Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blog Slacker....Too Busy With Guiding....Quick Steelhead Video To Tide You Over....

I am sorry for the delay in entries. I have been literally guiding every day, and have not had any time for a new update. Soon I will get you all caught up on the latest fishing, but hold tight for a few more days. Fishing on the McKenzie and Willamette has been fair to good, and a few days out there have been exceptional. Trout fishing has been very good on the McKenzie and the Willamette has been fair to good. The steelhead fishing has been fair on both rivers, but numbers are indicating that things should start to scream soon. I have been seeing lots of steelhead, but they are either not wanting to partake in any battles, or they are giving lots of sniffy short grabs. We have been landing an average of a fish a day, but getting several tight line grabs. Seems like that should change over the next few days as water levels have recently stabilized. The next report will tell......

Here is a short video to enjoy of the latter part of the battle of a hot and angry summer hatchery steelhead:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Southern Willamette Valley Fly Fishing Trout/Steelhead McKenzie/Willamette Report

Fishing is very off when water levels spike like this....

Quick report, but wanted to give an update. Guided on Friday for steelhead and trout, and the fishing seemed promising in the beginning of the day, and ended up with a high water surprise. When we started, we were fishing a river that had been dropping for a long period of time, and was finally at a good fishing level. The last time I guided there, the fishing was very good, and it should have only been better than that day due to the time frame in the spring.
 Gorgeous Spey Cast - Morning Steelhead Fishing - Willamette River in Oregon
We started out with nice conditions, and the trout were biting with some regularity. It seemed that the trout fishing was going to get better as the day went on, and the steelhead on the end of the line was going to happen due to the inevitability factor. When you swing your flies through probably holding lies, and the fish runs are banging with high numbers; it is only a matter of time before a chromer staples itself onto the end of your line. The reality turned out to be quite the opposite. I was noticing water in the willows, and the currents and hydraulics were getting rather intense compared to the norm on this float. I was saying the water seemed way too high for the reading on the river level gauges. At the end of the trip, I observed on my cell phone that the levels did spike up. When you have a .7 of a foot of water level rise; it couldn't mess up the fishing anymore than many other variables. Think of a fish holding in a spot that has a walking speed current; only to have that spot minutes later become a fast steady running speed. Steelhead would think move upstream with the freshet; while trout would think take cover while the storm is hitting. It is amazing how they can fluctuate river levels so much without taking that into consideration.  
Spey rods enable long casts in spots where three steps off the bank would be dicey to wade.
Saturday was the opposite for results, and it was due to a decision change in the plan. I contacted my clients and let them know about the sudden raise in water level. We ended up fishing for trout only on the McKenzie, and it was really good fishing. One of the clients was in his "learning how to fly fish" phase; while the other was his father who was enjoying watching his son fly fish. The father told me how he just wanted the focus of the trip to have his son learn about fly fishing, and to hopefully get the best action possible. Well the fish gods certainly gave the dad his father's day gift. The son caught many fish throughout the day, and they ranged from small cute little trout to fat pig wild native slabs. He really picked up the techniques very well, and by lunch I lost count of the grabs and fish on. It was a really fun time to see the guy in the front of my boat torch so many rainbows throughout the day. Most of the spots produced just like they should on a good day of fishing, and the first 1-5 presentations were the ones that got the most attention. The water level was pretty much perfect, and fishing conditions were really nice with a light breeze, filtered sunshine, and some clouds here and there. Fishing with a Chubby Chernobyl Norm and a possie bugger dropper was a total hit. Also swinging wet flies (green riffle diver and a green wired soft hackle) were very effective. Sudden drop offs where the water went from shallow shelves to the deeper green were the best spots all day long.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fishing Has Random Good Things That Happen - Spring Chinook While Rockfishing

Nikki and I decided to go target rockfish and lingcod off of a jetty this past Sunday. Luck does happen once in a while, as Nikki's very first cast of the day proved. Shooting heads can be a nightmare to cast for some fly fishers; so Nikki opts for a spinning rod in those situations to avoid the "Huck and Duck" casts that can prove to be dangerous. She was fishing with a spinning rod rigged with a jig head and a white rubber worm with a curly tail (what I attempt to imitate with my white conehead bunny leeches). Normally with rockfish, you can cast out and let it sink, and then jig it back to you while doing a very slow retrieve. Well, Nikki's first cast ended up with a rod folded over, and I was fired up. I was thinking that something good was on the end of the line by the way the rod was bent and the line was ripping out of the reel. My assumption was lingcod, but I was wrong when something silvery thrashed on the surface for a moment. It did not reveal itself long enough though; so I though it may have been some kind of a random ocean fish. Instead, the fish materialized again, and I noticed it was a salmon. "Holy cow, %$^X&@#?+* honey, you have a springer!!!!," is what I yelled. It was one of those special moments in fishing.   
This Spring Chinook Salmon decided a rockfish/lingcod jig was too hard to resist
There were guides in their bay boats trolling all sorts of random hardware (like planers, divers, etc), and then two people walk on the jetty and throw something not even for salmon out; only to drill a chromer! Nikki worked the fish in with ultra efficiency, and we wondered how we were going to land it. Luckily we had some seriously stout leader on (25# test), and so I grabbed the leader and tailed the beautiful chromer on my first try. Lucky!!! We were stoked! The only bummer was that the fish was what I would call a mis-clip, meaning that it was fin clipped, but appeared to have an adipose fin like a wild fish. If you even look at the picture you can notice the adipose fin is intact, but not with the appearance of a wild fish. The top of the adipose fin has a strange look to it that wild fish do not portray (downward concave). We even had a guide in his boat telling us that a group of volunteer kids did the fin clipping of the fish, and many of the fish had their adipose fins cut improperly; so many of the fish are mis-clipped. The fin was not worth the judgement of the game police though; so we let the beauty go free back on its way to the fresh water river it was headed to. No fish is worth a ticket; no matter how mis-clipped it is. It was a pretty awesome experience to see my sweetheart catch that random salmon off of the jetty, and I really loved every moment of watching her simple rig pull in such a quality fish.
Spring Chinook caught off of a jetty while rockfishing
Times like this one prove that random things happen in fishing when you least expect them to. White is maybe a much more important salmon fishing color than we maybe are aware of (I did catch one a few weeks back on a white bunny leech). We also do not know as much as we think we know about fishing and specific fisheries; otherwise we would have it all figured out, and these crazy random fishing acts would not happen the way that they do. Maybe people could be catching springers off of jetties, and it is not as random as everyone thought it was. You never know.....That is what keeps us coming back for more!!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Rockfishing - Fly Anglers Can Offer Sound Advice to Conventional Anglers

This past Tuesday, I went to the coast to attempt some jetty fly fishing. I was out to target both pacific rockfish and lingcod. The day ended up being pretty nice; considering that it was supposed to be raining hard and semi windy over there. Instead it was relatively calm in regards to the winds, and the weather was between sunny and showers. The showers were short lived and the sunshine was warm and pleasant. The fishing was so so, and by that I mean that at times I was catching them on every cast, and at times I went a while between a grab. All in all it was a pleasant day of fishing, and it was worth the trip. It was especially fun having several guys conventionally fishing asking me what I was doing and what I was using. They saw me catching fish more consistently than anyone else out there; so they were prying me for information. That was a good feeling to have the fly guy being the source of how to get into the rockfish while fishing the jetty. Especially the fly guy from the city giving passing on information on how to be a more successful salty dog!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Deschutes Stonefly/Salmonfly Hatch - Fishing Report 5/29 - 6/1

Picture Perfect Deschutes River Rainbow Trout - Stonefly/Salmonfly Hatch Time

Let's be simple and say it was totally awesome! Fishing was nothing short of good for the four days that I was out there. Dry fly action was really good, and the fish were totally keyed into adult golden stone fly patterns. I did catch two fish on a salmonfly pattern (Morrish's Still Stone), but the Clark's Stone was the ticket by far. I did catch fish on Chubby Chernobyl Norms, but they did not receive the action that they saw last year. The water last year was 7000CFS approximately, compared to the approximate 5000CFS reading this year when I was out there for the big bug hatch. High water seemed to make those big foam bugs work a little better last year and the year before, but this year seemed to favor more traditional patterns like the Clark's Stone and the Norm Woods Special. The Clark's Stone literally was getting destroyed; while the bigger foam patterns got lots of refusals and quick looks. I would imagine if I used those big foam bugs in the choppy buckets, they would have gotten pounded. Instead I just kept the Clark's Stone on, and got fish after fish to attack it.
Deschutes River Rainbow Trout Stonefly Hatch - Clark's Stone Fly
 Nymph fishing was really good when you were wanting a change of pace; which is funny to think you would want to catch them subsurface after witnessing such radical hits on your dry. Somehow your angling brain wonders what is under the surface though, and so you decide to probe the depths to see who lives there. Between fishing the Jimmy Legs in Coffee & Brown and a fly called a Hot Bead Head G-Spot (which was a pattern I used to sell when I had my fly shop in Walterville, OR); we hooked lots of fish in spots where they were too weary to come up for a stonefly surface offering. At first the stonefly nymph was getting more action, but as we drifted farther downriver the smaller PMD nymph (Hot Bead Head G-Spot) was taking over in the attention it was getting from the rainbows. The takes were savage and the strike indicator was plunging with consistency when we decided to nymph. I managed to get a nice bull trout as my second caught nymph fish of the trip and it made several line ripping long runs. We even caught some whitefish that were scrappy, and I was surprised at the tussle some of them gave; since I have not offered any valid respect for them in the past. Maybe I should from here on out, or at least ones on the Deschutes during the 2012 stonefly hatch (you can tell I don't want to respect them). They are a native fish though, and they do eat more or less the same stuff that trout eat. Often catching them can mean you are not fishing the right water; since they like water that often has no boulders to give relief from the currents that rainbows like. Their bodies are designed to be pressed downward from the river's currents; while rainbows and other trout have to find relief from the currents behind rocks or in current edges. If you catch whitey after whitey then move on; unless you want to catch them. We never even changed our nymphing rigs the entire trip; since there was no need to. If your flies are catching them with consistency, then why mess with success.....
Jimmy Legs Stonefly Nymph took this Deschutes River Rainbow
This Deschutes River Bull Trout Feasted on this Golden Stone Rubber Legs Nymph
There were definitely times when the fishing was slower and tougher, but that is the reality of fishing for trout and the reality of any famous fly hatch. The slower times seemed to be either due to fishing spots that were the wrong ones for the stonefly hatch (caddis and mayfly spots), and speculating they would be good. A lot of these are spots that fish well at times, but not when we fished them on this trip. Also, there is definitely the variable of getting into a spot that someone just fished 15 minutes before and you have no idea of that; since the other anglers may be just around the next bend of the river. I witnessed a spot where we caught several fish right away, and then bailed only to see the next boat pull into it. They did not realize we just hammered nice bows from it; while they may have had the impression the fishing was slow at that moment. Cover the water and if nothing happens rather quickly, then move on. You are not going to beat them into biting.
This Deschutes Rainbow Trout fell for the "Hot Bead Head G-Spot" Nymph pattern
 The hatch is in "full throttle" mode currently, and there are heavy amounts of bugs all the way from Maupin to the top of the lower river. Fishing is hot throughout the wild and scenic section, and you should get out there to experience the big bug hatch if you have not yet. Nothing is better than seeing your huge dry fly get pounded by a hungry rainbow trout. This is the time when the fish are really keyed into the surface patterns, and the trick is to fish the right water. Focus close to the banks near over hanging trees and where the tall grass has good depth and current speeds. Stay away from the traditional spots you fish caddis and mayflies at, and focus on the banks. If you see the currents falling toward the bank you are fishing, and the water is over 2 feet deep with overhanging trees; you can assume there is a rainbow trout waiting to ambush the next vulnerable golden stone landing on the water. If you fish a spot and do not get a take in a few casts, then you are probably fishing somewhere that has been fished already or it is not holding fish that are ready to pounce your offering. Many of the standard caddis/mayfly spots will produce fish, but you also should adjust your tactics to where the fish are going to be looking for stoneflies. 
Deschutes River Salmonfly
Salmonfly Dry Fly Took this rainbow - Morrish's Still Stone
I would say that this year seems to be a very good stonefly year on the Deschutes, and it should be really good for a couple more weeks easily (although right now it is really GOOD!). Get out there and experience the big bugs! Don't worry about the people and what everyone wants to speculate about the hatch fading out or the fishing being slow or too crowded. The hatch is not over by any means, and fishing has been red hot! It is time for you to get out and fish the stonefly hatch! If you are lacking hot patterns; stop by the Portland Orvis shop where we have some of the hottest pattens to fish with on the Deschutes. Portland Orvis does not carry the Clark's Stone, but I tie my own; so that is how I get them. Otherwise you can get all of the patterns you will need for the hatch over there. I caught a lot of fish on the Norm Woods Special and they stock that fly, along with the Chubbies and many of the popular greats.
The view from our second night's camp on the Deschutes River
Rainbow catching some serious air - Deschutes River