Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Steelheading is Steady

First Steelhead on a fly rod - McKenzie River
On Monday June 27th the steelheading was what I would call steady, but solid. We had several swings with a good tug on the other end, but no fish grabbed and turned on the fly to the point where they stuck. Luckily, we were able to persuade the fish into biting dead drifted offerings under a strike indicator on a floating line. My clients were super troopers fishing hard and persistent and gaining more skills throughout the day. One of the guys (Michael) was experienced with two handed/spey casting; while Nathan was trying two handed fishing for the second time. It is always an awesome feeling to see someone accelerate so much while they are spey casting, and to see them get the "spey bug", where you can tell they are really stoked on it. 

2nd Time Out Spey Casting
We got out at sunrise, and the river was crowded with lots of spring Chinook salmon anglers, and several other boats steelheading. We were one of only a few other that were fly angling, but that is the way that it is in the early summer for anadramous fish in Oregon. Everyone was happy and courteous for the most part, and the day was gorgeous out there. Fish were rolling all over and the water conditions were the best they have been all season long. We fished really hard swinging flies with two handed rods from the bank, single handed rods from the boat, and we also probed flies off of strike indicators in probable slot type water that makes swinging flies feel out of the picture. 
Setting up the Two Handed Cast Anchor Point
  The fish we got were on dead drifted flies, and one was on a clown egg pattern in a size #10; while the other fish was on for the entire battle only to "long distance release" itself right at the approximate landing mode. I was handing the camera over to Nathan to get ready to get into "net landing mode"; when I heard Michael mutter a frustrated groan....Bummer...., but at least we had it on for a good while.
Forward Two Handed Stroke - Notice that Anchor Ripping Out....
We had a wonderful day, and I had an awesome time guiding Michael and Nathan. They were both very enthusiastic, patient, positive, appreciative, and great fisherman. Nathan was stoked on his first fly rod caught steelhead, and Michael was stoked about his first nymph hooked up steelhead. I was frustrated for them that the steelhead gods did not give them a couple of fish hooked up on the swing; especially since Nathan had three swings that came across with solid clothesline tugs, and Michael had one swing come through with the same result. It is funny how if the planets lined up a tinge differently, they could have had a couple to three fish on the swing and two nymphing. Instead we landed one, and had one on for 90% of the battle; with a couple of super close ones almost on the swing. THAT'S STEELHEADING FOR YOU!!!
Nymphing with Switch Rods takes steelhead effectively

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

Spot the steelhead....... McKenzie River Summer Steelhead

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Steelhead Reports Looking Up...

One of my friends who knows steelhead really well has reported to me two really good days of steelheading in the Willamette Valley. One day he landed 4 fish within an hour, and all of the fish were on a swung blue and black motion prawn. The day before he hooked and landed two fish on the same fly. Water levels are going down and down, and the fish are coming in more and more. We have had the highest water spring possible, but now we are going to get rewarded with some wonderful summer fly fly fishing.

Too many people think the water is ridiculously high, but levels are wonderful across the board. Normally rivers are too low at many locations, and this year we have plenty of water at places that are normally too low for fishing or running boats. Good fishing possibilities are here, and you can only have a good day of fishing if you get out there and experience it. I have talked to too many people who have not been out in months or weeks; complaining of too much water, and all the time has passed with no fishing tales to pass on. I know that I have experienced some amazing times in recent weeks and months, but it has required adaptation.   Between carp, trout, and steelhead, there have been some serious hoots and cheers of joy. Get out and enjoy fly fishing! Get out and seek some chrome! It's time!
Summer Steelhead Time......

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fishing Report 6/21/2011 - Carping and Columbia Warmwater Fly Fishing

On solstice day, I decided to go drive east up the Columbia in search of those elusive and spooky carp. Without planning it, I ended up having a super fun warmwater day of fly fishing. I pulled up to a pond on the side of the river and looked down only to see a lurking largemouth bass in search of food. It turns out that I could not persuade that lunker into biting, but I did notice the sunfish that the bass was cruising by. I tempted the little sunfish with a small panfish popper, and they were all over it. 
Bluegill on mini popper
I ended up catching a couple of different species of sunfish, and the colors were really pretty on a few of them. It would be hard top paint a fish and have it end up looking like this one....

Nice Paint job on this sunfish....
After a bunch of those sunfish satisfied my topwater needs, I decided to move onto larger quarry. I wanted to catch a large Columbia basin carp, and I had to start looking for them. I got high up on the railroad tracks and immediately noticed some huge bombs cruising around. I started to feel my hands shake as I was attempting to tie on my fly. I slid down towards water levels and presented my fly to lots of fish, but they were being tough. I stuck one huge fish, but the hook pulled free on the first run. I was wild though, because you could see the fish gain interest in your fly, and then they would tip down to munch it off of the bottom. The tough part was seeing that part happen since they were a little deeper than I like for tailing fish. I noticed a pack of otters, and the action seized right away. It was time to move on to another spot.....
Carp taken while sight fishing with small wetfly
Luckily, I had a pond in mind that I saw some monster sized carp at on an earlier outing; so I was determined to find them again. It wasn't more than 30 seconds before I could see tons of fish cruising around at the next location, and they were blatantly feeding, and feeding hard too! I was stoked to present my fly to there fish. I walked down to water level and stuck a beast right away literally from dapping my fly in front of the face of a fish huddled in the grass. It torched me, and I did not even stand a chance, but what a thrill it was. I then managed to stick and land two more fish in the grass with the same technique. Fishing was hot!!
I moved down the pond and saw a ton of fish feeding on vegetation on the surface. It was wild to see, and they were gulping away gluttonously, and you could hear going on also. I would sit and watch fish come out of the weeds and I would then throw my fly right at the fish anticipating where it was headed. I would keep the fly in front of the fish for a few feet and then drop it through the water column, and they would plunge down to inhale the offering. It was totally insane fly fishing!!! I was hookup up like I was trout fishing, and they were actually sort of easy to get to take your fly. Fish on constantly and one after another. Like anything though, it had to wind down after a while. I managed to hook up with more fish than I have ever hooked in one outing. I managed to hook several huge fish that whooped me silly, and I lost many flies on many fish. There were many blown shots, and many quick hookups with long distance releases too. It was a day of carp fly fishing I will never forget. Go figure that I was all alone, and got to experience such a day by myself. That is the beauty of Carp Fly Fishing; it is totally untapped more or less. I love the fact that so many people do not even attempt it. After dealing with early wake ups, the intensity of andramous fishing, and crowds; it is nice to have a fishery to go to that has nobody out there......

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

In Pursuit of Those Giant Carp.....

Carp Caught Just Outside Of Portland City Limits
I am off to check out those massive sized carp that reside east of Portland. When I first saw those giant carp of the Columbia, I was practically trembling. Time to bust out the larger rod with a fighting butt; since these fish can breach the 20 pound mark quite often. The Columbia carp are a whole other ballgame compared to the carp that are just outside of the city limits where you can manage them on a 4-6 wt rod. The water is more clear east of Portland for the carp fishing, and the fish run bigger more or less every time you run across one. The caveat is that you have to drive a ways to get to them, but any fish over 20 pounds that will rip your fly line in a super sturdy fashion is well worth it. Also when you are getting multiple shots at 20+ pound fish, then drive is no big deal. Especially when the fights top most gamefish of the lower 48, when you feel some serious authority when they want to take off on you. Lets hope I can post something impressive after this outing. We'll see......

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Steelhead Report - Almost a Banner Day of Catching...

This is just a quick short report from the fishing on 6-17-2011 for summer steelhead. I took out a woman who was a very good caster, and she swung many casts through probable lies. Unfortunately, the steelhead were behaving like the mythological 1000 cast fish, and they were not chasing down wet fly patterns. They were probably put down from the heat and sunshine that was on the particular river, but they were around in good numbers. We hit a pool that has been holding lots of steelhead, and they were in there again. The spot requires a dead drifted presentation, and so we rigged up with a stone and egg pattern dropped off. She hooked three fish, and they were all on the single pinkish egg pattern. One fish torched her, and lit up the water like a stick of dynamite going off. It blasted out of the pool and peeled line into the next pool down before straightening the hook. The other two were quicker battles before unlatching themselves. They were all chrome bright beauties, but some days they do not want to get landed.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer Steelhead Time! It's Game On!

With good numbers of summer steelhead passing over Willamette Falls, the only issue we have been facing has been the water levels. Recently the water levels have been stabilizing and dropping, and the rivers have been much more approachable for fly fishing for summer steelhead. Recently, on a day off, and a good friend and I decided to pursue some chrome. Luckily for us, we were rewarded with a fresh sea run turbo charged steelhead that my buddy landed, and I lost another one too. Even one of my swings went through, and there were three solid tugs before the fish decided it was not going to commit to my offerings, and it was gone. Close one though, and the one fish day could have easily been a three fish day if the planets lines up slightly differently.

McKenzie River Summer Steelhead
With the higher levels, the fish hold in different spots then they do in the lower summer level conditions, and knowing where to look is the biggest part in achieving success out there. Think like a steelhead, and know that they love water that is walking pace and from approximately 18"-5' deep, and that variable can clear out a lot of water that may seem fishy. If your normal go to spot is faster and deeper than when you slammed the fish last summer, then you may want to fish another spot. Many of my high water spots will not even hold a fish in low water; yet there may be a half of a dozen chromers sitting there waiting for you to show them something. Knowing where the fish hold in the current conditions will create your success. Fishing your standard low water spots will only make you feel bleaked out when you have thrown 1000 casts without even a tug or a sniff.
Stoked Angler with a Fresh Willamette Valley Summer Steelhead
When you are out there and fishing, think about the water levels again. You can get a fish to come up through the depths to check out your classic wet fly patterns or you can sink down to their level and you can grab their attention with a nice and bold large profiled pattern. On the flip side, don't forget that these fish can see some small things, and they will take a subtle fly pattern when the masses are bombarding them with all sorts of hardware. The other thing to think about is how the fish may respond to a dead drifted offering. When I was out with my friend, I hooked a fish on a swung fly presentation with a type II 15' sinking tip that was attached to a Skagit Head with a long "moal leech like" marabou pattern with the color combo being black, purple, and blue in the back. My friend followed me through the spot and his swings went undetected. After rowing the boat out into the pool, and with the sun behind us; we could see several steelhead holding. We tried to sight swing to the fish, but they did not move an inch.  
Super Bright McKenzie River Summer Steelhead
My friend Brian threw a few casts to a fish that I saw, and I coached him into each drift; since he could not see the fish from his vantage point. He threw a cast in, and as soon as it hit the water, I said, "that's the one....". It dead drifted down to the holding lie, and I told him "NOW!" right when the Thingamabobber probed over the sighted fish. Suddenly the Thingamabobber subtly dunked under only about 8" underwater. Brian struck hard, and the result was a surge of chrome that looked like a shiny car bumper in a river. FISH ON!!. We pulled the boat over to the bank, and Brian jumped out to enjoy the battle from the shore. After a sturdy long fight, the fish yielded to the net. We were stoked! Steelhead fly fishing takes persistence and will, but the rewards are huge. A successful day out on the water for summer steelhead makes you feel like you are on top of the world. Get out there so you can enjoy that feeling!

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

Monday, June 13, 2011

Willamette Valley Steelhead Counts are Screaming for Some Swinging Flies!

With all of the high water, the summer steelhead counts have been kind of going undetected. This year happens to have some of the better fish counts in recent years, and not many people have been putting any pressure on these robust fish. More or less, many of these fish have been sliding by without anyone throwing anything to them. Now that the water levels are dropping and stabilizing; it is time to get out there to target these summer steelhead. We are at the time in the run when the fish are coming in with the largest numbers, and it should remain strong until about the 4th of July. After that the fish counts will slow up, and then they will pick up a bit more in the fall again. This does not mean the fishing will slow down. These summer steelhead will hang out in the river for literally about 9 months, and they do not spawn until next winter (Jan, Feb, March). The fishing stays red hot throughout the summer, and into the fall when the rivers turn brown, and you decide to fish elsewhere.

June 3rd8,816
June 4th9,135
June 5th9,625
June 6th10,392
June 7th10,669

Now is the time to target these fish; especially if you like to eat fish. The summer steelhead run in the Willamette Valley are mainly a hatchery run, and the fish are stocked to be a "put and take" fishery. This way we can be eating quality fresh anadramous fish; while not having to supposedly interfere with the "wild fish" stocks. Nonetheless, the fish are full of vigor, and they have tons of fatty omega three acids to make them savory and desired. The same hens that have skeins of eggs that are larger than a trophy trout in the fall, will have tiny skeins that are no larger than a finger with 1000's of immature eggs. These eggs will develop in the freshwater portion of the steelhead's lives by utilizing those fatty acids for sexual development. Thus one of the major differences of the physiology of the summer and winter steelhead. That is why catching one of these summer runs right now can be so awesome. They are so sexually immature to the point where they fight with vigor and cartwheel aerials like you have never seen. 

Get out there and experience it!

 Willamette River Summer Steelhead

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hot Steelhead Action is Just Around the Corner......

Summer Steelhead Caught June 2010 on McKenzie River
Water levels are finally dropping on many of the Willamette Valley rivers. Lets pray that the trend continues, and there will be plenty of steelhead to be toyed with. The McKenzie River's water level is dropping like a stone, and the lower it gets the better it will be for targeting summer steelhead. The Willamette up above Eugene is dam controlled, but it should be turning around soon. The Clackamas gauge is looking promising as well; so sharpen up those hooks, check your tippet supply, and make sure your rod and flies are ready. It's gonna be time for some chrome!

Fly Fishing Presentation - Trout Unlimited - Eugene Oregon Chapter

Golden Stonefly - Deschutes River
This evening (June 8th) I will be doing a presentation at the Eugene Veterans Building for the local Trout Unlimited Chapter. The presentation will be a video format, and I will be playing two to three short videos during my presentation time. The first video will be from my last trip down the Deschutes during the stonefly hatch. It documents the trip's highlights, and gives people who have never experienced it, an idea of what they are missing out on. The other video will be on Carp Flats Fishing, and it will display the wonderful and untapped carp fishery that exists around the Portland metro area. A super "fish porn" carp video it is, and you'll be surprised at how many huge grins you'll see on the faces of the anglers in the video. If there is time for a third video, I'll be showing a short video on a day guiding on the McKenzie this spring, but that is dependent upon the allotted time I have for my presentation. Come and see the videos if you are in the Eugene / Springfield area!
Common Carp - PDX
Eugene Trout Unlimited Club Meeting
Wednesday June 8th at 7:00pm
Eugene Veterans Building
1626 Willamette Street, Eugene, Oregon 97401

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Off Topic For Fly Fishing - Understanding the Importance of Trademarks for Outdoor Equipment, Footwear, and Apparel Companies

This is off topic from fly fishing, but I find it interesting for many of us in the fly fishing industry.  Also I wanted to announce this event for a friend; so check it out if it interests you.


7:30 AM - 9:00 AM Pacific

Davis Wright Tremaine
1300 SW Fifth Avenue
24th Floor
Portland, Oregon
For outdoor equipment, footwear, and apparel companies, your trademarks are often your customers' key identifiers of your products, so protecting those marks becomes vital to your business. Are you recognizing all of your trademarks and taking all the possible steps to protect them?

We invite you to join Davis Wright Tremaine partner Cindy Caditz as she discusses how trademarks not only identify your brand and your business, but add value, prevent conflict, and become portable assets:
  • Why use trademark?
  • What is a trademark?
  • How should you go about selecting a mark?
  • What factors should be considered during selection of a mark?
  • What do I have to do to acquire or own the mark?
  • Why should I register a mark?
  • How do I know what to register?
  • Why are some marks better than others?
  • How does a mark accrue value?
  • How does a business increase the value of its marks?
Cindy Caditz, a member of DWT's Outdoor, Footwear & Apparel practice, has more than 25 years of experience in trademark law managing the portfolios of and doing enforcement work for a large number of well known brands, including REI, The Coleman Company (outdoor products), K-2 Corporation (skis and snowboards), Ride Snowboards, and Marker Volkl (International) GmbH (ski bindings).
Click here to access the event website

Monday, June 6, 2011

Quick Deschutes Report

The Deschutes was fair to good last weekend, and the crowds were a lot heavier than they were on Memorial Day weekend. My friend was fishing from Warm Springs to Trout Creek and he said the fishing was steady and the crowds were much heavier than the weekend before. The stoneflies are still thick as can be, and the fish are still heavily keyed onto them. Fishing was very good he said, but by no means epic; since the "people hatch" was thicker than he would have preferred. The fly fishing for rainbows with stoneflies on the surface should remain steady for the next couple of weeks. Get yourself out there!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Saturday Carp Flat Fishing Report

After having to cancel a guided trip for summer steelhead due to high water conditions, I had the day free, and decided to take advantage of the nice weather. What better fishing is there than carp fishing when it is sunny, bright, and the air is filled with high pressure? Smallmouth bass has been  plagued with high cold water, steelhead fishing has been high water right now, and trout could be good at a few locations, but I just got spoiled at the Deschutes during my stonefly hatch trip. I also wanted to test the power of a carp compared to a Deschutes rainbow trout. It turns out that a carp is way stronger than a rainbow trout. My friend and I discussed it, and I stated to him that a carp and trout of equal size and weight tied tail to tail together would result in a dead trout. I think a carp would drag a trout around until it would die. They are harder bodied and sturdier feeling than a trout. That being said, I would prefer to fish for them both, and it would be all about when to fish for what for me. If there is a hatch, it is overcast, and the water levels are good, then I am out trout fishing. If it is sunny, bright, hot, and high pressure, then you may find me carp fishing, or even bluegill fishing. Point is that I enjoy fly fishing ,and I like to target the species that would be the "most happening" for the given conditions of the day. 

Yesterday seemed like a perfect for carp flats fishing, but the reality was that it was tough out there. We were fishing to hundreds of fish, but they seemed more interested in other ventures. There were fish chasing each other around in spawning freakouts, and there were some cruising fish in search of what offerings may be abound. The problem is that they were ultra spooky, and it was simply not an easy day out there. You never know until you try though....

Friday, June 3, 2011

Summer Steelhead Numbers Looking Great - When Will Water Levels Be?

The summer steelhead numbers are looking very good, but the water levels for good fly fishing opportunities have been a total bummer as of late. Check out the WILLAMETTE FALLS FISHWAY COUNTS link so you can see the trends in fish passage, and you will sense the frustration of not being able to effectively target these fish the way that we fly anglers would like to be able to. All of these days, chrome bright fish are just marinating in fresh water, and we are not fishing for them. We could be hearing our reel scream with backing sending its way out the rod's tip, but instead we are praying for the water levels to drop. Luckily for us, the time of the year dictates that the rains should eventually cease, and the snow should melt off eventually. Before you know it, we'll be complaining of water levels that are too low and warm (can't imagine that this year.....). 

Normally, by now I am regularly out on the water targeting summer run steelhead, but this year has been one where I have made a few attempts, but high water has kept me fishing for other species like carp. The count for June 1st was 8,102 summer steelhead over Willamette Falls in the fish ladder. The daily passage is from about 160-400 fish and they should remain at that rate for a while.When the levels drop out; fishing will be red hot with numbers of fish piling up, and a lack of anglers targeting them. Pay attention to water levels, and get yourself out there once they drop!

 McKenzie Summer Steelhead taken in July

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

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Deschutes River Fly Fishing Report - May 28th through May 31st

Golden Stoneflies
The stonefly hatch was full throttle from the get go at Trout Creek boat landing, and you can see the salmonflies and golden stones thick in the bushes. The boat launch was not too bad considering it was Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. There were very few people and  most of them were just running the river and rafting down. It was looking good for fishing and the weather was steady enough to not be thinking we were going to get rained off the river.

It turns out that the weather went sour on Saturday for most of the day, but it really enticed the flies to hatch out hard. There were green drakes coming off with fish explosively detonating on them. Pale Morning Duns were hatching and between the swallows and the trout; it is amazing that any of them make it to have another generation. The stoneflies were not too active, but the shear numbers created an ample food source in the fish's feeding lies due to the wind and rain. Fishing was simply awesome out there, and there were fish rising everywhere, and it seemed like you could catch rainbows everywhere you threw your fly. Fishing was on Chubby Norms, even though there were all sorts of flies hatching, it did not matter, and a dead drifted surface stone was all you needed. They were greedy and 3X tippet made it easy to wrench them in fast; only to cast out and yard in another one. At days end, the high pressure overpowered the low pressure system that sulked into the canyon. The sun was out and it was cozy and warm enough to try and goof off from the bank at camp without waders to take a few more fish on the surface.

Nikki on tight with the best rainbow of the trip.
Sunday was a nicer day from the start weather-wise. The fishing was alright off the bat, but not quite as fast and furious as Saturday's fishing. After a little while, some cloud cover rolled in and the winds came also, and I assumed there was going to be that same mayfly hatch from the day before. It never got going though, and the wind never seemed to get the stoneflies falling into the drink in significant numbers either. The sun and clouds battled, but the sun never radiated enough to warm up the stoneflies to stimulate them to fly around and create the scenarios where they start egg laying. Fishing was darn good by day's end, but it was all blind fishing more or less, with a few spots being the exception. We caught plenty of nice trout, and they were all on the surface using Chernobyl Chubby Norm and Clark's Stones.

One of the many rainbows that fell to the surface stonefly presentation
Monday ended up being a really awesome day for fishing again, and many spots offered several fish at a rapid pace before having to make several casts without any attention given to the dry fly. Fish were ready to see a drifted surface stonefly, and when you offered it; they were ready to explode on it. We fished casually taking turns from spot to spot, and some of the spots would yield from 3-7 fish; while other spots offered from 1-3 fish, and once in a while you would be surprised to not have anything look up at your fly. We assumed those spots may have been fished already; since they looked so nice and had to have fish in them. Once again, we fished the same Chubby Norm dry fly that was on for the first two days. At camp we dinked around once in a while from the beach without waders when a really nice rise would occur. We had another fine day of Deschutes trout fishing!

Fish on! - Deschutes River
Tuesday was the final day of our trip, and it was a nice day after a crazy downpour hammered on our tent while we were trying to get sleep. Also we were freaked out;  after having to remove way too many ticks to count from my dog and us. Luckily they were trying to get embedded into us, and none had succeeded. A few latched onto Filbert (the dog), but they were so superficial; to the point where you could just pull on them and they would pluck off. Nasty!! Ticks on the lower Deschutes are really bad right now! Be aware of the fact that certain areas have ticks really thick right now. As we got lower down, it seemed like there were more of them. 

Plenty of wildflowers around....
The fishing on Tuesday was the slowest day, but we still caught a fair number of fish. We also fished with the least effort after being so satisfied already from the first three days out there. Fishing was still good on the surface, but you can tell that the hatch is waning down there towards Maupin. There are still literally a lot of stoneflies around the Maupin area, but compared to higher up; you get the impression that the hatch is past peak down there. The fish will still be all over the large dry flies for a few more weeks, but there were barely any salmonflies down in Maupin and the Golden Stones were not even so thick compared to higher up river. Most other anglers we saw were nymphing, and I was not too interested in that method, after catching lots of trout on dry flies for three days. We managed to still catch a good number of fish on Chubby Norms, and after a while we decided to call it a day and wrap everything up to head back to Portland again. 

Gorgeous views all over along the Deschutes canyon.....
As usual, it was a great time over on the Deschutes. The river was very low in the fishing pressure category, and I am pretty sure that the wild and scenic section has very little permits sold for this coming weekend too. It is awesome out there; so get yourself out before this wonderful fishing opportunity ends. If you have not fished the Deschutes during the stonefly hatch, then you need to experience it. 

Chubby Norm pinned in the grill.....
Also, if you are interested in a Deschutes multi-day guided trip, then call or email me so I can set you up with one of the Deschutes BLM Permitted Outfitters. I do not hold a BLM permit, but I can set you up with one of the finest outfitters on the Deschutes. He is pretty much booked up, but there are still a few slots possibly open for the next several weeks.