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Fishing Reports

Snow Day

Joel La Follette - Thursday, February 07, 2019


Nick's Fishing Report

Low and clear conditions continue to hold through the area with the low-pressure system hanging around. With the possibility of more snow coming to the area don’t expect our rivers to jump up soon. As this cold weather passes and we get back to our normal rainy pattern, we will continue to see fresh winter steelhead swimming up our waterways. Our local rivers and the coast even with the lower water levels still continue to produce fish. It’s just the catch ratio isn’t outstanding, but just that one fish can make your day. Even in good years you still can’t catch them from the couch. 

Josh and I made a break for the coast. With the help of Todd Rettmann from Water Time Outfitters, we all braved Snowmageddon 2019. Like stated above, all the rivers out on the coast were low and clear so expectations weren’t high, but all of us know its winter steelheading so who cares. It’s all about big flies and cold fingertips. 

We started out the day with a coating of snow across everything. After a short drive and slide, as in Todd sliding down after his boat on his butt, we were floating down the river. It was a surreal experience with snow-covered trees and not another soul on the river. These are the days I really think of when someone says winter steelheading. You feel deeply engulfed in your surroundings, somehow connected to it all. Of course, you want to connect with a fish but it no longer matters as much. You just enjoy the day. 

As our float continued, and we fought off the numbness of the cold day, we filled the fishless moments with heavy laughter and good eats. Toward the end of the day as Josh fished a tail out of a run we heard a loud cry of joy come out Josh. His number came up, and a Steelhead grabbed his fly. Unfortunately, just like us, his fish was so lethargic from the cold water it swam right for the net. Josh was now thinking he had caught the smallest steelhead ever with such a short battle but was surprised with a beautiful wild fish. 

Our day ended with most of the snow melted and an easy drive back over the pass. The lesson with this story is even with bad conditions, and low fish counts, expectations set to your current situation makes for a great day. Take what you can get, and if you get lucky your day just got that much better.  


Josh's Fishing Report

Nick and I went fishing this weekend with the guys from Water Time Outfitters. Sunday night we met up over at the lodge on the North coast so we could get up early and not have to battle with coming over the pass. There was a forecast for snow, but the way this winter has been going it probably would not happen. 

Our plan was to have a semi-casual day. We got up around 5:30 AM. To our surprise, there was an inch or two of snow on the ground. Immediately I knew this would be a great day. Winter steelheading in the snow is one of my favorite things. 

We drank a little coffee and headed for the boat launch. We were the first boat on the water and it seemed like it would probably stay that way all day. Last year Todd and I fished together and immediately he was giving me a hard time about a slip I took at the boat launch. I was telling him to watch out as it might come back on him when low and behold we pitch the boat off the trailer and Todd was yanked off his feet. He was basically being drug down the boat launch by the boat. It reminded me of a scene from Spies Like Us where Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd are in training. They get yanked off the dock by a ski boat and drug around a lake. It was a wild scene!

The river was low and clear with a blanket of snow making for awe-inspiring views and high hopes of fish catching. We fished every piece of water first. The three of us were pounding each run with nothing to show for it. By late afternoon we were approaching tidewater and a run where Todd and I had previous success. Todd fished through the run first with no fish. 

The run is big, wide, and slow. I switched up to slower sinking tip and an unweighted pink fly. I was fishing through the run and was getting towards the tail out. I waded halfway across the river casting to the other bank thinking about this being one of my last casts and then it happened. 

Well, something happened anyway. There was a soft pull, no head shake, no yank, just a soft pull that took line and kept pulling. I set the hook knowing it was a steelhead. I gave out a yell and reeled trying to come tight on the fish. After about 30 seconds of reeling, I was doubting if it was really a steelhead and thought it could be a sucker. I was a bit disappointed and confused. 

I got the fish within 40’ and finally could see it. It appeared to be what looked like the smallest winter steelhead to ever swim up a coastal river. At that point, I voiced my opinion to Todd who was standing right next to me. I got it closer and could see not that small after all and it was actually a nice fish. Maybe it was colder than we were, or maybe it had moved up into the tail out where I hooked it. We netted it and snapped a few pics before sending it on its way. 

I’m still marveling at the weirdness of my encounter with that steelhead. And despite the cold fingers, it was a great day!







Now, go make your own.

Ode to Smelly Cat

Joel La Follette - Thursday, September 27, 2018

Kinetic Type // Smelly Cat // Final Iteration from Emma Thompson on Vimeo.

Report by Josh Linn, the Fly Czar

I spent another weekend floating the familiar water of the Deschutes from Mack’s Canyon to the mouth. I first started making this trip nearly 20-years ago. Every year new stories layer on making it more and more special. Sadly, this year the lower 24 miles was ravaged by fires from canyon rim to canyon rim all the way to the water. I’ve seen fires down there before, but nothing like this. To add insult to injury the run is at an all-time low. Now that sounds ominous, but the only way to catch a Steelhead is to actually go fishing, and I want to catch a Steelhead.

So we packed up the truck and made a mad dash to the river after work. We pulled at sunset, packed the boat, and pushed off from the boat launch in the dark, heading for our first night's camp. It was cloudy and warm making me suspect that fishing had been good earlier in the day.

We made our meager little camp of a couple of cots and chairs and were all set. A small camp that’s fast and light is the best way when you are on a Steelhead mission. You can be out of camp at first light, no dishes and very little packing to do. If you fish with me there aren’t going to be many luxuries. I come to fish, not camp.

We fished our camp water at first light and were running and gunning all day. There were very few other boaters around and we had our choice of prime water. We cover about 10 miles of water by the time we got to camp with zero fish to hand. By mid-afternoon, the wind was howling and I wondered if the evening fishing was even going to be a possibility.

We made camp at the Corral, in prime Steelhead territory. In years gone by I’ve guided quite a few people into steelhead there and even caught some myself. Sadly, this wasn't going to be one of those times.

The next morning we pushed away from Camp at first light and rowed for one of my favorite spots, a steep ledgy run right at the bottom of a hard corner. I let Eric fish the run first last time so this time it was mine. I had been fishing a Green Ant for the past few days with no success and decided it was time for a change. I don’t carry a lot of flies so the choice was pretty easy. I pull out a size 5 Smelly Cat, my purple and chartreuse go-to fly.


I started by fishing short making every cast count. I got to about 10 strips of line and start working my way down the run. I came to a small boulder section about halfway down the run. I know this spot to be one of the buckets, I started fishing more intensely. If it’s going to happen, now would be the time. At that moment I felt it, that familiar feeling. A little tug, not hard, but I knew it was a fish. It kept pulling slowly. I’m not 100% confident it’s on, so I don’t set the hook, I keep waiting. All of a sudden it jumped out of the water. Woo-ha! Fish on. It made a few more jumps and a couple of hard runs but in the end, I won the battle. We snapped a couple of pictures and sent her back on her way. 



We finished up and pushed off in search of more fish. By the time we got to the boat launch we had put three on the beach and I’m feeling like we had a successful trip. Fishing might be tough right now, but they are harder to catch from the couch.





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