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Fishing Reports

Big Bugs and Goldfish

Joel La Follette - Thursday, May 14, 2015

If you are waiting for things to really get rocking on the Deschutes, you may be too late. Big bugs are flying and hungry big fish are up to greet them. Weather dictates the degree of activity and warm days offer your best chances for success on top. Green Drakes and PMDs have added their presence to this flying feedlot on those cloudy, muggy days. Right now we have temps forecast to just click into the mid 60s through Saturday, then bump into the 70s starting on Sunday. While this isn’t a major heatwave, it should be enough to get those Mayflies to make a showing and probably get the Stones to take wing.


The Metolius had a pretty good hatch of Stoneflies last weekend from Candle Creek upriver. The bugs are more tan than yellow, or orange and smaller. Stimulators or small Chubbys seem to be the ticket. Mid-day temps bring the action up. Green Drakes should pop anytime as temps rise under cloudy skies next week. Look for Flavs, PMDs and Little Yellow Sallies to also be part of the Trout party favors.

I’ve gathered no intel on local Steelheading and Springer fishing this week, only that the Willamette has been a preverbal ghost town. The numbers of fish clearing the falls has dropped so that may have sent the prawn draggers elsewhere. Photos of Springers swung up on the Clackamas have come across my desk, but little information. Since the river is right in our back yard, go be a hero. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

While I was away last week, Nick and a few of his posse tried their hand a Carp chasing. They had limited success out on the island and returned enthused, enlightened and a bit muddy. Meanwhile Corey was gathering intel on the Metolius for me, tossing dry flies to rising Trout. It’s nice to have a team with so much enthusiasm for the sport. We’ll see which way they head this weekend. Me, I’m thinking Springers.

Trout Photo by Mike Olinger
Carp Photo by Nick Wheeler


A special thank you to Nick, Corey, Kellie and Rob Perkin for getting the newsletter out and keeping the shop humming along while I chased bonefish.

Warm up, Wet down

Joel La Follette - Thursday, December 11, 2014

While another Pineapple Express tracks towards the west coast it looks like most of the real heavy rain will be making it ashore in southern Oregon and California. For California it’s one of those be careful what you wish for things. Plenty of snow, rain and mudslides are in-store for our drought stricken southern neighbors with this coming storm. If your holiday plans include driving south to the Bay Area or the Mouse Kingdom, take your Muck boots.

That’s not to say that we will dodge the all of the precip as 2 to 4 inches of the warm wet stuff are scheduled to dampen the area. To us Oregonians, that’s just a drop in the old rain bucket. While the rivers are forecast to rise through the weekend on the coast, they start their drop at the first of the week and should be in fishable shape my mid-week.

The good news is there are fresh fish in most of the north coast rivers. Dave Harrison spent a day on a small coastal stream with Rob Crandall this past week and sent me his version of the adventure…

“What a blast that was! My favorite memory was getting within inches of Rob's inflatable raft with a chainsaw. Nerve-racking in the extreme! There's also the hillbilly cardboard sign on the banks of the river proclaiming the owner has a gun and isn't afraid to use it, no hunting or fishing or you will die, etc, etc, etc... ending with a "I WANT MY SIGN BACK YOU JERKS!" as apparently the former sign had been stolen. I also learned about (CENSORED BY THE EDITOR) for coho and saw the biggest Chinook I've ever seen moving through shallow water. It looked like a dolphin in that small water - I'd say it was 30+ lbs easy, and looked about 4 1/2-5 feet long. My jaw dropped.”

And you thought fishing was all about the fish. Rob reported that Dave has signed up for the Estacada Timber Festival in 2015 when his newfound chainsaw prowess. Rob also concurred as to the size of the Chinook encountered, adding there were several bright fish moving into the river. We should be very near the end of the Salmon run with this last shot of rain.

Over on the Deschutes things finally warmed up, but with that change came a bit of a breeze. I talked to Brian Silvey yesterday and he said temps were near 60, but the wind was blowing. As things stabilize we may have a chance at some winter dry fly action with BWOs on the menu. Last week, the freezing rain kept them from popping and made driving conditions iffy. Steelhead are still hanging out all through the river, with a few fresh ones finally arriving to the party.

The Clackamas has been bouncing up and down with each passing cloudburst, but overall the color has been good. Winter Steelhead are spread all the way up to the Park and their numbers should increase as we wind down the holidays. Don’t forget to ask for a new fishing license for Christmas….

Turkeys, Stuffing and Trout

Joel La Follette - Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving is the traditional kick off to the winter Steelheading season, even though in some places winter fish having been showing up for weeks. Anglers get out of kitchen duty as they ply our local waters in search of the first chromer of the season, while at home the non-fishing family members roast turkeys and bake pies. I’ve been late to dinner a few times myself over the years as tangling with a hot fish delayed my appearance at the family gathering. You may get leftovers, but making sacrifices is what winter Steelheading is all about. Catching fish is what winter Trout fishing is all about.

If you have a hall pass this week and want to avoid the shopping madness, grab your gear. Trout fishing on the Metolius River has been bolstered by hatches of BWOs and misc. Midges. Dress for the weather as temps in Camp Sherman are on the cool down again through the weekend. Bull Trout are active this time of year so look for them to be in ambush locations seeking an easy snack. Sculpin patterns and other large streamers fished on a sink-tip line are the needed tools for success. Floating lines and very heavy flies will hook fish in some locations, but don’t knock yourself out on the cast. Worse yet, don’t smack your new rod with those flies.

The Crooked River is also seeing hatches of Midges and BWOs. With plenty of Trout filled water available this is a great destination for a little river therapy. Water levels are good and the weather looks ideal today and Friday with temps in the 50s and clouds. Chillier conditions are forecasted for the weekend.

The Deschutes bumped up a tad and added a little color with the melting of low level snow. There are still Steelhead available if you are interested. With cooler weather coming this weekend, the river should be in good shape fairly quickly. Watch the river gauges for the drop.

The gauge on the John Day is no longer ice effected, which is a good thing, but does show a rising trend. I've  had no eyes on the conditions there, but if the rumors are true this bump up could rinse more muck into the river. Just keep that in mind and check local sources before making plans. I would love a boots in the water report...  

The Clackamas River has had several confirmed reports of fresh winter Steelhead. The Barton area down river is your best bet, but there are probably fish throughout the waters below the dam. Hatchery summer fish are grabbing flies and there seem to be plenty of them needing a place to spend the holidays. Invite them over.

Over on the coast, conditions change with each passing weather cell. Keep an eye on the sky and the river levels. Some systems are dropping, while others are on the rise. Salmon in various degrees of decomposition are hanging in the deeper holes, while winter Steelhead are starting to show in the lower rivers. Things will pick up soon so pace yourself Campers. On the water and at today's table too.

Icy flows and Buckwheat Zydeco

Joel La Follette - Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The great chill down of November has seen cars bouncing off each other, pedestrians losing vertical stability and ice covered trees crashing to the ground. Subfreezing temperatures on the east side funneled high winds through the Columbia gorge, spreading the chill into the valley as winter bullied it’s way in.

Those hardy souls I mentioned last week were turned away from the John Day River as ice blocked their passage to the water. Only small channels remained flowing as the river turned to solid and hid under a skiff of snow. Water temperatures are, well, pretty near freezing at the moment compounding the problem. With a change in the weather rattling on the evening news we may get another shot at it if things warm up just a tad.

The Deschutes, while still flowing, was on the chilly side. Snow in the canyon and plenty of deep snow on the plateau made for beautiful images, but skin burning temperatures. Steelhead are still a very real possibility for those willing to layer up. At last check, Gil Muhleman continued to ply his trade hosting anglers seeking hot fish in cold weather. If you would like to test yourself and venture forth into the frosty landscape you will find much more elbow room under these conditions. Call Gil.

Not that you need a reminder, but extra dry clothes are now a necessity as a watery dunk could turn very serious in a hurry. Be careful out there, Campers.

Trouters turned to the Crooked River tailwater this week to satisfy their need for action. BWOs and midges will be the game on the surface until spring, with hatches sleeping in until after 10:00. Nymphing will carry you through the down time if the hatch is missing in action. Pairing up a Prince nymph with a Midge Pupa or small Pheasant tail is a great place to start. The infamous Crooked River Scud is also a fly box must.

The Clackamas is still providing entertainment for those needing to stay close to home. Water temps have dipped into the high 30s, so fish will need to warm up to you. They want to play, you will just need to take the lead. Mix up the speed of your swing until you crack the code. Speed matters. While sink-tips are the logical choice, the river is pretty low and floating lines can still get it done.

While east side rivers slowed with icy flows, rivers on the south coast bumped up as rain moved onshore. This signaled a call to action for Salmon chasers. I headed to Oregon’s banana belt, dialing in some Buckwheat Zydeco driving tunes and setting my GPS for Port Orford. The Elk and Sixes had peaked and were on the drop when I arrived late Saturday evening. Sunday found the Elk clearing nicely while the Sixes still moved some grit to the sea. Both rivers had plenty of fish in them and plenty of anglers seeking them. It’s a different game down there and not one for the timid, but the chance at a chrome bright Chinook Salmon is very overpowering and a call that needs to be answered. At least once.

Hang-on leaves are falling

Joel La Follette - Wednesday, November 12, 2014
The airwaves are buzzing as Snowmageddon blows into the valley today. Some poor rookie on the local news storm team is stuck on the Sylvan overpass wondering if four years in college was worth the rubber snow boots and bad hat. We all expected winter to wrestle fall into submission, but maybe not this soon. Those hang-on leaves are losing their grip and rinsing down the river along with our summer memories. It’s time to bundle up.

There may not be enough layers to block the windchill on the east side. Arctic winds and bone chilling temps have all but the most hardy seeking warmer past times. Those brave souls venturing out have found fish on both the Deschutes and John Day, but they are well earned.

The John Day has been colored up by what has been reported as a mudslide well above Cottonwood. The exact location isn’t clear, but word has it that it make take a spring high water event to fully flush the offending muck from the system. Until then, even small bumps in flow will probably see increased turbidity. Fortunately the slow pace of the John Day allows for sediment to settle fairly quickly as it moves downstream. Corey Koff reported yesterday that the water from Cottonwood down wasn’t perfect, but it was fishable and producing.

The Deschutes has seen anglers moving onto greener pastures, but still has something to contribute to those making the trip. Fishing above Maupin has been good and water conditions favorable. The river guides are mostly done there for the season and are preparing for their winter adventures. As stated, there are still fish to be encountered if you are willing to brave the chill.

Coastal streams are filling with Salmon of all shapes and sizes. Most streams dropped into favorable shape after the last rain and allowed anglers some successes. The annual pilgrimage to rivers on the south coast as begun. There, more rain is needed to spread the love.

Locally, the Clackamas as seen the an early showing of winter fish still mixed in with the summer catch. The traditional winter Steelhead kick off on Thanksgiving may pull a few away from football games if these conditions continue.

B-Runs and Dory Daze

Joel La Follette - Thursday, September 18, 2014

It's hard not to lead off with a report on the Deschutes this time of year because it seems to be the center of our fly fishing universe. Everyone stopping by the shop wants to know what's going on there. Well, the best way to fill the information void is to go right to one of the guys putting people into hot summer Steelhead, Rob Crandall of Water Time Outfitters. Rob came up for air this week and fired off this report...

"I'm just back from the Deschutes below Max Canyon.  I had a great session down there and survived the nasty wind we had last week.  Fishing was really fairly good the whole time.  We had a few tough days, but overall we mostly had multiple fish days and some of them were pretty good ones.  We fished dry lines in the shade with most of the traditional stuff working great.  We also had some great fishing in full sun using a T-11 tip and a few of my new patterns that Spirit River will be bringing to market soon.  Kind of fun when you can double your numbers by fishing mid-day!  

There seems to be fish spread throughout the system now with pods moving through.  Both hatchery and wild fish are in the mix with some big B-run fish around to test your backing quality.  These fish are hot and often present the classic "V" formation, ripping into the backing downstream and then racing upstream. Often you'll see them jumping right in front of you while you are still looking 100 yards downstream!  This is where many of these fish are lost unless a quick thinking angler lifts the rod to get the line out of the water to stay attached to this leaping chrome bullet. Hopefully there will be plenty of that kind of action in the coming weeks.

Also, the Max Canyon boat ramp is getting closer to being finished, but please advise folks that parking is closed in certain places as they finalize their efforts there. Watch for signs indicating closed areas so construction can go on as scheduled. Tight Lines, Rob" 

While large numbers of Salmon are moving up the Columbia River system, elsewhere in Oregon the migration is just staging. We're all hoping for a little rain to get things rolling. The weather system that was forecast for this week seems to have weakened and hot weather is returning for the weekend. Not good. Pray for a little more rain. 

The ocean Salmon season is winding down, but there are still plenty of fish out there. I was treated to an afternoon of dory fishing out of Pacific City with Rob and Erin Perkins this past week. A very adventuresome way to chase Salmon for sure. While "Bucktailing" is not traditional fly fishing in the strictest sense, it has it's own traditions that go back to the early days of Salmon fishing. No herring or anchovies were involved in the capture of the fish that joined us for future dinner plans. Thanks for the great afternoon, my friends! 

On a side note, I have found that Salmon fishing regulations here in Oregon are as confusing as assembly instructions for a nuclear sub. I received a special email update from our friends at ODFW this week regarding Salmon retention limits. After reading all the regs and jumping back and forth through several pages on their speedy website I think you can only barbecue left handed fish. On Mondays. Please check the regulations before fishing on weekends or weekdays.

Trout chasers are sneaking off to hit favorite spots while the world is focused on Steelhead and Salmon. Those few rebels are armed with the standard fare, but they're tossing in a few meaty morsels for the monsters looking to fatten up before the snow flies. We're talking streamers here, Campers. Pizza on a hook. Fall is a great time to tempt larger fish with larger meals so don't leave home without something that looks like your neighbor's cat. Yes, the one you hit with that toy helicopter. 

 


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