Low and clear. I’m not telling you anything new if you’ve attempted a fishing adventure this past week. Water levels are at summer flows and rivers are running clearer that fancy crystal. It doesn’t matter where you head, there’s very little water to greet you. The good new is, hidden in the shadows, trenches and broken water of our low flowing streams are a few nice Steelhead. They have come home. They just happened to come home to a glass house.With only a faint hope of improving conditions on the horizon we have to work with what we have and make the best of it. It’s time to bust out the low water bag o’tricks and see what we can come up with.
Last weekend we watched football as rain fell and rivers leaped to unfishable levels in fairly short order. The super soaker storm moved through quickly though and by Monday dry sunny weather had returned. With very little snow to melt in the foothills, once the rain stopped those swollen rivers started to fall back into shape in rapid fashion and by midweek we were back where we started. Near perfect conditions and fresh chrome Steelhead swimming home.
Tomorrow will require a brand new fishing licence, but for today you’re good to go. Lucky for you our rivers have fallen back into shape after the pre-Christmas flooding and all are reporting fresh fish. While the east wind and chilly temperatures may keep many anglers at home close to the fire, those impervious to the cold do have a fairly good chance at success if they venture out.
The coast is only slightly warmer than here in the valley as it doesn’t have those biting east winds. Rob Crandall emailed a photo yesterday afternoon of a fresh hatchery fish that was heading home to celebrate New Years with a very happy client. Rob reported an excellent day of fishing and added, “Steelhead are showing in the Necanicum, NF Nehalem and all Tillamook area rivers. The last shot of rain is finally subsiding and rivers are dropping and clearing nicely. This blast of icy weather will have fins frozen to the rocks so the fish will be low and cold. Drop down on fly sizes and think deep!”
Over on the Sandy a few fair sized chrome wild fish are showing up and taking swung flies. The river is flowing a tad under 11 feet and dropping. With no forecasted rises in the near future conditions are perfect, if not a bit chilly. Look for things to warm up on Friday with “warm” being a relative term.Same holds true for the Clackamas where flows have yet to drop below 13 feet. The color is a very nice Steelhead green and we shouldn’t see any adverse affect from the rain moving in this weekend. Barton to Carver has seen the best of the limited action.
The Clackamas is right at perfect this morning and should remain in very good condition though Sunday morning, or beyond if this pending storm heads elsewhere. If it hits here in full force, it could get ugly. Get out while you can. Winter Steelhead have been encountered all the way up to McIver Park with the Barton area being the hotbed of activity. Current level would suggest a type 6 or 8 tip, or 10 feet of T-11. Maybe matched up with one of Mr. Crandall’s new flies.
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.