Fishing reports

Sept. 19th, 2009
Courtesy of Mitchell “the man” at Kaufmann Streamborn

I’ll preface this report by forging a plea for rain. Northwest waters are low, low and slightly lower than that. Factor in an overall sharp rise in water temperatures and we’ve got stressed out fish city. This being said, it’s a good time to fish small stream waters, high altitude creeks and the extremes of the day should you choose the larger rivers. As stated earlier, keep your fingers crossed for some cooling temperatures and some steady rain. Just sayin’.
Clackamas River
The Clackamas continues to run very low. Under 800 CFS, the river is in need of a good bump from the dam and/or a flush of rain. In the meantime, fishing is steadily kinda slow. There are a lot of steelhead in the river and your primary holds continually seem to get a grab on the swung fly. However, this being said – most steelhead are entering their trouty phase and are looking for small flys. McIver Park is your best bet for large concentrations of fish and you’ll find many opportunities here. The river itself is low for floating…very, expect to scrape and bounce with little water to dip oars into when you need them most.

Silvers are entering the river slowly. The low flows aren’t helping the situation tremendously. The first good punch of rain should set off alarm bells in anglers heads however. The Eagle Creek confluence is a trickle and any rain will help the fish make some moves.

ODFW has new regs for the Clack as of Sept. 1…please read the following carefully:

Under new temporary rules that took effect Sept. 1, anglers are allowed to keep up to three migratory fish per day on the Clackamas. Anglers were already permitted under permanent rules to keep two fin-clipped adult salmon or steelhead in any combination on the Clackamas. The new “bonus bag” rule allows retention of a third fish, as long as it is a hatchery coho, denoted by a clipped adipose fin.

Sandy River
The Sandy is fishing, but it’s low, low, low. 410 CFS on the gauge, anglers should be expectant for rain as per normal this time of year. Steelhead angling is slow and truth be told, will continue to be for another couple months. It’s still a possibility and altogether not the worst place to get out and swing a fly, but no real flush of new fish will arrive till sometime in November.

Silver fishing is the name of the game here now. Anglers are doing well to staged fish below Dabney if this suits your fancy…otherwise, Cedar Creek is the gauntlet. Most anglers will be running gear, however…glow bugs under an indicator and stripped pink (and variants) fly’s will take fish.

New regulations are in effect on the Sandy as well and are identical to those of the Clackamas listed in italics above.

Deschutes River
Primetime. Trout and steelhead fishing is very good. If you’re of a mind to get on the water, this is probably going to be the best possible place to ply your craft.

Steelhead first. There are fish all over the river. This is a little earlier than normal. The greatest concentration of fish is from Locked Gate downriver, but in the interests of not having to share every piece of water the entire day, you may want to work upstream. There are fish being caught all the way up. It’s truly a somewhat magical year on the D and there are more fish in the river than there have been in a long time.

Depending on your sentiment, skaters, traditional and sinking style flies are all strong possibilities. It’s a confidence game and you’ll be best served by stringing up the rig you feel you fish best and attaching a fly which you feel you’ll fish well. There are a million opinions on what to do, what not to do…I can assure you the only thing that truly matters is your fly must be in the water to hook up.

Trout fishing. Fall fishing is upon us. It’s a magical time when Caddis, Craneflies, Mahogany Duns, Midges and Baetis are the main fodder for residents. Light tippets and small flies will work well to rising fish and pupal/emerger patterns will wreak havoc below the surface. October Caddis are out and while fishing the large dries will occasionally take fish, running a trailer behind them will be far more effective. October Caddis pupa are certainly going to be a staple for fish looking for a large meal below the riffles. If you’ve any questions about fishing the river @ this time, give us a call at the shop and ask for Mitch, Randy or Joel…800.442.4359

McKenzie and Middle/Upper Willamette Rivers
Fall fishing is in the air here. These rivers are on a slow rise of late as Leaburg and Dexter Dam’s begin to turn up the amount of release. As a result, you’ll have improved steelhead conditions in the water below both dams. Better in fact than it has been since the fish first arrived. Further spikes and/or rain periods will get things cracking even further.

The additional flows are also good for the trout fishing as redsides begin to bone up on the feed for winter’s impending arrival. Like the Deschutes, these rivers will see increasing numbers of baetis and mahogany duns on the mayfly front. October Caddis, certainly more noted on the D are in fact more prevalent on the valley rivers and make for rather large fodder for trout both on the surface and below. Very small yellow stones and caddis will continue to make for additional trout snacks. Nymph fishing will really pick up now with the plethora of offerings.

Coastal Rivers
The Oregon Coast is beginning to percolate. Angling is improving, though all rivers on the coast will benefit greatly from coming rains. Sea-run angling has been fair and some possibilities for decent action include the Necanicum, the Kilchis, the Trask, Wilson and Nestucca. You’ll want to identify waters containing some kind of structure to them when targeting these fish. Spruce flies and small wets will be ideal along with a Muddler or Stimulator for top-water action. Summer steelhead fishing has been very slow out here with the low flows all summer long. Here’s the thing though…a good shot of rain will turn these rivers on high if you’re looking for a good hard grab somewhere along the coast. King fishing remains very slow with a few fish arriving in the likely spots, try the Alsea, Nestucca or Siletz for best results currently and keep your eyes on the rest.
North Fork of the Umpqua
It’s been an odd summer down here. Things have never really reached critical mass. It could be the ultra-conservative numbers on the hatchery run, a tough summer at sea, a bizarre fire or simply just low flows. While it might get a few folks down, there are some plus sides…the angler pressure has been nowhere near what it is some summers and there’s plenty of time left for this river to go into overdrive. October caddis are about ready to drive the resident and not-so-resident occupants of this river bonkers.
Metolius River
Fall means one huge thing here. Fall Drakes. It’s on, time to put the big mayflies to use again. Other factors include blue wing’s, caddis and aquatic moth’s.
Miscellanea or Not?
Rogue River – The Rogue has been a great fishery for the last two weeks and there’s every reason for it to continue.

Central Oregon Lakes – It’s time for the onset of Fall. The trout can tell and you should offer them a plethora of food accordingly, these fish are moving to the shallows and looking to get fat before winter.

Bass Waters – It’s also time for these fish to gorge. Bass anglers have shots to capture large fish as the days get shorter now. Whether it’s the John Day, the mainstem Umpqua, the Molalla, the Columbia ponds or the Willamette these fish are ready to crush flies.

Gorge Steelhead – Time to consider swung flies on the John Day and Grande Ronde. Other rivers will continue to fish well barring a gully washer or a return of hot days. There are still many many fish moving over Bonneville.

Offshore – The tuna bonanza is about over and silvers are on the wane. It’s time for Fall Kings.


Yakima River
Fall is near, and the wadin’s easy.. In the short-term, the only concern is the present hot-stretch, as mid-day water temps are a bit up into the 60’s. With the return to gradual fall cooling, and ever-lengthening, cooler nights, however, look for mid-day activity to improve as we head towards and into October, with an evening bonus-opportunity corresponding.

For now, short-winged summer stones (#8-#10 tan adult) continue to provide a big-bug opportunity, and should for a couple, few more weeks. Key, rare, limited remaining bank-water should also be worth offering hoppers, beetles, ants over, at least for a couple more weeks as well. Furthermore, look for ovipositing caddis mid-day until too-cool as the last hydrosyche and microcaddis finish their lifecycle (#14-#16 tan; #18-#20 dk. Tan adults). As for the evening bonus, well, it’s already started trying to begin. Only this recent heating nipped it in the bud, but do look for the October Caddis (#6-#8 orange adult) to start in earnest just as soon as cooling returns – start swinging pupa (also orange) late in the afternoon, and look to go dry once the shade gets on the water, until dark.

Also due to begin very soon are the fall mayflies. The further it cools, the more prolific they will become, with cloud cover and some moisture being the harbinger of as fine a mayfly day as any. Fall Cahills and BWO’s, with the BWO’s dominating, and Cahills turning a few to a handful of fish’s attention for the short period they emerge (normally just before, or just as, the BWO’s begin their emergence), are the main players. To be thoroughly prepared, stash a few mahoganies in #14-#18 and a black parachute in #16 – close inspection at key times can reveal a need to address these (some year or another)! Otherwise, bank on the BWO’s, especially on cool, cloudy, moist days. And get ready for fall!

Rocky Ford Creek
Always scuds, always midges – as the hopper window closes, look for fall BWO emergences to begin soon. Always scuds, always midges, interrupted only by what else might emerge. Look forward to BWO’s!
Puget Sound Beaches
There are still a lot of Pinks around – they’re not finished quite yet! But it is nearing the end, with Silvers starting to pick up a little up north. And a few Sea-Runs have been sampled here and there as well.

With the Pinks due to wane, and Silvers beginning to arrive, it’s merely time to have some candlefish patterns, including some with bluebacks, as well as olive and a little purple, in addition to the usual chartreuse. For that matter, add pink and white for good measure. Also consider stashing the 5 or 6 in favor of the 7 or 8 pretty soon in anticipation of some larger fish beginning to show. Take the wet weather systems to come as the promise of moving fish, and hope we see some sooner than later, as the sooner they crash the Pink party, the more likely we’ll find them still awfully aggressive to the fly – the later it gets, the more likely they begin to shift their focus to their life’s purpose, to spawn.

The 30-day window to come is The window to meet some returning ocean Silvers. As good a time to settle into the beach routine as any!

Snoqualmie River
Still some time to find a steelhead below the falls before those pink salmon begin to choke things up – then, maybe trade the steelhead rod for the trout rod and swing/slow strip little pink marabous and comets for those pinks.

Above the falls, endless dry fly fishing awaits. A humpy in a #12 or #14 will do just fine.

Skykomish River
Pinks are in the river and can be caught, although the lower downstream reaches, into the Snohomish will find more of the susceptible fish. The further upstream they go (and Pinks do not range terribly far upstream for the most part), and the longer they’ve been in the fresh, the more likely they’ll be thinking of “other things”. Those with boats will be able to also best pursue the Sea-Runs, although glo-bugs behind spawning salmon can reveal a cagey Cutt or two taking advantage.

Expect the Sea-Runs to continue fishing well into October, with some Silvers soon to join in earnest.

For the Pinks, sure enough, go pink clousers, buggers, comets in #6-#8. Sea-Runs, think classic streamers such as Knudsen’s Spiders, Purple Joe’s, Spruce’s, glo-bugs, October Caddis and the Pink flies. The Silvers like purple/pinks, pink/whites, all purple, all pinks and are highly susceptible to glo-bugs.

N. FK. Stillaguamish
The lower reaches should be okay for Pinks, although those with boats for access on the Mainstem will find more of the still-playing Humpies. This also stands for those in pursuit of Sea-Run Cutts, although the Silvers to come, and each fall freshet will welcome more of these sea-run trout further up into the system.

For the Pinks, small pink/white or red/white clousers #6-#8, pink marabou comets, small pink buggers – you get the idea – mainly pink enticements in the #6-#8 size range.

The Sea-Runs will respond to same, although classic streamers such as the Spruce, Knudsen’s/Crystal Spiders, Reverse-Spiders, and Purple Joe’s in the #6-#8 size range can still do the trick. These cuts aren’t known for being half-hearted, just have to find them. They typically favor deeper, slower, brackish, junk-ridden (boulders, deadfalls, structure) reaches best fished from a boat, but can be tempted to nose into faster water once October caddis are discovered, and have been known to follow the salmon for their eggs. Moving forward, this river should favor the wading angler increasingly as a result.

Puget Sound Lowland Lakes
Pass Lake has already been picking up for evening-into-dark Brown trout forays by streamer and leech. In short order, Lone, Rattlesnake and others, along with Pass, will be ready for day-time sorties, as well. Once we get this warm-spell off our back, look for improving action all-around as water temps cool down through the 50’s, while the trout begin aggressively stockpiling calories for over-wintering.

While there will be fall chironomid moments, perhaps some late-brood Callibaetis, flying ants for a few days, and migrating bloodworms to be offered, compared to the spring, there is a relative dearth of significant hatch activity in the fall. This puts a premium on offering leeches, scuds, baitfish (where applicable), immature dragons, crayfish, even baby damsels, as fish will be forced to opportunistically forage most of the time.

In general, look for things to stay good until it gets too dang cold, or your lake closes (not all do!). And don’t be surprised by the abundant elbow room. It seems there is much else to vie for the angler’s attention in the fall, and the lake anglers win. Have fun.

Okanogan Lakes
Chopaka gets a slight head-start thanks to it’s “elevation advantage”, as we anticipate the start of fall stillwater fishing up Okanogan way. By month’s end, it will be hitting full fall-stride, with the lower lying bodies such as Aeneas, Blue and many others not far behind. Supplement chironomids, late-brood (#16) Callibaetis and a few Flying Ants (#12) with buggers, leeches, streamers, scuds and immature dragons. Finding fish cruising shallow shoals and shoreline edges? Add small scuds and waterboatmen. Noticing what appears to be pebbles dive-bombing into the surface near shore? Those are waterboatmen returning to the drink post-mating flight. Short an imitation, bead-head hare’s ears, natural, #12-#14 have been known to suffice in a pinch. Caught at the leading edge of turnover? Hope to (or do) have some floating snails on hand. Otherwise, have the sinking lines at the ready, and prepare to offer staple forage to hungry trout.
Basin Lakes
Still waiting for warmer days to give way to falls cooling, we are still a week or so away from the beginning of the Fall gorge – you know, when the trout begin feeding with gusto in preparation for over-wintering. The hatches will be mostly confined to fall chironomids, leaving every immature invertebrate (dragon, damsel, mayfly), leeches and scuds at risk to be greedily inhaled by a Brown, or Bow, or Tiger, or (where applicable – Lenore) a Lahontan. Elbow room prevails on our stillwaters, in the fall.. get ready to partake – soon!

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