Oct 19, 2015

Columbia Gorge Fishing Report (October 19th)

Fishing Report

Last week was a bit tough early as water conditions were not ideal, but the fishing was great as it cleared up and fresh fish were moving around and on the bite.  Great reports from both the Deschutes and the Klickitat have us looking forward to fishing this week. 

I had a nice time this week chatting with a father and son from California that were in town.  Bill and Quentin Cooper were supposed to fish with Travis Wallace of Western Waters Guides, but were rescheduled after the river muddied up last weekend.  They came in a couple of times to shoot the breeze.  Luckily, they ended up getting on the Klickitat with Travis on Friday.  My buddy Jon was swinging “Canoe in a Tree Run” when I saw Travis’ boat come around the corner above us.  Travis rowed over to say hello when Bill hooked a fish right in front of me while Travis was holding the boat chatting!  Jon had just put a half dozen casts through that spot…  It’s the power of the bead.

Western Water Guides: BIll and Travis
Here is Bill and Travis with their “Hollywood Steelhead”.  Travis has some openings for Late October and November.  The fishing is great in November and there are few guys on the river.  Give him a call if you want to get into some nice late steelhead on the Klickitat.  You can find him on our website under “guides” or at www.westernwatersguides.com

Chinook Salmon are now mostly dark and just start to get up on their redds.  The spawn seems to be a little later than it was last year.  Last fall we had more rain early on.  This helped to get fish up to their spawning areas, as they prefer to move during high water events.  They will wait until the tributaries fill with water after rains if they have to.  Last year on October 20, I fished a run on the Klickitat that was absolutely stuffed full of spawning fish.  This year on October 16, there were zero fish on beds in that run.  It will fill up, but we will likely need some more rain, or they will eventually hit a point where they have to make a move in low water.  Let’s hope for the former.   

In the meantime, please be aware of spawning fish and look for redds.  Please do not walk across, over or through them. 

Coho Salmon are still not showing up as predicted.  It looks like it’ll be one of the worst returns for Coho in many years after the run had been predicted to be outstanding.  There are some fish around, but nowhere near what they should be.  Look for them low in the systems in slow water.  They will eat a fly stripped slowly and steadily. 

Summer Steelhead are still the main attraction in the Columbia Basin.  The Grande Ronde, Clearwater, Salmon, Deschutes and Klickitat are all fishing really well right now.  Rivers were in mediocre condition most of last week.  On Wednesday clarity on the Klickitat was 16-18” and Fishboy Gabe had one of his most epic mornings swinging flies on a sink tip.  I went out on Thursday morning.  The clarity was about 2’.  I fished an unweighted fly on a light sink tip and landed one fish early and went home as is typical for me fishing from the road.  Friday we floated with about 2.5’ of visibility. We did not hook up any fish, but I did have quite a few plucks and grabs.  This shows how fish are hot right after (even a minor) high water and they start to settle down as the flow evens out and clears up. 

The Hood River has been off color again.  There are not really any fish in there anyways.  It is typically an early and late summer run.  We will get fish once we get some steady rains and high flows.  One little spike of 500 cfs didn’t do much.  We need a week of rain and flows well over 1000 cfs to get fish into the river.  There is not much of a summer run historically, but we do get fish just like any other river in the Columbia Basin.   Steelheading is a game of numbers, as in you need to fish where the most fish are in order to have a shot at catching them.  It’s always worth a couple of hours to poke around if you’re in town and have limited time, but I personally would invest my little fishing time going to where there are more fish.

Trout fishing on the Hood closes on Oct 31.  This includes the East Fork of the Hood, which is not open for steelhead or salmon, so it closes completely on Halloween.  There have been reports of nice, small trout caught on the East Fork up off the campgrounds on HWY 35.  Get it in while you can. 

Targeting Chinook in the Hood River is prohibited after June 15.

Lost Lake and Laurence Lake are still fishing really well right now.  We do get very few reports from the lakes in the fall because most people are fishing for salmon or steelhead, but it can be wicked awesome this time of year with very little (no) pressure.  Laurence Lake closes on October 31, so get out while you can. 

"It's all good!"

Rosie and Sarah May went fishing up at Goose Lake a couple of times last week.  Rosie caught her first trout ever early in the week, and then proceeded to go back and put the smack down on them later on.  Sarah reportedly caught piles of them with Rosie Thursday as well.  It’s a great place to spend the day fishing this time of year.

Smallmouth Bass fishing has been good, I guess… Not one report in the last month?  Everyone forgets about bass once the steelhead show up, but this is a great time to get out if you have the chance.  They should be crushing big poppers if you can find them. 

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.  

Andrew Perrault
Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"


  1. Sweet "Hollywood Steelhead"! newbie here, do you wear the guide jackets inside or outside of your waders? I'm looking at this G4 jacket. http://www.gorgeflyshop.com/store/pc/Simms-G4-Pro-Jacket-Wetstone-1074p7250.htm Any thoughts? Is the gore tex worth it?

  2. Newbie...Thanks for asking. Normally wading jackets are worn outside your waders. If you think about it your jacket should act like a roof over the opening of your waders and prevent water from seeping down in. Wear laying jackets under your waders that are thin and don't restrict your movements. Is Gore-Tex Worth it...A lot of jackets can and will repel rain to some extent but if staying dry is more of a requirement and less of an option than YES Gore-Tex is worth it! Like all Simms Jackets the G4 is worthy of a "Must Stay Dry" requirement! I've had several rain jackets over many years and today I only own Simms. There is just nothing that even comes close in comparison to the quality of construction and dry security of Gore-Tex. Again, Thanks for asking, Greg


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