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Fishing Reports

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 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.

Green Drakes make a showing/Salmonflies slowly depart

Joel La Follette - Thursday, May 19, 2016
The Deschutes is the focus again this week as the Salmonfly hatch garners most of you Trouters attention. The big bugs are slowly fading away below Mack’s Canyon, but fish are still grabbing plump offerings bumped off the grass and brush. Same holds true in the Maupin area, with spotty clumps of Golden Stones still hanging on. Those of you venturing to these areas may wish to arm yourself with a collection of other spring patterns just to have your bases covered.

On Tuesday, I was the guest of Marty Sheppard who chauffeur Shane Blitch and  myself downriver below Mack’s Canyon to do a little exploring. There were hanger-ons in the bushes and a few dropping eggs, but the 2016 Salmonfly hatch was pretty much over. Fish still rose to Goldens, but March Browns, PMDs, Caddis and Green Drakes were more prevalent. Flocks of Seagulls working like Swallows over riffle water are a sign that something big is hatching. After observing several mid-air grabs I was able to spot a few Green Drakes taking to wing even on a bright sunny day. I even convinced a few fish that those might be a good idea.


Above Maupin fishing has been very good as the big bugs continue to be the main course in dining rooms next to the bank. Josh and his buddy Eric did the Trout Creek to Maupin run with great success this past weekend. They reported that the set up to run with is a Hopper/ Hopper/Hopper rig, which for the less adventurous of us is a Salmonfly dry, with a Yellow Sally Dropper, with an Elk Hair Dropper. Not the easiest collection of fluff to toss into the brush, but it does offer fish dining options. Just take a lot of flies with you.

Continuing up the creek we find the hatch is spotty in places and off the hook in others. No doubt this is due to the changes we’re experiencing in the post Pelton Dam mixing tower era. Consistency is not a word that describes any of our insect hatches and that may be the new normal until the issues facing the Deschutes are  rectified. Look for Salmonflies and Goldenstones to continue to hang around for a few more weeks in places up and down the river before fading into memory. It's time to start thinking about that other fly box filled with the bugs of summer and prepare for a variety of hatches over the coming months.

Have fun and be careful! 

Still Rock'n the Big Bugs

Joel La Follette - Thursday, May 12, 2016
Totally Trout this week as the Salmonfly hatch on the Deschutes continues to be the focus. Last Thursday a mega thunderstorm rolled though the area rinsing the big bugs from their grassy villas. While a feeding frenzy resulted in it’s aftermath, the storm rebooted the hatch and it took a few days to see any numbers of insects back in the bushes. Some anglers found fishing slow on Friday and Saturday, only to see it rebound the first part of this week.

The numbers of both GoldenStones and Salmonflies have increased above Maupin all the way upriver to Warm Springs. This weekend looks to be approaching the peak of this annual migration. If conditions remain favorable, fishing should be epic. All of the popular patterns seem to be producing, so just make sure to have your favorites. I started off my day on Monday with a hopper/dropper combo of a Purple Chubby and Silvey’s Pupa. Action at the 9:00 hour was the result. When things warmed up I went full on Salmonfly with Morrish’s Fluttering Stone and didn’t look back. Pick your favorite and toss in the brush where those big fish are waiting.

Observation of other insects should be noted as well and could provide anglers with options in areas where the big bugs are thinning. Green Drakes, PMDs, a few March Browns and plenty of Caddis were all observed taking to wing over the last few days. While it’s early for the Green Drake hatch, be prepared when these big mayflies take flight. Lucky Steve tells us the 16-17th are the dates for that hatch.

The Metolius and Crooked rivers are also good options if you wish to avoid the flotilla on the Deschutes. Spring hatches could include most of your favorites, but it may be a tad bit longer before we see the Green Drakes pop on the Metolius. This popular spring creek tends to come alive on warm cloudy days, or later in the evening. Make plans according.

Steelhead action can still be had on the Clackamas where Springers have also been grabbing swung files. Swing a little slower if you want to tangle with the King. Airflo’s new FIST head is the prefect weapon for that task. Stop in for fly suggestions, Josh has added a few colors just for Springers.

Zombie Bugs Invade the Deschutes

Joel La Follette - Thursday, May 05, 2016
It’s time to get your Trout face on and hit the river. Big bugs are popping on the Deschutes and near perfect conditions are on tap for the weekend. This past Monday, Team Royal Treatment split up to recon the river so we could file a boots in the water report. While Josh chauffeured Nick and the Stig on the Warm Springs stretch, I headed to Maupin to see how things were progressing, bug wise.

Bug action above White River was off the hook as Golden Stones and Salmonflies crawled out like zombies on a mission. The temperature climbed to the high 80s and that even got a few to take wing over the river. I managed 3 nice fish on big dries before I had pack it in and head home. My banjo playing buddy, Shane Blitch, spent the night and scored well the next day. Don’t wait too long or you may miss the action.

Rob Crandall was doing a father/son trip below Mack’s Canyon and his son Tanner showed pops how to get it done with big flies. Look for Tanner to be piloting his own sled in the future.

Upriver where the A team drifted, the big bugs were not as prolific yet. Nevertheless, the guys did very well drifting nymphs or swinging streamers, with streamers being the most productive. Look for the hatch to overtake the upper river and start the Salmonfly madness for 2016.

For a change of pace I met up with Jeff Helfrich on the McKenzie River yesterday, spending the day tossing dry flies at hungry wild Rainbows and Cutthroat with my dad. We landed plenty of fish with several tipping into the chunky category. The weather was warmish, but damp which brought out a springtime mix of insects. Brown and Green Caddis flitted about with Craneflies, March Browns, PMDs, BWOs and Yellow Sallies throughout the day so the fish had plenty to choose from. If you’ve not fished the McKenzie in a while, now would be a good time.


Steelhead? Yes, action continues to be fair on the Clackamas and that will continue until the river gets too warm. Sink-tips are still the best bet, but maybe dialing in an unweighted fly might save you a few bucks as the water drops. Those rocks have been hungry too. The river is at 12.2 this morning and 51 degrees. A dry line may not be a bad option for the optimistic.

New rules, but fishing is good

Joel La Follette - Thursday, July 23, 2015
Caddis hatches on the Deschutes had our guide friends, their clients and the resident fish very happy this past weekend as clouds of these insects filled the evening sky. The warmer weather really ramped up the hatch forcing the camp cook to get creative with the open air dining arrangements as Caddis tend to get into everything. A little extra protein never hurt. Fishing was good when the wind allowed and plenty of fat Redsides came out to play. Tan Elk Hair Caddis in 16-18 did the damage on the surface while varieties of Caddis Pupa and Mayfly nymphs covered the below the surface action. Rob Crandall and Gil Muhleman finished off a successful three day drift from Trout Creek to Maupin and provided me with a couple photos of the action for this report. UPDATE: With warm weather moving in, Gil has been doing half-day evening Trout trips and doing very well. Caddis hatches have been keeping the Trout happy  and are providing some great action for anglers. Email Gil and get on the schedule.

Meanwhile Brian Silvey reported from Maupin that the Caddis craze continues with fat Trout and even a fresh native summer Steelhead falling prey to some of his magic creations. This specimen grabbed a Silvey’s BH Pupa and our good friend Steve Lawson was able to bring it to hand for a quick #keepemwet photo by Brian Silvey. UPDATE: Steelhead in the lower river are grabbing flies and water is cooler. That may change some with this heatwave, but look for cooler dam releases starting this weekend. (Hopefully)

The Metolius showed her shy side to some, while others found a few cooperative Rainbows. Caddis and misc. small mayflies sprinkled with a light showing of Goldenstones will keep anglers pawing through fly boxes to hit the right combination. Those will to take a page from old reports and dial in a Hopper/dropper combo with a Chubby leftover from the Deschutes hatch paired with a SuperSinker may be surprised with the success.

Bull Trout start their return this month as fish from the lake head up to spawn. Make sure you’re sporting the right tackle to play them quickly and release them unharmed. Bull Trout can reach up to 12-16 pounds, so that wimpy little 6 wt. isn’t the right tool. 7-8 wt. rods paired with a sink-tip line matched up with a tasty looking streamer is the best combo for hunting this carnivores of the spring creek. Don’t be surprised if that nice Trout you hook suddenly grows when a Bull Trout latches on. At that point, I’ve got no advice for you. Just pull.

Farther east, the Owyhee seems to be blessed with enough water to keep things flowing and cool. Our Owyhee expert, Nolan DeHaven, ventured over last week dodging lightening storms and sunshine to report that “Fishing has been very good the last couple days. The Browns have been taking anything from size 8 grasshoppers to size 20 zebra midges and anything in between. Caddis, Tricos, small nymphs and PMD's have all worked...oh yeah, and Mr. Hankey (mouse) has hooked a few as well! Even though the weather has  been very schizophrenic to put it mildly, fishing has been great as always. An inside source tells me the water in the dam WILL keep going through September and the temps are at their normal rate."

Steelheaders need to watch their thermometer and fish accordingly. The Deschutes below Macks Canyon has improve slightly, but is still reaching deadly temps by late afternoon. Remember this section currently falls under the 2:00PM closure rule. Fishing the cooler waters above Macks Canyon is an option.

The North Umpqua falls under the new rules, so it's been a morning show there. While not red hot fishing, there are a few fish around. Take some time to explore in the afternoon without a rod in hand to appreciate this beautiful river. Also plan a visit up to the Big Bend Pool on Steamboat Creek for some time with Lee Spencer. You'll learn a lot about Steelhead in one afternoon. Take Lee a cold beer or cookie as long as your going....

For a rundown of the new ODFW rules check out my Camp Water Blog.

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.

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.

Ditch the lawnmower and go fishing

Joel La Follette - Thursday, April 23, 2015
This Saturday is the traditional opening of the 2015 general Trout season here in Oregon. To most it’s a non event as many of our fly fishing waters are open throughout the year, and some still remain closed until the end of May to protect out-migrating anadromous offspring. Nevertheless, there are places to Trout fish this weekend that have been off limits since October and that will pull a few of you away from the lawnmower.

The Deschutes is the big draw as the entire river will be open and rumors of Salmonflies filter into the shop. We’re still weeks away from any major hatch activity, but with summer flows and temps running in the low 50s, it is not inconceivable to see big bugs take to wing in the lower river this weekend. In any case, a collection of Stonefly nymphs is a good addition to your fly box right alongside all those Chubbys. Stay close to the bank because that’s where the action is.

With the big D pulling anglers away, the Crooked and Metolius may end up being a good option for a little peace and Trout fishing. Fishing on the Crooked was hampered by windy conditions last week, but fish were feeding on top when you could get the fly to them. Adams, BWOs and small black Caddis were the reported favorites.

Steelheaders are hanging on like the last leaves of fall, but spring has not brought many summer Steelhead home yet. I hosted Henry and Dale from the Clackamas Fly Fishers this past Monday on the club’s home water, and while the weather was fantastic, we had very little to show for our efforts. I did have a brief encounter with a very hot summer fish that ran off line, thrashed about on the surface, then sent my fly back to me, but it was far too brief. Encouraging, but a little embarrassing too. Hopefully a little freshening of the river with the forecasted rain will improve the chances for success. We just need to see that rain.


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