Jul 13, 2015

Columbia Gorge Fishing Report (July 13th)

Weekly Fishing Report 

In search of a fishing kayak - Article coming soon

Some relief finally came our way last week, and there was much rejoicing!  The Deschutes spent two full days under 70 degrees for the first time in a month or more and the Klickitat is slowly clearing up and coming into shape.  The lakes are cooling off and the fish are coming up closer to the surface, and generally, everyone has a much more positive outlook on the fishing situation.

It looks like temps might actually stay reasonable this week and steelheaders will return to their normal frenzied obsession until further notice.

Carp fishing is still great and a nice change of pace for the local steelheader.  Every time I go out, I tend to find another great place that holds carp in good numbers.  There are endless possibilities in the area for a carp fisherman.  The great thing is that you will rarely, if ever, see another angler out there.

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.  Earlier in the summer, the fish are congregated in spawning areas, but now they are spread around quite a bit.  A fish here, a fish there, but pay attention to the type of structure that you find them on as they will all prefer the same structure types.  Bass don’t really like sand or weeds, but everything else is fair game.

Rainbow Trout fishing on the Deschutes River has been “stupid good” according to several anglers that I have talked to this week, especially in the last hour or two of daylight.  The caddis hatch has been epic.  You can throw some small mayfly nymphs during the day, but the bulk of the action is in the evenings on the caddis.  The closer to the dam that you are, the better… The fish in the lower river have had a really rough last month or two and I would imagine that there was a hefty trout die-off down low, so the upper river is the better option.

Chinook Salmon are still moving through in good numbers, although they are reaching that point in the summer where there is a lull in movement before the fall fish start piling in the river in late August.  This is one of the better years we have seen for Chinook, despite the terrible conditions we have had this summer.   The regulations are complicated to interpret, but my understanding is that the Columbia above Bonneville is open for Jack Chinook and Summer Steelhead, but not adult Chinook right now, although I do not have the master’s degree required for correctly interpreting the regulations.

The Sockeye Salmon run is still coming through in great numbers, although it is looking like it will fall short of last years record run.  I somehow managed to hook one while messing around with the new OPST Commando Spey Head at the mouth of the Hood the other day.  I would imagine that I flossed him, because in three seasons guiding a sockeye river in Alaska, I had seen hundreds of thousands of fish swim by me and have seen exactly three sockeye actually move to eat a fly.  I never felt a take, it came tight when I lifted the rod to make another cast.  Either way, he popped off after a couple of jumps, but I never saw where he was hooked…

New Product Alert: Olympic Peninsula Skagit Tactics
Summer steelhead should finally be an option now.  I would imagine that there was a pile of fish sitting off the mouth of the Deschutes waiting for the river to cool off.  Well, the river cooled off and I bet there is a pile of fish in the lower Deschutes now.  As long as the river stays under 70 degrees, the fishing should only get better.  Traditionally, we don’t get many fish until mid to late August, but there are always some fish around this time of year and anglers have been chomping at the bit to get on them.  The Cowlitz is another great option for anglers and traditionally is the best steelhead river in the west for the month of July.  There are not a lot of other rivers with enough water to fish right now.  The Kalama and Clackamas are typically good July rivers for steelhead, but both are far too low to fish this year.  The Klickitat is clearing up slowly and steadily, but has a ways to go before it will look good.  I would look for it to get into shape later in the week as temps look to stay cool for the next week.  The Hood is clearing up too, but it is really, really low.  I am sure there are steelhead in the river, especially down low, but it is not much of a destination for summer steelhead, and few of the fish that mill about near the mouth actually run up the river.  What few summer steelhead that the Hood gets tend to be a late run, after the rains come in October and the river level bumps up.

The East Fork Hood River is open for trout fishing, as well as the main branch of the river.  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.  The East Fork is where the majority of the color comes from in the river, so it can be even more colored up than the main river.

Rainbow, Cutthroat, Brown and Brook Trout fishing should be good this week as water temps cool off and fish move up in the water column.  Bigger, deeper lakes should have some good fishing opportunities.  Lost Lake and Laurence Lake are always a good bet as they are cold, deep lakes.  Troll a leech pattern really, really slowly, and get it down.  You can never go too slowly, but you can go too quickly.

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.


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