Aug 23, 2016

Redington Predator - New for 2017

New Redington Predator

While at I-CAST / IFTD 2016 I took the predator to the casting pond. I am familiar with first gen Predators from time spent on the water with them so baseline was already established. Immediately I noticed this new Predator has more horsepower. As I continued to learn its nature it also displayed more feel. Loads easy and punches out power with authority. Feels like a good salt action type of rod. Originally designed for bass and pike the Predator quickly got the attention of mangrove enthusiast due to its hard punching capabilities. Similar tactics of target punching large flies crosses paths of fresh and salt predator species alike. First Gen Predators really lit the fire on this demanding pursuit, This New Generation Predator feels ready to perfect that pursuit!

The Redington Predator Series is a popular rod with mangrove hunters, bass fanatics and pike/musky chasers. It's reputation has been built on the capabilities of delivering large flies to tough targets and providing backbone needed to tame aggressive species.

Revised for 2017 with several specie specific sizes. Equipped with saltwater grade components, a balanced feel and responsive performance the New Redington Predator is ready for a future of beast taming adventures.

The series also includes specialty models, with the 7’10”, 8-weight and dedicated pike and musky models with extended fighting butts for boatside figure-eights.

Laser-etched model references on the reel seat makes for quick rod identification. Aluminum oxide stripping guides with ceramic inserts and hard wire anodized snake guides offer durability and smooth line shooting. Alignment dots on each 4-piece section make rod setup easy, and epoxy coated section tips prevent sticking.

Thirteen models, ranging from 5-weight through 12-weight with varying lengths and fighting butt designs, come in a durable cordura rod tube with built-in rod dividers. All models will be available August 2016, and will come with a lifetime warranty.


Gorge Fly Shop Internet Sales Manager | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Aug 21, 2016

Columbia Gorge Fishing Report - 08/21/2016

Hendrix guarding the station at the HR Cleanup!
The Hood River Cleanup went off smoothly, although the number of participants was low.  We had seven total people, eight including myself.  We collected lots of trash from the river and had a good time taking swim breaks when the heat got to be too intense.  Thanks to Columbia Riverkeeper, Dakine, Shortt Supply and Andrew's Pizza for making this event possible.  Next year we will do it earlier in the day and hope that it is not that hot!

Fishing in the area may have been tough this past week for most as a heat wave hampered effort and deteriorated conditions on a couple of our favorite streams.  Conditions should improve this week as the 100+ degree weather (hopefully) sits in our rearview mirror for the rest of the year.

Tom Larimer with a McKenzie River bow!
I had a great time fishing with Tom Larimer and Red Kulper from G. Loomis and Matt from the Caddis Fly Shop this week.  We floated the McKenzie River for two days.  This was a fantastic opportunity to fish the new G. Loomis Asquith fly rods and to be able to compare them to the NRX.  Tom had to pry the 9' 4wt Asquith from my hands at the end of the trip.  What a killer rod!  Powerful, but not too fast.  I hadn't fished a 9' 4wt rod in several years, and this rod did not disappoint!  A huge thank you goes out to the guys at Loomis as well as Chris from the Caddis Fly who let us stay at his cabin on the river.  Good shops can get along and work together to improve the fishing community in the region.  I look forward to seeing the full line-up of Asquith rods once they hit the shop.  Between the Asquith spey rods that I cast and a couple of the single handers, this is possibly the nicest rod series I have put my hands on.  Seriously.

Summer steelhead numbers are still poor coming through the Columbia River dams, but the fish that are coming in have been reported to be more big B runs, and are not moving past the Dalles Dam in any large numbers.  That means that the Hood and the Klickitat have been seeing good numbers this summer.  The fish may be using our local rivers as cold water refuges to wait until water temps drop upstream of the Dalles.  We are not sure what is going on, but the word on the street is the A-run steelhead are either really late or not coming to the party.  

The Deschutes River is still kicking out fish to anglers, but the catch rate is not what some have come to expect over the past ten years.  With numbers over the Dalles dam at 1/3 of our ten year average, the number of fish in the river is down, water conditions are poor (hot) and air temps have been unfavorable.  That being said, angler effort has been low.  The river is not very crowded, and the fish in the system are still grabby.  Anglers have been hooking a fish or two a day... that is good fishing if you ask me.  Please take a look at water temps before you go and avoid fishing if the river temps are to be 70 or above.  

The Klickitat River has not been in good shape this last week due to the hot weather.  We have definitely seen worse conditions though.  Clarity was bad, but not like the chocolate milkshake that we have often seen during heat waves.  It looked nearly fishable Saturday, and will hopefully return to good shape by mid week if our pattern of 80 degree weather holds.  The river usually starts to get ugly when temps are above 90 and takes two or three days to clean up once we get cooler temps.  Fishing has been good this summer as it looks like a bunch of the 60,000 steelhead that are between Bonneville and the Dalles dams have pulled into the Klick looking for cold water.  

The Hood has been dirty, but actually looked fishable on Saturday, the hottest day of the year.  Sunday morning however; clarity is very poor.  Look for it to clear up by mid-week to the lower end of fishable clarity.  I would personally focus on rivers that have more flow in them right now, but it can be a fun little river to fish for a few hours if you don't have the time or desire to drive elsewhere.  There should definitely be steelhead poking their noses into the Hood as it is one of the coldest rivers around.  

Smallmouth Bass fishing on the Columbia has been steady in the early morning hours, but slower during the day.  The fish have been eating topwater poppers before the sun is shining.  Bass fishing on the John Day should still be very good now that the heat is more tolerable on the river.  

Fall Chinook are starting to show up in the Columbia.  Not really easy to target on the fly, but they are often caught while steelhead fishing.  Targeting them is far easier and more productive with a glob of cured roe under a bobber.  We like to catch steelhead for fun, and Chinook for food.  I will surely have a couple of evening sessions at Drano Lake in my future as I look to fill the freezer before winter.  

Trout fishing has been good in the places that stay cold like Lost Lake, Eagle Creek and Laurance Lake.  Trout Lake Creek has been good too.  The East Fork of the Hood has not been good as it has been dirty from glacial melt lately.  The Deschutes has been very good for trout on caddis patterns during that last hour or so before dark, especially around the Maupin area. 

Flows:  The USGS sites give us real-time flows, while the NOAA site shows us predictions based on weather patterns.  Both are invaluable tools.  You can also check water temps here too...

Hood River:


Deschutes near Madras:

Deschutes at the mouth:

Columbia River
Bonneville Dam Water Temps
Columbia @ Hood River (The mouth of the Hood backs up at 75 feet)

As always, we are happy to talk fishing any time.  Give us a call if you have any specific questions on local rivers, gear, and tactics, or if you just want some encouragement to get out of the office.  541.386.6977

Andrew Perrault
Columbia Gorge Fishing Reports
Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Aug 20, 2016

Redington Rise Fly Reels - New for 2017

The Redington Rise Series of reels is seeing it's 3rd generation now with this introduction of the 2017 model. The big change in this 3rd generation is the transition to an ultra large arbor format.

Redington is stepping up their game in a big way. Such as in fly reels, last year we saw the new Behemoth and the Zero. Both reels have received great attention over the past year. The All New Rise Reel looks great and has some great features normally only found in much more expensive reels.

Check out the specs
MODELWeight (oz)Yards BackingDiameter (in)Width(in)
Notice arbor size and reel weight. 

Features - 
  • CNC machined, anodized 6061-T6 aluminum design with quick release spool 
  • Ultra-large arbor design for quick line retrieve 
  • Smooth, compact carbon fiber drag system 
  • Twin molded, soft-touch ergonomic handles  
  • Oversize drag knob for easy adjustment 
  • Easily converts to left or right hand retrieve 
  • Nylon reel case included 
  • Lifetime warranty

The Rise reels are CNC-machined out of anodized 6061-T6 aluminum and have a U-shaped, ultra-large arbor design for quick line retrieve. The compact carbon fiber drag system offers smooth fish-stopping power and an oversize drag knob for quick adjustments.

Models sized from 3/4 to 9/10... Available in Silver, Amber and Black, from $189.95 to $219.95.

The New Redington Rise Reels are In-stock and ready to order


Gorge Fly Shop Internet Sales Manager | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Aug 16, 2016

Trout Spey - New Line Options

Trout Spey Lines

I quoted in the my last article Winston Microspey vs Sage Trout Spey, "Awesome time it is for the New Trout Spey Angler". It's great to have such awesome rods available to us but the best rods really don't mean anything without lines to do what we need them to do. Last year at this time I was writing Trout Spey Lines - No Perfect Answer. This year I am stoked to say I have some perfect answers. Maybe not all the answers but the two hand trout angler is wading up a better creek than ever!

In addition to the search for better trout spey / microspey lines I believe I have found an awesome single handed skagit lines. In pursuit of the quest for better lines for pint size spey rods we got more than we asked for and we now have what I have come to believe is the best single hand skagit heads yet. I'll get into this detail later in the article.

Update: 8/26/2016

Airflo Skagit Scout - Just arrived...NOW IN STOCK

I just got my samples of this new Skagit From Airflo. Can't wait to try them out. Compared to the OPST heads these appear a little longer. NO one is telling us to line up light so I would plan to go with your rod's recommendation.

You got to love this Airflo description...
"They allow trout, steelhead, and salmon fishermen to use their single-hand and switch rods to cast any sink tip in their bag."
That's what I want to hear!

Head Length

Airflo Skagit Scout
New Skagits
Really Short Skagits! With the addition of the new Airflo Skagit Scout there is now three offerings in this category including the RIO Skagit Trout Max and OPST Commando Heads.

OPST Commando
OPST or Olympic Peninsula Skagit Tactics was founded by innovative spey masters Ed Ward and Jerry French. Commando Skagit Heads are specifically designed to work on the OPST principles of Pure Skagit Sustained Anchor water loaded cast and are optimized for switch rods in the 10-12 foot range.

OPST Commando 325gr w/10' - T8 tip on Winston 4110 Microspey
So what does Pure Skagit Sustained Anchor casting mean? What OPST did with the skagit is take away all that was not necessary and get right down to just enough head to anchor and maintain a fixed position of your fly while keeping the head in constant motion throughout the casting stroke. By using out and around method your casting stroke becomes one continuous motion. This allows the angler to keep a tight casting box and minimizes the space needed for large D-loops and reduces the pause needed for critical timing to get a formed D-loop. In my words if you can perform a roll cast than adapting to an out and around swing with a Commando Head will naturally come easy.

OPST Commando Head Specs

How different are the lengths? I make some comparisons here to demonstrate just how drastic of a turn we've taken.

Winston BIII Microspey 4110 likes 325gr
  • Airflo Switch Streamer 330gr head length 18.5'
  • Rio Skagit Max Short 325gr head length 20'
  • OPST Commando 325gr head length 15'
Sage One Trout Spey 3110 likes 275gr
  • Airflo Switch Streamer - N/A - lowest available line is 300gr
  • Rio Skagit Max Short 275gr head length 20'
  • OPST Commando 275gr head length 13.5'
  • RIO Skagit Trout Max 275gr head length 11'

Courtesy of OPST - Recommendation Chart
One thing you will notice in the recommendation chart provided by OPST is the grain weight to switch/spey rod sizes are much less than we currently recommend. Using the Winston 4110 Microspey for my example I like to load it with 325-330 grains but according to the OPST chart they recommend 200-225 grain. I have experimented with both grain windows and at this time I still prefer the heavier load for my rod. This may change as I become more adept to this Pure Skagit form of casting but that is a whole another area that will need it's own article to tackle. The single hand specs I find to be dead on with what I have experienced.

Using OPST Commando heads for single hand rods becomes very interesting especially for trout anglers but also steelhead anglers who fish tight quartered water. These heads give your single hand rod a freedom you have never experienced before. Once you get the feel of it you can add a haul to your forward stroke for more distance. I have been experimenting this year with several single hand rods ranging from 8' to 9'6" and 4 to 8 weight with amazing results. Even rods I didn't really like very well seemed to have a new life with skagit single handed spey.

RIO Skagit Trout Max
Single hand spey brown
If OPST Commando heads are short than the Rio Skagit Trout Max are "micro". Skagit Trout Max heads come in only 4 sizes and all are 11 foot long. Grain weights include a 200, 225, 250 and 275 grain.

Although designed for light two hand switch rods I feel they really adapt better to single hand rod, Single handed spey applications. At 11' these short heads can easily lose anchor with rods in the 10'6" to 12' lengths but with rods in the 8' to 10' length they can take trout fly rods and make them very effective single hand spey casting tools. They are capable of turning over some serious T-series sink tips for example I have been using 8' of T-8 for most my single hand trout swinging but one day I looped on an 8' piece of T-11 on a 9' 7 weight rod with a 275gr Skagit Trout Max to swing a fast tailout. It paid off with two nice browns taken on a #8 Sculpzilla and no trouble at all casting the rig.

The RIO Skagit Trout Max Heads also work very well with polyleader tips. A piece of froggy water I fish often has small depressions scattered throughout a large area shirted with small riffles. Often at times fish can be found in these depressions and on the seams of the riffles. With a 9 foot 5 wt and a Skagit Trout Max 200 grain head tipped with an intermediate polyleader I can wade and work these depressions and seams with a simple swing around into a touch a go cast shooting about 20 feet of running line. I let my two fly rig (usually a small nymph and a soft hackle) swing into the depressions. Strip back to head and move a couple steps and do it again. Most anglers are indicator fishing this water but I find it more rewarding using a tight line swing technique. Of course the skagit doesn't provide a soft presentation but than again neither does a thing-a-ma-bobber hitting the water. Ease along and first work the edges before diving all in and lining the fish. The polyleader will present well when you soften up your stoke and let this short skagit do the job of turnover.

A note about single handed spey:
Single Hand Spey Caught Brown
I can assume that anybody reading this article probably has a 9 foot 5 weight rod or a close equivalent in their arsenal. For many reasons maybe you have hesitated going all in on a trout spey outfit? I know the times I do walk and wade trips the preparation question of what rod do I want to carry always comes up. If you're like me carrying more than one rod just becomes a hassle. But you don't have to let that stop you from enjoying the benefits of spey. Now with OPST Commando's or RIO Trout Max Spey heads you can simply set up a second reel and swing flies on those couple good runs in your water and switch to a dry line when a hatch appears. If you are just learning spey techniques your single hand rod can be a valuable asset. If you can make effective roll casts than you are already on the way to learning single handed spey. With a short skagit you can easily learn to shoot line on a roll cast and perform forward stroke line hauls.

Trout spey has taken a giant leap forward this past year with these two new skagits. Breathe new life into your Switch, Microspey or Trout Spey and/or add a new dimension of Single Handed Spey to your trout arsenal. It's been a real game changer for me. I hope you find that true for you too!


Gorge Fly Shop Internet Sales Manager | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Read more of Greg's Post

Aug 13, 2016

Columbia Gorge Fishing Report (08/14/2016)

Thank you for reading the weekly fishing report!  A couple of notes here on upcoming events in the area.

We are sponsoring a Hood River Cleanup.  The goal is to remove trash from along the river around the Hood River Powerhouse.  This is a popular area for fishermen, kayakers and general outdoor recreationalists. Unfortunately, there is a lot of trash along the river there.  The event is from 2:00 to 4:00 next Saturday August 20.   There will be a raffle for a couple of prizes donated form our favorite local businesses.  This is part of a wider event called LOVE YOUR COLUMBIA, put on by Columbia Riverkeeper.   More information about LOVE YOU COLUMBIA can be found here.

Please call if you have any questions and see you at the event.

Another event that we are excited for is also put on by Columbia Riverkeeper.  Remember how awfully hot the water was in the Columbia last summer?  Well the impacts on the salmon run was devastating. On August 24, there is an informative talk called Hot Water, Fish Kills, and the Future of Salmon.  It is at Slopeswell Cider and is free to the public.  Please consider attending.  

On to fishing report. 

Ok, so summer steelhead numbers are dismal coming through Bonneville and The Dalles dams.  Less than 2,000 fish a day on average this week through Bonneville when we historically should be passing 5,000-8,000 a day right now.  We might end August with less than 100,000 for the year...

Nick caught this badboy right behind me on an Unconditional
Fishing however, is not bad.  The Klickitat has been producing steelhead for anglers with some consistency.  The Deschutes has been kind of slow and steady.  The problem with the Deschutes is that hundreds of anglers have this skewed perspective that you should be able to go out and hook a dozen fish on dry lines every day this time of year; and that is just a recipe for failure.  The solid anglers around here have been reporting a fish or two a day, and that should be considered a great day of steelheading anywhere.  So many of our anglers are expecting such a high catch rate based on a couple years of phenomenal fishing that they don't believe that hooking a couple of fish a day is good enough.  Water temps are still a factor in the Deschutes as the river has been peaking above 70F the past few days.

Fish are still eager to eat dries on
high mountain streams
The Klickitat was in great shape up until Friday when the heat finally started to cause some minor clarity issues.  It could definitely be in worse shape.  We shall see what the weather has in store for us for this week, but a couple of cool nights would do wonders for the clarity.  Otherwise it has been fishing well.

I fished with Nick for a couple of hours on Wednesday.  He picked my pocket with a Larimer's Unconditional, fished on an OPST Commando Head and an Airflo FLO Tip T-10.  We had both wanted to fish that fly and I gave in and let him fish it...  my mistake.  He landed a nice hatchery steelhead that went right onto the barbecue.

Our high mountain lakes and streams are still fishing very well.  I backpacked into a lake near Mt. St. Helens last weekend and caught a couple of nice brook trout with little effort on my Tenkara Teton Rod Package.  It was great.  I stuck four flies in my hat and my rod into the side of my pack.  Fishing was easy, the mosquitoes were minimal and the views were spectacular.

Bearded Bassmaster with a nice one!
Smallmouth bass fishing has been good on the Columbia lately, although the super hot days are not exactly getting the bass too excited.  Ryan and John were doing better on Friday night dragging drop shots on the bottom than with the fly rods, but there was plenty of action to keep them excited.  The John Day is still fishing very well for bass too.

I spent a few hours searching for carp along the Columbia on Thursday, but only saw one and it was not in a place where I could catch him, so I gave up and went paddle boarding instead.  A good call when it was pushing 100 degrees out.  I did see a few carp around Wells Island when I was on the SUP, but I didn't stop to cast on them.

Lost Lake is a good call for beating the heat this week.  The lake is chilly cold, the fishing has been fantastic and the scenery can't be beat.  Laurance Lake is also a good call.  The fishing is just as good, but the scenery is not like Lost Lake which looms under the eye of Mt. Hood.

Flows:  The USGS sites give us real-time flows, while the NOAA site shows us predictions based on weather patterns.  Both are invaluable tools.  You can also check water temps here too...

Hood River:


Deschutes near Madras:

Deschutes at the mouth:

Columbia River
Bonneville Dam Water Temps
Columbia @ Hood River (The mouth of the Hood backs up at 75 feet)

As always, we are happy to talk fishing any time.  Give us a call if you have any specific questions on local rivers, gear, and tactics, or if you just want some encouragement to get out of the office.  541.386.6977

Andrew Perrault
Columbia Gorge Fishing Reports
Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Aug 8, 2016

Greg's Reel Picks of I-CAST / IFTD 2016

IFTD Winner - Best New Saltwater Reel

Part Two - Fly Reels

In Case you missed it see Part One Greg's Rod Picks from IFTD / I-CAST 2016

Several of the giants in the industry decided to take it easy this year. Instead of hitting us with the latest greatest they have chosen to attack other angles like improved delivery, more accessories and additional color/finish choices. But not all held back!

Abel SDS

Long anticipated Abel SDS (Sealed Drag Saltwater) reel came to the show and took the win in the saltwater category. The big game reel comes with some really cool features like machined aluminum handle, quick release spool cap and a multi stacked drag system with easy left/right retrieve change. As with all Abel reels your choice of custom colors and graphics and you can order the SDS with a solid back for some really unique artwork. Three sizes, 7/8, 9/10 & 11/12, starting at $895. January 2017

Ross Colorado LT

Abel's companion company Ross also got busy this year winning Best Freshwater Reel category with the new Colorado LT Fly Reel. This Click Pawl reel reaches back into the past the original Colorado roots utilizing the all-metal clicker as the building block of the new LT model. Other features include fully machined, no plastic, ultra lightweight and a total parts content of quantity 15. 3 Sizes, $285-$300. Available now

Bauer SST

The really big news at Bauer Fly Reels is the recent acquisition by R.L.Winston. I can't think of a better match to welcome together.

The New Bauer SST is conceived from years of development stemming most recently from the CFX model. These new reels contain all the bulletproof guts and structural strength features of the previous CFX and wraps all into the most lightweight and attractive package ever. Available in stunning all clear or all black and 8 color choices of star drag knobs. Coming this fall. Six models, 2-9 Starting at $355

Sage 6200

The Sage 6200 Fly Reel Series may not have won any awards but if I had to choose one new reel this year that will likely outperform all others in their class then look no further! The heart of the 6200 is the SCS (Sealed Carbon System) drag. Proprietary high-grade US made carbon fiber provides smooth engagement with consistent and repeatable pressure. The large One Revolution Drag Knob provides 40 detented drag settings. All this is sealed behind anodized 6061 aerospace grade cold forged aluminum. Three Colors: Stealth, Silver, Cobalt. Five Sizes 5wt - 12wt. $439 - $499. Available now!

Tibor News

In a world of polished and matte finishes Tibor has found middle ground with Frost Finish. Besides being a good looking hard anodized surface the unseen beauty of this finish lies in the fact that it takes less production time and therefore cost less to produce. Take for example a Signature 9/10 in standard polished finish cost $805 where as the same reel in Frost finish cost $745. Two colors in this Frost finish are Silver Frost and Black Frost.

Redington Rise

Redington Rise Specs
MODELWeight (oz)Yards BackingDiameter (in)Width(in)

Redington is not messing around! For example take a look at the new 3rd generation Rise Reels. Featuring an ultra-large u-shaped arbor which helps your backing behave and retrieve your line in a hurry. Compact carbon fiber disc drag claiming over 20lbs of stopping force. I'd have to see that but quite honestly half of that is more than sufficient. But aside from all the technical stuff I see a really light good looking reel at a great price. Pictured is a 7/8 mounted on a new Redington Hydrogen Trout Spey.  Four sizes 3/4-5/6-7/8-9/10 weight, $189.95 - $219.95...In-Stock Now!

Hardy Marquis LWT

The New Hardy Marquis LWT is certainly worth noting. The biggest change is production has shifted back to England. Notice the machined aluminum drag knob. In addition to the Hardy LWT Salmon reels we are use to you will also see a new Hardy Marquis LWT (Lightweight) which replaces the old Lightweight series of Hardy Reels. Five LWT models from 2-7 weight, $329 to $369 and three Salmon models from $399 to $449


After winning multiple awards in previous years Nautilus has decided to take a break and improve on delivery and color options. Shown here on the left is the new lime color on the award winning X Reel. The technology in Nautilus reels has changed the fly reel industry forever and even if they take a year or two to bring out a new reel most other reel companies still couldn't catch up to these high tech reels Nautilus brings to us.

Complete List of Show Winners
Best of ShowSageX 590
Fly Rod: FreshwaterSageX 590
Fly Rod: SaltwaterSageX 890
Reel: FreshwaterRoss ReelsColorado LT
Reel: SaltwaterAbel ReelsSDS
Fly Line: FreshwaterRIO ProductsInTouch Big Nasty
Fly Line: SaltwaterRIO ProductsWinter Redfish
Leader / TippetRIO ProductsRIO Saltwater Mono
Fly Pattern: FreshwaterAqua Flies, LLCStu Foxall’s PrawnTruder
Fly Pattern: SaltwaterUmpqua Feather MerchantsContraband Crab, Chicone
Fly Box / Storage SystemTacky Fly FishingTacky Dry Fly Box
Fly Tying Materials / EquipmentFreestone DesignsThe Go Box
Men’s WadersSimms Fishing ProductsHeadwater Pro Waders
Women’s WadersHodgmanWomen’s H4 Wader
Wading BootsSimms Fishing ProductsRip Rap Shoe Felt
Check Pack / VestSimms Fishing ProductsG4 Pro Sling Pack
LuggageUmpqua Feather MerchantsZeroSweep Cooler-Gater
Men’s OuterwearPatagoniaMinimalist Wading Jacket
Men’s General ApparelSimms Fishing ProductsIntruder BiComp L/S Shirt
Women’s OuterwearPatagoniaWomen’s River Salt Jacket
Women’s General ApparelSimms Fishing ProductsWomen’s Rip Rap Sandal
Youth ProductUmpqua Feather MerchantsZS Wader Chest Pack
Accessories (under $100)OrvisU.S.-Made Aluminum Nipper
Eco-friendly ProductFishpondThunderhead Duffel
Boat / Personal WatercraftOutcast Sporting GearFish Cat 5 Mat
BookAngler’s Book SupplyFusion Fly Tying
DVDRIO ProductsFavorite Fly-Fishing Knots
Gift Items (under $100)Umpqua Feather MerchantsZS Guide Wader Belt
P.O.S. / Booking SoftwareThe Outfitter ProOnline Booking System
Coming Soon! New Fly Lines Review...


Gorge Fly Shop Internet Sales Manager | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Aug 5, 2016

Deschutes River Alliance - Need To Know Issues

The Deschutes River Alliance

The Deschutes River Alliance (DRA) is a nonprofit, science-based advocacy organization seeking solutions to threats to the health of the lower Deschutes River. We advocate for improved water quality, a healthy ecosystem, and for the establishment and protection of robust populations of resident and anadromous fish throughout the entire Deschutes watershed.
  • Since 2013, the DRA has worked tirelessly to determine the source and extent of significant negative environmental changes occurring in the lower Deschutes River. We are working to create a strong scientific case supporting our understanding of these changes so that we can effectively advocate for solutions to these issues. 
  • The DRA has been deeply engaged with communities in the Deschutes basin to assess the social and economic impacts that the currently degrading river conditions are having throughout north central Oregon. 
  • The DRA has pursued both advocacy and collaborative approaches to engage the managing agencies, the dam operators, and others in the environmental issues that we continue to research and document in the lower Deschutes River. 
Our goal is to move collectively toward management strategies that improve anadromous fish reintroduction in the upper Deschutes basin, while returning the lower Deschutes River to its previous healthy condition.

Pelton Round Butte and the Lower Deschutes River

The Pelton Round Butte (PRB) Hydroelectric Project (“the Project”) is a complex of three dams and associated developments located on the Deschutes River near Madras, Oregon. Round Butte Dam, the uppermost of the three dams, forms Lake Billy Chinook, impounding several miles of the Metolius, Crooked, and Deschutes rivers. Portland General Electric (PGE) is the majority owner of the Project, and PGE is responsible for day-to-day Project operations. The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon (CTWS) are the minority owner of the Project and collaborate with PGE on management decisions.

There are no impoundments on the Deschutes River downstream of PRB, so Project discharges play a central role in water temperature and quality in the 100 miles of the lower Deschutes River between PRB and the Columbia River. Before 2010, Project water discharge consisted exclusively of water drawn from near the bottom of Lake Billy Chinook. These discharges, generally cold and of excellent water quality, created a healthy and vibrant aquatic ecosystem downstream in the lower Deschutes River. The stable and productive aquatic environment created by these releases attracted fishermen and other recreationists from all over the world, providing significant economic benefits to the region. The cold water historically found in the lower river has also provided an important thermal refuge in the summer for adult salmon and steelhead swimming upstream through the Columbia River.

“Selective Water Withdrawal” and Changes to the Ecology of the Lower Deschutes River

These conditions in the lower Deschutes River began to change rapidly in 2010, when PGE began operating a newly constructed Selective Water Withdrawal (SWW) tower above Round Butte Dam in Lake Billy Chinook. The SWW facility is designed to draw water from the surface of the reservoir, which is much warmer and of drastically worse quality than the water at depth. Now, for much of the year, water discharged downstream by the Project consists exclusively of this warmer, poor quality surface water. During the summer months the surface water is blended with water from depth before being discharged below the project.

PGE has stated two purposes for the SWW facility. First, it was hoped that the SWW tower would aid in the reintroduction of salmon and steelhead above the PRB complex: drawing water from near the reservoir surface would create currents that would, in theory, guide out-migrating juveniles to a collection facility at the SWW tower. These fish would then be placed in trucks, transported below the Project, and released. The second justification for the SWW facility was to help the Project meet various water quality standards in the lower Deschutes River and the Project reservoirs.

Quite simply, the SWW facility has failed to meet either of these objectives. With regard to downstream fish passage, the hoped-for surface currents in Lake Billy Chinook are not successfully guiding juvenile salmon and steelhead through the reservoir in substantial numbers. PGE has reported survival rates of juvenile salmonids migrating through the reservoir that are too low to support self-sustaining populations of anadromous fish.

Meanwhile, SWW operations have had a negative effect on water quality in the lower Deschutes River. Project discharges now regularly exceed state water quality standards for temperature and pH, and fail to meet dissolved oxygen requirements agreed to in the Project’s federal licensing process. These unlawful discharges are resulting in distressing changes to the aquatic ecosystem of the lower river. Since 2010, DRA has researched and documented the following negative changes:

  • An increase in water temperature during the spring and summer months;
  • Rampant proliferation of nuisance algae blooms throughout the full 100 miles of the lower river, resulting in negative impacts on the ecology and use of the river; and
  • Altered timing of aquatic insect hatches, decreased abundance of adult aquatic insects, and a dramatic increase in worms and snails.

As a result of these ecological changes, the lower Deschutes River is becoming increasingly unrecognizable to the people who have lived, worked and recreated on it for the last 50 years.

SWW Operations Have Consistently Violated the Clean Water Act

As part of the Project’s federal licensing, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) issued several water quality requirements for the Project pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act. These requirements, for criteria such as temperature, dissolved oxygen, and pH, were designed to protect the ecological health of the lower river.

Unfortunately, since the SWW tower began operations, PGE has consistently violated these water quality requirements. Over the last five years, DRA has documented over 1,200 instances where Project discharges have failed to meet the agreed-upon requirements, including at least 350 temperature violations, over 200 pH violations, and nearly 750 dissolved oxygen violations. Each of these instances is a violation of the Clean Water Act.

To date, ODEQ has not enforced the Project’s water quality requirements, or ensured that PGE changes Project operation to attain compliance. Instead, ODEQ has worked with PGE, behind closed doors, to weaken the relevant requirements and allow PGE to continue operating the Project to meet the company’s economic and other objectives—rather than to protect the health of the river and its fishes. These “interim agreements” with PGE were made in violation of Oregon law requiring public notice and the opportunity for public comment, and illustrate a troubling relationship between PGE and ODEQ, the state agency tasked with protecting water quality in the lower Deschutes River.

Economic Impacts of SWW Operations

The ecological changes to the lower Deschutes River, following implementation of SWW operations and PGE’s failure to comply with water quality requirements, are now impacting the economy of north central Oregon. As the fishing experience in the lower Deschutes River begins to degrade due to Project operations, demand at local businesses frequented by anglers is in decline. The community of Maupin, whose local economy depends on river recreation, has reported serious declines in angling business revenue in 2015, which has translated to reported revenue losses from hotels, restaurants, and other businesses in the area. The business community in Maupin firmly believes that these declines are due to negative changes to the Deschutes River resulting from SWW operations. Additional reports of lost revenue have come from angling businesses in Bend, The Dalles, and Hood River.

The DRA’s Goals for the Deschutes River Basin

The DRA is working hard to restore the healthy, productive aquatic ecosystem that existed in the lower Deschutes River before SWW operations began. These efforts—which are being waged alongside local businesses, anglers, Deschutes River users, and citizens like you—aim to achieve three ultimate goals:

  1. Abandonment of all surface water discharges from Round Butte Dam into the lower Deschutes River;
  2. PGE compliance with ODEQ’s original water quality requirements for Project operations—not the requirements from the secretly modified “interim agreements”; and
  3. Successful reintroduction of anadromous fish above the Project, without negatively impacting the lower Deschutes River in the process.

Additional Information

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Thank you for your interest in the Deschutes River Alliance and your concern for the lower Deschutes River. Science and advocacy are the fundamental tenets of the DRA’s approach to improving and safeguarding the ecological health of the lower Deschutes River, and we believe that we are making progress in our mission. Our work would not be possible without your support. From all of us at the DRA, sincerely thank you. / PO Box 440 / Maupin, OR / 97037 ~ Cooler, Cleaner H2O

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