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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.

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.



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