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

O-So-Trip-Cut-Short

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.

Tying a Simple Rubber Legged Stone Nymph


Stoneflies are super common in many rivers, and they can live for up to two to three years depending on the specific species. Due to that they are always in the water that they live in as a nymph (underwater aquatic insect). This time of the year, and running into the next several weeks, these stonefly nymphs migrate towards the banks and exposed areas so they can crawl out onto dry land to hatch into their flying adult form. There are many representations of stonefly nymphs, and as many experienced fly anglers know, the more basic and simple versions with rubber legs often fish the best and are super productive. Below is a video on how to tie a simple rubber legged stonefly nymph.

Materials: Make sure you look at some color combos for black stones, golden stones, and a few other types to get an idea of good color combinations. They are also very good for steelhead (summer run especially); so those can have a little more glitz and pizazz if you want to tie them that way. 

Hook: Bead Head Nymph Hook
Thread: 3/0 Orvis Thread
Body Material: Orvis Chenille or Orvis New Age Chenille
Weight: Orvis Lead Free Wire (size per fly size and how heavy you want it to be)
Ribbing: Ultra Wire
Legs: Orvis Silicone Legs or Orvis Silicone Flutter Legs

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Orvis Crew Gets Together to Pursue Some Chrome

Recently we had a cool "get together" with a bunch of guys who affiliate in one way or another with Orvis, and people came from all over the country. Adam McNamara, store manager at Orvis Portland decided months back it would be a wonderful idea to invite some people from Orvis to partake in a Pacific Steelhead Outing. He invited a bunch of guys from the company, and it evolved into a trip where people came from Vermont, Louisiana, California, Washington, and nearby Bend, Oregon. As the steelhead gods work, this winter had been magical for steelheading, and as luck would have it,  the conditions would change. When they all showed up for this trip it hadn't rained for weeks, and it was like spring out in northwestern Oregon from Valentine's day on. The crew showed up March 4th to fish March 5th through March 8th. We were planning on fishing regardless of how low the water was, and now matter how long it had been since it rained. It turns out we ended up having fair fishing, and the fish we got into were really nice. Below is a bunch of photos, and these are mainly my pictures from the guys I was out fishing with. There were more rivers and more fish that were experienced by everyone else involved with the trip, but here is what I snapped pictures of.....
Lucas Bissett, Orvis Endorsed Guide (Low Tide Charters) from Louisiana, never waded or attempted to cast with a Spey rod before this trip. He took his fishiness to the next level as he hooked in a wild little chromer on his wade out to the spot.
Lucas landing his first winter steelhead in the first spot I took him to.
Not bad for a Louisiana Redfish Guide fishing the first spot ever in Oregon for steelhead.....
Lucas admiring his catch before sending it off.....
Lucas is thinking "adios winter steelhead"!
Lucas hadn't seen a scene like this where he fishes at home......
Working a probable run for winter steelhead
Anticipating the tug.....
False alarm for the steelhead, but another fish Lucas hasn't seen in Louisiana.
Checking out an incidental catch of a coastal cutty.....
Gorgeous dots speckle the Coastal Cutthroat Trout
The underside of the gill has a faint cutty slash
Sweet winter steelhead water
Back to swinging for the target species - winter steelhead
Lucas only fished one handed rods on Louisiana, and now he knows how to spey cast too.
Working the run step by step.....
Lots and lots of agates littered around the gravel and cobbles....
A little hidden drop off deep in the downstream end of a run
A little different than getting from spot to spot in the redfish marshes.....
Lucas experienced everything from cobblestone runs to bedrock ledges to fish from.
Swinging through a likely bucket above a constricted set of rapids
The random here and there Salmonfly you see in March and April on the west side of Oregon rivers.
Lucas was able to have areal casts across the entire river. I was impressed by how fast he picked up enough two handed casting ability to be able to fish effectively on his first day out for winter steelhead. 
After Lucas fished through this tailout, a driftboat passed through and said they saw a nice fish holding in it. Too bad that fish didn't want to tussle with Lucas.

Another great cast.....
Right when Lucas and I decided to see how Tom Evenson was doing, a winter steelhead decided it was time to play.
Bombs away! This fish took the air too many times to count!
Tom getting the fish in closer.....
A few last charges for the fish before it yielded to Tom. Lucas, Tom, and I were so stoked at this moment!!
Tom tailing this fine winter steelhead
Wowsers!! What a fine snowbellied chromer! A nice winter steelhead specimen!
The Black & Blue wet fly couldn't be left alone by this sea lice ridden fine winter steelhead.
As good as it gets!
Lucas had to wade out there and see if any other fish were willing to play after Tom landed that amazing acrobatic fish. Especially after a drift boat went through and let us know they saw a couple more steelhead laying in the run.
Airing out another nice cast.

Sending a cast off to prepare for another swing across the run.
You can see the fly (anchor) pulling free from the water in this picture.
One last swing for the day before we called it quits and had to get back to meet up with the rest of the group.
Lucas and Tom reminiscing about the fun day we just experienced.
Charlie Robinton sending off a beautiful tight looped two handed cast.
Jacob Gorman swinging with a switch rod in the Pacific Northwest for the first time.
A little bank-side scenery
Charlie scrambling down the bank while hooked up with a fish.
Rob Tibbett tails Charlie's fish. Woo hoo! Success in the first spot on day two!
Rob passing off this fine fish for Charlie to Admire.
Chrome as a dime - Winter Steelhead
Charlie Robinton admiring this winter steelhead.
This chromer fell for the black and red "Nightmare" wet fly.
"Nightmare" wet fly pinned in the grill
Fish like this bring big smiles!
Charlie and Alex chilling and enjoying the sunshine
I saved this bumble bee from the river and let it dry and warm up on the safety of this rock.
Jacob working a likely winter steelhead holding spot
Jacob waiting for the line to tense up and feel that grab.....
Rob working a spot that had fish rolling in it; revealing their presence to us.
Sunny warm weather March is the opposite of the cold and snow Rob has been experiencing in Vermont before he showed up for this trip.
Rob sending a cast off to prepare for a swing across this probable tailout feature.
There is some serious bend in this rod! Prepare for liftoff!
Rob working the water cast by cast....
Rob fishes a sweet run near a major tributary of the river we had been fishing.
Alex Beene walks through the moss to get to another fishing spot.
Rob swinging through likely steelhead holding lies
Alex working a nice run
A highly probable tailout of the run before it spills over into the next pool down.....
Alex sending a cast off into a likely submerged boulder garden
Rob and Alex about to head downriver for more fishing, and I am heading back to the PDX metro area.