Thursday, May 14, 2015

Oregon Coastal Saltwater Fly Fishing Time With the Family

I was just out at the coast with my wife, mother-in-law, and father-in-law. We did a bunch of fishing along with other coastal activities. Out of the group, I am the one who fly fishes in the saltwater of Oregon, and everyone else throws spinning gear. We had all sorts of conditions ranging from calm to windy, and fishing times ranged from dead as a doornail, to moderate, to off the hook. The more I fish out there, the more I can say there is no rhyme or reason to when it will be good out there. People typically say that the two hours before high tide is the time to go. Other people say around the slack tides is the time to go. Many people say night time is the best, but I fished at night and it was good at times and sterile at times.
Calmer conditions are a must for successful Oregon coast fly fishing off the rocks
The one thing I see over and over again, is that it is all about the currents. Converging currents, and foam lines seem to be more about the success. The other issue is the current speeds, and by that I mean that fish are very fickle in what current speed they seem to be able to be caught in, or what current speed makes them want to bite. Whatever that part of the equation is, it seems to have correlation likely with feeding desire, and how hard the fish are working to be comfortable in their environment. Big currents and washy conditions seem to make the fishing shut down, while foam lines, and foam blankets on the surface, slow current speeds, converging currents, current breaks, and other features that provide cover, comfort, ambushing ability etc, seem to be the times when I am catching fish consistently.
A nice Pacific Black Rockfish that was on a converging current boundary
When I am out there, the conditions are ever changing and the features I just mentioned change dynamically. One moment you are fishing a foamy giant eddy, and getting fish on about every cast, and then you get a hard current pushing straight along the bank, and your line seems to be getting slacker and slacker with a subtle current pushing straight into where you are fishing from. Minutes later is settles down, and gets a soft chop slow mellow current and you are roping into a fish on every third cast for 10 minutes. It keeps on changing, and also depending on where you are standing matters too. Sometimes 50 yard to your right has a perfect setup, and you are in a fast current that feels unproductive. Walking down that 50 yards could be the difference of success for that 20 minute period, but then you may have to find another spot that fits the what you are looking for.
This Lingcod was caught near dead low tide as it was starting to slacken out.
It is ever changing as the tides are always moving higher or lower. The winds influence the currents and the tides also. Swells are another variable, and then the direction and interval of the swell also plays a big role in how the fishing pans out. The one thing I have come to realize is that you cannot tell how the fishing will be unless you simply go out try it. Only then can you know if the fish are biting. Tight lines!!!
Nice grill on this Ling
The Helios2 Saltwater 6wt is a fun lightweight rockfish rod (typically 7wt or 8wt). It also handled the Ling very nicely (lings are a 8-10wt fish).
Nikki eclipsing the sunset while casting for rockfish......
Not a bad view to check out while fishing......
Getting ready for a cast.....
These jellyfish were all over the beaches
A little kite flying time.....
A Quillback Rockfish that fell to a swim bait
Blacktail deer strolling on the beach in the early morning
A Pacific Loon patrolling for baitfish....

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

This Saturday May 2, 2015 at Orvis Portland
We are having our Spring 2015 Orvis Days, and this Saturday May 2nd will be the Fly Fishing Guest Speaker Special Event day at the store. We will be having several guest speakers in talking about various fisheries that people always want to know about, or should know about in the Pacific Northwest. Below is a lowdown of who is going to be presenting, and when. Presentations will vary in time; so there will be plenty of question and answer time (with the speakers) after they are done with their topics.

Carp on the Fly with John Montana
11 am

John Montana, one of the best and most innovative carp fly fishers out there, will discuss fly fishing for carp. John will share with us how to effectively fly fish this smart, elusive, powerful game fish. If you haven’t seen John’s blog Carp on the Fly, check it out today.

This is a whomper of a fish!!! Photo Courtesy of John Montana - Carp on the Fly

Fly Fishing the McKenzie & Upper Willamette Rivers       
12 noon

Orvis-Endorsed Guide Ethan Nickel Outfitters will discuss fly fishing for trout and steelhead on the McKenzie and upper Willamette Rivers. Come learn about how close and how great the fishing is for rainbow and cutthroat trout and summer-run steelhead in both of these river systems.

Ethan with a cookie cutter Middle Fork Willamette River summer steelhead - Photo Courtesy Ethan Nickel Outfitters

Fly Fishing for Pacific Rockfish    
1 pm  

Orvis Portland’s Fishing Manager Brian Marz will discuss fly fishing for Pacific rockfish off of jetties and rocks on the Oregon coast. The Oregon coastal saltwater fishery is an untapped fishery for fly fishers, and this presentation will cover the equipment, flies, and techniques needed to fish for these aggressive saltwater rockfish. 

Rockfish on a fly rod is an excellent way to spend a day at the Oregon coast.

Fly Fishing the Deschutes River Stonefly/Salmonfly Hatch
2 pm
Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing Expedition in Bend, OR Deep Canyon Outfitters will discuss and present the Deschutes River stonefly/salmonfly hatch, and how to effectively fish during the hatch. 
These big bugs will be the focus of the attention for fly fishers and rainbow trout on the Deschutes over the next several weeks - Photo Courtesy Deep Canyon Outfitters

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hosted Redfish Fly Fishing Trip

Check out my Travel Trip To Louisiana! It is a redfish fishing trip in Louisiana with Lucas Bissett of Low Tide Charters and it is a trip you can't miss out on!
Lucas with a hefty Black Drum

Friday, April 17, 2015

Fishing the Rogue River - With Jeff Helfrich of Tight Lines - 4/18/15

This Saturday Jeff Helfrich of Tight Lines will be at Orvis Portland to do a presentation on fishing the Wild and Scenic Rogue River canyon. He will be there to start up at 10:30am; so make sure you stop by the shop to get blown away about stories of crazy steelhead and gnarly rapids in driftboats. Jeff has been fishing and involved in the running the craziest scenic rivers and guiding people at them since he went from crawling to walking basically. His family routes are from the original pioneer guides of many famous rivers we all know and also creator of the driftboat (Prince Helfrich). You can only imagine some of the fishing stories and adventures he can share with you.
Jeff Helfrich with a gorgeous Rogue River adult steelhead
Copy and pasted from his website:
The Rogue River in southwest Oregon offers excellent fly fishing for both adult and half-pounder steelhead. Tight Lines provides 3 nights and 4 days floating the Rogue in drift boats, stopping at a historic lodge each night, covering 43 miles.
Our family has boated this "Wild and Scenic" designated stream since the early '50s and are proud to have a group of guides who each average nearly 30 years of experience. This wild stretch of river also offers fantastic whitewater, and wildlife viewing, including many black bears, eagles, black-tailed deer, river otters, mink and more. The Rogue is rich in history including that of Native Americans, gold mining and early pioneers.
Stunning scenery along the Rogue River
Fish on! - Rogue River
Serious rapids require skilled oarsman

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Winter Steelhead Outing with Friend - Picture Heavy

This past Tuesday (3/24) I went out fishing with a good buddy who I haven't gotten to spend much time with this winter. Normally we get out a lot for winter steelhead, but this season he had been a lot busier than normal when I had my days off. My friend was the lucky hot hand out there for fish eating his fly on this day out. Since my wife and I got a new DSLR camera, I have been stoked to take lots of pictures when I am out fishing. Nonetheless here is a photo essay of the day out there.
Spanning the water....
Fish on! ...........Oh.....false alarm, but it is a fish; just not the targeted species.
A cute little Cutthroat trout incidentally caught on a large steelhead tube fly.
A couple of casts later and the intended target species is on!
Preparing for landing mode.....
Brian tailed the fish on the first solid attempt. Nice work!
Another fine winter steelhead that fell for the black and blue color combo.....
Adios Amigo! Back to finish your mission in the river....
The mossy Pacific Northwest & two handed fly fishing for steelhead is a perfect marriage.
Had to represent the lush greenery that exists in late March along coast rivers in Oregon
Working the water.....
Mr. Morris patiently focusing on his swing while he waits for "the tug"......
Watch the "white mouse" run as you sweep your line. When it stops, your D-loop will be there ready for the delivery stroke.
Spanning the run, cast by cast, swing by swing.....
Setting up the anchor on a two handed cast
The delivery....
While I was fishing lower in this spot, Brian comes running downstream from the pool above with a fish on.
Black and blue bunny tube catches another one for my friend Brian!
Keep em wet......

Swinging up nice native winter steelhead in late March always brings big grins to anglers.

Monday, March 30, 2015


My wife Nikki and I like to fish a special place every year if possible, and due to the busy schedules our lives have dealt to us, we decided to go much earlier than the typical timing for visiting this place has been in the past. I had a five day window to play, and Nikki lined up her work schedule to be able to go, and best of it all it was pretty much her idea to drive far and see some canyon scenery at our special place. We planned on being fishing and chilling there from a Thursday through a Sunday; leaving on a Wednesday afternoon and to heading back home to arrive Sunday evening. Unfortunately Nikki felt really bad on the Friday and I was worried about being far away from home with my wife not feeling so good. We decided to bail on a whim Friday around 5:30 pm when we packed up camp as fast as we could, and headed back to the PDX metro area. So instead of a fishing extravaganza, I fished a day a half, and Nikki barely even fished more than a spot. We didn't take any pictures of the big brown trout (up close and personal) that exist at this place, but you can archive back to last May 2014 to see the fish that this place has to offer.
Stunning canyon scenery lines the river
What I did experience was interesting; since I had fished this place two times before (both times for a couple of days). The water flow this time was 12-13 CFS compared to the 40-somthing CFS the first time and the 130-something CFS compared to last time. The river was more like a pond to pond chain with a leaking spring creek like flowing trickle in between. It seemed from my observations that the fish lived in the ponds mainly, and swam up into the flowing areas to feed. Once the hatches kicked in the fish would slide up into the flowing water to feed, and then once the anglers would beat the water down, the fish would slide back down into the ponds to escape the pressure. The fishing was good for watching big sly fish eating your offering, but not good for "the fight" of the fish. They simply had no where to go, and seemed to be they were messed up and impacted from the drastically low flows. At least the fishing was still really good, but not to the epic levels I experienced with the higher CFS coming out of the dam on the previous visits. At least we could observe Rock Doves fly around while a Golden Eagle patrolled the airways. In the night you could hear the Screech Owls making their noise, and the slurps and cur-plunks from slab browns. The bounty of avian life there is amazing, and the canyon splendor is stunning.
Our awesome camp. We have been here before when all of the vegetation is in thick.
I will be back, but I know now that I like this place when there is good flows of water coming down the river. The fish feed harder on more stuff all over the place, they chase down and attack streamers harder than I ever imagined, and I know from several sources that you can mouse them up! Bring on the water!!
The view of the water on the lower end of the pond water before it tightens up into a "riffle" trickle
Fish on!
One of several fish caught on this little trickle coming through (which was the whole flow of the entire river)
Watching for the fish to react to the presentation....
Fish were sipping on dries and feeding in the film in inches of water on this little rivulet coming in.
On tight with a fish caught on a weightless flashback baetis nymph in size #20
Nikki standing up on the river bank with some stunning scenery around.
You can tell I am checking out the scenery while fishing.
Testing out the camera on the tripod with the fire.....pretty cool!
A little woodpecker friend
Letting the gear warm up and dry out after the fishing session in the morning.
The browns would move into the shallow sludge near the banks in the ponds to root around like a carp.
We saw a pool that had lots of carp and some of them were really large.