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Fishing Reports

Josh's Fishing Report

Joel La Follette - Thursday, March 29, 2018

So, this week Nick and I both went fishing. Oddly in some ways it reminded me of the Civil War: steelhead angler against steelhead angler, the North against the South, beads and indicators against swung flies. I know sometimes there is a division between swinging flies and fishing indicators, but the reality of it is the indicator is a deadly effective technique and some rivers are more suited to it. 

I personally caught my first steelhead many years ago on the Deschutes on a green rock worm fishing with my good friend Doug Cook. That was probably back in 1997 or 98. At that time the only way I knew how to catch a steelhead was with an indicator. It was effective and caught more fish than I can count. 

It’s been a long time since I caught one on an indicator. I barely fish an indicator when I Trout fish and never when I fish Steelhead. It’s kind of like how many anglers move through the stages of fly fishing. At first the goal is simply to catch one fish. Stage two generally involves trying to catch a lot of fish. The third goal most often is trying to catch big fish. Well, I’ve kind of moved beyond that. I have caught my first one, and a lot of them, and even some big ones, but now I choose to fish the way I want too. I mostly dry fly fish for Trout or swing streamers. For targeting steelhead I prefer to swinging flies and honestly, I prefer catching them on a sink tip. It all boils down to personal preference, and should not be a me against him, or this way is better than that. Fishing is fun and at this time of unrest and division in the country we certainly shouldn’t let something as petty as fishing tactics and techniques come between us. If you want to catch trout or steelhead with an indicator, we will help you do it. If you want a little more info on swing techniques, we’ve got you covered. Don’t be afraid to come in and ask for help because we have literally done it all. 

Ok, off of the soap box, I’m sorry for the rant. Anyway, like I said Nick and I did fish the coast on Monday. We met up with Rob and Todd from Water Time Outfitters and then went our separate ways. Nick went north and I went south. The river they fished had been low and clear. I went south to the big river. It was on the rise and a bit colored up, but this is winter fishing and like I’ve said before if there is even some visibility you’ve got a chance. 

Over the years, Bob the shuttle driver has told me a million stories about how he caught 6 or 7 steelhead on the day I didn’t float because I deemed the river unfishable. Nowadays I will pretty much fish unless the river is chocolate brown with trees floating down it. 

As we floated down I saw a fish roll. The water was warmer and fish were moving around. We stopped at the first run and made three or four passes through. While I was standing on the bank talking with Todd he got a good solid grab. It pulled line off the reel, but didn’t stick. We moved on and saw a couple of more fish roll. We pulled into one of my not so favorite runs, but one that I had fished many times in the past. I like to fish runs that are interesting; they have features and structure, maybe overhanging trees with difficult wading. If I’m not going to catch a fish I like the success of not falling in. 

We hopped out of the boat and I went to the top of the run while Todd started low in the tail-out. I was about ten casts in and saw Todd hook up. From what I could tell the fish grabbed the fly and started tail walking across the surface. After a good strong battle Todd won out over the steelhead. We set it free and took a minute to rejoice in the adventure.

Once Todd calmed down he said he had seen a couple of fish roll out in front of him. I stepped in where he had gotten out and started casting and stepping down the run. My fly was ticking bottom a little more than I like, but I opted not to switch tips and kept casting. Todd was moving the boat down to where I was fishing and as soon as he dropped the anchor I got side swiped by a steelhead. There was no tap tap, slow pull, this was straight hit and run. The fish went right to the surface and started thrashing about. There is something magical and energizing about that blind grab. I released my fish and our day was as good as done. Like I said before, I don’t need the biggest or the most. I prefer quality over quantity. Add in some good friends and beautiful scenery, and I’m as happy as can be. 

Nick's Fishing Report

Joel La Follette - Thursday, March 29, 2018

Steelhead fishing has picked up this week with the fresh shot of rain and low level snow. All local rivers got a small surge of water and look to be staying in perfect shape. The coastal rivers seem to be producing more fish then our local waters of the Clackamas and Sandy.

Josh and I both spend some time on the coast this weekend and numerous fish were landed. At this point if you were planning on winter steelheading I would say, “Go now!” The current water levels and aggressive fish mean your chances are probably not going to get much better this.

As we edge our way into April summer steelhead should start showing up in the Clackamas and Sandy. This is when we begin to wind down our winter fishing, but you can still get that Steelhead fix before you transition over to Trout fishing. Both rivers will continue to produce fish all spring. 

Trout fishing on the east side has been lights out. The Deschutes near Maupin and the Crooked River are the subject of some great fishing reports coming in. Anglers have been catching fish mainly on nymphs: Zebra Midges, small Stonefly nymphs, Hares Ears and Super Sinkers. When a hatch appears it most likely will be a March Brown, Blue Wing Olive or Skwalas that bring Trout to the surface. Personally, I’ve done well this time of year stripping streamers like a Sculpzilla. It’s a fun way to break away from the norm and get a tight line grab. With warmer temps and nicer weather this weekend the east side rivers could be a awesome place to find a change of pace. 

No matter whether this week takes you east, west, or painting Easter eggs, fishing is only getting better so get your chores done now. Spring is here and you’re going to find yourself with too many good options and not enough time to do it all. The chaos is beginning. 


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.

Snow Day

Joel La Follette - Thursday, February 22, 2018


By Josh Linn

Fishing reports haven’t changed much, but the weather sure has. It finally feels like winter out there. If it snowed a foot in Portland I wouldn’t complain too much. One of the nice things about a low snow elevation is that no matter how much it rains the river won’t rise too much, but it will come up, and it will have some color. When the river is blanketed with a fresh layer of snow it’s so quiet and pristine out. It feels so fresh and clean.


Monday I fished with my good buddy Dave and there was a fresh blanket of snow on the ground. We started a little later than normal hoping that it would warm up and some of the snow would melt away. We got to the boat launch and it was breathtaking out. Crystal clear blue skies and the light winds created whar would be considered a "Bluebird day" if you were a skier. Typically if it’s good on the mountain it’s going to be good on the river.

We set off in Dave’s jet boat and ran up river. We got to one of my favorite little runs right at the bottom of an island where the two channels come back together. It has a soft inside and a deep channel out in the middle. The water had come up a bit since last week. I had been fishing a very fast sinking skagit line and was hanging up quite a bit when I got to the inside soft stuff. This week I wouldn’t be dredging the deep channels. I would need a setup that would allow me to fish inside into the soft water.

I stuck the rod under my arm and started the process of changing my head and sink tip. While I was fumbling around and watching Dave make some casts I started noticing a lot of bug activity. There were midges and BWO’s coming off all over the place. Then I noticed a giant mayfly pop up to the surface and float away. Then another and then another emerged. It was one of the best March brown hatches I have ever seen.

The other day I had been talking to a customer saying I thought that hatch might happen early this year on the McKenzie or upper Willamette and it might be worthwhile to start poking around down there. With this weather the Deschutes and Metolius are bound to be good too. Fresh snow will give any fishery a facelift.


Talking to guys out in the field it sounds like the steelhead fishing on the coast is picking up. Rob and Todd from Water Time Outfitters are still having good fishing. Todd keeps sending me pictures to rub it in.

The Sandy had been low and clear and that little squirt of rain we had brought it right back to life. Marty had a good day out there Friday and sent a couple of pictures. It looked like one of the fish had been caught on a fly similar to the ones he tied at the shop on Saturday. That's definitely a guide fly, quick to tie and it catches fish.

When this storm passes and it warms up a couple of more degrees, the rivers will come up from the melting snow. We should see the fishing pick up all across the area. March is the time for big wild winter Steelhead in our local rivers. Keep an eye on that gauge and get out there.

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. 



Swinging in the Rain

Joel La Follette - Thursday, February 01, 2018

With all the high water last week fishing opportunities have been a bit uninspiring. Steelhead fishing has gotten a little interesting with sea lions being spotted in the lower Clackamas and Sandy rivers, their presence can push fish around and make your finned friends a little stressed out. Fear not, as our water levels drop those beasts will probably move back out to the Columbia and Willamette. Reports of Steelhead being caught are scattered across the area depending on the day.

The smaller coastal rivers stayed in good shape during this last weather system and Water Time Outfitters say that there has been a push of fresh fish. The Clackamas has been spotty, but has stayed fairly fishable even in this high water. The Sandy River was the place to be with a few more fish being reported there, when it is not blown out. Our friend, Brian Silvey does have some February openings.

So my tip to you this week for you Steelhead chasers is watch your water levels, fish whenever possible, and don't give up. Your next pull on the Steelhead slot machine could be the one. You'll never know unless your out there.

Other angling possibilities include the east side of the Cascades for some winter Trout action. If you haven't noticed it kind of feels like spring around here, which doesn't seem right because its only the 1st of February and the Ground Hog is making his appearance tomorrow. Well, if the world gives you lemons... go trout fishing. Weather reports look almost look pleasant over in Maupin, so if you have the itch to chase Trout this winter, the east side rivers may not be a bad choice. I would start out nymphing with Stone Fly nymphs and your favorite dropper or stripping streamers. If a hatch starts to bring fish to the surface it mostly likely will be a Blue Wing Olives ringing the dinner bell. The weather man says it could be in the low 60's in Maupin this weekend and that sounds like t-shirt weather to me.


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.



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