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Fishing Reports

Totally Epic Fishing Report

Joel La Follette - Saturday, March 26, 2016
Winter/spring Steelheading remains good when the weather and water levels cooperate. Big wild fish made up a large portion of the swung fly grabs this past week. The forecasted Spring Break deluge hasn't really affected conditions very much both locally and on the coast. Upward bumps in water levels have been short lived and have been followed by happy fish on dropping rivers. Pay attention to what IS happening and not was is FORECASTED to happen. That has been two very different things for most of this winter.

"Totally epic" is how our own Nick Wheeler and his sidekick "The Stig" described the Metolius this past weekend. That is not something heard very often in conversations about this special spring creek. Hatches were slight, but Rainbows and Bulls were grabbing nymphs tumbled deep under an indicator. The Stig is investing heavily in one of the new patterns we added to the inventory that seems to be Metolius magic. Look for BWOs and the misc. small Mayfly hatch to pop on cloudy days. If you need additional intel, Nick is easily bribed with Jelly Beans or donuts.

The Deschutes is a great Trout option for plan B if your westside Steelhead adventures are sidelined by rising water. Trout have been more active as water temps rise and with those subfreezing days of winter hopefully behind us fishing should continue to get better. BWOs, March Browns and the occasional Skwala can be seen flitting around. Please note: Yes, the upper Deschutes River is open to fishing year-round now, but please refrain from targeting spawning Steelhead and Trout. Reports and photos on social media seem to have some anglers promoting this practice. Don't be that guy! Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

As long as I'm on subject, my friend Frank Moore down on the North Umpqua would appreciate the same consideration for the wild fish on his home waters. We are all stewards for the resource and need to set an example by avoiding spawning areas wherever wild fish swim.

Spring Break Report

Joel La Follette - Thursday, March 24, 2016
There is still plenty of Steelhead chasing to do, but spring break anglers seem to have Trout on their minds as they prepare to head out on vacation across the state. Armed with a few extra days destinations like the Owyhee, Ana, Blitzen and Chewaucan rivers are mentioned as they tank up on new fly patterns here in the shop. Hopefully, the weather will be cooperative over the next week. Reports are typical for early season Trout fishing with varying water conditions. On the Owyhee water releases below the dam have been around 15 cfs. for the last week, but are forecast to rise a little next week. Fishing has been fair to slow depending on the day and water clarity. Skwala Stoneflies should be showing up there and on other area waters. Success on these other rivers will be dependent on flows and water condition. It is early spring after all.

Those of us staying closer to home have fair conditions to play with as we are getting a short break in the precipitation. The Sandy has remained the shining star for locals as cold temperatures dropped the freezing level during this last rain event. Chrome fish are still finding their way home and that trend should continue through April.

On the Clackamas, 14 feet on the Estacada gage is the new 12 as that river seems unable to dip any lower this winter. It's more a case that we got use to less water last season and now we're getting a normal winter flow. Willows and other stream side vegetation filled in on the edges last year, and they are now providing great line grabbers where the river is retaking the bank. Wade carefully and be safe. We'll see good winter Steelhead opportunities on the Clack into May, then our summer fish will start to make a showing.

Most coastal streams look good for the weekend and should have fresh fish in them. Big wild fish have been grabbing swung flies as levels drop.

The weekend looks great for Trout anglers on the Deschutes and Metolius with near perfect conditions for spring hatches. BWOs and March Browns should pop with the warmer temps and partly cloudy skies. You might even see a few Skwala Stones. If the weather turns damp on Sunday as forecast, that should liven up the Bulls on the Metolius.

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!

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.

Cigar Box Guitar Picker Reporting

Joel La Follette - Thursday, April 16, 2015

While fishing reports gleaned from professionals plying our local waters reflect current conditions and catches, those random notes that pop into my text inbox, Twitter feed or Facebook page sometimes prove more interesting to the masses. Such is the case of this Deschutes report from my good friend, Shane Blitch. Shane is a potter by trade, a maker of useful and beautiful clay creations. Our Saturday morning cookie bowl is one of his art pieces and a treasured possession. He’s also a cigar box guitar maker and player of note. Those qualifications alone lend credence to the following report…


“I didn't see much in the way of hatches. I got about 16 to hand with another few ldr’s ( Long-distance releases) in about 4hrs. All were on top with a little midge dropper. So I would say the fishing was pretty good. I'm heading back over tomorrow. The weather shut me down on Monday. Up came an epic wind storm and that was that.”


“I was fishing BWO size 16...and the secret black string midge in size 18 or 20. 50/50 split between what the fish wanted. The fish were definitely looking up. I nymphed for a bit, but why when you can get them to come to you?”

“Cheers. I'm off to Massachusetts next week to sell some art and to steelhead in New York. Should be fun. We should go fishing together some Monday. It would be a lot of fun.”

With a cigar box guitar picker, a box of secret black string midges and a bowl of cookies it probably would be a lot of fun. I’m putting it on the calendar, Shane!

Meanwhile, one of the hardest working guys in showbiz has been trading time between the spring Trout on the Deschutes and Steelhead on the Sandy. Brian Silvey stopped in yesterday and reported steady fishing on the slope of Mt. Hood in spite of the lack of snow on the volcano. Wild fish have been grabbing with gusto daily and testing backing knots all week. Summer fish are slow to show, but should be nosing in soon. We still have a month of good opportunity before other fisheries draw us away. Traffic on the river is light.

Brian also commented on the Deschutes and the upcoming craziness that is the Salmonfly hatch. With Pelton only releasing around 4000 cfs and the Moody gauge measuring 4500, we are at summertime levels here in the middle of April. Make a note of it. Water temps may rise a bit sooner than normal affecting hatch timing. Just saying. 

Top photo by Brian Silvey and Trout photo by Shane Blitch #keepemwet 

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.

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