Sunday, January 29, 2012

Don't Let The High Water Get You Down - Steelhead Still Take Care of Business

Swinging Through Swollen Flows
With all of the recent precipitation, I had come down with a terrible case of cabin fever, and the rains have kept the rivers full. Thoughts of how many steelhead that are just swimming by my favorite waters have been haunting me, and I had a friend visit  for a couple of days who is a fishing freakazoid. I was not going to let the swollen flows keep us on the couch thinking about chrome anymore. There is always a spot that looks like it would hold steelhead no matter how high the flows are, and we were going to put it to the test to find some of these potential spots, and hopefully hook into some winter steelhead.
Winter steelhead boiling on surface during a screaming run
We fished for two days, and the first day the river was 20" above the standard flows that everyone who fishes this river seems to prefer. The water color was a tad bit off of steelhead green, but not brown and blown out by any means. We searched for "steelhead water" and that was the hard thing to find with the bloated flows, but we knew somewhere would have water that was about "walking speed" and somewhere from 18" - 6' deep. It turns out that everywhere that fit into that water classification resulted in having a fish on, or at least a grab. In a funny way it was not to hard to figure out; since most of the water was a torrent of jet wash with heavy whitewater or boiling hydraulic pools that looked intimidating. Steelhead are not going to hold in water that would be too much work to hold in, and the slow water that we found was generally above and below rapids; so you can assume that steelhead should be holding there. Fishing with that equation resulted in 6 hookups, and only 2 fish were landed, but the high water was the reason for all of the long distance releases. All of the fish were hooked on dead drifted presentations under strike indicators, and we did not hook any fish swinging flies on this day.
Angler on tight to a large powerful winter steelhead
The second day of fishing was a totally different story. The water was still about 10" above what would be considered to be the optimal river stage, but after the day before it looked perfect. As for the fishing, it was pretty darn good out there. I hooked up with a beautiful chromer on my second cast in my second spot I fished, and the fish took the fly super aggressively. It was a beautiful wild steelhead on her way to her natal waters before I intercepted her for a brief moment of admiration.
Beautiful coastal Oregon native winter steelhead
The water was producing hookups in just about every spot we probed our flies in, but the swollen flows caused many long distance releases again. We had super amazing fishing for the last 1 1/2 hours of the day, as we both hooked up with a 9 fish, and landed only 3 of them again (one wrapped on wood and straightened the hook). All of the fish again were hooked on dead drift presentations, and none were hooked on a tight line swing presentation. We fished both methods, and the dead drifts were getting all of the attention. The high flows seems to aid in the fish ripping the hooks out during the battles; since the line pressure would be so intense. The best part is hooking up and playing these steelhead, but it is always frustrating wondering exactly what the fish may have looked like that escaped before you got to land them. Luckily, Eliot ended up successfully landing this coastal beauty to admire.....
Angler admiring this gorgeous Oregon coastal winter steelhead - January 27, 2012

The thing that this fish made us wonder about was how many more looked like this that got off.....? That is what keeps us angling for more.....

I Wish Tight Lines for All!!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Today may have that mini gap of chrome opportunity.......

Small Creek Winter Steelhead Taken From Stormy Time in 2011
Storm is predicted for Tuesday, and it is supposed to be another whammy for precipitation. Water levels today on the tiny little creeks would be most likely perfect. Most do not have gauges; so you have to speculate on the levels, but when looking at the existing gauges on neighboring rivers, you can guess and be right a lot of the time. With these smaller systems, you have to get out there on the day you know it is going to be right, or the water levels will be too low the next day after. In this case, it seems like the only possible window to catch a chromer on the west side of the cascades near Portland; since Tuesday may bring an inch or two of rain again. Let's hope this predicted storm fizzles out.....
Small Creek Steelheading From A Stormy Time in 2011

Friday, January 20, 2012

Oregon's North Coast Was Sort of Lucky.....

With all of the battering we have taken with the recent storms, the north coast streams were spared of any heavy flooding events. Surprisingly, water levels only spiked up to where they would be for any typical storm. The central coast took a big hit with flooding, but rivers like the Trask and Wilson rose up, and are now on the drop. Many trees have been blown down, and lots of issues have come as a result of the past few day's weather, but at least the north coast did not meet that potential flooding that was predicted.
Trask River Gauge Reading 1/20/12
Any of the smaller systems should be fishing well by the weekend if the precipitation doesn't fall as anything significant. There have been many downed trees, and trees can be unstable due to the supersaturated soil. Be careful out there, and watch out if you float a stream for fallen timber across channels and be aware of underwater obstructions. Otherwise enjoy the water when you get back out there!

Timber strewn across small coastal winter steelhead creek from heavy winds

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Oregon North Coast Winter Steelhead Video

Once in a while the planets actually line up, and fishing situations all come together. Recently Nicole and I had a day off, there happened to be poor snow conditions (because she loves her cross country skiing over anything), and the potential for good winter steelheading was lining up. The water level on a river she and I like to fish at was going to be perfect on the day we had off together, and the weather prediction was rather nice for the wintertime in western Oregon. What a deal!
On tight to a large winter steelhead - Oregon Coastal River
Nikki also thinks winter steelhead are sort of mythological too, because everyday that she has tried for them, the fishing was a total dud. She has seen me lose one fish after a little fight, and also saw me lose one to a frayed tipped on a swing last winter, and that is all in regards to her winter steelheading. Granted she only went 3 times last winter, and we got rained out on one of them, and the other two days I had one hookup each time with no landing as I just mentioned. She has thrown well over the 1000 casts and swings it supposedly takes to hook up with one of those fairy tail chromers. She has also dead drifted her share of glo bugs, clowneggs, Fox's Fertilizers, and other egg patterns under Thingamabobbers with better dead drift precision than most avid angler can do. She has caught summer run steelhead, but no winter fish yet, and this was going to be the day. I knew she would at least get to see one on the end of a line whether it was her rod or my rod. Luckily, we had good fishing, and we shot some footage from the day. I hope you enjoy it, and set aside some time since it is about 18 minutes long.

Well it turns out that Nikki ended up filming me a lot, and watched me fish more than she fished. I also got to fish the best spots, and that is because she is so awesome to me, and wanted me to get my fill of winter steelhead action out there. She pulled in a total pig sized male steelhead, and it was the largest fish successfully landed of the day. At least now winter steelhead are not mythological anymore when we are both able to go fishing together.
Landing mode on a winter steelhead.......

Pineapple Express Brings Some Flooding and High Water!!!

Be careful out there when driving near those "little creeks"! Stories of tragic automobile incidents have plagued our news stations; so be aware of how powerful the flows of water can be while flowing across streets and parking lots. This flooding can be very localized with effects in one area being severe with culverts overflowing onto streets; while the next drainage over may be flowing a little swollen above normal. Rivers are high on the north coast, but the heaviest flooding effects seems to be on the central coast.

The north coast rivers are running high, and they may reach a potential dangerous flood stages, but as of now they are running as high as any typical winter weather system. The potential is there for a whammy of flooding events though; so be aware! If the heavy rains persist, water levels may spike up to serious flood levels; so lets hope that this weather system halts itself soon!

Trask River Gauge Reading 1/19/2012
Nehalem Gauge Reading 1/19/2012
The central coast has already gotten hammered with flooding water levels very badly! Flood stage for the Siulslaw River is 18 feet, and bankfull is 15 feet; so there is some significant flooded water levels already there. 18 feet is the flood stage for the Alsea River gauge, and the river has spiked well above that, but hopefully seemed to peak out. Let's hope that this weather tones itself down right away, but only time will tell.....
Siuslaw River Gauge Reading 1/19/2012
Alsea River Gauge Reading 1/19/2012
 Anytime you have low snow levels for a few days, and then a warm "Pacific Pineapple" weather system, there is a recipe for disaster. Take these weather events seriously, and respect the power of water. A little overflowed culvert can cause fatalities; so don't drive through any water that is flowing over roads and parking lots. Storms will cease eventually; so wait it out before you decide to go driving and recreating in potential flood waters.

Oregon Coast Daily News - Flooding in Alsea & Siletz Basins
Mohawk River flooding prompts evacuation notice Flooding Closes Highway 22 & 229 

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Video - Winter Steelhead North Coast 1/9/2012

I have been a blog slacker lately (not posting as much as I should be), and I will be getting on board again. I have lots of footage and pics to display for you, and here is a video to start with. This is a video of last Monday the 9th of January 2012, and it is on a North Coast River on a day where the conditions were more or less "spot on" for good steelheading. Fishing was solid at the start, and as the light angles brightened, and the water level dropped that extra inch or two; conditions seemed to get tougher. We saw plenty of fish, but they were not cooperating for the numbers we fished to, but you have to be happy to hook one these wary fish in a day of fishing anyhow. Having several of them on, and landing a few fish is always a good day in my book! Enjoy watching the "big one on" battle!

If you are interested in trips that focus on swinging skagit heads on two handed / spey rods, using switch rods, nymphing / dead drifting to steelhead, or if you want to experience all of the above contact me for a trip. Many rivers close on March 31st for winter run steelhead, and January is already halfway over. This winter steelhead season has been providing wonderful fly fishing opportunities thus far; so get yourself out there!If you are interested in booking a winter steelhead fly fishing trip contact me at (541)232-6360 (phone) or I can run trips for "Walk in and Wade" or on rivers that require either a drift boat or cataraft; so get a hold of me if you want to enjoy a wonderful day of adventure on the water!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Winter Trout Class Date Changed - February 5th - 2 Spots Open!

Now that the original scheduled date has changed - two spots have become open for the Winter Trout School. Sign up if you want to learn how to effectively catch trout in the wintertime.

Winter Trout Fly Fishing Class Date Changed
To February 5th
(2 Spots Open.....)
Brian Marz Guided Fly Fishing will be offering a winter trout fly fishing class on February 5th. Come and join the opportunity to get off the couch and learn how to catch trout in the winter months. The class will be held on February 5th, 2012, and it will be on the McKenzie or Willamette River (whichever has better water conditions at that time) close to Eugene/Springfield. Both rivers are a short drive from the Portland Metro area (1 1/2 - 2 hours), and there are no mountain passes involved; just the I-5 corridor, and we'll have the class about 15 minutes from highway I-5. 

    The class will be from 10am to 4pm, and it will be an "On the Water" Class, but it will not be about catching fish. It is a class; so the focus is on instruction, and fish hopefully will be caught while doing demonstrations, but that is not the point of the class. It is not a guided fishing trip on the river; it is a class! This class is about showing the participants how to decipher winter trout conditions, how you'll want to fish out there, what flies to use, along with how to rig them. A lot of anglers are not aware of the year round trout fisheries in Oregon, and how winter can provide some very rewarding angling opportunities. 

Four anglers will be in the class, and the cost will be $125 per person. Payments must be made in full to be in the class, and if the class is cancelled due to adverse conditions you will receive a full refund. This is a winter trout class; so don't expect nice weather out there, but the class will only be conducted if there are viable conditions to run the class for what you would typically encounter for winter trout fishing. Refunds on individual cancellations entered into the class must be made 10 days prior to the class, in order to ensure someone else being able to sign up for the vacant spot in the class. Flies will be provided for the class, and rod/reel tackle brought to the class also for participants to try out if you do not have a trout rod.

What You Will Need:
-waders, wading boots (studded preferred), 5 or 6 wt fly rod (preferred) w/matching reel & line, Strike Indicators (Thingamabobbers), 3X-5X tippet along with a tapered leader on rod of 3X or 4X, raincoat, polarized glasses, warm clothing for the elements
-A Positive Learning Attitude!!! We are going to have fun out there learning how to fish for trout in the winter months!!

Gorgeous McKenzie River Redside caught in the winter
Fall River Winter Fly Fishing for trout

Fall River Rainbow Trout Caught in winter weather conditions
If you are interested in signing up, email me at, or call me at (541)232-6360.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Winter Steelhead Fishing Has Been Hot For the Start of the Season

Steelhead fishing has been hot on many Portland area rivers, and it has been more about what river to be at when. During the higher water, the smaller rivers were pumping out numbers of fish, and as the levels have fallen out, the larger rivers have come into shape and fishing has been good. Just about every coastal river has decent to good numbers of winter steelhead, and things should only improve with the next series of storms; so we'll see what the next water events bring in.
Beautiful Mint Chrome Winter Steelhead Taken on a Fox's Fertilizer
 Enjoy the pictures of the last few times out on the North Coast Rivers! I will be posting more, and I have plenty of video footage I need to edit and get online for your viewing pleasure. Stay tuned.....
Probing a Tailout To A Holding Fish Above a Heavy "Falls" Type Rapid

Fishing A Small Creek After A Large Dosage of Rain When Everything is Blown Out

About to Lose the "Big One" Through A Heavy Set of Rapids

Fishing Below A Serious Obstacle For Steelhead To Hurdle

On Tight With A Trophy Steelhead That Gave One Serious Battle

On Tight To A Chrome Bright Steelhead When Everyone Said We Needed Rain

Not Bad Hooking Up On Your Third Cast Of The Morning

Added Bonus While You're Out Fishing

Beautiful Rose Colored Cheeks on this Handsome Male Steelhead

Appreciating A Gorgeous Chrome Bright Ocean Fresh Steelhead
On Tight With A LargeWinter Steelhead
Chromer Taken on Pink Marabou Leech