The great chill down of November has seen cars bouncing off each other, pedestrians losing vertical stability and ice covered trees crashing to the ground. Subfreezing temperatures on the east side funneled high winds through the Columbia gorge, spreading the chill into the valley as winter bullied it’s way in.Those hardy souls I mentioned last week were turned away from the John Day River as ice blocked their passage to the water. Only small channels remained flowing as the river turned to solid and hid under a skiff of snow. Water temperatures are, well, pretty near freezing at the moment compounding the problem. With a change in the weather rattling on the evening news we may get another shot at it if things warm up just a tad.
The Deschutes, while still flowing, was on the chilly side. Snow in the canyon and plenty of deep snow on the plateau made for beautiful images, but skin burning temperatures. Steelhead are still a very real possibility for those willing to layer up. At last check, Gil Muhleman continued to ply his trade hosting anglers seeking hot fish in cold weather. If you would like to test yourself and venture forth into the frosty landscape you will find much more elbow room under these conditions. Call Gil.
Not that you need a reminder, but extra dry clothes are now a necessity as a watery dunk could turn very serious in a hurry. Be careful out there, Campers.
Trouters turned to the Crooked River tailwater this week to satisfy their need for action. BWOs and midges will be the game on the surface until spring, with hatches sleeping in until after 10:00. Nymphing will carry you through the down time if the hatch is missing in action. Pairing up a Prince nymph with a Midge Pupa or small Pheasant tail is a great place to start. The infamous Crooked River Scud is also a fly box must.
The Clackamas is still providing entertainment for those needing to stay close to home. Water temps have dipped into the high 30s, so fish will need to warm up to you. They want to play, you will just need to take the lead. Mix up the speed of your swing until you crack the code. Speed matters. While sink-tips are the logical choice, the river is pretty low and floating lines can still get it done.
While east side rivers slowed with icy flows, rivers on the south coast bumped up as rain moved onshore. This signaled a call to action for Salmon chasers. I headed to Oregon’s banana belt, dialing in some Buckwheat Zydeco driving tunes and setting my GPS for Port Orford. The Elk and Sixes had peaked and were on the drop when I arrived late Saturday evening. Sunday found the Elk clearing nicely while the Sixes still moved some grit to the sea. Both rivers had plenty of fish in them and plenty of anglers seeking them. It’s a different game down there and not one for the timid, but the chance at a chrome bright Chinook Salmon is very overpowering and a call that needs to be answered. At least once.