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Fishing Reports

Snow Day

Joel La Follette - Thursday, February 07, 2019


Nick's Fishing Report

Low and clear conditions continue to hold through the area with the low-pressure system hanging around. With the possibility of more snow coming to the area don’t expect our rivers to jump up soon. As this cold weather passes and we get back to our normal rainy pattern, we will continue to see fresh winter steelhead swimming up our waterways. Our local rivers and the coast even with the lower water levels still continue to produce fish. It’s just the catch ratio isn’t outstanding, but just that one fish can make your day. Even in good years you still can’t catch them from the couch. 

Josh and I made a break for the coast. With the help of Todd Rettmann from Water Time Outfitters, we all braved Snowmageddon 2019. Like stated above, all the rivers out on the coast were low and clear so expectations weren’t high, but all of us know its winter steelheading so who cares. It’s all about big flies and cold fingertips. 

We started out the day with a coating of snow across everything. After a short drive and slide, as in Todd sliding down after his boat on his butt, we were floating down the river. It was a surreal experience with snow-covered trees and not another soul on the river. These are the days I really think of when someone says winter steelheading. You feel deeply engulfed in your surroundings, somehow connected to it all. Of course, you want to connect with a fish but it no longer matters as much. You just enjoy the day. 

As our float continued, and we fought off the numbness of the cold day, we filled the fishless moments with heavy laughter and good eats. Toward the end of the day as Josh fished a tail out of a run we heard a loud cry of joy come out Josh. His number came up, and a Steelhead grabbed his fly. Unfortunately, just like us, his fish was so lethargic from the cold water it swam right for the net. Josh was now thinking he had caught the smallest steelhead ever with such a short battle but was surprised with a beautiful wild fish. 

Our day ended with most of the snow melted and an easy drive back over the pass. The lesson with this story is even with bad conditions, and low fish counts, expectations set to your current situation makes for a great day. Take what you can get, and if you get lucky your day just got that much better.  


Josh's Fishing Report

Nick and I went fishing this weekend with the guys from Water Time Outfitters. Sunday night we met up over at the lodge on the North coast so we could get up early and not have to battle with coming over the pass. There was a forecast for snow, but the way this winter has been going it probably would not happen. 

Our plan was to have a semi-casual day. We got up around 5:30 AM. To our surprise, there was an inch or two of snow on the ground. Immediately I knew this would be a great day. Winter steelheading in the snow is one of my favorite things. 

We drank a little coffee and headed for the boat launch. We were the first boat on the water and it seemed like it would probably stay that way all day. Last year Todd and I fished together and immediately he was giving me a hard time about a slip I took at the boat launch. I was telling him to watch out as it might come back on him when low and behold we pitch the boat off the trailer and Todd was yanked off his feet. He was basically being drug down the boat launch by the boat. It reminded me of a scene from Spies Like Us where Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd are in training. They get yanked off the dock by a ski boat and drug around a lake. It was a wild scene!

The river was low and clear with a blanket of snow making for awe-inspiring views and high hopes of fish catching. We fished every piece of water first. The three of us were pounding each run with nothing to show for it. By late afternoon we were approaching tidewater and a run where Todd and I had previous success. Todd fished through the run first with no fish. 

The run is big, wide, and slow. I switched up to slower sinking tip and an unweighted pink fly. I was fishing through the run and was getting towards the tail out. I waded halfway across the river casting to the other bank thinking about this being one of my last casts and then it happened. 

Well, something happened anyway. There was a soft pull, no head shake, no yank, just a soft pull that took line and kept pulling. I set the hook knowing it was a steelhead. I gave out a yell and reeled trying to come tight on the fish. After about 30 seconds of reeling, I was doubting if it was really a steelhead and thought it could be a sucker. I was a bit disappointed and confused. 

I got the fish within 40’ and finally could see it. It appeared to be what looked like the smallest winter steelhead to ever swim up a coastal river. At that point, I voiced my opinion to Todd who was standing right next to me. I got it closer and could see not that small after all and it was actually a nice fish. Maybe it was colder than we were, or maybe it had moved up into the tail out where I hooked it. We netted it and snapped a few pics before sending it on its way. 

I’m still marveling at the weirdness of my encounter with that steelhead. And despite the cold fingers, it was a great day!







Now, go make your own.

Josh's Fishing Report

Joel La Follette - Thursday, March 29, 2018

So, this week Nick and I both went fishing. Oddly in some ways it reminded me of the Civil War: steelhead angler against steelhead angler, the North against the South, beads and indicators against swung flies. I know sometimes there is a division between swinging flies and fishing indicators, but the reality of it is the indicator is a deadly effective technique and some rivers are more suited to it. 

I personally caught my first steelhead many years ago on the Deschutes on a green rock worm fishing with my good friend Doug Cook. That was probably back in 1997 or 98. At that time the only way I knew how to catch a steelhead was with an indicator. It was effective and caught more fish than I can count. 

It’s been a long time since I caught one on an indicator. I barely fish an indicator when I Trout fish and never when I fish Steelhead. It’s kind of like how many anglers move through the stages of fly fishing. At first the goal is simply to catch one fish. Stage two generally involves trying to catch a lot of fish. The third goal most often is trying to catch big fish. Well, I’ve kind of moved beyond that. I have caught my first one, and a lot of them, and even some big ones, but now I choose to fish the way I want too. I mostly dry fly fish for Trout or swing streamers. For targeting steelhead I prefer to swinging flies and honestly, I prefer catching them on a sink tip. It all boils down to personal preference, and should not be a me against him, or this way is better than that. Fishing is fun and at this time of unrest and division in the country we certainly shouldn’t let something as petty as fishing tactics and techniques come between us. If you want to catch trout or steelhead with an indicator, we will help you do it. If you want a little more info on swing techniques, we’ve got you covered. Don’t be afraid to come in and ask for help because we have literally done it all. 

Ok, off of the soap box, I’m sorry for the rant. Anyway, like I said Nick and I did fish the coast on Monday. We met up with Rob and Todd from Water Time Outfitters and then went our separate ways. Nick went north and I went south. The river they fished had been low and clear. I went south to the big river. It was on the rise and a bit colored up, but this is winter fishing and like I’ve said before if there is even some visibility you’ve got a chance. 

Over the years, Bob the shuttle driver has told me a million stories about how he caught 6 or 7 steelhead on the day I didn’t float because I deemed the river unfishable. Nowadays I will pretty much fish unless the river is chocolate brown with trees floating down it. 

As we floated down I saw a fish roll. The water was warmer and fish were moving around. We stopped at the first run and made three or four passes through. While I was standing on the bank talking with Todd he got a good solid grab. It pulled line off the reel, but didn’t stick. We moved on and saw a couple of more fish roll. We pulled into one of my not so favorite runs, but one that I had fished many times in the past. I like to fish runs that are interesting; they have features and structure, maybe overhanging trees with difficult wading. If I’m not going to catch a fish I like the success of not falling in. 

We hopped out of the boat and I went to the top of the run while Todd started low in the tail-out. I was about ten casts in and saw Todd hook up. From what I could tell the fish grabbed the fly and started tail walking across the surface. After a good strong battle Todd won out over the steelhead. We set it free and took a minute to rejoice in the adventure.

Once Todd calmed down he said he had seen a couple of fish roll out in front of him. I stepped in where he had gotten out and started casting and stepping down the run. My fly was ticking bottom a little more than I like, but I opted not to switch tips and kept casting. Todd was moving the boat down to where I was fishing and as soon as he dropped the anchor I got side swiped by a steelhead. There was no tap tap, slow pull, this was straight hit and run. The fish went right to the surface and started thrashing about. There is something magical and energizing about that blind grab. I released my fish and our day was as good as done. Like I said before, I don’t need the biggest or the most. I prefer quality over quantity. Add in some good friends and beautiful scenery, and I’m as happy as can be. 

Checking in with Friends on the River

Joel La Follette - Thursday, January 11, 2018
Report by Josh Linn and Friends...


I’m still making good on my New Years resolution to fish more. I know it’s early in the year, but it all adds up in the end.

I probably sound like a broken record, but the fishing is only getting better and every time it rains more fish enter the system. This rain will be no different.

After last week's outing Eric and I were pretty confident about there being a reasonable amount of fish in the river. Eric went at it with a renewed vigor and was fishing with supreme confidence this week as we again drifted the Clackamas. Every run he stepped in he knew he was going to get a fish, and he was ready for it.

The water was much lower than the week before. The runs where we had been standing in the willows fishing from we were now wading 30-50’ out. We fished the same 12’ t-11 tips, but had to adjust our angle to cast a little more downstream. Almost immediately Eric was in to his first fish. It was a good hard take, but sadly turned out to be a sucker. We continued fishing throughout the day and fished many prime pieces of water. We got to one of our last spots of the day. Eric stepped out of the boat and flipped his fly out there to start fishing short and work his line out. Immediately a fish grabbed the fly and started pulling line off the reel. Hooking one in close like that reminds me that every time you step in and make a cast, even the close ones, you have to be ready for that take. We had our only fish grab on the first little flop cast right in front of the boat, remember every cast counts. Fish it like you mean it.

I gathered a few Fishing Reports from out in the field. I don’t really have a trout one this week. Sadly, it seems like everyone has turned their attention to winter steelhead which is good if you are a trout angler, because there won’t be much pressure.

Here's the news from our friends on the water...

Brian Silvey-
The Sandy has been fishing good when water levels are up, slower when water levels drop. So far it’s been a mix of wild and hatchery fish landed.
Should only get better in the next few months.

The Deschutes has also been good for trout. The water around Maupin is in perfect shape. Not many hatches right now, so nymphing is the best technique.

Dave Hendrie on the Sandy...
Sh$&# show today...15 plus boats at Oxbow. Guides floating over water, guy motored up to last chance... Still good times. Couple great guys found fish... Next rain will be good.

Todd Rettman on the coast...
Fished the S Fork today and water was prime. I actually got to swing a fly in a sweet run! Fished behind the client of course, but no big tugs from any of those wild chromers. This next rain should move a fresh batch of winter steelhead into the streams. Tight lines!!

Rob Perkin on the coast...
Erin and I pushed off at 9:30 thinking our best bet would be to fish behind the early risers and not try to beat people down the river. The conditions were perfect, with a dropping river and good color. Half way through the first run I had a solid grab that didn't stick, but with a start like that my expectations were high all day.

Later in the day gear guys making their second run, began passing us and they weren't shy in sharing how good the day had been for them. Most of them had found at least a fish or two. We're in a good weather pattern and the fish are in!


Southwest Washington and Olympic peninsula...
Jackson Golik of Jackson Golik Guide Service
Fishing has been pretty good the last few weeks with more native fish coming in by the day. They’re are still good numbers of hatchery fish in the Kalama, and so far the pressure hasn’t been too bad from other anglers. We are supposed to get a fair amount of rain over the next few days so fishing might be patchy. Once the rain stops and the rivers start to drop then it’ll be time to catch some fish!

My trip to the Olympic Peninsula was incredible. On the first day we floated the lower river. We fished hard all day for two grabs, but no hookups. We were the only ones on the float all day and the water looked incredible, but feeling the need to change it up we decided to float the upper river for day two. While fishing in the national forest is beautiful, there were even less fish in the upper river and quite a bit more pressure. With our tails between our legs we decided for our last morning we would go back to the extreme lower Hoh about a mile above the salt and try our luck to find some new fish. And by pure dumb luck we walked right into them. I hooked 5 in one hole and my mom hooked her first fish on the swing. A perfect ending to a fun trip.

Happy New Year Fishing Report

Joel La Follette - Thursday, January 04, 2018

It turns out that the Fly Czar, Josh Linn, had something to do with last weeks fishing report as he "coached" Mr. Skittles though that literary endeavor. This week, Josh takes center stage as he regales us with his New Year's exploits and kicks off the year with friends.

I hope everyone is off to a great start to the New Year. Turning that corner into a new year is exciting with new seasons and fishing adventures on the horizon. Adventures can be both good and bad, you never know what’s going to come your way. I personally have made a New Years resolution to fish more and I started on day one.

So this week, while Joel was busy remodeling the kitchen in his 4Runner (or finishing up the year-end inventory) and Nick was busy taking down his Christmas lights it was left up to me to write the Fishing Report.

I tried really hard to get Nick to forgo his family obligations, but while that didn’t work out I did find a couple of volunteers for the New Year’s Day Fishing trip. This cast of characters have appeared in other featured Fishing Reports over the past few years and are no strangers around the shop. Rob and Erin Perkins and Eric Gunter have been seen in box office hits such as John Day Bass Report, John Day Steelhead Report and my favorite, the Deschutes Salmon Fly Hatch Report. We have all fished together many times and make a great team.

We didn’t meet up too early for our trip as we were looking for a casual New Year’s Day float, plus you never know how busy it’s going to be out there. I used to float the Sandy for my annual New Year’s Day float, but the Oregon Whitewater Association or some similar group does a rafting trip that puts about 100 boats on the river that day. So, a few years ago I gave up on that.

We headed over to the Clackamas River which is definitely a favorite winter steelhead haunt of mine. It has plenty of classic swing runs and quite a few short little tucked-in hidden spots to explore.

I’ve been fishing the Sage Mod quite a bit lately and I like that rod immensely. It has a deep loading action that is perfect for tossing sink tips and bigger winter flies. My typical winter setup is a 13' 7wt rod, like the Sage Mod 7130, matched with a Skagit head. I strongly favor the Rio Skagit Max and generally I’m tipping it with 12’ of T-11. My fly choice is simple, either black and blue or pink and orange. I carry a lot of both. Which one I tie on is usually decided by whoever I am fishing with. Whatever they choose I pick the other. This day was no exception as my buddy, Eric, put on a red and orange fly so I went with black and blue. My winter flies are usually between 2.5”-3.5” with some medium sized barbell eyes for weight.

The river was up since we had that rain in the middle of the week so that meant we were going to have a little less fishable water. Not so many little tuck in spots on this day. The bright side is that when the river is up it’s typically a little more colored up and warmer. The fish will be sitting more in the soft edges closer to the bank and easier to get a fly in front of.

We pushed away from the boat launch and we were the only boat on the water. That was a surprise considering how late we were putting on. We stopped in the first spot and the clouds started to break up as mist was rising off of the river. It felt very fishy. We moved down the river a bit farther and pulled into one of my favorite spots. We parked at the top of the run and I spread Eric and Rob out in the bucket as I headed down towards the tail out.

A couple of rocks showed themselves at the bottom of the run and I was pretty confident about fishing over them. Sure enough when my fly was swinging into them I felt that little tug. The sudden stop and little twitch could only be one thing. A second later my reel was screaming as line melted away. What a great way to start the New Year!

A few minutes into the battle the fish positioned itself straight down below me not allowing me to get an angle on him. In my opinion, that is like the kiss of death and sure enough the he came unbuttoned. Oh well, I don’t need to touch the fish to be satisfied.

We fished plenty of awesome spots throughout the day, but didn’t encounter anymore takers. I did see a couple of fish landed and that just helps to build confidence for the next time out.



If you guys are thinking about going out and wondering if it’s time, well I have been saying this for the last month. It's time. Folks have been getting fish in both the Sandy and Clackamas rivers for the past several weeks. The coast has dropped back into shape and fish are being caught there as well.

Down south, the Umpqua is low with fish being caught in the lower river. The same holds true on the Rogue. Conditions will change for the better if we get rain.

Over on the east side the John Day is not frozen over yet so there are still opportunities over there if you're a hardy soul. Personally, I'd save the gas and stick closer to home. I wouldn't want you to freeze to death.

On the Trout front, guys are doing well on the Deschutes, Crooked, and the Metolius depending on the day, but I'm a Steelhead guy this time of year and that's my Jam.

As I look at the weather forecast for the week ahead all signs point to favorable Steelhead conditions west of the cascades. I’m already planning my next trip, but my biggest problem is deciding where to go. Stay local or head to the coast? Whatever I choose to do I’m pretty confident there will be fish.


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.


   

Totally Epic Fishing Report

Joel La Follette - Saturday, March 26, 2016
Winter/spring Steelheading remains good when the weather and water levels cooperate. Big wild fish made up a large portion of the swung fly grabs this past week. The forecasted Spring Break deluge hasn't really affected conditions very much both locally and on the coast. Upward bumps in water levels have been short lived and have been followed by happy fish on dropping rivers. Pay attention to what IS happening and not was is FORECASTED to happen. That has been two very different things for most of this winter.

"Totally epic" is how our own Nick Wheeler and his sidekick "The Stig" described the Metolius this past weekend. That is not something heard very often in conversations about this special spring creek. Hatches were slight, but Rainbows and Bulls were grabbing nymphs tumbled deep under an indicator. The Stig is investing heavily in one of the new patterns we added to the inventory that seems to be Metolius magic. Look for BWOs and the misc. small Mayfly hatch to pop on cloudy days. If you need additional intel, Nick is easily bribed with Jelly Beans or donuts.

The Deschutes is a great Trout option for plan B if your westside Steelhead adventures are sidelined by rising water. Trout have been more active as water temps rise and with those subfreezing days of winter hopefully behind us fishing should continue to get better. BWOs, March Browns and the occasional Skwala can be seen flitting around. Please note: Yes, the upper Deschutes River is open to fishing year-round now, but please refrain from targeting spawning Steelhead and Trout. Reports and photos on social media seem to have some anglers promoting this practice. Don't be that guy! Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

As long as I'm on subject, my friend Frank Moore down on the North Umpqua would appreciate the same consideration for the wild fish on his home waters. We are all stewards for the resource and need to set an example by avoiding spawning areas wherever wild fish swim.

Kick Starter

Joel La Follette - Thursday, February 25, 2016
Brian O'Keefe Photo

Warmer weather across the state kick started hatches of BWOs and March Browns. Success is a timing thing unless you are retired to the river's edge and are able to wait for the perfect conditions. Clouds help, but just being there when everything lines up can make a big difference. My adventure to the Metolius last we had plenty of clouds, but also driving rain, snow and sleet. It was interesting. I maybe jumped the gun a little on that one.

Steelhead are still the main focus and are providing pretty good action on the Clackamas when the water allows. A Spey student even had a good grab on a piece of yarn this past weekend while learning the double spey. Anglers using hooks were even more successful. The river has been at full bank, but the color has remained good.

The Sandy River has stayed in pretty good shape, however it would benefit from a bit of fresh water. We are scheduled to receive that delivery this weekend. It should stay in fishable shape as it rises a little with the coming rain.

The north coast is the place to be if you can find a place to be. A report was sent to me last evening from a very small watershed chronicling an angler's best day ever of winter Steelheading. You will have to figure the rest out yourself.

Go find your secret spot and have a great day on the water. Be safe.

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