May 4, 2012

Fishing Report - Columbia River Gorge and Beyond

Report for May 5, 2012

Wetness remains in The Gorge and throughout Western Oregon and Washington. Here along the Hood, Sandy, Deschutes and Clackamas river basins precipitation levels are at, or above normal levels. Winter started out slow, but she certainly picked up the slack this spring as many moisture-rich system continue to pass through the area.

The rivers have been running proud as of late. As of Thursday, levels are again on the upswing -mirroring a restless pattern of bumps and drops. For steelhead anglers, this is good news. Although certain days can be a bust because of raging muddy flows, in general, it is a small price to pay for the effect that bumps in flow have on migrating steelhead. These bumps wake them up, get them moving and ramp up their emotional response. A piece of water that may have been void of life one day, just might fill up with rambunctious Steelies the next. It’s a fickle game of timing and right now, the good timing may not arrive until later this weekend. Although rivers should be on the drop by then, levels will likely, still be pretty high – but you know, that is ok. Check out this recent post from Tom Larimer on fishing for High Water Steelhead. As many of us can attest, high water can provide some great opportunities.

High flows tend to scare trout anglers off their normal beats. But, it should be noted that the fish are still there and more than likely, they are feeding. Notorious for its healthy population of rainbows and its rapidly approaching Salmon Fly Hatch, the Deschutes River is running high. This does not mean that you should not get out there however. Fish will push to the edges during high flows which translates into shallower wading and shorter casts. At times, sustained high flows can really ramp up feeding because more food get’s swept up off the river bed and suspended in the water column. Don’t let the high flows discourage you. Walk down to the river and have a look around. If nothing’s happening in the way of hatches, twist on some nymph patterns. Now is a great time to tie on some big (4’s, 6’s, 8’s) rubber leg or stone fly nymphs and cast to those little pockets of soft water right next to shore. The great Salmon Fly migration is just starting up. Furthermore, try hanging a San Juan Worm off the back. SJ’s can be deadly in high, off-colored water. Aside from these options, Pheasant Tails, Hare’s Ears, Copper Johns and Lightning Bugs (14 – 18) should cover you pretty well. Remember, these fish are close!

Salmon Fly adults are just now starting to crawl out of their shucks here and there. There have been a few sightings but expect them to start showing up in greater numbers the following week as the weather warms.  It's worth it to experiment with the big dry in the early stages of the hatch but keep in mind that the real feeding frenzy is happening beneath the surface.  Make sure you have some adults in your box when they start keying in on the dry.  You don't want to miss out on the chance to take them on top! Deschutes Stone Fly Assortment.  Also, don’t be surprised if see some March Browns out there during the meat of the day. Keep your eyes on the back eddies, where fish will often line up to sip dries.

As far as area lakes go, access to Lawrence Lake is now open but Lost and Goose Lake are still surrounded by a pretty heft snowpack.

We leave you with a  few Steelhead shots from the past couple weeks...

Have a good time,

Photo: Horatio

Photo: Jeff Hickman

Photo: Horatio.  Reel engraving by Barton Fine Jewelry

Photo: Jeff Hickman

Photo: Jeff Hickman

Photo: Jeff Hickman

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