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Fishing Reports

And You Know it Don't Come Easy

Joel La Follette - Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Pleasant weather this past week had our local steelhead streams a little low and clear. The fresh push of fish we saw last week has slowed a bit, but don’t loose hope the next push is just around the corner. Hopefully, so is some rain...

The coastal rivers seem to be staying in the best shape and producing the most fish. The Clackamas and Sandy are still providing a few fish to lucky anglers. For those that ventured further north to the Olympic Peninsula steelheading was rather productive although crowded from the stories we’ve heard.

With rain in the forecast one can only get more excited about steelheading. March is my favorite month for winter fish. Warming water temps and more wild fish usually showing up make it a better chance to get grabs. Don’t give up just yet if you haven’t landed your winter fish. Nothing good comes easy.

Speaking of not coming easy, Josh and I both escaped to our own separate rivers this last weekend. With water levels lower both of us know to fish a heavier fly in the deeper runs that fish feel more comfortable in. Apparently, great minds think alike because this thought proved to have both of us touch fish on our respective rivers. So for your steelheading tip of the week, low water fish deep, high water fish in close. As always, you can’t catch them from the couch. Unless your couch is inflatable and has oars. #newraftidea?


Trout fishing on the east side of the Cascades has been fairing rather well. Hatching bugs such as March Browns, Blue Wing Olives and Skwalas have been spotted flying around. The Deschutes, Crooked or the Metolius would not be a bad place to spend some time this weekend with nice weather predicted in the forecast. Along with those dry flies I would recommend bring your favorite smaller nymphs to imitate the BWOs and some March Brown soft hackles, which can really put a hurt on those hungry trout. If all else fails put a streamer on that looks like a sculpin and hold on.

March comes Roaring

Joel La Follette - Thursday, March 01, 2018
Marty Sheppard Photo

March is rolling in like a slightly soggy lion without too much bite in its roar. Our last brush with winter added to the snowpack nicely. We still would welcome any added moisture. What did fall this past week has improved angling opportunities across the region, especially on the Sandy River.

While El Numero Uno breaks in a new bright red boat, the second best guide on the Sandy has been quietly building his reputation as a force to be reckoned with. Although there has been plenty of misdirection on social media, we’ve been able to cut through the static and can confirm a few fish have been encountered and conditions have improved. Black and Blue flies are getting it done. There is a question about red boats and red flies that needs to be addressed, but we’ll hopefully have more intel next week.

The WTO guys are still mining chrome on the coast as the big wild fish return. Black and Blue patterns are getting it done there as well. Is this a trend or a conspiracy? Inquiries as to the success of other patterns have been ignored which leads me to believe there is a blackout on information so that Rob can drop a bombshell at his Steelhead presentation on the 17th. We breathlessly await the unveiling of a potential game changer from the vise of Mr. Crandall.

Trout madness is about to begin as spring hatches pop on our local waters. Vises have been cranking out March Brown patterns for months and well, it’s March. The upper Willamette and McKenzie are great places to test those collections. The Deschutes might even see a few early hatches with the warming weather and lower than last year water levels. Reports from the D have been spotty with the snow blowing in last week, but we should see a few adventurous anglers heading that way this weekend to test the waters.

Don’t forget our Spring Trout Rendezvous on April 29th! Plan on joining us for camping, fishing and the world famous Royal Treatment Taco Bar.

Crittering Around (ask Josh)

Joel La Follette - Thursday, February 15, 2018
By Josh Linn
Apparently, I was the only one out of the crew that went fishing this week so I drew the Fishing Report straw. 

Normally on Tuesday everyone comes in and tells us all about their trips over the weekend, Trout fishing on the Deschutes or the Metolius, Steelhead out on the coast or in our local waters. Not this week. It seems like the lack of rain, nice weather, and the low clear water has turned people's attention elsewhere. I know a lot of people needed to catch up on yard work in this unusually early “spring”. I sure hope this weather does't last and we get some rain soon. I mean seriously, sooner or later that has to happen right?

So, I actually did get a couple of Fishing Reports from around Northwest, but none of them are very close to here.

Guys on the OP have been getting fish, but the water is starting to get low. 

The Clack and Sandy are both really low and clear. With that being said, I did hear about a couple of fish caught on the Sandy, but unless we get some rain the rivers are going to continue to drop and clear. I jet boated around the Clackamas on Sunday and got to fish some of my favorite pieces of water. Similar to a lot of peoples stories we were also blanked. 

The coast is also getting low, but Rob and the Water Time Outfitters gang are still getting fish out there.

I have heard that the fishing on the Mackenzie river has been good and it seems possible that the March Hatch could come off early.

Earlier this week, I did a presentation at a Fly club and I was commenting on how it used to be back in the old days before marmot dam came out. In the old days it seemed like 1800-2600 cfs were great flows for the Sandy. The river was very fishable, and it would still have a little color. Now when it’s at that level we are pretty much complaining about how low and clear it is. One of the things we really need to do when it’s like this is change up our tactics a little. When the river’s low there are a lot more spots to fish. We need to critter around more and fish all the little nooks and crannies. Find the deeper buckets. Fish heavier sink tips down in them and see what you can dredge up. The fish aren’t necessarily going to be in the shallower runs.

It probably sounds like I’m saying the fishing is hard and I am, but I’m also telling you you can’t catch one from the couch. So have some faith and play the odds. The more days you spend on the water the more likely it is you’re going to catch one.




A River Between Them

Joel La Follette - Thursday, February 08, 2018


This week, Nick and Josh are tag teaming the fishing report and taking on this new responsibility with gusto. It's understandable that after working all week together they might need to take a break from each other over the weekend. With Nick living in Washington and Josh in Oregon, one would assume that they would find plenty of personal space on the water to recharge their batteries. Well, they both ended up on the Sandy this past weekend. Go figure. We'll kick it off with Nick...


From lots of rain to lots of sun this winter weather can’t decide what it wants to do. If you're not fishing, we hope you’re enjoying these warmer temperatures. 

Trout fishing on the east side has been heating up, literally. Pleasant temperatures have been leading to a better Trout bite. Nymph fishing has been working the best. So try using smaller patterns like Silvey’s Super Sinker or a Prince Nymph. We should start seeing better BWO hatches so don’t forget to make sure you also have a few of those in your box. This spring-like weather isn’t going to be around forever, so take advantage of it while you can.


Steelheading has still been a little lackluster in the local area. There are fish around, but not in any big numbers. The best way it seems to find fish this year is to play the numbers game; fish as much as possible and you're bound to find one at some point. Last week, the Sandy River was fishing better, this week it was the Clackamas. Josh and I both had decided to fish the Sandy because of the reports, but apparently even us shop guys can get it wrong. A few fish were hooked, but nothing was brought to hand. We decided to make the best of it and enjoyed the sunshine and good company.

With fishing looking better this week on the Clackamas who knows what will be in the cards for this coming weekend, but that’s steelhead fishing. As Josh likes to say, “the best report" is the one you go out and make yourself. So, what are you waiting for? Go out there and make yours!

Mr. Linn adds...

Every week when we open up on Tuesday a lot of people come in to share fishing reports with us. While Nick is being Nick and regaling everyone about his outings, I’m busy listening. People come in to share their weekend exploits, some are looking for sympathy while others are looking for reassurance and a few new flies. Whatever the case may be, I take note so I can relay back via a fishing report what has been happening on the water. Here are a few things I took note of.... 

I fished the Sandy this week and I don’t know if you saw it, but a few weeks ago the gauge was on the fritz. When I went out this week the gauge read 5790 cfs and noticing how few runs were fishable and how deep I waded I would guess the river was really around 7000 cfs.

While I was out I got to talking to some other guides on the Sandy and they said that 80-85% of the fish they’ve caught this season have had fresh seal marks on them. Combine that with the fact that people have regularly been seeing sea lions up in Oxbow Park and this is something that is very scary to me. It seems to me that those guys are detrimental to the survival of all Steelhead.

On a brighter note, the Clack has been fishing really well. I was talking to one of the guys that comes in from PGE and he said they passed 40 winter fish into the upper Clackamas on Monday. Nice to see some wild fish returning.

Down on the coast, Rob Crandall and the guys are tearing it up on the swung fly. Yes, there is still some bobber lob'n being done, but with Rob's Devil's Candy arriving in the shop there has been a whole lot of swinging going on. A bit of rain wouldn't hurt, but there are fish to be found all along the North Coast. 



Lunch Meat Fishing Report

Joel La Follette - Thursday, January 25, 2018
By Nick Wheeler

As we get into the meat of our winter Steelhead sandwich we should see more fish starting to show up in better numbers. The end of January, February, and beginning of March is where you can have confidence that you're showing your fly to fish. With rain patterns the way they are rivers have been acting a little more like roller coasters, so timing is everything. Look for falling river flows and green tinted streams and you should find some chrome swimming around.

The Sandy River has picked up as reports of lucky anglers share their stories. The river gauge on the Sandy is now back in working order. So, for all of you that panicked thinking it was at flood stage, sorry it was fishable all along. The Clackamas and the coastal rivers have also been producing a few fish. With all this rain the last few days most of these systems will probably be blown out today (Thursday). Look for dropping rivers which makes for happy fish, rising rivers can be a little tougher. Another storm system might be heading our way this weekend, but fear not the weather man is wrong most of the time. Unless those gauges are rocketing up, go fishing. You can’t catch them from your couch.

In other news, trout fishing on the east side has been in it's normal winter routine with spotty BWO’s hatching mid day and subsurface tactics being your most productive method of getting a hook up.

If your looking for that humdinger of a fish or want to break away from Steelheading for a day like I wanted too, some of the lower elevation lakes could give you your fix. I headed out to some of those Washington lakes which are known to produce hatchery brood stock rainbows. Now these fish may not be the prettiest or the hardest fighting, but sometimes you just want a gimme and boy can they supply that. If you do find your way out chasing these monster pellet feed trout I would recommend a larger leech pattern, red worked well for me, a intermediate sinking line and at least a 6wt rod. These fish averaged around 5 pounds, and we found some that were close to 10. In the short 4 hours we fish we landed over a dozen in that size range. So, if you're looking for something different this week or are tired of steelhead fishing beating you up there’s always another fishery to try.

The Law of Averages

Joel La Follette - Thursday, January 18, 2018

I’m sure you’ve heard steelhead referred to as a fish of 1000 casts. Sometimes it’s more and sometimes it’s less. Steelhead fishing is about playing the odds. You might go four, five, or six days, maybe even a few weeks without catching a fish, but then you might get into a little streak and that brings you’re average back up. It all about the Law of Averages.

I know steelhead fishing has been tough the last couple of weeks, I keep blaming it on the weather. These high pressure systems that push the rains north and south and cause the strong east winds really wreak havoc on our winter fishing. Another thing that might get be causing the slower fishing is there might not be all that many wild fish around. I know when I look back on my steelhead catches over the years that I end up catching about 75% wild fish and 25% hatchery fish.

Quite often when I land a fish I will do a quick inspection of said fish to see what condition it’s in. I have a mental checklist - is it male or female, how bright is it, check out the anus to see how far or close to spawning the fish might be (more important in the spring when there is a mix of fresh summer and winter fish around), quick inspection of the inside of the mouth to see if there are any other hook scars. Sometimes you catch a fish and it will still have a hook buried in its mouth and another scar in the gum line and then the fly that you hooked it with still dangling out of the corner of its mouth. Those fish are biters! You don’t see a lot of hatchery fish like that and it might just be because most hatchery fish get whacked for the table or that they just don’t bite as well. It’s hard to say.

I guess the point of this long tale is that fishing is tough right now, but that will change soon hopefully. I fished with this guy in Russia and his saying was one cast can change your life, meaning that the next cast might be the one that you get a fish on and then you're looking up. Your outlook has changed and instead of talking about all the days you went without a fish you're talking about all the jumps and runs the fish made. Your outlook just made a 180 degree turn.

This week, the weather was like a roller coaster ride and I would expect the same for the upcoming week. It’s supposed to rain pretty hard the next couple of days. If the snow level stays low the rivers will bump up a little bit, but will be very fishable. If the snow level rises we won’t be fishing for a couple of days. Whatever happens we are going to have some great conditions the next couple of days. Fishing should be good on the front end of the river bump and then once it peaks. As long as there is a little visibility the rivers will be fishable.

I talked to guys on both the Sandy and Clack and fish are still being caught. As a matter of fact Corey did a guide trip on Wednesday and his client hooked two.

Rob Crandall of Water Time Outfitters has been fishing the coast and they are starting to pick up fish out there as well.

I also heard a couple of reports from guys fishing trout on the east side. The Deschutes was pretty slow with no real hatches to speak of, but very few anglers to compete against. The Metolius on the other hand was pretty good with a good BWO hatch midday.

I haven’t landed a fish yet this winter but I know it’s about to happen. Keep going, keep playing the odds and sooner or later It will happen, it has to happen.


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.

Black Friday and Winter Steelhead

Joel La Follette - Thursday, November 30, 2017

Our Fly Czar, Josh Linn, knocks out another fishing update complete with photos to prep you for the month of December. Get after it!

November is coming to an end and hopefully all of the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone. In my world the John Day and the Deschutes are in the rear view mirror. Today is the last day to fish the Klickitat as it closes the end of November and since I'm working that's off the table too. I’m looking for chrome bright Steelhead and my gaze has turned west towards the local and coastal rivers that are easily affected by the rains. There the fish move in on the tides and high water events. The nastier the weather the better.


I get people asking me all the time if there are winter Steelhead in the Deschutes? There are fish that winter over in the Deschutes, but they are summer fish. They have been in the river a long time and need a rest as they mature to spawn in the spring. Those fish aren’t winter steelhead.

Winter steelhead are hard bodied chrome bright fish that enter the river systems on the west side of the Cascades starting around Thanksgiving and going well into April. These fish are sexually mature and are ready to spawn the moment they arrive. Winter Steelhead really don’t exist east of the Cascades, as they are basically coastal fish.

This past Black Friday's Fish-A-Long cemented my drive to keep pushing and searching for that first winter Steelhead. Due to all the high elevation rains we had last week the east side rivers were high and blown out. A few folks did catch a some Trout, but I didn’t even bother to wader up. The young guns did catch fish right in front of our lunch spot and one even hooked a Steelhead on his Trout rod. What a deal! Overall it was a very fun time and you should plan on joining us next year!

And if you’re still looking to get your Trout fix I would be thinking about the Deschutes or the Metolius now that the rivers are dropping again. Fishing will be good, but I would focus on nymphing. Stoneflies nymphs with egg patterns trailing would be a good option as a few Salmon are still spawning. Small greenish nymphs like a caddis or BWO would also be a good choice. You still have about 30 days to fish the Warm Springs stretch of the Deschutes for both Trout and Steelhead before it closes for the season. Remember that the west bank is closed. There are good numbers of fish around.

Personally, I’m looking towards the Sandy River. I fished there the past two weeks both days the water was high. It was rainy and blustery typical of late fall fishing. We had a couple of encounters with fish, but they were non-committal.

I know for a fact that winter Steelhead are beginning to be caught and I'm already planning my Sunday/Monday fishing outings. Sandy, Clack, or maybe somewhere on the coast, anything is possible, but I’ll be keeping an eye on the river gauges. For the next few months my fishing will be decided by the USGS gauges. When it rains and the rivers are swollen, I’ll pack my rain gear knowing that I’ll have a good shot at one of those elusive fish.


Springers and the Easter Bunny

Joel La Follette - Thursday, April 13, 2017

Springers have pulled much of the boat traffic off the local Steelhead streams and plopped them down in the Willamette River for the tourists to see. This is allowing for a little more room to swing a fly uninterrupted on the Clack and Sandy. The Clackamas kicked out some dandy fresh fish over the last few days, a mix of winter and summer returners. The river is currently in the best shape it’s been in all winter/spring. The Sandy is a touch on the low side, but could hold the fish of a lifetime if you bring your A game.

Winter fish will be doing the dance on spawning beds throughout the state so please do not disturb them. If you see fish hanging out over gravel, keep moving. Don’t be that guy.

The mighty D has dropped significantly and is currently rolling to the sea at about 8,680cfs on the Moody gauge. This might be the perfect weekend to dust off your Trout gear since much of the population will be chasing the Easter Bunny.

Don’t forget to register for the Oregon Trout Trail!

It's Damn Damp

Joel La Follette - Thursday, March 16, 2017

It’s not raining this second, so what are you doing inside? This has been a winter of challenging conditions and this week is no different. Drenching rain has filled most of the area’s waterways and it is looking bleak if you want to get out today. Now, tomorrow is another matter as the big drop begins with the sun peaking out from behind the clouds. Even the weekend looks promising! Not to get ahead of ourselves here, but we might even see fishable water into next week!

The only dark cloud in this sunny forecast is the Clackamas River which seems to be determined to stay above the 15 foot mark until after the workweek begins on Monday. I was talking with our man on the water, Corey Koff, and we agreed, 14 ft. is the new 12 ft. on the Clack. If the water is green, fish it. Just don’t fish the whole river, focus on the edges.

The Sandy had color on Monday, a radical change from it’s “spring creek” appearance most of this winter. Constant rain and warmer temps knocked it out on Tuesday and it seems to have peaked at 11,400 cfs this morning and is dropping. It will probably fish tomorrow, but check the gauge.

I wasn't sure what condition the Deschutes was in until my phone beeped a second ago and Marty check in. The river bumped up as rain and snow melt affects the flows on the east side and Mr. Sheppard reports it is off color as well. You could probably catch a fish or two, but it's not optimal. It's a good day to tye some flies or stop in the shop for a cup of coffee. Winter isn't over yet.

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