Jun 15, 2015

Columbia Gorge Fishing Reports (June 15th & 22nd)

Fishing Report June 15th
There are plenty of anglers wondering if there are fish in the Deschutes yet…  There are always steelhead in all of our river every day of the year.  It is a numbers game though.  As the summer progresses, numbers increase and so do the chances of hooking up.  I have heard of summer fish being caught on all of the local rivers so far including the Deschutes, but anglers are either spending many, many hours searching for them or getting really lucky. 

We really, really have to watch the water temperatures now.  Salmon have been washing up dead in the Willamette due to water temperatures above 75 degrees IN JUNE… 

This is very bad news and a foreshadowing of things to come.  The Deschutes hit 72 degrees two weeks ago and we haven’t even got to the hottest part of the year.  It has been topping out around 68 or 69 every day this last week, and the Columbia has been at 67 degrees for a week or two.  Fish mortality is inevitable with sustained water temps above 70. 

Enough of the doom and gloom, on to the report:

American Shad are still moving in the Columbia River right now.  Reports are that the fish are deep (up to 30’), making them more difficult to catch on the fly than in years past when they ran in shallower water.  Guides have been telling me that it is because of the warmer water in the river.  Numbers never really jumped either.  In a year when everything is early, the Shad are either late or not going to show in big numbers.  We were at 2.1 million at this point last year and 1.1 million this year. 

Carp fishing is a great option right now.  The fish are spawning in a lot of areas, but in places where they are not, fishing is steady.  If fish are chasing each other or sitting still in super shallow water in groups, they are most likely spawning.  It will be very difficult to get them to eat.  They are finicky, so finding fish that are actively feeding is going to be the best way to get a fish.  They act in a similar way to bonefish, so look for “nervous water” in muddy, shallow areas and get a Crazy Charlie in front of them.

Rainbow Trout fishing on the Deschutes River has been really, really good for the last 30 minutes of daylight or so.  The caddis hatch has been super.  Caddis hatch in big numbers during low and warm water events, so it should be good for most of the summer.  Just watch the water temps and PLEASE DO NOT FISH when the water is at or above 70 degrees.  http://waterdata.usgs.gov/or/nwis/uv?site_no=14103000

Chinook fishing has been decent below Bonneville Dam, but not smoking hot.  Numbers are great so far for summer fish.  Summer Chinook are traditionally headed for the uppermost tributaries of the Columbia, Snake and Salmon Rivers, but we can catch them as they go through the area.  Check the Regulations before you go out bank fishing for salmon around here as many areas are closed to fishing right now. 

Sockeye Salmon numbers are great, but the odds are stacked against you as sockeye are definitely not into taking flies. 

Summer steelhead numbers are starting to pick up.  While numbers are low for this time of year, we are not overly concerned about steelhead numbers through the dam at this point.  August is when the bulk of the summer fish come through, so early numbers don’t mean a whole lot.   Every local river has fish in it right now, but not very many.  The Klickitat River has been tough, but guys are picking up a fish here and there.  Very few reports coming from the Deschutes, but I have seen proof of fish caught there.  The Kalama River and Cowlitz River are both good options right now as fish tend to push into the lowermost Columbia tributaries before the Gorge Tributaries.  Upstream Tributaries like the Methow, Grande Ronde and Clearwater tend to get their fish much later. 

The Hood River is no different. We won’t see many steelhead until later in the summer.  The smaller a river is, the more likely it is that the fish will be later.  We usually don’t see the bulk of the summer steelhead enter the system until the fall rains come in September or October.  Fish trickle in all throughout the year, but again, steelheading is a numbers game and trying to find one of the dozen or two fish in a forty mile river is not the type of odds that I would bet on. 

The East Fork Hood River is open for trout fishing, as well as the main branch of the river.  It is a nice place to spend a day chasing small, wild, hungry trout.  I would get out there now as the river is a good color and it is going to get too low to fish really soon.  Standard dry flies like the Parachute Adams, Stimulator or Elk Hair Caddis work just fine.  It requires a lot of walking (boulder hopping) to cover enough water to have a really productive day, but there is little pressure and beautiful scenery.  HWY 35 offers most of the access all the way up to Forest Service Road 44, where the river gets a bit too small to fish above that area.  The West Fork Hood River is always closed to fishing, except for the 100 yards or so between the confluence of the East Fork and Punchbowl Falls

Smallmouth Bass have been hitting topwater poppers on the Columbia River and John Day River. There are lots of fish to be caught, but moving around is key.  They are either in the area or not and you might have to try multiple spots before you find fish.  Try stripping a big baitfish pattern really quickly over rocky areas for the best chance at catching a big one. 

Rainbow, Cutthroat, Brown and Brook Trout fishing has been great in the high mountain lakes.  There are literally hundreds of lakes within a two hour drive of here.  There are varying species, populations and sizes of trout in the lakes.  Get out a map of the area and pick a lake…

Eagle Creek near Bonneville Dam is a great place to spend the day fishing for cutthroat trout.  Much like the Hood River, the fish are small and hungry, but the scenery is beautiful, and the water is cold.  It is a little bit easier to wade than the Hood, but you are in a canyon and there are not many spots to get on or off the trail down to the river.  Once you are on the creek, it is fairly easy to get around.  

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.  

Fish. ON!

Fishing Report June 15th

It is full-on summer in the Gorge, so it is time to get out and enjoy the vast amount of recreation opportunities in the region.  Shad are the fish of the week here on the Columbia, while trout fishing in high mountain lakes is fabulous and smallmouth bass are eating topwater poppers just about everywhere they can be found.  Always check the regulations before going somewhere unfamiliar, or just check to get a refresher on the rules.



There is a little redundancy in the report, mostly because not a lot has changed as far as opportunities and conditions go.

I got out once last week and hit a western river looking for steelhead.  Ryan is new to the area and was looking for his first hot summer fish.  We found one and it was a dandy.  I watched it crush a black muddler minnow near the surface and then fought as hard as any fish.  The look on Ryan’s face will show you how happy an angler can be after landing his first super hot summer steelhead. 

American Shad are still running thick on the Columbia River right now.  The majority of the action happens below Bonneville Dam, near Beacon Rock, near Cascade Locks and upstream near Rufus.  If you can find them you can catch them.  They are hard fighting fish that readily take flies and are tons of fun on a 5 or 6wt fly rod.

Carp fishing has been gaining popularity here in the area and there are finally a few anglers (besides Gabe) that have been getting out consistently.  These big fish can be found in the Columbia, but fishing is tough when its been windy on the “Big C”.  Wind kicks up silt and colors the water up, making it tough to fish.  If the Columbia is murky, then try any of the small sloughs next to the highway.  Any pond between Bingen and Lyle most likely has a productive carp fishery and easy access.  Generally, fishing mid-day is good as fish move into the flats and “tail” in the mud for food.  The fish can be easily found in shallow water and have not been moving out until late in the evening. 

Rainbow Trout on the Deschutes River is not as productive as it was during “the hatch” but fishing can be consistent for anglers nonetheless.  Anglers must be willing to change flies early and often and do some searching for fish.  Small mayfly nymphs are most likely to work during the day, while having a box full of caddis emergers and dries is a must for the evening hatch. 

Chinook fishing has really shut slowed down in the local rivers, but fish are still moving past us in the big river.  There are rumors of the big “June Hogs” have been circulating though the area from the big boat guys fishing the big river. 

The Cowlitz River has been kicking out some summer steelhead, and is probably the most consistent producer in the Northwest for steelhead through the summer.  Large rivers that have a dam on them should be in better shape than free-flowing rivers this summer as drought conditions strangle the river basins and flows decrease.  Hopefully, the reservoirs on these big rivers have enough water stored to keep flows up and temp down during the rest of our hot summer.  

The Klickitat River is open for summer steelhead, rainbow trout and Chinook salmon.  The action has been pretty good for June.  Typically, the water is high and dirty this time of year and it makes steelhead fishing tough.  The water colored up a lot this past week, but is still fishable.  Reports are visibility varies from one to two feet during the day.  It cycles daily, and depending on how hot it is, certain parts of the river will clear up before others.  Trout fishing can be very good in June, but there are not a lot of guys that are trout fishing…  Meanwhile, there are tons of smolts in the lower river and it is making for tough fishing conditions when a smolt hits your fly several times on every cast.

The Hood River is very, very low and has colored up this last week.  There are fresh steelhead in the Hood River year round, but angler effort has been nearly non-existent lately due to water conditions.  With low and dirty conditions; skating a dry fly for steelhead could be productive as fish should be sitting in shallower water (they don’t have a choice).  Typically, the summer run steelhead move into the river in better numbers in the fall when water levels (hopefully) start to increase.

The East Fork Hood River is open for trout fishing.  The access is plentiful along HWY 35, but it is a tough wade due to steep gradient and huge boulder fields.  The trout are small and sparsely distributed, but they are hungry and rewarding due to the amount of effort it takes to get around all of the boulders.  It is catch and release only and no bait is allowed. 

Smallmouth Bass have been hitting topwater poppers early and late in the day on the Columbia River and John Day River. There are lots of fish to be caught, but moving around is key.  They are either in the area or not and you might have to try multiple spots before you find fish. 

Rainbow, Cutthroat, Brown and Brook Trout have been eating flying ants in the high elevation lakes.  The fishing has been really incredible in the past few weeks and should be good for the next few weeks, even though the ant hatch is waning.  The big trout tend to gorge on them later in the day when the bugs start flying heavily.  Damselfly nymphs and callibaetis are also working well, along with smaller chironomids.  Damselflies, Callibaetis and Chironomids will be the primary food source for most of June until the Hexagenia hatch happens at the end of the month.  Timothy, Clear, Trillium, Laurence and Lost Lakes are all great Oregon Lakes, while Merrill and Goose Lakes are great choices for Washington anglers.

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. 

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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