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Fishing Reports

First Nation Extended Summer Season

Joel La Follette - Thursday, October 18, 2018


It may not be politically correct to say Indian Summer, but how else can you describe our weather? The last few days have been absolutely incredible. Next week though, the Weather Channel girl is threatening a dampish change to the forecast. Enjoy the sun while you can, but look for your fishing options to improve as rain moves in. We could use some water!

The Fly Czar and our new Head of Security headed east this past Monday after overseeing the very successful Fly Fishing Symposium. LT has recently retired from the Portland PD and you will see him in the shop occasionally keeping the peace between the Fly Czar and Mr. Skittles. In any case, the guys found a few willing fly grabbers on their adventure, but also found the take-out gate locked at Starvation. Check in with Josh before you make plans to launch a drift boat.

Meanwhile, the Deschutes continues to be rather good for Trout and not too bad for Steelhead. We are not seeing the best return ever, but it is Steelhead fishing, and it's never easy. Hatches of misc. Mayflies, October Caddis and small tan Caddis are keeping things interesting for Trout chasers.

Our recent infatuation with Czech nymphing has really upped the interest in Trout fishing around the shop. After I graduated from the Fly Czar's clinic last week, I spent 3 days on the Deschutes putting the skills I learned into practice. The number of fish landed over the trip was very impressive given the fact that I never made a cast with the fly line out of the rod. I did keep it a little "West Coast" by fishing a Silvey's Super Sinker and Caddis Pupa instead of the more Euro-style offerings. The Super Sinker was the star until Caddis started to flitter about, then the Pupa rocked it. It's nice to have that one-two punch on every cast.

Sea-run Cutty lovers have one last week to get it out of their system before the season comes to a close. Rain will help their efforts and will also draw fresh fish into tidewater for the Salmon fanatics. All good news for sure.

Closer to home, the Coho in the Clackamas are getting a little stale and the numbers of fresh fish returning are dropping off some. Rain may help, but we now wait for the first of the winter Steelhead to really provide the action. Let it rain.

Field Trip Gone Wrong

Joel La Follette - Thursday, October 11, 2018

by Josh Linn, the Fly Czar

Last Saturday, Mike McCoy from Snake Brand Guides shared a presentation on Czech nymphing. He then followed up with a great tying session at the Tyer’s Table. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the European nymphing techniques are gaining momentum here in the Northwest. If you want to catch fish, it’s a very effective method. 

The next day, Joel had an outing with his Reed College class so Nick and I volunteered to help. By 9:00 AM we were at Harpham Flats ready to meet up with the students. While we waited for the van to arrive I gave the boys a quick tutorial on Czech nymphing.


The first time I used the Czech nymph style of fishing was about 10 years ago. This technique is a little different from the other Euro nymph styles like French or Spanish. Czech nymphing uses a short line, nymphing right off the top of the rod technique. It utilizes a shorter leader with a low rod angle and leads the flies through the water. The other techniques involve a longer leader where you dead drift under tension with a little more range.

Nick and I stepped into the water and in a couple of casts, I had my first fish to hand. I was a little rusty, but it came back fast. We moved just a little further down the run and in no time I landed another Trout. At that point, I looked up at Nick and told him, “That’s how it’s done.”

We headed back to the truck to see what Joel was up to, but he and his truck were nowhere in sight. Thirty minutes later he returned. He had received a phone call from the van driver stating they had just crossed the bridge in Maupin and asked if he could come up there to meet them. Joel drove into town and didn’t see them anywhere. He called the driver and asked for specifics as to where they were. That is when the driver asked Joel to spell Maupin and put it into his GPS. He put the phone down and Joel heard cussing accompanied by, “How the heck did that happen?” The driver picked the phone back up and they were somewhere south of Eugene. Joel instructed him to return the group to the college. They would not be fishing today.

That meant we had the day off and it was time to fish!

We headed up the road to a spot above the boat launch we all love to fish. My Czech nymph rod was still rigged up and Joel hadn’t gotten his lesson yet. We returned to the river. As I‘m explaining the technique of leading the flies through the run, on the second cast I hooked a Trout.


Moving upriver about a step I made another couple of casts and was into another fish. Joel’s got the idea. He took his rod and worked his way downriver. After a minute or two he’s into his first fish. 


We keep fishing and hooking fish throughout the run. Joel is like a surgeon dissecting every nook and cranny of the tail-out. Every time I look down the river he’s got another fish on. I switched to a heavier fly fishing deeper and immediately hooked a much bigger fish. I can’t lift it off the bottom very well with the 10’ 3wt, but when I do it appeared to possibly be a Steelhead. It rolled on the surface and popped off. At that moment I feel doubt creep in and wonder if it really was a Steelhead.

I continue to work my way down and a minute or two later I hooked a steelhead. This one stayed on and there is no doubt it is a Steelhead. I give out excited cheers as Nick made a splashy dash to bring the net. Any doubt about the first fish being a Steelhead dissolved because I can see this fish is smaller than the previous one.

I fought the fish hard to not over exhaust it. It’s a fierce battle and all I can think about is not breaking off the light 5x tippet I’m using. Nick grabbed the net and I lead the fish toward him. The fish turned with a last big thrash and it broke off.

That’s not the first Steelhead I’ve broken off and it won’t be the last. Even just hooking one had me elated, to say the least. I re-rigged the rod and handed it to Nick. I didn’t need to fish anymore, my day was complete.

By now, Joel’s up at the trucks having a sandwich in his kitchen on wheels. I walk up to chat with him about this new technique. While we are talking we watched Nick catch a couple of fish.

We spent about an hour fishing and put on quite a clinic. I don‘t know how many fish we caught, but it was a lot.

While we are eating a little lunch and Nick was polishing off some leftover cake,  a couple of our regular customers pulled up. They tell us about their day of fishing. It was a little different than ours. Joel’s tells them about the Euro technique and offers to give them a little demo. 


We all head back down to the water. As Joel is giving them a quick rundown on what to do, he hooks a fish. We offered them our rods to give it a try. They were getting the hang of it pretty quick but weren't hooking any fish.  I'm guessing they figured we caught them all by this time. One guy handed me back the rod and asked for a further demonstration. I was a little reluctant still riding high from earlier, but I give in.

 

I make a couple of casts and hook my third Steelhead of the morning on my Trout gear. This one is closer to the tail out with a rapid right below us. There is even less hope of landing this fish with such light tackle. It is a heavier fish and I tried to put a lot of pressure on it. It made a dash for the rapid, but I stopped it and turn it back towards us.
 

The pressure to perform was real with an audience cheering me on. By now, I‘ve switched to being confident about landing this fish. A large piece of soft water right behind me would make for a great landing spot. I formulated my plan. Leading it back I realize there is a shallow sandbar between the fish and the promised land. I took a quick look around and reaffirm that this is still the best plan. As I pull it across the bar (bad idea) the leader broke and the fish came off. The fish is surprised at is sudden freedom, so Nick and I both make a move at it with visions of us tailing it. Not so much. The fish gathered his senses and swam off. Like I said earlier, that wouldn’t be the last fish I ever break off.

Oh yeah, I guess you guys were reading through this looking for a fishing report. Some of you may have heard the fishing has been tough and there’s not a lot of Steelhead around, I’ve heard differently.....and Trout fishing is awesome.


No Lack of Talent

Joel La Follette - Thursday, October 04, 2018
Christine Switzer Photo

I did manage to go fishing this weekend if you could truly call it that. I spent some time wading in the cool waters of the Metolius with a fly rod in hand making several hundred fruitless casts and a few not so fruitless. That in itself is not an unusual occurrence; a fact that is well documented by those who ply these waters. What made this day more unusual than most is that I had a film crew recording my every move from several different angles, and a crowd of curious onlookers watching the proceedings.

Megan Gray Photo
This crew, if you must know, was attempting to portray me as a wise graying entrepreneur living out his passion in the fall of his life. Evidently, my unusual career path was found to be intriguing by the account principals so this little band of young talented advertising geniuses was tucked in an airplane in Charlotte, North Carolina and flown out to the Great Northwest. The poor kids didn't know what they were getting into.

When this adventure was first proposed it was to be a simple photo shoot at the shop and perhaps on the Clackamas River. After considering the story I wanted to be told I requested we venture a little further afield to the Deschutes or Metolius. The images of the Metolius I sent evidently won them over, and that is how I found myself casting to Trout with a camera pointed in my face. 

Upon arriving at the river I found that even the simple task of wadering up and tying on a fly needed to be well documented; further delaying my angling efforts and establishing that this was not a fishing trip. I resigned myself to the task at hand and became a tour guide, naturalist, conservationist and ambassador for Oregon. Oh, and as they say in the business, "the talent."

Not wanting to drown David the photographer and be responsible for dampening expensive camera equipment I chose a simple location near Bridge 99. Wearing an ill-fitting pair of boot foot waders David looked like a young fawn taking its first steps as he navigated the rocks and boulders in the river. He positioned himself between me and my casting target to capture the intense action of fly casting and the contemplative expression on my face. He didn't like my expression. 

It was requested that I look happy to be engaged in my passion while counting down the days of my life. Right. There's a thought that would bring a smile to any face. I decided to think about lunch instead.

Having been casting a fly for well over a half century I was able to easily adapt, smiling and casting like a seasoned professional while retaining a steely-eyed focus on the task at hand. Said focus was suddenly interrupted by a Trout rising to engulf my fly just behind David. Like the true professional he is, David continued to fire off exposures unimpressed with the piscatorial encounter. I, on the other hand, was amazed at this development but held on to my poker face as I released the Trout into the clear waters of this magical river.

Back at camp, I whipped up a Skottle full of my world famous fajitas and we recounted the adventure of the day. Our time together would end the following evening after a brief tour of Oregon and a visit to the shop where this story was supposed to be told, but, as I said, they didn't know what they were getting into.



Christine, Megan, and David now have an appreciation for Oregon...

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.




A Quick Trip Around the State

Joel La Follette - Thursday, September 20, 2018

There is a sense of urgency from our patrons in the shop as anglers rush to cram as much as they can into the fleeting days of this shoulder season. There is still a touch of summer in the air, but fall has let us know that those warm days with soon be just a memory. This is the season we wait for all year long and it is here. The only problem is we have far too many angling choices and not enough time to enjoy them all.

While the Deschutes is still the number one destination for Trout and Steelhead anglers at the moment, there are other fisheries calling for our attention. Let's just take a quick tour of the state...


Down in Southern Oregon the Rogue River has been the highlight with Steelhead returns well above average. Half-pounders and adults are drawing fly swingers including yours truly. I fished with a friend above Gold Hill and swung up this feisty native on last week's Fly of the Week, the Green Butt Silver Hilton. I'm heading back this weekend. Trout fishing on the Rogue would be a good option too as Rainbows and Cutthroat were hard to keep off my Steelhead flies.

Marlon RampyMy buddy, Marlon Rampy continues to score monster Rainbows in the Williamson River down near Chiloquin. These Steelhead size Trout are an impressive opponent on 6 weight rods. If you have never tested this fishery, now is a good time. Goat leaches, Damsel nymphs, soft-hackles and sparsely tyed Woolly Buggers should be in your box and an intermediate sinking line on your reel.

Over on the coast, Salmon are nosing into tidewater and making their way upriver on many of the North Coast streams. I battled a dandy on Monday until she sliced through my tippet with her pearly whites. Seeing 20 pounds of chrome take to the air is a thrill for sure! Sea-run Cuttys are following the herd and I saw several chasing bait on the surface. Streamers on a fast swing will insight hard grabs from these migratory Trout. I also like to skid a fall Caddis imitation across the surface of faster tail-outs to pull the action to the top. Give it a try.

Closer to home, the Clackamas is seeing a fairly healthy return of Coho Salmon this year. While our local fly guys are just starting to take notice, there have been more than a few taken on feathers. We can give you some pointers when you stop in for flies. Ask the Fly Czar for his secret weapon.

Green Drakes, or at least the fall version of this legendary hatch have been the talk of Metolius anglers over the last few weeks. Bull Trout are also getting some attention as they await the passing of returning Kokanee. I'm scheduled to be on the Met at the end of the month for some silly photo shoot and will have a better report then.

Back on the Deschutes it's business as usual. While Columbia basin Steelhead numbers are down, fly swingers are still hooking some impressive fish in the Deschutes. You may have to cover some water, but there are fish to be found. While some have resorted to sink-tips and winter patterns, true believers are still scoring on dry line presentations of artful traditionals.

Trout fishing on the D continues to be good, but most anglers are chasing the migratory versions. Watch for hatches of misc Mayflies to bring back-eddies alive with gorging Redsides.

This cornucopia of opportunities won't last forever. Get out and enjoy some of the best fishing of the season, right now.


Mr. Skittle's Birthday Adventure

Joel La Follette - Thursday, September 13, 2018
Nick's birthday was this past Tuesday and to celebrate we spent a couple of days on the Deschutes. If you’ve ever been into the shop and interacted with us you’ve seen the Laurel and Hardy routine play out in front of your own eyes. Well, on this fishing adventure we had a third person our great friend Eric Gunter. Because of the antics we knew would ensue we asked him to offer his unbiased third person account of this adventure.



By Eric Gunter

I haven’t spent many days on the water this year. I make the typical excuses: time, money, girlfriend, too hot/cold/wet/windy, etc. Overnight river trips I cherish and take advantage of them when I can.

I’ve learned much about navigating a boat/raft on moving water from one person. He has been generous with experience and has displayed great patience with me while I ask endless questions, many multiple times. This last weekend we were floating from Mack’s Canyon to Heritage Landing. The second boat in our party was being skippered by a virgin to the lower river.

New adventures should always include the pucker factor. Preparations need to be made. Shuttles need to be called in. The appropriate ratio of foods to sugars need to be purchased and properly hidden, all portioned for the days that lay ahead. A checklist of items needed on the boat: life Jackets, anchor, oars, straps, ropes, stoves, utensils, etc. has been gone over at least 3 times and you’re still confirming you have it all.

New water raises questions. And some people, in particular, ask a lot of questions. Are there any waterfalls, side channels or braids I should avoid taking my boat over, down or through? What are my emergency egress options? How many river miles? How many days do you have to float those miles?  Where do I fish? Can my boat survive its maiden voyage? What do I do about power boats? What do I do about a shuttle? All great questions. All questions and their answers are preferably known by all individuals in the party and should be confidently confirmed. We are talking about navigating a section of moving water with a long, well-documented history hoping for a prime camp that will afford you opportunities that evening and at first light.

Now, one of the benefits of being friends with an experienced oarsman and fly fisher, I get to sit in the front of the boat while he maneuvers us through the incredibly beautiful Deschutes River Canyon. Placing me in all of the best places to swing flies for wild steelhead. I get to enjoy the flow of the river, watch for Osprey, Bighorn Sheep, and all of the amazing creatures that inhabit the canyon.

Seeing firsthand the remarkable comeback of riverside vegetation after two fires burned much of the lower rivers landscape. Rowing downriver, well trying anyway, through gusting/sustained winds for hours making little progress while the topsoil from the farm fields above the canyon walls blows into the canyon obscuring our visibility while I sit in the front of the boat happy that I am not wearing contact lenses. I still have dirt exiting the pores of my body.

Another benefit of being with an experienced person is that they have the ability to give very precise and direct instructions/responses to these questions that should be asked. If you're not listening, you will find yourself needing to ask again. This is typically greeted with even more precise and direct instructions. Finding yourself now with less information than you received from the initial response. So having a question that you are pretty sure you already know the answer to is met with something like “What’s the question? To which the response is “Where are we camping when we get there? Now, this causes pause to allow a well-crafted answer.

I’ve never really tried to learn the names of all the runs to fish and rapids to run. This, unfortunately, does not mean that I do not ask…. I try to focus on the geography and geology and how centuries of time have passed while this canyon remains beautiful to this day. Having an experienced friend really helps with this process. History becomes more important with this documented region of Oregon. So knowing the names of some of the side canyons and the folks that traveled down them to create homesteads and live a life of self-sufficiency, railroad construction and devastation does garner knowledge.

The first night we arrived at the boat launch late, just before dark. We packed the boats and launched in the pitch black. This is a thing we’ve done many times before but raises questions from someone less experienced. We floated a mile or so to our first camp, navigating by the stars.


By this time the birthday boy is deep into his first bag of skittles and is contemplating what other sugary snacks he might have.


That first night is spent photographing the stars and anticipating an exciting hopefully fishy trip.


We are up early the next morning. We spread out in front of Camp and get to fishing. Nick is the last man fishing and is deep into the run. On what seems like should be his last cast he hooks a hot, hot fish. Before we have time to react we can see it cartwheeling off in the distance. After a long hard fight, Nick wins his birthday battle and his first gift is in hand, a 4 or 5 pound wild little net runner. The fish is a perfect specimen and after a couple of pictures, the little beauty is set free.


We push down the river looking for new water, more fish, and our next camp. The river is surprisingly quiet. Brian Silvey and his group of anglers are out and we hopscotch with them. We arrive at our next camp at around 2:00. Sadly we didn’t hook any more fish but we had a great time.

Shortly after we arrive at camp Nicks curiosity gets the best of him and the questions begin.


What were the names of those runs, where did we camp, where is Silvey camped? Zappy’s, Zapperinos, Ned Flanders, Trans Silvey Ania, Austin Millbarge, Nick’s Fish Hole. Where is that next run? Wrong Turn at Albuquerque? What is the name of that camp?

The further along we get in the day the bigger Nicks antics became. “I’m going to have Mac and Cheese if I can find my blue bamboo spoon. Along with German Chocolate Cake and a few other sugar food groups.”

Nick, “While you were asleep some guy walked into the top of the run in front of camp.”
Josh, “ Oh yeah? What did the guy look like?”
Nick, “He wasn’t wearing a shirt but did have on a gray Simms fishing vest, carried a Spey rod and he might have had a prosthetic arm.”
Josh, “Oh yeah? Hmm?
Nick, “Or did he have a white long sleeve shirt on? Or was he just wearing a dark tee shirt tucked into his waders? I don’t know, I wasn’t wearing my glasses at the time and just saw this blur of a guy walking down the trail.”

For Nick, giving up the tent was a big step. Sleeping under the Milky Way framed perfectly between the canyon walls on a cot was an acceptable 2nd choice. The second night’s camp, a day closer to his Birthday, was greeted with a hammock hung across the entrance to the camp. Thus began the evening's discussion of being either duct taped or cargo strapped inside of the hammock along with a few rocks would really teach him how to navigate the river.


Having a healthy sense of fear is paramount to having an enjoyable time on the water. Respect must be given and patience and relaxation should be employed. Pay attention to your gut. Trust your instincts. Listen to your friend with the ability to safely pilot you down the waterway.

Happy Birthday, Nick!
It was a pleasure spending time on the water with you and I hope we do it again soon. I am glad you caught the only fish of the trip…not really.


Riding the Heat Wave

Joel La Follette - Thursday, July 12, 2018
Nick Wheeler Photo
We're heading into a warm spell this week that will make standing waist deep in a cool stream sound like heaven right here on planet earth. As long as you're wet you might as well make a few casts. You just might have to think outside the box to find water void of swimmers, floaters and stick chasing canines, but there are options.

First on the hit parade is our favorite spring creek, the Metolius. Running at a chilly 48 degrees most of the year the Metolius is consistently inconsistent when it comes to fishing, but with a little leg work and some patience it can pay off with fat Rainbows and broad shouldered Bull Trout.

I found myself boots wet on the Met this past Monday and would gladly repeat the adventure even with the lack of measurable success. PMDs and misc. small Mayflies failed to draw much attention, but stories of bent rods filtered through the smoke in the filled campgrounds. Look for Mayfly hatches from 11ish into the evening. From the Gorge Campground upriver Goldenstones are crawling out on the bushes and getting fish and anglers excited. Old school Clark's Stones are getting it done pushing popular foam creations to plan B status. Bull Trout are present and taking nymphs and streamers much to the surprise of light tackle Trouters sharing the tales in those smokey camps.

Mr. Silvey rang me up the other day from his ranch near Maupin with a favorable report from the Deschutes. It seems the dry fly action has been good most mornings and that has recently extended into the early afternoon before the hot sun drives everyone including the fish into the shade. Evenings have been very good if the wind doesn't kick up. Misc. Mayflies, Caddis and Craneflies have been giving glimpses of what's possible with cooler river temps. So far, the Deschutes has been running slightly cooler than last year at this time. Brian does have some availability this month and reported that the fishing pressure has been light. Give him a call at 800-510-1702 to get in on the action. I find that Brian takes it to another level if you bring cookies. Just say'n.

Higher elevations offer another escape from the heat as the Callibeatus hatch kicks into high gear on our Cascade lakes. Clouds of these Mayflies are pulling timid lake residents to the surface on Mt Hood impoundments and Central Oregon lakes. My buddy, Jeff Perin from the Fly Fisher's Place in Sisters has threaten to take me out in his aluminum yacht to sample the action first hand. If I can free up some space on the calendar that might be a very interesting trip.

The last time we fished together I learned a new hook setting technique that involve not letting the fish know it was hooked. It's very effective for releasing the fish closer to where he was feeding and follows the #keepemwet mantra nicely. No, Jeff, I'm not going to forget the Sister's hook set.

For those ready to swing flies for summer Steelhead there have been confirmed encounters in the lower Deschutes. Floating lines, your favorite fly and a sack full of optimism is required. Fish numbers over the dams are optimistically creeping up.

Locally, it's going to be tough sledding on the Clackamas with the warmer temps and the rubber boat hatch in full swing. If you can pull yourself out of bed in the dark and be on the water when the sun pops up you have a chance at some fresh summer chrome, but note the river is already warm enough for a morning swim. It's not impossible, but maybe the mouth of the Deschutes or Klickatat is a better option.
Mitch Moyer Photo
Last, but surely not least is our theater of operations for this weekend's outing on Puget Sound. Reports filtering out of the Evergreen State have been exceptional and we're hoping for a repeat of last year's success for our group of adventurous anglers. Baitfish are plentiful and the resident Coho and Sea-run Cutthroat has been feasting on the abundance. The tides are identical to our last visit so our hopes are high. In any case, there will be S'mores involved.

Say Good-bye to Big Bug Love

Joel La Follette - Thursday, June 07, 2018

Big bug love is winding down on the Deschutes, but there are a few pockets of activity still drawing interest from gorging Redsides. This annual feeding frenzy finishes up much earlier than in pre-tower times yet, there seemed to be some areas that showed more of an abundance than in recent memory. A welcome change for sure, but the hatch remained relatively inconsistent throughout the lower river compared to pre-tower emergences. Smaller offerings and our favorite Purple Chubby are still producing as the hatch fades into memory.

Green Drakes will continue to make appearances for the next few weeks if conditions are right. With clouds in the forecast a collection of these big Mayflies would be a good bet. Pay attention to the waters below faster riffles where Trout gather to intercept this delicacy. As mentioned in previous reports, Seagulls sometimes will announce the presence of Drakes with their aerial displays over the river.

PMDs, Yellow Sallies, Caddis and smaller insects now take center stage as we progress into summer. Mornings and mid-day find us seeking surface takers in riffles and shaded back eddies until the sun dips below the canyon walls. The now famous Hopper/Dropper combo is a good option until a hatch is observed. Evenings become our focus as these insects draw fish to the surface in the fading light of day. Wise anglers will pace themselves in the well heated canyon and do their work when the temperature moderates. Soft-hackles on the swing are a good pre-hatch choice when the sun leaves the water.

On the Metolius, Green Drakes have made brief appearances when conditions are right. PMDs have been more dependable and the fish seem to respond to them. Personal observation this past Monday did not log a single Drake encounter. Sunshine and blue sky kept the big Mayflies grounded all day and into the evening. PMDs were sporadic throughout the day and pulled the occasional fish to the surface. Caddis flitted about, but didn’t draw much attention from the local residents.

Steelhead swingers are still connecting on the Clackamas when cooler temps keep the rubber boat hatch at bay. Rain in the forecast this weekend will draw in fresh fish, keep the pool toys beached and offers a great option if you need a Steelhead fix. There are some Springers still around too.

I fully expected a page long Shad report to ping my inbox this morning, but it seems the Shad Prince has focused his attention on irrigation installation this week. My reliable sources report numbers climbing on the Columbia and Willamette and fishing has been good. Shad Skittles seem to still be the go-to fly here on the Willamette.

Not to downplay this popular invasive fishery, but I’m passing up on a trip to the falls next week in favor of a short flight to San Diego. Mako sharks are staging in the warming waters of SoCal, and I feel like tugging on a real big fish. Stay tuned.


The Return of the Shad Prince

Joel La Follette - Thursday, May 31, 2018

It truly blows me away is how many people are asking about Shad this early in the run. Fortunately, the Shad Prince is in the shop everyday and he loves to talk about “the poor mans tarpon”. If you want to know more about the history of Shad, how to catch a Shad, what to do with a Shad once you've caught one or why you should even care about Shad, Nick has three presentations scheduled over the next few of weeks. The first one will be this Saturday here in the shop at 10:30.

Speaking of invasive species, bass fishing is warming up and carp fishing has been off the hook lately in some of the backwaters. I’m sure the Columbia and Willamette rivers being flooded by runoff keep the fish in the shallow side sloughs where they are easier to catch.

The Deschutes has still been the place to be and the big bugs continue to be the focus. I talked to Brian Silvey the other day and this is what he had to say:

“Stoneflies are going strong in Maupin today. We probably have a few more days until they are all gone. Green Drakes have been hatching almost every day, but not much action on the surface. We've been getting them on Drake nymphs or emergers.”

I would think the Salmonfly hatch will be going on for about another week or so in the Warm Springs area if the weather stays as forecast. If you haven’t hit it yet you still have time to get in on the action.

If the Salmonfly madness isn’t your thing, the Green Drake hatch on the Metolius should be on the upswing. These big Mayflies typically make their appearance around mid-day and the show will be especially good if there is some cloud cover. PMDs and Caddis are keeping things interesting until the Drakes take the stage.

Reliable sources report that the Cascade Lakes have been fishing very very well and offer plenty of opportunities for solitude if you get away from the big campgrounds. Some kind of leech or bugger pattern is a great choice. If you've not tried our Royal Treatment exclusive, the Double-Bug, check it out. It's a Mitch Moyer pattern that has been lighting it up on stillwaters across the Northwest.

If you just can’t put down your the two-handed rods or you’ve got that Steelhead urge there are fresh summer Steelhead entering the Clack and Sandy as well as a few spring Chinook. Some guys have even been getting them on floating lines with smaller summer patterns, but Skagits with winter stuff are still working as shown by the photo above. That's our friend Rob Crandall who took a "busman's holiday" between Salmonfly trips and scored this hot summer fish.

Hopefully, you get a chance to get out to fish this weekend. If not stop by the shop, have some homemade cookies, check out all the cool outdoor gear and listen to Nick wax poetic about Shad. Maybe you’ll catch the bug too.

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. 

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