Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Deschutes Report - Quick One - More Details Later...

Just literally got back from the Deschutes after camping and fishing for the last 4 days. We floated from Trout Creek to Harpham Flat, and it was good fishing and very low on the people count. Either the weather predictions scared everyone away, or the economy and gas prices kept people away. Nonetheless, we had good fishing and barely saw anyone else out except for a more family oriented rafting type of a crowd.

The fishing on Saturday the 28th was totally awesome, and the fish were destroying surface stonefly presentations like candy. There were pmds, green drakes, some caddis, golden stones and salmonflies. I fished a chubby norm and has awesome action on it. Also used Clark's Stone and got a lot of fish on it. It was one of those days where you caught a lot of fish in a lot of spots. Many casts with fish on.

Sunday the 29th was good, but not quite as epic as Saturday. A lot of good stonefly action, but not many surface feeding rises, but they would come up to the fly in many of the spots. Fish were on the same bugs as Saturday.

Monday the 30th was very good, and definitely better than the day before, but still did not surpass the action on Saturday. Fishing was really good though, and fish would come up to surface offerings with great regularity, but there was not a lot of action from live bugs and feeding fish.

Tuesday (today) the 31st was the slowest day, but the fishing was pretty good with blind fished presentations of Chubby Norms and regular Norm Wood's Specials (all I tried). Nymphing was kind of slow, but some fish were into it, but I ended up just fishing dries.

I will give a more detailed report with pics and all of that later. Just wanted to give the first hand latest report from the empty but fishing very well river.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Deschutes Time! Here We Come! Stoneflies and Trout Bring it On!

I am off to the Deschutes River for the next few days. The weather forecast has been on the improvement all week long; so let's hope it keeps on getting better and better. Excitement is pumping through my veins as I am picturing big bugs getting crushed by hungry trout.

Report coming soon........

Orvis Shop - Bridgeport Village - Here I come!!!

Being a fly fishing guide in the Portland, Oregon area can be a challenge to survive comfortably at times without any other form of work to back up certain times. You have many variables from the weather to the economy to contend with; along with the ever so rising fuel prices. Recently, I was fortunate enough to have Adam McNamara, Fly Fishing Manager of Orvis at Bridgeport Village, call me up to come by and check out the shop. He was super kind to me, and wanted to see if I was interested in a position at the shop after we met and spoke for a while. After an interview with store manager Heidi Adcock, I was super stoked to have her offer me a position. I will be starting employment there on Wednesday June 1st, and I will be doing customer service on the floor retail, teaching classes, and whatever else it takes to make a fly shop work to the highest potential possible. So now you can find Brian Marz either out on the river guiding or fishing for fun, or at the Orvis shop in Bridgeport Village.

Bridgeport Orvis Shop - 7495 SW Bridgeport Road, Tigard, OR 97224

The Address and Phone Number is:
Bridgeport Village
7495 SW Bridgeport Road
Tigard, OR 97224
Phone: 503-598-7680

Store Hours:
Monday thru Friday
10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
10:00 AM - 8:00 PM
12:00 PM - 5:00 PM

I hope to see all of the "regulars" who used to frequent Kaufmann's. I also look forward to meeting a ton of new anglers/fly fishers who I never saw come into Kaufmann's. If you come by, you will see a wonderful shop with tons of potential to be the best in the Portland Metro Area (still new! Opened November 18th) with a wonderful stock of awesome products. I know I was totally impressed by the Helios Fly Rods and the Orvis Switch Lines. The BEST SWITCH FLY LINE MADE ON THE MARKET NOW!

Come by and say hello! I would be totally stoked to see you at Orvis at Bridgeport Village!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Deschutes Fly Patterns for Salmonfy - Stonefly Hatch - Tying the Clark's Stone

One of my favorite fly patterns to fish during the Deschutes stonefly hatch is the Clark's Stone. It is more or less a golden stonefly impersonator, and it does an awesome job of fooling large rainbows. It cast very easily, and it floats well, even though there is not much to the fly. The body is not even really on the hook, and it is a yarn underwing that mimics the stonefly's body; while the hook is coated with gold mylar to catch the attention of the fish. Only then will it have to make a full on collision coarse to the offering; since it is too irresistible for a rainbow to deal with. On top of that, if you tie it correctly, it is super durable, and you can fish it fish lots of brutal fights. I have had trips where I have used the same Clark's Stone for about 2 days to then have the collar hackle break and then I would put on a different pattern for fun. 

Recipe For Clark's Stone:
HOOK - Spear It cs200 Size #8
THREAD - Flymaster 140 Denier Plus - Yellow or Fl. Orange
BODY - Mylar - Gold - Medium
UNDERWING - Poly-Bear - Orange & Yellow
WING - Yearling Elk Hair
DUBBING - Fine & Dry Dubbing - Stonefly Orange (for collar only)
HACKLE - Whiting 100's Hackle - Brown

Deschutes Stonefly Fishing Report - Fresh Hot Off The Press!

My good friend Ethan of Ethan Nickel Outfitters just got back from the Deschutes after being there for two consecutive trips. We discussed the fly fishing results of the last two trips and the results we positive. He more or less stressed that the fish are hungry and they are wanting to devour stoneflies. The first trip he was on had slower fishing since the water had taken a bad hit from runoff and the color was off and the flows were high. They did get into a lot of fish, but the second trip had the results that you would want onthe Deschutes during the salmonfly hatch. Lot of big rainbows on dry flies!

Deschutes Rainbow Trout - Photo Ryan J.

The flies he reported that worked well were the Chubby Chernobyl and the Chubby Chernobyl Norm in the heavy flowing water; while the Norm Woods Special and Clark's Stone were working well in the softer water and more typical spots. Reports of pulling into spots and having clients yarding in lots of big rainbows was the norm for this last outing, and conditions should remain to be similar or even better over the next several days.

Tying a Favorite Deschutes Stonefly Pattern - Norm Woods Special - Video Demonstration

When fishing the lower Deschutes for the salmonfly / stonefly hatch event, there are some proven fly patterns that many experienced Deschutes anglers would have high on their list. The Norm Woods Special is a fly pattern that may be the highest on many people's list of proven patterns to bring for the Deschutes stonefly extravaganza. It is more or less a stimulator gone different, and that is with the wing and often it has no tail. I would simplify my statement and I would say that the Norm Woods Special is a calf tail stimulator with no tail on the fly. That is what separates it from the standard Kaufmann's Stimulator. For whatever reason (the wing color and body color - most likely), large wild rainbow trout love eating this fly, and it is a must for your arsenal.

Below is a video demonstration for tying this awesome fly pattern:

Recipe For Norm Woods:
HOOK - Spear It cs200 Size #8
THREAD - Flymaster 140 Denier Plus - Yellow or Fl. Orange
WING - Calf Tail - Tan or Light Orange
DUBBING - Fine & Dry Dubbing - Golden Stone
HACKLE - Whiting 100's Hackle - Brown
RIBBING - Fine Gold Wire

The Norm Woods Special is a standard fly you should have in your fly box for any golden stonefly situation. It has proven itself over and over as a true trout catcher. Tie up for your Deschutes stonefly fly fishing trip, and you will see some vicious takes!

Norm Woods Special - Picture from Spirit River

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Deschutes Fly Pattern That Works Well - The Chernobyl Chubby Norm

Chubby Chernobyl Norm Fly Pattern

The Chernobyl Chubby Norm is an excellent fly pattern that gets rave reviews amongst Deschutes Anglers all over. It can be fished alone or with your favorite beadhead nymph dropped off of it. With the higher than average water flows this season it is a great choice to fish this fly. You can see it very easily and it leaves a big bold impression on the high water, but when the trout approaches, it sees a subtle understated golden stone with lots of movement and action.

Recipe For the Chernobyl Chubby Norm:
Thread - Flymaster +Plus+ (140 Denier)
Hook - Spear-It S300 Hooks
Body - Foam - Fly Foam (2mm) Dubbing - Mottled Nymph Blend
Wing - Calf Tail
Legs - Dancing Leggs
Tail - Crystal Splash

I know I am fired up to fish the Chubby Chernobyl Norm when I hit the Deschutes up. I am looking forward to see how it compares to favorites of mine like the Norm Wood's Special or the Clark's Stone.

Some favorite stonefly patterns tied for the Deschutes
Don't forget that I am also able to do FLY TYING INSTRUCTION, and I can teach fly tying classes on a private basis or a group basis. If you are interested in getting together to tie up some Chubby Chernobyl Norms or some other patterns you may be curious about then contact me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lower Deschutes Flows Looking Good! For How Long.....?

The lower Deschutes is finally on the drop, but what is going to happen with today's weather? The flows below show you how much better conditions are getting, but only time will tell.....

Fishing reports have been ranging from slow to good, and like all fishing it depends on your ability, what the fishing was like when you were there, and some pure luck. Somedays the stonefly hatch gets so good where everyone is catching a lot of trophy rainbow trout all day long. One thing about this time of the year is that the trout need to feed regardless of whether or not we can get out to them. That is the bummer about higher water levels; it makes a difficult time for the angler.

What things you can do for the higher water is to diversify your tactics. Fish slightly larger in some circumstances. I am one who loves to fish a Clark's Stone or a Norm Wood's Special, but in the higher water a fly like a Chubby Chernobyl may be a better bet. A Foam bodies larger pattern may get the fish's attention better in the high water flows. Who knows, it is hard to beat the Clark or Norm though.....Let's not forget about that subsurface form of fishing we call nymphing; it really works well, and when the water is high it can be the answer.....

Norm Wood's Special pinned into this Deschutes Rainbow Trout's Mouth
One thing is that what happens with this next series of weather systems will strongly determine how we fly fishers are going to fare out there with the Deschutes rainbow trout and the famous stonefly hatch.

***Lets hope this storm is a weak one......

Monday, May 23, 2011

Summer Steelhead Numbers Are There!

The summer steelhead counts for the Willamette Valley are happening right now. Many people ask me often, "when is is time to go for steelhead?" Well now is the time! Water levels are a bit high, but with the trends we have this year so far; you just have to get out there and go fishing. The counts was last updated on the 18th of May is it was 5,134 summer steelhead over the fall fish counter. There are a number of fish that pass over the falls and do not get counted, and there are the same indicated numbers going up the Clackamas River too. You can use the counts as an indicator for what the trends are, and not there is heavy anadramous fish passage going over each day (including spring chinook, summer steelhead, and winter steelhead). Also the water temperature at Oregon at Willamette Falls is in the perfect zone where it is running in the low 50s. Once the temperature hits about 52-53 degrees the fish start really coming over in good numbers; so the trend should stay similar until about the 4th of July. Then the counts can slow up due to warmer temperatures.

Hopefully water levels will drop, but I would still recommend going fishing for these summer steelhead. As the time passes while you are waiting for water levels to drop, you are missing out on the fishing possibilities. Fish are fish, and they live in water; so they do not really care about higher water levels. We anglers need to adapt in years like this; when the water levels are up and seemingly not going to lower down anytime fast. You just have to fish with heavier lines, and adjust your tactics to be more like winter steelheading. The hitch is that summer steelhead are super aggressive and they will move far for a swung fly. So you are going to have to adapt to more winter steelhead like techniques, but you are fishing for aggressive summer fish. It will pay off with big rewards!

As of late the water levels are dropping slowly, but gradually.....Lets hope that trend continues....... 
Some seriously good fly fishing opportunities exist all around Oregon now!

Help Keeping Your Local Portland Area Rivers Clean!

I am putting this information up here so you can all be aware of possibilities to help out with our local fisheries and rivers. Clean rivers will help everything ranging from how we feel about the waterways to the actual organisms that exist within them. By knowing when an event is coming, people can plan ahead and they can mark it down on the calender. Lets all take part in keeping our Portland Rivers clean!

Below is information about a cleanup that is happening on the Clackamas River:

On Sunday September 11th, 2011 WLCR, in partnership with the Clackamas River Basin Council, will host the 9th annual "Down the River Cleanup" on Oregon's Clackamas River!
Join WLCR and the CRBC in coordinating a collaboration of government bodies, outdoor recreation companies and over 300 invidual volunteers in removing trash from 15 river miles!
Get wet, have fun, splash, and help restore the Clackamas to its pristine state. The salmon will thank you. You'll discover the beauty of the river, take ownership, and spread the word to others!
Once finished with your section of the river, you'll be rewarded with a sumtuous picnic featuring organic cuisine and live entertainment. Plus you'll get a chance to compete bidding on some sweet outdoor gear!
Children welcome!

McKenzie River Trout Fishing Was Thumbs Up!


It was one of those days where the vibes were chill and the fishing was fun. Good consistent trout fishing is a blast, and yesterday was one of those afternoons when the fishing was the way it is supposed to be. The only factor we lacked was a day of catching trophy rainbow trout after trophy rainbow, but you can't ask for everything. The day was calm and stable more or less; with a consistent cloud cover that wouldn't yield. When fly fishing for trout on the McKenzie river, I prefer cloud cover, and even a spritz or two throughout the day. When it is sunny with high pressure the confidence factor as a guide drops; due to statistical evidence that shows the lesser weather days shine out there.

Yesterday, I took a regular client and she brought an awesome fishing partner named Clark along. Clark was "new" to fly fishing, but did it years ago; so refreshing his casting and "what to do" was what he needed. He picked it up really quickly, and was into fish before too long. It is really awesome to see when your clients shine, as Gail torched fish after fish at a certain point in the day. Once the "bite" got going, the fish were being taken on every few casts in certain spots, and as a guide I was able to "call" the fish. I love when you can say, "you are going to get one.......now!" and then a fish pounces the flies. It was like that on swung wet flies from about 2-5pm with the fishing being moderate before that time, but there was no major hatch of any kind, and the nymph fishing was slow. Not that I mind when the trout are coming up to the surface and yanking on swung wet flies in the surface film.

A really great aspect of the trip was how quick Clark picked up the techniques for McKenzie River trout. He claimed he was new to fly fishing, and did it years ago. Well it seemed like he did not miss a day, but he was also an awesome learner and listener. Lots of fish resulted, and it was a pleasure to have met him. Gail really fly fished like an accomplished angler. Over the time of taking her out, I have seen her angling skills soar, and now she fished the McKenzie like a veteran fly fisher. When you take someone out for the first time on a river, you can see them learning the little nuances of the techniques that get the job done, and how they are different from destinations that they already have experience from. It is really a great feeling when you see the someone get better and better, and to have a greater understanding of where the fish are, and what it takes to get them. Over the years, I have seen a lot of my clients really improve their fly fishing skills, and the trips typically get better and better as a result of this.

Flies that worked well yesterday were the Red Butted softhackle in size 12, yellow softhackle in size 12, Royal Coachman Wet in size 12, a green caddis wet in size 10, and no fish are dry flies, and nothing nymphing. We did not nymph too much; since the wet fly grab was on, and it was too much fun to put those rods down to have to throw a Thingamabobber out there. The bite shut down about 5pm, and then we headed towards the takeout. After reeling in the boat, I visited a good friend in Eugene for a bite to eat, and then I was headed back to Portland after a wonderful day of guiding fly fishing.

McKenzie Trout Fly Fishing - There is actually a trout double going on....

Saturday, May 21, 2011

PDX Carp-a-rama! Fishing Was Happening With the Sunny Bright Weather

Common Carp Near Portland Oregon
The past couple of day I was out with friends/clients, and we had wonderful days in the sunshine stalking common carp in the grassy flats. My friend Bruce, Blaine, and Brian were out there picking up carp with regularity, and it was awesome watching them have a blast out there; while I was stalking away for these challenging fish.

Bruce D. with a nice golden PDX carp
The fish have been very active; patrolling around the flats seeking whatever food may be drowning or vulnerable in the flooded land. They are super opportunistic feeders, as they root around, swim around, and look around seeking nourishment to sustain their powerful rock hard bodies. They are not the lazy logs that most people think they are, and they happen to be a fine gamefish that takes the most talented of anglers to catch them.

A smiling angler with a hard bodied common carp
When you find the carp, you have to crawl like a slug, whisper with no impacting audibility, and you have to observe them before making your cast at them. All while anticipating where they are about to move to. Then you have to hope you do not spook them, and that they will want your offerings. Carp are about the toughest fish to stalk around!

Pretty Scale Patterns on the Common Carp
 Sometimes you can get a carp to bite with your leader and a few feet of fly line; while other times you have to make a 60'+ cast right on their nose. They are constantly moving around too; so you are putting your cast on the dime of a moving target. Pretty good casting practice for the bonefishing trip you have planned next year.
Carp and Human Battle in Progress
 Once they are hooked, they pull line out of the fly reel with serious authority, and you will see fly line backing quite often. Then some of the fish do not give up, and will not yield to your pressure until you fully are worn out on "your" end of the line. Again, these carp are a fine game fish, and not the sluggish logs that people perceive them as.
The Carp are literally on flooded Fields....
 Friday afternoon (5/20), I managed to spot out two large fish cruising the shallows and I got a few good shots at them. Finally after about a 65' cast threaded into a little pocket in the grass, the line was tight on the first little strip. The end of the line erupted and the reel screamed as my line spilled out into the backing and then some. A long battle and two times the fish took me long into the backing before it budged and I was worn out. The largest fish I have taken on a 8'6" four weight with 3X tippet. Yeah!!!

Common Carp Taken on Dumbbell Eyed Softhackle
Carp flats fly fishing is a wonderful way to get out when it is bright sun and crystal clear skies. A lot of fishing slows down when it is bright out with high pressure, but carp fishing seems to shine when the sun is out and bright. Get out there and challenge yourself and feel the big pull.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Summer Steelhead Time - Spey Casting Feeling Rusty? - Brush Up With a Spey Casting Lesson

Many people have probably had some dust collecting on their spey fishing gear, and it is time to wipe it off. Steelhead are in the Willamette Valley Rivers in good numbers, and it is time to get out to fish for them. The other day, I was giving a spey casting lesson on the lower Clackamas River, and I thought of how many people have probably not touched their spey rod since March some time, and April for others. Anyone who is in the learning phases of spey casting probably has forgotten all of the good habits; like where your anchor point should fall in reference to your rod and body. Small little nuances, like how should I swing my rod around to form a beautiful tight formed D-loop? Well, the fish are running, and you can hear your reels sing, or you can sit around and catch up on that yard work.
Brand Spanking New Spey Rod Ready for Use - Photo By Arian
 If you already know how to spey cast, but want a refresher on the different fly lines, how to work them, work on the little nuances of casting you may have questions about,  and which fly lines to be using for these "Skamania Stock" summer runs in what situations; then get a hold of me for a lesson on my contact page.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Carp Flats Fishing Was Happening!

Yesterday afternoon, I decided to go flats fishing for Carp, and I scored it while it was happening. The water looked really good, and the fish were rooting around and cruising around the shallows. The opportunity was looking like a promising one, and after a short while I was tight into a nice golden treasure of a carp.

Common Carp Taken on Carrot Fly

After admiring that hard bodied carp, I let it swim off, and was ready for another one. Too bad some guys speaking foreign tongues wanted in on my action too. They literally came up to me blabbing about my carp. They asked what kind of bait I was using, and when I explained a fly; they gave me a dumbfounded look. When I showed them what I was throwing, they got all excited, and literally parked too close to me to fish also. After a little bit of loosing my patience, I bailed in search of more flats and fish.

The "Carrot Fly" Stuck in the Carp's Mouth
Before I knew it, I was back into a hot pack of fish, and they were looking promising to catch. I threw a nice shot at a fish that was cruising toward me, and it inhaled the offering and was off to the races. The fish was hooked at about 15', and it sprinted off and cleaned my clock all the way into the backing. What a bee lined run that was! I managed the wrangle that fish from the grass, and it submitted itself onto the shallow grassy ledge where I admired it.

Carp landed after a serious sprint into the backing....

I popped the "carrot fly" out of the fish's mouth and then I let it swim off, and I was one stoked fisherman. When the fish were given the right presentation, they would slam the fly, and you would see it. It was a really great way to spend a few hours in the afternoon. Obviously, I am going to have to try that again today; so we'll see how it goes again. Should be even better today.....

Fly choice is a funny one with carp, and it seems like the confidence in your fly is the most important thing. I know some people who love the San Juan Worm, and others like crawdad imitations. Buggy nymphs also are used a lot, and then hybrids of all of the above seem to work too. The more I fish for the carp, the more I realize it is about the presentation, and the fly has to be in the ball park of what they want. Every fly in this pic will work, and it seems that finding fish that are willing, and fishing in shallower water will help you get into carp on the fly.

Some of the Carp Flie I have been tying and using

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gone Carping.......

About to enjoy the high pressure and sunshine with some carp flats fly fishing in the Portland area. I will hopefully have a good report for you all later......

Portland Oregon area Common Carp
When it is bright, warm, and sunny; it is time to go hit the flats for some seriously technical carp fly fishing. See you later......

McKenzie River Trout Report

On Tight - McKenzie River Redside
The McKenzie River is fishing well despite the high flows we have had this spring. As of late, the river is fishing well from up high all the way down to the mouth. This is the time frame where the entire river will fish well, and with the higher cold flows, the lower river should span its productive fishing window later into the season. Normally it shuts down sometime in early June when we get the first heat spell. This year may be another story, where the fishing may stay strong down on the lower McKenzie well into June. Only time will tell....

Lower McKenzie River Trout Fishing
The interesting thing about this season is how long the March Browns have been going for. They have still been coming off with significant hatches, along with pale morning duns, and the occasional green caddis. The green caddis hatch has not really gone full throttle yet; although the fish are eating the green caddis wet flies with regularity. When it gets going, fishing will really get good, and this is the latest it has been without the green caddis hatching in full effect since I have been fishing the river. While we are waiting for the green caddis hatch to come on harder, the fishing has been strong most of the days with solid nymphing and fair to good wet fly action. The higher flows are keeping the average anglers off the river, but fish live in water and have to eat. They do well with higher flows, and the trick is getting to them. Having a drift boat is clutch when the river has a year like this, but when you get out there; you'll find plenty of probable water to find large trophy rainbows holding in.
McKenzie Rainbow Taken on Royal Coachman Wet

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Video - Summer Run Steelhead on the McKenzie or Middle Fork Willamette Rivers

This video is a montage of clips of steelhead fly fishing from the McKenzie River and the Willamette River. The fishing is everywhere mentioned in the Part I and Part II blog entries. The audio is left there so you can hear the reels screaming off fly line.

Enjoy it! 

Catching Early Summer Run Steelhead on the McKenzie or Middle Fork Willamette Rivers -Part II

(Part II)This is the second part of the story from several days back; so if you have not seen and read Part I, then click here.

The focus of this entry is to discuss techniques for catching summer run steelhead on the Willamette River up high in the Eugene / Springfield area. Previously, I mentioned fishing techniques for steelhead on the McKenzie River, and now I am going to explain the secrets to getting into steelhead on the Willamette. The Willamette River is structurally different than the McKenzie, and it flows with a velocity that varies a lot, dictating how to approach the different pieces of water. I will discuss how to crack the code on what lines to use, and how to choose the right fly patterns to hoax the steelhead into biting.
Steelhead on Tight - "Town Run"
The Willamette River in the Eugene / Springfield area can be broken up into a 3 sections. There is the section that people refer to as the "Town Run", and it is literally the water that flows right through the city limits of Eugene and Springfield. It is wide and shallow with mostly ledge bedrock tailouts after long slow "frogwater" pools. There are a few runs, but most of the water is classic steelhead tailouts, and typically fishing is done with fly lines that run shallow in the water column. Floaters, Type II or Type III sinking tips are all you need when the water levels are good for fly fishing. Flies that I use which are proven to get into plenty of steelhead are the Purple Motion Prawn, Moal Leeches, Silver Hiltons, and basic marabou patterns. The fish are very aggressive, and they will move far to strike a swung wet fly.  
Relishing the Rewards - "Town Run" Steelhead
The "Town Run" more or less runs from the confluence of the Coast Fork Willamette down through town north to the Beltline Highway crossing. Above that you have two sections that you could classify; although the techniques for fishing would be the same for both. At the top most upstream portion of water that the fish run up to is Dexter Dam, and that is the end of the road for the migratory fish (salmon and steelhead). The fish keg up below the dam, but so do the anglers at times. It can be crowded and intense out there in the early season, and fly fishers are the minority by far. On the other hand, there are plenty of times where you can slip in to water that is lacking people, but happening with steelhead numbers. Fishing for steelhead below Dexter Dam can be done with fly lines ranging from a floater through Type V, and the flies that I prefer to use are the same as the ones mentioned for the "Town Run". I do also have a few spots that I will probe flies under a strike indicator with a stonefly nymph (catered for steelhead) and a glo bug dropped off of it. Generally the Willamette is a swinging fly river, but there are a couple of hot spots that you can dead drift flies in, and you can have good success doing so.
"Town Run" Steelhead
The river below Dexter Dam has some minor rapids, but enough to slow the fish up into classic steelhead water. Runs, tailouts, and pools are where you will typically target steelhead from Dexter down, and the water is loaded with back to back fishable spots. You do not have to row far downriver to come up to the next spot after you are done fishing a given location. Floating lines should be used in the shallower water (3 feet deep or less), while the sinking tips should be determined by the depth and speed of the water. A type V sinking tip may be more useful in the early season, while it may be only useful in a spot or two when the water drops down to the lowest summer level.
Middle Fork Willamette Steelhead
Downstream of the Dexter Dam stretch, the water changes a little bit in the way that it flows, and the fish tend to hold in slightly different water. Below Dexter Dam, the fish tend to hold in water that is easy to read, and it is a bit more straight forward to the average fly fishing steelheader. Conversely, the water in between the "Town Run" and Dexter Dam is what I would deem as the most ambiguous for steelhead water in the area. It is one of the pieces of river where it looks good just about everywhere. The water is walking speed just about everywhere you look, and the depth is from about 18" to 5' deep just about everywhere too. Lots of places for steelhead to hold in, but how do you know where they are at? So how do you figure out where the fish are holding in the stretch? It is difficult, and I would say that if you are coming to fish the Willamette on your own, this stretch would be the hardest to figure out. It is a stretch of river where you have to pay your dues, and learn the river; since the fish are harder to find. Once you learn it; you will realize that the steelhead are creatures of habit, and they will be at the same spots day after day.
 Steelhead taken while learning how to cast on a fly rod - "Town Run"
The fish in the stretch in between Dexter and Town are generally running through, and not holding in the early season. Many of the fish are headed to Dexter Dam (where they were stocked before running to the ocean), or straying from the "Town Run". The river widens in this stretch, and the bottom is made up of mostly uniform sized cobbles; so there are not really large boulders breaking up the current to help with steelhead choosing their holding spots. Due to this, a lot of water that looks classic may be fish-less; while some of the hottest spots do not really look like they would be all that productive. Swinging flies tends to be the best method out there for this area, and the wide shallow river dictates to cover a lot of water. Nothing cover vast parcels of steelhead water better than swinging flies, and the fish will move far to drill your fly on this stretch of river.
Steelhead Taken at the Middle Fork Willamette River
Flows can vary a lot on the Willamette, and there is not much of a warning from the army corp of engineers about when they are going to release water from Dexter Dam. Sometimes the river is running high for weeks; while other times it will be lower than you can imagine with exposed gravel bars all over the place. Typically lower flows are preferred, but the water can get to be too low at times for good productive fishing. When the flows are running high, it gets more difficult to figure out where to fish at, and the fish seem to really spread out and are hard to find. Water temperatures run a lot higher than the McKenzie River, and it is probably the one of the most important reasons why the fish are aggressive and will move far to strike your swung wet fly. The river runs steelhead green with good clarity, but enough murkiness to make the steelhead fearless. The McKenzie runs tap water clear and super cold; so the fish on the Willamette seem to be easier to catch, and more apt to take a swung fly on a floating line.
Motion Prawn stuck in the grill.....
In a nutshell, while fishing the Willamette River, you can fish with heavier flies and denser sinking lines higher up the river towards Dexter Dam; while fishing more towards the surface as you get lower down the river. The lower you go on the river the more you can use a floating line and fly that is more oriented towards to surface. On the flip side, I have skated dry flies on a floating line below Dexter Dam and I have done very well. That was a late season thing though; since in October the river can have maybe 1 person or nobody on it.
** With steelhead fly fishing you can catch fish with a variety of techniques. I have mentioned things in this blog entry that will work for someone going to fish the southern Willamette Valley area for the first time, and they are wondering what to bring how to use it. There are literally only a few steelhead fly fishing guides out on these areas I have mentioned who work out there with heavy consistency, and we all share the same spots, notes, and fishing tips with each other. We help each other with spots and how to perfect fishing them. These tips mentioned in this blog are from me, but my knowledge of these areas is from endless experience and sharing the knowledge with a couple of  other successful anglers who are out there.   
Willamette River Summer Steelhead
One thing that I can say about the Willamette and McKenzie Rivers are that they are VERY GOOD for summer steelhead. The runs come in early compared to many summer steelhead fisheries. Watching a sight fished McKenzie steelhead in the cold gin clear water eat your fly is any bit as cool as fishing in the crystal clear waters of New Zealand. The fish in the Willamette can be as aggressive as any Deschutes steelhead or North Umpqua steelhead, and the fishing pressure can be light after the initial hype of the anadramous fish runs in the spring is over. Last fall, a statistic I can brag about was that the worst day I had on my fall guide season was one 1 fish day. That person was barely able to cast the Skagit head out of the spey rod (some people are only capable of making a super short cast), and we still managed to get into a landed fish. I hear of people getting skunked for days on end at some of the "famous" steelhead rivers like the Deschutes and North Umpqua.Otherwise the rest of the days for my fall guiding for steelhead were met with multiple fish hookups and simply GREAT STEELHEAD FLY FISHING! 

If you are interested in booking a guided trip for steelhead, call me at (541)-232-6360 or email me at fish@mckenzieangler.com .

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Summer Steelhead Numbers Looking Good - Willamette River System

The last few days have had nice summer steelhead passage through the Willamette Falls Fish Counter. ODFW reports nice numbers of fish returning; so keep yourself posted to the Willamette Falls Fish Counts. My personal opinion is when the numbers breach 3,000 summer steelhead, it is good enough to have high probability of roping into some chrome bright fish. The numbers hit that 3,000+ mark from May 6th to May 7th, and then almost jumped another thousand fish since then to the 12th which is the last day of counted fish reported by ODFW.
Clackamas River Summer Steelhead
Daily Cum Date

When the numbers are coming in; the counts will fall behind several days due to the spring chinook and steelhead literally having to be hand counted with pictures taken from a camera as they pass through the fish ladder. That is a good sign too, and that basically means that it is time to get out to the tributaries that come into the main stem Willamette River like the Clackamas, Santiams, McKenzie, and Middle Fork Willamette Rivers. The early fish are full of serious vigor, and if you have not hooked one, I strongly recommend trying getting out to experience one.

If you are interested in booking a guided trip for steelhead, call me at (541)-232-6360 or email me at fish@mckenzieangler.com .

Cold and Off Up By Warm Springs - Deschutes River Salmonfly Hatch

On the way back from Bend, Oregon to my my hometown of Portland, we decided to swing into the Warm Springs Boat ramp to see the scene. It was peaceful and no cars in the lots showing signs of any fishing going on. After close observation along the banks, there were no adult salmonflies in the grass or in the trees at all. I do know they are down at Maupin, and I can say first hand that they are not up by Warm Springs yet. It is early there, and the only flies we saw were some blue winged olives flying off the water; with no trout paying attention to them at all.

Flows were slightly high, and water color was not the standard Deschutes color that you normally see. I would classify the water as a bit greener and murkier than standard Deschutes water color. The weather was holding up around Warm Springs, but it was rather nasty in central Oregon today.  Temperature was in the upper 50s, and it was hard to imagine that in two weeks we will be in the thick of it, and nice days may be around the corner.

Deschutes River below Warm Springs

The time will be soon when you can throw the big bugs all over the Deschutes from Maupin on up to Warm Springs, but as of now the action is lower down, and on its way up.....

Deschutes Salmonfly Hatch is Underway!!! It's Game On!!

Salmonfly - Some Serious Trout Food!
Yesterday afternoon, I spoke with a buddy who told me that fish were being taken on the surface on the Deschutes with dry fly salmonfly patterns around Maupin. The time has come!!! It is not "going off" yet, but my friend has been out there all week, and yesterday (4-11-2011) was the first day he was getting trout on the surface. He did not catch a ton of fish on topwater, but he did succeed. The nymph fishing has been strong, and now that the flies are starting to get taken on the top; it is time to start fishing over there.

Lots of Huge Smiles During the Deschutes Stonefly Hatch
The stonefly hatch is now focused lower down towards Maupin, and it will move up the river over the next few weeks; so being in the stretch where the fish are looking up is the key to success in the early phases. Before you know it, the fish will get keyed into the adult stoneflies up and down the river, and the fishing will be that "famous stonefly fishing" that we all hear about. If you have not experienced the fishing during this hatch; you need to give it a try. Yes, it does get extremely crowded, but for a good reason. If watching your 2 inch long fly getting clobbered by a suicidal trout does not appeal to you, then this hatch is not for you. There is a reason a lot of people come to the Deschutes to fish this hatch; it is very exciting, and there are so many flies out, where it is one of nature's amazing spectacles to see. 

There are as many golden stones as there are salmonflies....
If you have not been over to the Deschutes for the SALMONFLY hatch, then you need to get yourself out there. If you are interested in booking a multi-day Deschutes trip , then call me at (541)232-6360 or email me at fish@mckenzieangler.com. There are only a few bookings available with the outfitter I work with on the Deschutes for the stonefly hatch time; so act fast! Otherwise, you will have to wait until next year!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How To Catch Early Summer Run Steelhead on the McKenzie or Middle Fork Willamette Rivers -Part I

There are summer steelhead in the McKenzie and Middle Fork of the Willamette Rivers, and targeting them properly is what it takes to catch them effectively. I am going to discuss how to go about targeting the steelhead on each of the two rivers. The McKenzie River is going to be the first river I will discuss, and catching summer steelhead on this river is a little different than your average river for summer run fish. You can fish the way that you will fish for summer steelhead on a river like the Deschutes, and you may pick up a fish here or there, or you can fish the McKenzie River the right way, and you will catch fish with regularity.

Chrome Bright Early Summer Run McKenzie Summer Steelhead

The first thing about the McKenzie River is that it is cold and clear all summer long. It doesn't warm up like many of the rivers around Oregon; where they will have summer water temperatures in the mid 60s or higher. The McKenzie River runs no warmer than the upper 50s in the steelhead fishing portion of the river. Typically the river can be in the low 50s, and even around 48 degrees into the end of June on some years. The river is very clear, and the water runs rather swiftly. With that being said, the fish tend to hold in classic steelhead water, but some of the tailouts, runs, and riffles may be running a little faster than some of the standard steelhead rivers you may normally fish. The trick is that the fish are holding in the same speed water that they always would hold in, but larger boulders are what is breaking up the current speed and creating that "walking speed water" that we steelheaders are seeking to present our flies in. There still are slow deep pools fading into glassy slow tailouts with fish holding in them, but there are a lot of the types of water that I mentioned earlier.

Spring Steelhead on the McKenzie River
The McKenzie steelhead should be fished with a cold water mentality. Deeper presented flies will take more fish in colder water. Typically, I fish a variety of sinking tips with a multi-tip set up, and that can be done two different ways on the Mac. You can fish from the drift boat, and you can fish single handed rods, and weighted flies. In the case of my boat, I run a Clackacraft; so I can have two people fishing at the same time, and often I will have the person in the front of the boat with a floating line and a motion prawn.

Purple Motion Prawn
The person in the back of the boat (the second fly through) typically has some sort of a sinking tip; which could be a Type II (Scientific Anglers) or Type III (Airflo or Rio), and the fly would be a Moal Leech with the color being black with blue. This way the first fly through the water is traveling higher up in the water column; while the second fly is traveling lower and slower right behind the first offering.

Black/Blue Moal Leech
 Sometimes, I am running the boat with someone fishing one side with a floater because it is only about 2-3 feet deep; while the other side of the boat will have someone running a Type V sinking tip because it is swifter and 4-5 feet deep. You want to analyze the water that you are going to fish, thinking about depth, and how fast it is flowing. That will help you decide the density of sinking tip to use, and if you want a heavy fly, or a lightweight fly.

McKenzie Steelhead taken on Purple Motion Prawn
The same approach can be applied to spey fishing from the banks of the river. You can pull the boat over, and get out to swing away with two handed fly rods, but you should think about the sinking tips to use for the given piece of water that you are going to be fishing. A Skagit Head System is the best choice for a fly line for your spey rod while fishing the McKenzie. For the spring, you can use T-11 or less dense sinking tips, and 12-15 foot type III to Type VI sinking tips will be the best for the typical spring and early summer water levels. Also, don't forget that floating tip for your Skagit Head, because you can throw a large weighted fly off of the floater, or you can even skate a DRY FLY for one of these summer steelhead. 

McKenzie Steelhead Taken on Egg Sucking Stone
Another productive method for catching McKenzie Steelhead is nymph/indicator fishing. I would recommend using a Thingamabobber, stonefly nymph, and an egg dropper for McKenzie River steelhead. I prefer to nymph fish to fish that are spotted and holding. Also nymphing the water that is slotty and focused is where I dead drift flies; while I prefer to swing in the bigger broader water. Some spots are too small and too slotty to swing, while other spots are too vast and ambiguous to nymph ; unless you see a holding fish to present your fly to.

This is how I like to fish on the McKenzie River, and it is literally due to statistical evidence of fishing the river for years, and spending day after day on it. I understand that other methods will produce steelhead out there, but these are tips for someone wanting to go there, and wanting some recommendations that I know will produce.

****** I Hope these tips are helpful for anyone willing to try out the Mac for steelhead.........

Part II coming soon......

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Get Ready for the McKenzie Green Caddis

It is GREEN CADDIS time! The McKenzie river gets a big green caddis that really pulls the large rainbows from the depths. You can really have some amazing days of fly fishing during this hatch, and two places where it really shines are the McKenzie and Middle Fork Willamette Rivers. The fly is large and very active on the water; making for an excellent hatch for beginner and expert fly fishers. It is the kind of a fly that you can skitter across the water, and some explosive takes from aggressive rainbow trout result. The best thing is how the fly is large and easy to see on the water; so you can watch those trophy rainbows CRUSH your fly!

A Freshly Hatched Green Caddis Adult
The fly can be fished in both a wet and dry version, and when they are hatching; you will know. There will be explosive rises out in the fast whitecap soft chop water. It sometimes takes a moment to realize that they are rise forms; since the water can be fast and bouncy where these flies hatch and get taken by hungry trout. When you experience a good day of McKenzie Green Caddis fly fishing; you will be hooked, and every season you will make it a priority to experience.

A Fat Rainbow Trout That Ate a Green Caddis Dry Fly
 The hatch tends to come off about 2pm-ish, and it can last for hours intermittently. On the sunny hot days, there can be epic "evening rise" times; where the trout are eating them gluttonously, and you can rack in the numbers of trophy rainbows. The best days tend to be the muggy days with spotty rain showers and sunny breaks in between. The kind of days where you have your rain gear on, but you never really get wet. All you have to see out there is literally a few of these large caddis, and you will know it is time to put one on. The fish get super keyed into them, and they will seek out green caddis and that will be it.
Many Trout Like This on a Green Caddis Day
The Green Caddis is one of those hatches that can be considered one of the best times to fish the McKenzie River, if not the BEST. If you are interested in booking a guided trip for trout, call me at (541)-232-6360 or email me at fish@mckenzieangler.com .

Friday, May 6, 2011

Summer Steelhead Time is Here!

Steelhead numbers have recently been increasing for the Willamette Valley rivers like the Middle Fork of the Willamette, McKenzie, North Santiam, and the South Santiam. Also the Clackamas River should be kicking into high gear with the arrival of fresh summer run steelhead. The early summer steelhead can really make your fly reel scream as your fly line empties out into fly line backing many times when you hookup.

Clackamas River Steelhead with Dry Fly

The early summer steelhead are super vigorous, as they arrive into the rivers very sexually immature. The omega three fatty acids convert into egg mass and sperm sack mass in both the males and the females as they mature while being in fresh water. Due to this, these steelhead are very aggressive and somewhat predictable in their habits. Also they are in the fresh water rivers for about 9 months versus winter steelhead which enter fresh water on a mission to spawn and return to saltwater as soon as possible.

A Chrome Bright Willamette River Hatchery Summer Steelhead

These summer steelhead will move far for a fly, and sometimes they will literally swim 10 feet to destroy your swung wet fly. After they are hooked, many aerials will happen, and your fly line will scream out of your fly reel so fast; that you will have to clear your knuckles in order to prevent bruising them or breaking the fish off. Fly Fishing for summer steelhead is a total addiction, and it can be done with a spey rod, a single handed rod, swinging flies, nymphing flies, etc.

Willamette River Steelhead Caught in the "Town Run"

Fly Fishing for summer steelhead in the Willamette Valley can be everything from a traditional style wet fly swing on a floating line to spey fishing with Skagit Heads and large intruder like patterns. The moal leeches in black/blue or purple/pink are two of my go to colors, and also a fly called a motion prawn in purple with a pink butt is a wonderful out there. A Silver Hilton is a great traditional pattern that works very well on the Willamette River steelhead. The McKenzie River and the North Santiam tend to have colder temperatures; so the fish tend to be more oriented with sinking tips and larger weighted flies. Nymph fishing also works very well on the McKenzie steelhead, and the fishing tends to be a more swing oriented style on the Willamette and Clackamas Rivers.

High Water McKenzie Steelhead

Fly fishing the Clackamas River for steelhead is the trip for you; if you are looking to book a guided trip while visiting Portland, Oregon! If you would like to try the McKenzie River for steelhead while swinging flies, nymphing, or sight fishing, then contact me to get a date booked before they fill up. If swinging a spey rod is what you love, then the Middle Fork of the Willamette is what you are looking for; so get a hold of me to book a guided fly fishing trip for summer steelhead.

Tight Lines!!