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Fishing Reports

High water, high hopes

Joel La Follette - Thursday, December 10, 2015
For the next few weeks I will be leaving the details of the fishing report up to the newest member of our Royal Treatment team, Josh Linn. While voice recognition software handles the problem of my one handed typing for most of the newsletter, it can't replace that "on the water" knowledge from weekly fishing trips. Since I'm benched until the first week in February, I am counting on Josh, Nick and Corey to get out there and harass the winter Steelhead. They should be able to keep you posted on what's going on.

As I mentioned earlier, I did make it over to the Deschutes this weekend for my last shot at summer fish. There were a few grabbers on Sunday, but the changing conditions on Monday ended the day early. The D below White River was on its way out with the increase in glacial flow overwhelming the Deschutes. The river above the White remained in good shape and could provide some entertainment next week if conditions don't degrade much more. You could always go fish for trout on the Metolius.

Take it away Josh…

Working on a fishing report today is hard because I'm still riding a high from the fish I caught on Sunday. The day was short and it was rainy. Nick and I got down to Oxbow and there was an accident on the road that closed the park for the morning. So we headed to another walk in spot, wadered up and rigged the rods. Nick asked me what color fly I was going to use and I told him whichever he didn't. My fly color choices were either going to be black and blue, or pink and orange, because I have complete confidence in both. I have three basic criteria for flies and I'm happy; color, size, and weight. Flies matter as long as you have faith in them and they fish the way you want them to.

I started high in the run just to do my due diligence. I made about three casts. As the fly came over the ledge I felt that unmistakeable stop and then a light pull. I knew it was a fish. Another light pull and I set the hook. Woo ha! Fish on! After about ten minutes and a few jumps and runs the fish finally tipped over. What a way to start the winter.

Now, things have changed dramatically.The rivers are up. Rain is falling and fishing is over for the week. This report is easy. Clackamas flooded. Wilson flooded. Sandy flooded. Trask flooded. Oh yeah don't forget about the east side. The Deschutes is blown out. The John Day fished Monday, but is gone today. If you are thinking about fishing this week it may be best to reconsider tying some flies instead.....

Flooding aside, pretty much everyday for the last two weeks people have been asking if there are fish in the rivers and whether they should go chase winter steelhead, almost asking for permission. Well, I give you permission! I would go when the river levels drop. If you call me and ask if you should go I'm going to tell with a lot of excitement in my voice to go and do it. Get out there and get after it as soon as it is safe again. Go make your own fishing report because if you are reading how good the fishing is you probably missed it. I know it's early, but what's the harm. When the water drops there will be chrome plated unicorns in the river. See if you can find one and then come back and give me a fishing report!

Howling winds, pounding rain and sunshine

Joel La Follette - Thursday, March 19, 2015

That last stormed lived up to it’s billing and brought not only the rain as promised, but tossed in some pretty impressive winds to spice things up. By Sunday most area rivers were rising fast and changing to un-fishable colors. Howling winds and pounding rain drove most anglers to shelter were power outages rekindled the art of conversation. By Monday the sun was out and the drop had started and by Tuesday  life was good again, if your power was on.

This much needed surge in river levels brought fresh fish in and cheered up those already here. While it’s still winter Steelheading and not a sure thing, fish have been encountered fairly often on both the Sandy and Clackamas rivers. Brian Silvey called last evening and his anglers tangled with three fish just yesterday. Tangled doesn’t mean landed, but fresh fish are a handful and these proved that theory. Marty Sheppard has been finding a fish for his clients on most days as well.

Rob’s Crandall was taking a few guide days off and was working on a film project. He stopped by the Lodge on Monday to borrowed a rod from me and reported last night that it’s working quite well. I’ve decided to charge him by the fish, so I should be able to raise enough cash for my Bahamas guide tips in May. From this you should guess that things on the Clackamas are looking pretty good at the moment.

Most of Monday’s coastal trips were canceled due to high off-colored water on Sunday, but the coast went back on-line quickly as proven by our “2014 Clipped Champion” George Marshall. He got a hall pass from Mom for a little fly R&D this week and scored this lovely wild buck. Mom is out of the doghouse she got tossed into after scoring a Sandy fish as George lay dying from the plague in Silvey’s boat earlier this winter. Of course, that fish did give George a little pep in his step and got him back in the water. Mom’s are good at motivating their offspring.

The warm weather has flipped the switch on many anglers and they’re now clicking into full on Trout mode. The Deschutes and valley rivers have seen a few March Brown hatches when the weather allows. Skwalas and Caddis are also flitting about in limited numbers. With very little snowpack, we should have minimal runoff to cloud streams when we transition into serious Trout chasing. Look for hatches to be even earlier this year if this warming trend continues.

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. 

Let me be clear, crystal clear.

Joel La Follette - Thursday, March 05, 2015

Low and clear. I’m not telling you anything new if you’ve attempted a fishing adventure this past week. Water levels are at summer flows and rivers are running clearer that fancy crystal. It doesn’t matter where you head, there’s very little water to greet you. The good new is, hidden in the shadows, trenches and broken water of our low flowing streams are a few nice Steelhead. They have come home. They just happened to come home to a glass house.

With only a faint hope of improving conditions on the horizon we have to work with what we have and make the best of it. It’s time to bust out the low water bag o’tricks and see what we can come up with.

Fish early. In the summer we thrive on first and last light as fish are comfy under those conditions. Your best bet in low water is the crack of dawn. Not to say you won’t score during the rest of the day, but plan a nice steak lunch to reward yourself for all those great fruitless casts. If we get clouds, skip lunch.

Lighter flies. Unless you love tying or buying, switch to smaller, lighter patterns that tend to avoid the underside of river bottom stones. You might want to break out the summer box of super secret stuff. Lighter or slower sinking tips may be in order as well. No need for 15 feet of T-14 this week.

Broken water provides cover and cover makes for happy fish. Look for Steelhead deeper into the tailouts, under the chop at the head of the pool and tucked in on current seams where they feel safe. Structure, they love structure in times like these. I’m not saying you won’t find one hanging out in the open that is willing to grab, but my guess is he will be spooky.

Now that we’ve figured out what to do, we just need a place to go. Pick a spot. I’ve had reports from the coast with photos of big native fish (keep’emwet) as well as live updates from the Clackamas and Sandy, all reporting the odd fish. I sampled the North Santiam this past Monday in an attempt to intercept all those fish that jumped the falls a week ago. While cooperation was nonexistent we did see fish scurrying to get out of our way. Our host, Dave Carpenter, did whip up a nice shore lunch to soften the sting of insult.

You can always fall back on a favorite summertime activity and chase some Trout. This warm weather has jump started the Deschutes and there you’ll find miles of friendly Trout water. Surface action may be spotty, but emergers and small nymphs will draw attention from the residents. Try to avoid the heavy stuff where Trout have staged to spawn.

There is at least one fish on the Metolius for you to find and a day spent looking on that lovely spring-creek is never wasted. Caddis have been observed taking to wing, but Mayfly hatches have been limited to sun off the water times. If clouds grace the forecast, hit the Met.

All in all, it’s not totally hopeless. There are fish and we do have a little water to play in, we just need more. Wash your car. That means you Brian and Marty.

How low will it go?

Joel La Follette - Thursday, February 26, 2015
The chatter in the shop this last week has been mostly about about the weather, which is not in itself odd for February, but the discussion is not the traditional one. We are normally consumed with the subject of rainfall or snowfall and how it will effect our Steelhead fishing opportunities. The difference this year is we are talking about number of warm sunny days we’ve received versus the number of wet ones. We look to the mountain and see that the snow is not piling up as it should and we worry if it will this year. The last snippet of rain that blew through barely bumped the rivers before they began their crash dive to the low and clear conditions we have now. A walk through the neighborhood displays all the trappings of full on spring, with blooming trees and flower beds. Did we totally miss winter?

Even under these low water conditions anglers venturing out have found a few fresh fish. Although fishing has not been red hot, those putting in the time have been rewarded. The upside to the lack of water has been the lack of traffic on many streams. Where once a flotilla floated, now the hardcore regulars scratch out a day, finding a fish or two for their efforts. The reward in chrome and sunshine.


As I write this morning, faint drops of rain can be heard falling on the roof. Not enough as of yet to break us out of this early spring, but a sprinkle of hope for the days ahead. Maybe even a touch of snow in the mountains to hold water drops in reserve for the drier summer months ahead.

Rob Crandall and Gil Muhleman, of Water Time Outfitters, are also up early this morning and each sent me reports that I have blended here…. “Low and clear has been a difficult formula for anglers on the North Coast and a good shot of rain to pick things up would be most welcome.  We’ve been finding fish most days, but as the water drops it has been getting tougher.  The Trask, Wilson and Nestucca are often hitting prime time about this time of year so we are hopeful that conditions will improve. With a good shot of rain we expect fresh arriving chrome fish finning our favorite spots soon.

While low river levels require a bit more finesse, the last few days have been an exercise in enjoying all that Mother Nature has to offer us, including several hearty Steelhead. There are plenty of fish in the rivers to exercise and hone our skills. For those interested in getting away from the hustle and bustle of every day life, now is the time. Catching is not red hot or easy, but the fishing is excellent.

The Clackamas has been a drifters paradise with nary a sled seen this week.  We are looking at a bump in water levels later this week and that should help spice up the fishing.”

Brian Silvey called me just a few minutes ago and said basically the same thing. He sent these photos from the last few days on the river and added that fishing on the Sandy has been slow, crowds are light, but both he and Marty have been getting fish. A little rain would be very helpful in warming up the water and ramping up the fishing. The last few days have seen more fish moving in the river. They must know the weather is changing.

Now, we just pray for rain.

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