of encounters with fish, but they were non-committal.

I know for a fact that winter Steelhead are beginning to be caught and I'm already planning my Sunday/Monday fishing outings. Sandy, Clack, or maybe somewhere on the coast, anything is possible, but I’ll be keeping an eye on the river gauges. For the next few months my fishing will be decided by the USGS gauges. When it rains and the rivers are swollen, I’ll pack my rain gear knowing that I’ll have a good shot at one of those elusive fish.


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. 

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.

Windows of Opportunity

Joel La Follette - Thursday, February 23, 2017

It’s all about windows of opportunity this winter and that window was opened a crack this past week in spite of the torrential rains that doused the area. Dropping freezing levels meant dropping rivers and anglers braving the cold, wet weather were rewarded for their efforts.

The North Coast was the hot spot with plenty of action on the swung fly. Muddy waters in some locations didn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of the fresh fish entering the system. Willing fly grabbers were found in a variety of conditions and those condition continue to improve. Things on the coast are looking good for the weekend.

The Sandy River was the local bright spot as it remained in pretty good shape throughout the week, and the east wind has relinquished it’s grasp. When things get rocking on the Sandy I only hear from Number One and Number Two through their social media feeds. They seem to be making hay while the sun shines and hopefully will be able to file a personal report soon. Both Rockstars have brought some nice fish to hand during this window of opportunity.

As witnessed by the photos in this issue, I made a dash to the Metolius with friends Tracy and Jena. Stream side snow is packed and a little easier to hike on, but watch for soft spots that can trip you up. Rubber soled boots do make for better walking in the snow, but make sure to take care when actually wading with them. Studs do help and can be added to most boots.

The misc. small Mayfly hatch was augmented by the occasional showing of the large winter Caddis that pops out this time of year. While BWOs were the most common insect to make an appearance, there are several other hatches making up the Metolius menu. Surface action gets rolling around 11:00 and fades around 2:00. Soft hackles are a good option before, during, and after, if surface presentations don’t bring results. Cased Caddis trailing a small Mayfly nymph, like Silvey’s Super Sinker, are an effective way to prospect when nothing is showing.

Bull Trout chasers may want to check out Stolis' Ice Pick that our Fly Czar, Josh Linn, added to the Trout fly Streamer Collection this week. It's becoming a full-time gig just testing out the new patterns he had been pulling in each week. Steelhead nuts will love the new pattern from Jerry French that he's added to our collection of fish catchers.

Weather wise we’re not out of the woods yet. So, watch the forecast and plan accordingly. We hit whiteout conditions on the way home last evening on the Santiam Pass, making it a slow trek. Be prepared and make sure you carry emergency snacks, water and warm clothes when traversing our mountain passes. Spring is coming, but not just yet.


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.

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