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Fishing Reports

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.


Big Bugs and seeing Redd

Joel La Follette - Thursday, April 30, 2015
Earlier this week Brian Silvey checked in to say, “it has started.” It's official, Salmonflies are crawling in the bushes around Maupin as of April 27th. With super low river flows and water temps in the mid 50s, you don’t want to delay if you are interested in fishing the hatch. Brian has a few day trips available, but they go fast. Contact Brian and ask him to take you to Joel's Island, but take a spool of heavy tippet with you. The fish are mean there...

Although the hatch has started and is playing well on social media, it is still early and it will be some time before these bugs are seen throughout the system. Weather will play a big part in how things progress as it normally does, cooler temps will slow the hatch down and hot days will crank it back up again. The best chance of seeing bugs take to wing and fish rise to meet them is during one of those warmer days. A hot, cloudy day can pay off big-time if Green Drakes make an appearance as well.

Local Steelheaders on the Clackamas are finding the occasional Spring Chinook grabbing their fly as it swings in search summer steel. With winter fish, summer fish and Springers all overlapping their return, it makes for piscatorial uncertainty when you do get that tug. Toss in a truck load of outmigrating Steelhead smolt and your normally steady fly swinger gets a little jumpy. On the up side, there’s plenty of tugging going on. You just have to get the right tug.

Speaking of the right tug, I was visiting over the phone with my good friend Frank Moore yesterday and he asked me to pass on this important bit of information. LEAVE SPAWNING FISH ALONE! If you see two fish hanging out this time of year, they’re spawning. Go someplace else. Be careful where you fish and be careful where you wade. Frank told me he saw two of the most beautiful, big North Umpqua Steelhead building a redd the other day and it’s up to us to make sure they are successful. Clean gravel is a sure sign of Salmon and Steelhead eggs laying underneath, so don’t wade through it. If you see others fishing to, or wading through, kindly educate them.

This same thing holds true on the Deschutes where resident Redsides are still spawning in some parts of the river. Leave them alone and watch where you wade. It’s our responsibility to protect these fisheries from damaged caused by anglers. We need to police ourselves and help preserve these wonderful creatures.

Who's in the Dog House?

Joel La Follette - Thursday, March 12, 2015
No, I didn't screw up, this time. Brian really did take the photo at the top of the page of Bryan. Confused? Me too. You see, Brian Silvey is the number one guide on the Sandy according to the number two guide on the Sandy, (Marty somebody) and Bryan Peterson is my number one guy when it comes to payroll. I like doing business with people who fish and as you can see, Bryan fishes. Sometimes even with Brian. Now, before you hit the delete key let me explain.

Bryan sent me a fishing report from his adventures this past week and included this photo. His report eluded to his turning 50 and his residence in the doghouse for bringing along his love interest without explaining the day in greater detail. Some critical issues were excluded from description of the adventure, causing Bryan to lose a few points. Mostly having to do with waders as a fashion statement and the restroom facilities along the river, which means there aren't any. These things of course rarely cross the mind of an angler bent on chasing winter Steelhead so Bryan's should not reside in the pooch palace for long. I thought it best to focus on the positive aspects of his report and leave the drama out and so here I provide my interpretation.

Bryan caught fish. Even in the low water conditions we found ourselves in last week, Bryan and his nine year old son, Adam, landed fish on a coastal stream, on swung flies. No beads and bobbers for these guys. Three fish to hand on the coast before heading to the Sandy the next weekend where Bryan’s stint in the Bow Wow Hotel started. In all fairness it did sound like things were tempered by a beautiful sunny day allowing for some vitamin D intake. All in all I think our payroll guy came out fine with one tanned girlfriend and a nice 15lb wild fish to hand. Am sure a nice dinner out on the town will clear the slate.

Meanwhile, as the clouds move in for the weekend anglers are torn between the hunt for Steelhead and the chance to toss dry flies at Trout. Skwalas have taken to wing in the valley and March Brown are also filing flight plans. The warmer cloudy weather is perfect for those interested in drifting the McKenzie, Willamette or Santiam rivers this coming week. If this weather pattern holds in the coming weeks look for the Caddis to show up a few weeks early.

Even still the Steelhead call is strong and after swinging through low water for the last few weeks, Spey casters are looking forward to a freshening of all Oregon streams with this current weather event. Forecasts don’t have things getting too out of hand, with dropping rivers by Monday. Of course we will have to see what truly comes to pass, but it is encouraging.

With the Clackamas and Sandy river bumping up a bit with the rain we should see improvement in the catch rate even though both streams produced for those willing to put in the time during the low water. The first summer fish of the year has made it’s way over Willamette Falls so I guess we’re rolling solid into spring. Dry line tactics are on the horizon.

Further south, the North Umpqua is a spring favorite and not as populated as some metro rivers. Fish are all the way up into the Camp Water at Steamboat, but remember it is important to avoid spawning fish. There are places that are easy to see that these fish have staged to spawn and we should leave them alone. Be smart, protect the resource and have fun. See you on the water. 

Look to the Skylight

Joel La Follette - Thursday, January 15, 2015
Winter fishing reports address the moment and those that have recently past, but as we all know things change quickly around here. We use what resources we have to try and predict how these changes will effect our angling plans, making our best guess much like the weather professionals on TV. Sometimes we’re right and sometime we are less right. It’s a game to be played in an effort to better understand our rivers, their watersheds and the fish.

I started plotting river levels and rainfall back in the 80s when my source of information was the daily paper. To say this method was delayed and inaccurate is a bit of an understatement. It did offer me a better understanding of the cause and effect our Oregon weather has on my angling opportunities. Some rain is good, a lot of rain is not so good. Now I have websites and phone apps that give me updated levels, forecasts and predictions in an instant, but lately they have been less accurate than my old graph paper pinned on the wall. I’ve added another resource to my river prediction arsenal, my bedroom skylight. If the rain wakes me in the night by beating on the skylight, we’ve had a weather event and local rivers will be rising. If I sleep soundly to the gentle tap of a light rain on the glass we are probably in good shape.

So, if you’ve glanced at the NOAA prediction for your favorite river this weekend and then made plans to go antiquing, you may have made a good call, or a very bad one. Steelhead have been plentiful on the coast and a slight bump up from a passing raincloud would be most welcome there. The numbers reported by Gil and Rob of Water Time Outfitters on the NFN this past week were silly. My buddy, WaterDog, and his friend Duane had an epic day on Monday, tangling with at least eleven fish while fishing with Rob. They report plenty of chrome bright fish in the mix as well as some very large wild fish.

Meanwhile, the Sandy and Clackamas have been sharing some lovely fish for those enjoying the mild January weather. While sunshine is not something we normally encounter in the depths of winter, armed with our Costa sunglasses we have endured. While not as prolific as the coastal streams, these watersheds have been producing some impressive bright fish. 

For those wanting to tangle with some prime winter Steelhead, look south to the Umpqua. Dean Finnerty reports it's swinging time on the Ump and there are some big fish around. While it's a bit longer of a drive, you may miss the rainstorm. If we have a rainstorm.

I’ve often suggested having a plan B in the event the rain does fall in Biblical proportions and truly takes the rivers through the roof as predicted. Go Trout fishing. The Deschutes, Crooked, Metolius and Fall rivers are all capable of entertaining you for hours if you just have to get away from football. Midges, BWOs and even little black Stones are on the menu, with subsurface presentations filling in the void. Even in cold, damp weather the fish have to eat.

By the way, rain just started hitting the skylight very lightly.

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