Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Recent Fishing Report Update - Trout, Steelhead, Smallmouth Bass Report

Lately I have been very busy and have had little time to post blog entries. It is a catch 22 because I enjoy posting entries, but I also like guiding and being really busy too. When I am out there guiding all of the time, it gets tough to make time for posting entries to keep all of you readers up to date on what is going on. I tend to make up for the lack of summer entries in the winter when days are short and there is plenty of time to sit in front of the computer. Anyhow, lately the fishing has been relatively steady with consistent action and pretty good weather patterns for trout and steelhead fishing. As for the smallmouth fishing, it has been so so, but I tend to do most of my smallmouth fishing when the summer doldrums hit and the high pressure and high temperatures dominate the air. This summer has been very pleasant and consistent with temperature in the upper 70s and many overcast mornings (unlike the rest of the country).
My nephew with a McKenzie River Rainbow Trout
Trout fishing has been steady with lots of fish being caught each day out, but not many large fish have been caught which is semi standard for the mid summer fishing times. Typically spring and fall offer the trophy trout with consistency while the peak summer time offers numbers when you are out there. Of course a heat spell can trash that, and make the day tough to catch each fish, but we have not had that kind of fishing yet. Dry fly and dropper set ups have been the best producers along with swung softhackled wet flies in the surface film. Hatches have been mainly pale morning duns and smaller caddis with some little yellow sallies and adult golden stones. This is the time of the year when there is the least "hatch-a-tivity", but the fish are looking for food offerings and that is the reason why you can do very well with a large dry and dropper set up for your daytime fishing.
Motion Prawn claimed this early morning angler's first summer steelhead
Steelhead fishing has recently gotten a lot more consistent for me on my trips where we are tending to have multiple hookups each day out, and the crowds have been back and forth depending on the day. Fish are really taking a variety of swung wet flies and the numbers of fish have really filled into the river systems. Water levels have hit the summer lows which cause the conventional angler to lower their catch rates; while the fly guys start to shine. Nymph fishing to sighted fish has also been productive when you are not a in spot that offers good swing fishing, or if the fish is holding in a upstream of you position.
This Summer Steelhead climbed on this purple & pink tube fly

Friday, July 27, 2012

Steelhead Fly Fishing Class: Coming Up Soon

Steelhead Fly Fishing Class
Steelhead Fly Fishing is something that every Portland area person should at least experience once. After that they might be hooked though, and I personally don't know how many anglers I would want out there crowding up our gorgeous rainforest rivers. Anyhow, steelhead rivers are plentiful around the PDX area, and in fact it is way easier to be a avid steelhead fly fisher compared to being an avid trout angler if you live near the Portland metro area. That is exactly why I drive to the McKenzie and upper Willamette to do my trout guiding. Anyhow, with the vast array of amazing steelhead waters to choose from, I feel that any fly fisher in the Portland metro area thinking about steelhead should definitely take it up.   
Steelhead caught on a dead drifted dry fly on the Clackamas River
On Saturday September 8th, 2012 I will be instructing a Steelhead Fly Fishing Class on the Clackamas River.

This will be a 4 hour "on the water" steelhead fly fishing class. It will not be a "Guided Fishing Trip" and you will most likely not catch a steelhead during this class (although it is possible); since the focus of it will be to teach you "all around fly fishing techniques for catching steelhead". The class will be about what equipment is used and why, several different techniques that are proven for catching steelhead, reading water for steelhead, and a whole lot more.....There will be demonstrations of these techniques on real pieces of steelhead water with steelhead that are actually out there. The purpose of the class is to teach you how to steelhead fly fish all on your own at any river. 6 people will be allowed into the class, and the main requirement is that you already know the basics of fly fishing.
Don't you want to learn how to get into fish like this steelhead on the swung wet fly....
You can consider this class a 301 Steelhead Fly Fishing Class; because in a 101 Fly Fishing you would be learning how to cast and tie knots. A 201 Fly Fishing Class would be some basic fly fishing techniques, and this 301 class is the next step after that. For anyone who is interested in steelhead fly fishing, and wants to know about fishing techniques, equipment to use, tippet strengths, fly choices, when to do what, and what to do when; then this is the class for you. We are going to learn about swinging wet flies, skating dry flies, dead drifting flies, single handed rod uses, spey rods and uses, switch rods and uses), reading water, cracking the myths, etc, etc....The class is designed so you can go on your own to a steelhead fishery, and you will know what to do while you are out there to fish properly for steelhead with a fly rod.
Learn how proficiently swing wet flies through likely steelhead spots
In this class, I will be doing demonstrations, and I will be picking class members to participate in them as well. I believe that seeing things in person helps a lot more than reading any book. It is live in motion and in real life speed. Timing is everything in steelheading and that is not something you see in books. You will be both watching demonstrations, and you will be participating in them too; so waders and wading shoes (studs really help) are necessary. Again-It is not a Steelhead Guided Fishing Trip, but you will be learning steelhead fly fishing techniques; so you can go out on your own and you can become a proficient steelhead fly fisher.
Learn how set up what flies and nymph; so fish like this chrome bright steelhead result

-Class Will Meet At the Lower Boat Ramp at McIver State Park (directions to be emailed to class participants).
-Class will run from 10am-2pm on September 8th (meet at 9:45am to get waders on and get ready for class to start at 10am)
 -Class costs $100 per person
-Students will have to have their own waders, boots, wading staff (if needed), sunglasses, license (appropriate tags), and rain jacket (if needed)
-I will supply equipment for the class, but I recommend that you bring a rod for steelhead fishing if you already have one.
-I will bring rods ranging from single handed 8wts, to switch rods and spey rods. This way everything can be tried out and you can see what may most interest you in your future steelheading adventures.
-a notepad and pen can be helpful for taking notes
-Class is limited to 6 Students (email or call to sign up - don't assume it is filled up)

If you are interesting in signing up for this class, email me at fish@mckenzieangler.com or call me at (541)232-6360.

This steelhead was caught Christmas Day of 2011 - What a gift!!!
Brian Marz Guided Fly Fishing  / www.flyfishingoregonblog.com

Friday, July 13, 2012

McKenzie Summer Steelhead Video From 7-11-2012

This last Wednesday, I was guiding two wonderful guys who are my most regular clients; with steelhead being the main target of the day, and trout filling in after the heat and sunshine took over. It was predicted to hit 87 degrees on the weather forecast, and I can say that it was higher than that. Also very calm out; so the heat and sun did not let up on you at all. I took my shirt and dunked it under the cold McKenzie River water, wrung it out, and put it on. It would seem like a refreshing idea, but within no time, my shirt heated up and felt like a warm wet towel wrapped around me. Luckily it was bone dry in about 10 minutes anyhow. The heat did seem to affect the fishing, but we luckily got into two fish with the fly rod, and one fish backtrolling a plug in a deep tailout. Yes we occasionally bust out a rod that has a fly reel loaded with 30# backing and 30 meters of 12# test on it with a wiggle wart plug. Occasionally it has saved a day that would have been a skunking, and other times it adds on one to several bonus fish to fight on a fly rod without fly line on it. Anyhow, no need to justify my fly fishing; since I do that firsthand, and have that Rig as an extra tool in the boat. The one particular tailout is super deep and always has fish in it, yet I have never caught a fish in there any other method besides with a plug and backtrolling. I know the drift guys can get them in there, yet I cannot get down with any shooting head or indicator dead drift set up (so far).

Skagit Switch Cast
Bruce Casting a Skagit Switch Fly Line on a Switch Rod

Nonetheless, one of the other fish was hooked up with a Skagit Switch Head with 7.5 feet of T-11 sinking line, and a leech I tied with blue ostrich hearl in the rear and black ostrich in the front. The fly had small dumbell eyes, and about a 4 foot leader of 0X Orvis Mirage Tippet was used off of the sinking tip line. It was taken while working toward the tailout in a deeper run, and the fly was taken hard, but Bruce let out a frustrated sigh when the fish's battle was short lived.

McKenzie River Summer Steelhead Caught while Nymph Fishing

Blaine's fish was hooked while drifting down from spot to spot. We were passing by a short run and I was having both guys nymph off the side of the boat with a stonefly nymph and a Trout Bead dropped off of it. The fish took a 8MM Natural Roe pattern with a size 6 hook, and it was fought with 1X Mirage Flouro (I use 0X to the 1st fly and 1X to the second; so you possibly only lose one if you have to break off). The fish stuck on for the whole battle, and we got  to enjoy it chrome ocean fresh coloration before sending it back off for someone else to enjoy again. After that the steelhead did not want to play anymore, but having three fish hooked up on a 90 degree bright sunny day and hitting the water at 9am isn't too bad......We also caught a fair number of trout after the steelhead seemed to quit biting, and enjoyed being on the water on a hot and sunny day. At least then you can dunk your hat in the water and get your feet wet instead of being in the city all hot and sweaty!  

Enjoy the Video of the fish Blaine Caught....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Trout Fishing Report - McKenzie and Willamette Rivers

The trout action over the last several weeks was very consistent, with fish being taken regularly on a dry fly and dropper nymph along with swung softhackled wet flies. Fishing a double wet fly set up is always a good way to go about it, because you can give the fish two options, and often you can crack the code easier in what the fish are keying into that particular day. You even get two fish on one cast occasionally, and that makes for a great angling story. No one will believe you when you tell them that you caught two fish in one cast.
Swinging softhackled wet flies can be extremely productive on the McKenzie River
The same occasionally occurs when fishing the dry and dropper, where a fish attacks the dry fly, and then another feisty fish decides to clobber the nymph offering. Dry and dropper is a great tactic for summertime; since often there is not much of a hatch during the heat of the day, but fish still are seeking out food. A large buoyant dry fly imitating something large like a golden stonefly or a grass hopper (ambiguously covering both - attractor style) with a Possie Bugger nymph has been the ticket for me over the last several years. It catches fish on just about every day out on the water in the summertime, and often you learn how productive the subsurface offering is. Sometimes you can catch 10 fish, and 9 are on the nymph and 1 is on the dry fly. For those of you who only fish dries, think about how many fish are not climbing on it, but are eating the nymph. A dry and dropper is a summertime must set up for trout fishing.
This McKenzie Rainbow took a swung yellow softhackle
It always blows me away how strong McKenzie and upper Willamette wild trout are. I hear things from clients all of the time how impressed they are by the shear power and fight the fish offer on these rivers. I heard someone say on a trip that the fish were picked on as little kids, and now they have attitude for it. I think it is simple as the high flows the fish deal with in the winter months only lets the strongest fish survive. The fish are the ones that make it through the swollen flooded flows that persist in the winter, and when they are hooked the 12" makes them feel like they are 16". The little rainbow above ripped me so silly, and it was maybe 13" if that. It literally made my reel scream hard with two nice runs, and when I saw the size, it was almost humorous. What powerhouse fish we have that exist in the southern Willamette Valley. They hit another level of fight once they breach the 15" mark, and the ones that top the 18" mark really implant serious memories.
Fish on ! McKenzie River - Oregon

Willamette River Cutthroat Trout
Chubby Chernobyl dry fly took this cutthroat
Nice side channel on the Middle Fork Willamette River that is loaded with cutthroats.
This side channel was loaded with cutthroats when water levels were higher

Friday, July 6, 2012

Customer Appreciation Day at the Portland Orvis Store

This Saturday July 7th, 2012 will be a special Customer Appreciation Day at the Portland Orvis Store located at the Bridgeport Village. 

It's time for our annual Fly Fishing sale in the store. Its the one day a year that they extend the 20% off coupon for almost everything in the store including sale merchandise. There will be free BBQ from Pine Shed Ribs, free beer from Ninkasi brewing, and Eric Neufeld will be there giving a presentation on the life cycle of Caddis flies and matching them with the awesomer offerings from Idylwilde flies. I know this is late notice but that is because we are trying out a new offer from Orvis travel and they didn’t want us to spill the beans too early. If you give us a name, email, and phone number to be on the Orvis travel email list you will receive a $500.00 gift card the first time you book a trip through them! Its an unbelievable offer so even if you don’t have a specific trip in mind right now take advantage of it. For those of you on the fence about going to Belize with me the other offers still stand so you would get this in addition to the the free rod, 15% discount card, and the $200 gift card for booking with a friend. It will be the best deal on a trip to Belize you will find anywhere! There is only one catch, this is only good for one day. Come in tomorrow July 7th and take advantage of this! See you tomorrow!  

Front Side of Mailed Invite

Back Side of Mailed Invite
We hope to see you at the store this Saturday July 7th from 11am-3pm!!! Don't miss out on a great opportunity!!!

Summer Steelheading Report

Summer steelhead taken while swinging a purple and pink bunny leech
Recently summer steelhead fishing has seemingly gotten a lot more consistent in regards to having success out there. Over the last few weeks steelhead fishing was more what the reputation is, where you cast all day and maybe get into a fish, or even worse, you get a "bite". Luckily that has changed to much more productive levels, and that has made me really stoked to be guiding out there. I am not one who is all about swinging flies all day and stepping through runs to get that mythological maybe grab, or even maybe a landed fish. I like to steelhead when the odds are in your favor, and you know that covering runs will lead to hot fish on the end of your line. As of late, the fish runs are tremendous, and the fishing has gotten much better out there too. Lately the worst we have done on my guided trips is landing one fish per trip, and that is still what most consider to be a successful day of steelhead fly fishing. ODFW deems 3/4 a fish per boat to be the average catch for steelhead, and that is including all forms of rod/reel tackle (not just a fly rod). We are getting to that point in the run where the action is going to be hot and heavy from here on out until the river gets too high and dirty for fish next winter.
Fish On! Steelhead taken while swinging a Hickman's Party Boy in Black
We have been swinging flies for summer steelhead thus far, and the best patterns for me have been motion prawns, purple/pink bunny leeches, black and blue moal leeches , some invented ostrich patterns with the same color combos, and some traditional patterns like the Silver Hilton. I have also been messing around with some other patterns, but those are my go to flies for swinging where I fish at. We have been using mainly moderate sinking tipped lines and now the water levels are getting into floating line and light sinking tip mode.
This steelhead connected on the last spot of the day with a long purple string leech
The other day, I went out after an am guided trip, and I resorted to dead drifting patterns in a deep run that was loaded with fish. I could tell that the fishing was hot as a rocket due to several frequent hookups amongst the drift fisherman on the bank and in several boats on the bank of a "combat fishing" run. Well the dead drifting proved to be ultra effective, as I hooked up with a large Spring Chinook for a short lived fight as the fish charged straight at me with a fast run and let enough slack in the line to self release it. Then a few casts later I was rewarded with a feisty chromer that I landed. The fish took a 10mm Trout Bead that I was running off of a MOAB Stone with a Thingamabobber . I had the depth set; so when the indicator dunked, it was going to be nothing but fish (about 1 foot above the bottom).
10MM Pink Trout Bead couldn't be resisted by this summer steelhead; even with heavy angling pressure
A few casts later, I was tied up with another insane fish. The fish hammered my offering and gave a battle that never ended. I fought the fish as hard as I could, not letting it have an ounce of slack. I was practically closing my reel shut when I could, only letting it go when my tippet's strength was going to be compromised. After forever, the fish was seemingly getting closer to yielding, and eventually I got it into the net. It was pretty big, and was probably the largest hatchery summer steelhead I have landed on the McKenzie River so far. I have had clients land bigger fish than this one was, but I have only landed a fish that was close to this once before, and lost two huge ones several years back. Just shows that fishing in a crowd can yield goodness, and sometimes you can pick up a few fish with methods other than swinging flies. Not as fun to fish while you are fishing, but the rewards can be great nonetheless.
Summer steelhead fell to a swung  black, purple, and blue articulated conehead marabou leech
Fishing for summer steelhead should remain hot until the heat waves kick in, and the crowds should start to lessen as time goes on. Water levels are dropping into the summer low flow, and that tends to turn off the guys who prefer to use bait, hardware, and other non fly fishing methods. When time passes even more down the road the fly fishing presentations tend to take over for success, and that again causes the angling pressure to lessen. As of now, the angling pressure can be rather awful at times, but each day that passes by with low water and harder to catch fish for the conventional anglers; will cause the pressure to lighten up more and more. The less people out there fishing for these summer steelhead; the better the fishing will get.
This summer steelhead fell to a swung Motion Prawn while swinging such a short cast
The hitch is that the summer steelhead right now are hot as a rocket, and can offer the nuttiest battles you can ask for. If you want to engage in an insane battle with a steelhead that completely goes BATS on the end of your line; then get out there now. You will be fishing with lots of other anglers around at certain times, but there is a reason that people are attracted to these hot fish. They will reward you a lot more than catching many other targeted fish species. If you are into solitude and catching lots of trout, then this is probably not your fishery of choice. If you are into seeing a fish crack a four foot air, and rip you straight into your fly line backing, then to pop an air again, then you should experience this.
Large Summer Steelhead caught dead drifting with Trout Bead with heavy fishing pressure around
You cannot catch fish like this unless you are up for the challenge. You cannot expect to go out and have them climb on the end of your line. You have to work for the fish, and you have to fish with a system. Steelhead are not fish that are looking for your offering. They are out there, and you have to fish the water to eventually come onto one. When you finally pass your fly by one, you have to then hope that it is the fish that decides to play. You may get not even a drop of attention to your offering from the steelhead, and other times they decide to tie on and provide you with a battle you will not stop talking about for days......

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fishing Report From Last Week's Guided Trips

Last week was what I would call a successful week for fishing results. Between trout fishing and steelhead fishing, the action was there. Steelheading is at the point now where you can have at least one fish on with an opportunity to land per outing on average, and some days offer multiple hookups. When these early season summer steelhead are hooked, they often go bananas and the fight is totally out of control for the first minute or so. We have had two fish over the last several outings that more or less came right in, but that often is the deal with anadramous fish; where some are more tired than others.

Trout fishing on the McKenzie on the days with spotty rain showers was nothing short of stellar, and the other days offers consistent action and some very nice memorable fish. On two of the recent outings on the McKenzie, we literally lost count of the fish, and had no idea by lunchtime how many fish were on and landed. The Cutthroat fishing on the Willamette has been fair to good, with some days really shining and other days offering a fish here and there, but steady enough to keep things interesting. Fishing a dry fly and dropper nymph set up has been the hottest ticket on both the McKenzie and the Willamette. Swinging softhackled wets has also picked up some really nice large wild rainbows on the McKenzie lately with the clouds and spotty showers.

I am back off to run some more trips; so stay tuned for pics and video action some time next week. I am literally too bogged down right now to be able to post pics and videos, but I will get all the material sorted and edited soon. Stay tuned......