Maybe I Understand

I have only been to the Metolius River a handful of times seeing that it’s a three hour drive from me, but every time I would get skunked. So after a recent trip with not a lot of action on the McKenzie I thought I would run over and put some miles hiking along the Metolius to try to spot some good water. Now bear in mind I have been to the Metolius several times and been skunked so I was elated when I told myself “ok, last cast” and I got this fish on:

Definitely not the largest fish, but I was so happy to catch anything that was not a fingerling on the river that I thought it a bit of a blessing and packed up and took a leisurely stole back out to the car. So fast forward to my dad and his fishing buddy coming out for the steelhead trip. Of course we were not going to hike up the Deschutes as we were going to spend three days up there (and I did not want to show them how to spey cast, leave that to the pro). They wanted to go somewhere beautiful and scenic to catch trout so the Metolius it was. We got some great advice on water type from the fly shop in Camp Sherman and headed out. Half way through the day I got into the beautiful fish below in some nice fast water. Again not the largest fish ever, but damn look at those colors.

(thanks for the photo CJ)

I am super excited to get back there and see what I can do with my new learned knowledge. I think I may have to take my 7 weight along to swing for some of those bull trout monsters too.

Three Days

I have talked for so many years to my dad about coming out to Oregon to do a trip up the Deschutes that I was starting to think it would never happen. Low and behold though, from the 20 to 22 of August I got to go on a really fun camp trip up the Deschutes with my dad, his fishing buddy and my  brother from Austin. I think all of them were a little blown away by the size of the river and the flow. We met up with our guide Tom Larimer at Heritage Landing and did the ever fun ride up the river. I will never get tired of shooting up rattlesnake  rapids like that!

We got all our gear tossed in the tents and we went down to the river where my companions (who had never spey casted before) had a wonderful 45 minuet spey lesson.Tom had them out and casting line in no time. In fact my dads buddy was into a fish within hours of the lesson.

We had an awesome steak dinner and I had (at least) a few Ninkasi’s before stumbling off towards the tent. I got most of the way there and then looked up. I love being in remote places where I can see the arm of the milky way in the sky so the 30 second walk to the tent ended up taking 30 minuets or so. EARLY the next morning Tom made the rounds and as quickly as possible got food in out bellys and shuffled us into the boat.

I worked a great section near sunset bar and found an interested fish.  After the first hit I went through three flies before the fish settled on one it liked and I got it to hand. It was a fun little 6 or 7 pond fish, but had my early morning juices going.

Now I just decided to set back and enjoy the blackberries and watch my dad fish across the river.

A little later in the day I was fishing near water tower hole and went through the run with three flies with no luck. Tom came to pick me up and asked how I did. In disbelief that I found nothing he pulled out an amazing fly and said “let’s try this” a few casts later I landed this gorgeous fish below.

It was a completely awesome experience to be up on the river for so many hours in a row and to be up so high on the river. I cant wait for everyone to come out and do it again.

Holiday 2011

Over the holidays my family and I got away to Colorado to spend some time with the extended family. My dad and I drove up into 11 mile which is a beutiful tailwater flowing through some of the most gorgeous fishing water you could ask for. No fish were hooked that day, but a bald eagle flying directly overhead 20 feet up and some great beers and conversation rounded it out perfectly.

The ice along the bank was six feet into the river making the river much more personal than the other times I had been there. So many of the holes I fished in the summer along the banks were sorely missed. A few days later I went back up to 11 mile with my two brothers and much of the ice had started to melt. A few hours in my younger brother found a fish in some slow water and I about fell flat on my face as I rushed down the icy banks to help him net it. The fish threw the hook, but we worked that slot for the next  hour just to make sure he didn’t have some hungry friends in there. A little later we all moved to another spot and low and behold the same eagle flew overhead in the same spot as my previous day. My younger brother and I found a large group of fish in a deep hole and casted to them with every nymph and weight combination I could think  of. My older brother hooked I nice fish up higher (see it here). We all went back to the truck and downed jerky, chili-cheese fritos, beers, and port and got back home to the most amazing ossobuco that my mom made. The meat just fell right off the bone (MMMMMMmmmmm).

Another major highlight of the trip is that I got to go flying with my younger brother who has a pilot license. After a few nausea pills (I learned I get REALLY motion sick now that I am older when I went halibut fishing in Alaska a few years back) we got the all clear from the tower and we were sky bound. It was one of the most amazing things to be in such a small plane just my bro and me. We flew down to my parents house and did a few circles until my dad and daughter saw us from the house. I texted my wife that we were flying near the house and she said her and my mom were a few miles away. My brother headed down the road that leads to there house until he spotted the car and than almost made my breakfast come up as he got excited and banked the plane hard to circle back along the car.

On the flight back up to the airport I got to try my hand at flying and lets just say I managed not to crash the plane.

One More

While Friday was my birthday and I was able to wrestle Alex away from his work long enough to get out to the Deschutes. I usually hit up the coast for some winter steelheading for my birthday, but with this crazy dry weather we are having that wasn’t an option. We decided to work up the west side of the river which I haven’t done for along time either. Usually I stick on the east side so I can hike up miles and get past the crowds. While we got down to the river and at the first spot we stopped at I worked the upper slow water while Alex worked just below the riffles. Shortly I had my first nice steelhead of the day on. Happy Birthday to me!! The male put up a fun fight and and just as I got ready to grab him I heard that dreaded snap. Oh well. The fight was great and you don’t really need to see another photo of a steelhead here anyway. I was in high spirits as the morning had just started and Alex and I went back to our respective spots on the river. Not 15 minuets later I got into another fish, but this one was a little different. I know there should not be any B runs in the river right now, but after this steelhead made one epic boil on the surface it turned and bolted for the Columbia. My 7wt switch rod instantly felt underpowered and the line was peeling off. Three quarters of the way through my backing and many a sore arm from fighting later the fish broke off. Damn! It was the hardest fighting steelhead I have ever encountered and that includes those wild brutes I caught up on the Clearwater. Alex took a funny video of me and the whole time I was using rather colorful language to describe how I was feeling. Ha!

While I got two more takes in that area, but no more solid hook ups so Alex and I hiked way up to another good spot. When we finally got up there I headed up a little higher and Alex stayed just above the rapids. Not 5 minuets after I walked up the river I hear the “fish on” whistle and came running back down the river. I netted the really nice wild male for Alex (while the fish was sticking out of wither end of his net) and handed it over to him. He went to pull the fish out of the net and let the net go, but unfortunately it was no longer attached via his bungie cord as I had taken it off to net the fish for him. “Your net” I said and Alex whipped around with the fish dangling in one hand and made a wrong step and went straight down on hi butt. I grabbed the note and glanced over at a really nice steelhead that took that dip to make a run for it.

So no photos of fish, but it was totally one of the most memorable days I have ever had on the river. We were laughing all the way back home. What an awesome birthday.

And a big shout out to my beautiful wife for watching my children who I hear were a handful that day.

First Winter Steelhead of the Season

Cast, mend, mend, drift. Cast, mend, mend, drift. Fish on! Oh damn. It’s a snag. Pull. Pull! PULL! Than the sound of 12 lb line snapping. Reel in the line and take an assessment of whats left. Not much. Start the rigging process. Nah. Time for some sunflower seeds on the side of the river taking in the beauty of this little coastal gem. I look over my shoulder and spot some bait casters that had been watching me in the run. They walk by “Damn, sucks getting broke off”. “Not if you caught one of these in that run” I reply and lift a 28 inch super chrome steelhead up. “Damn!” was all they could muster.

It was a fun moment on two counts:
1.) Usually the bait guys have the steelhead

2.) It is super early in the winter steelhead season and I already found one.

Alex and I had been out a week before this while the water was dropping from the heavy rains we had, but the river wasn’t in good enough shape yet. I thought there was no chance on this weekend as it has remained totally dry since that heavy rain and the rivers were low and super clear. Ok, fish the deep pools I thought. Nothing. Ok, I’ll try deep run. Nope. While, lets swing some flies through those sexy looking riffles. Score. The fish took the fly with a vengeance and leapt in the air. My scream of excitement rang out down the river as I fought to keep the fish from running down the large rapids just below. The new Beulah Platinum Switch 10’8″ 7 wt was a dream to fight the fish with (and to cast on the smaller river). A little later the two fly fisherman that had been down river from me came by and said “We could hear you all the way down there”. Yeah, sorry guys I was just that excited to land this chrome beauty.

The hatchery fish came home with me and I poached them with a delicious sauce of garlic, brown sugar, toasted sesame oil,  lemon, pepper, and other yummy things that my wife made. She whips up the most delicious sauces!

Salmon River (Sandy Watershed)

I don’t explore the rivers around me nearly as much as I should. I have figured out a few of the best trout rivers in western Oregon and I tend to stick to those. This past weekend I finally decided to stop at the Salmon River, which I pass whenever I head over Mount Hood to get over to the Deschutes, and see what I had driven by all those times.

The Salmon River flows into the Sandy River just SW of Welches, OR. You can stop at the Fly Fishing Shop in Welches if you forgot anything or need a hook up on flies. Just East of Welches make a right on East Salmon River Road (at the Subway) and that will take you up to Mt. Hood National Forest area seen in the picture above. If you want to park at the designated pull outs you will need a National Forest Pass (there YOUR National Forest, but you have to pay to park at them, geez). I pulled in to one of the non-designated pull outs and skipped the fee. The area is also a great place to do some dispersed camping and skip the campsite fee also. Trail 742 follows along the river and lets you cover lots of ground quickly. All the fish I found in this upper section were in the 7 to 10 inch range. But the scenery and the pool after pool are just something else.

Another option is to pull off at the locked gate pictured below before you get to Welches and head down the trail. There is a nice outside bend in the river with lots of deeper pools. Unfortunately I was sharing one of the pools with seven drunk frat boys trying to out do each other with stupidity (jumping off eight foot high rocks into three feet of water) to impress the the two cute girls with them (ahhh. To be young). I hooked into a nice fish that headed back to the Sandy after I hooked him and after five minuets of trying to get sight of him he threw my hook. You can bet I will stop by for a quick couple casts next time I am heading out to the majestic Deschutes next time.

Birds Nest

Last week the grandma-in-law had to head back to Virginia, but the day before she left I managed to sneak in one more day of fishing. I headed on over to what is quickly becoming my favorite trout river, the Deschutes. I can’t even count the amount of days I spent on that river getting completely skunked or being completely excited that I caught a few six inch fish. So much so that I gave up on it out of frustration. Than a few years back Alex and I hit the Stonefly hatch and since than things have just been improving. Now I have found really nice hefty trout every time I have gone.

This time I was fishing all the deeper spots I could find as it was a pure blue sky out with no wind (seriously, no wind). I was having a good time and found a few 12 inchers here and there. Than as I was fishing my way up a nice little run I saw a fluorescent green bait casters hook setup in a bush six feet or so out in the river. I went out to get it out of the bush and noticed there was a nice little beat up BH birds nest. It looked nice and tasty so on the line it went (and I removed the bait thingy). That little beat up fly produce six more fish in the 16-18 inch range. Just goes to show you can never tie your birds nest to beat up or too messy.

For a tying tutorial try Charlie Craven.

Norm Woods is special

I should have headed up to Trout Creek I thought as I looked around and only saw a handful of stoneflies in the grass. My fishing buddies leg is busted up from a game of soccer and I just didn’t feel like driving any farther than Maupin. So I jumped out of the car with a belly full of sunflower seeds I had cracked on the way to pass the drive time and walked down the tracks. The first few spots I hit had no action on the surface so I gave a whirl on my Czech nymphing skills. Along the rocky edges I found lots of fish that all strangely took the largest fly that I would put on my rig. A dozen fish later I got back to what I really came out to do and put the dry flies back on. I cycled through all the new “standbys” and none of them produced. I went to one spot that I know a nice 18 incher lives and decided to go old school and put on a Norm Woods Special. There is just something about the way that fly lies in the water, the calf tail just barley floating above the surface. Right as I got Norm up to the rock that the fish hangs at I saw the slowest take and than an explosion of jumps as the fish tried  to run into the rapids. Unlike last year, when I got a fish at the same spot, I didn’t let him get into those rapids saving myself from getting soaked from slipping as I tried to keep the fish on (for the record I did land the fish, yahooo!!).

After that I worked my way through the blackberry’s and poison oak on the side of the river up to another spot and found another fish that ripped into the backing after a crazy take.

That is going to have to be it for this season. Usually I would head back up for one or two more weeks following the bugs up the river, but I have a baby due soon and I can’t head off that far. This blog may have to be about fly thing for awhile and I have some new fun patterns I have been hankering to tie up.

PS: As I was writing this post my wife mailed me  a photo of this little guy that came along in the car. Freaked her out when it climbed her leg, but I love the fact that she just caught it in a container so she could show me and we could set it free.