Jan 11, 2016

Columbia Gorge Fishing Report (1.11.16)

Sam Sickles - Clackamas River
Fishing Report

For winter steelhead addicts, local rivers are back to low and clear conditions for the moment.  

Rain is in the forecast, but how much is questionable.  At least it is warmer outside than it has been for most of the past month.  Warming conditions should cause fish to be a little more active than they have been.  My advice is to invest in an intermediate Skagit head as long as the water is low.  Yes, even in low and clear conditions, especially in low and clear conditions, an intermediate head is an advantage.  It moves slower through the water than a floating head, allowing your fly to be presented in front of fish for a longer period of time, as well as assuring that you are probing the depths of the run.  In low, clear and cold water, fish will hug the bottom of runs in the middle of the river, whereas they will hang in softer water closer to the banks in higher water conditions and do not require ultra-deep presentations. 

Choose intermediate heads about 30-60 grains lighter than your floating Skagit head, as they are harder to get moving quickly.  My intermediate Skagit head is the same grain weight as my Scandi head. 

All of the rivers that are accessible within a day of Hood River are low and clear, but they all have fish in them, so pick one and hit it while you have the chance.  Ryan, Jon and I floated the Clackamas on Friday and did not touch a fish, and apart from seeing one bait plunker pull one in, we didn’t hear of much action from other anglers.  A beautiful day on the river with good friends and great scenery, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. 

Clackamas River
Rainbow trout fishing on the Deschutes should be great as the air and water temperatures are increasing.  Increasing air and water temperatures can trigger hatches of midges and Blue Wing Olives.  Barr’s BWO emergers, zebra midges, #18-20 flashback pheasant tails and hare’s ear are all good choices, while doubling up with a bigger nymph like a March Brown Mayfly nymph (Anato May or Posse Bugger) is also not a bad bet.  If you are going to go bigger, I would also look at a Skwala pattern like a #8 peacock rubber leg.  Skwalas should be on the move now.  They hatch in January through February and into March, and the March Browns usually start during warmer days in February and go through early April, but nymphs can start moving as early as late January.  Skwalas hatch at night in fairly low numbers and is not considered a productive hatch for dry fly action, although it is possible to hit it right.  Most anglers and trout focus on the nymphs. 

The Crooked River is also a good winter trout fishery when the air temps warm near or above freezing.  It is a tailwater, so water temperatures are fairly constant as long as it is warm enough for fisherman to be comfortable.  For best results, fish small flies under an indicator on the Crooked.  I’d start with a #20 zebra midge and a #20 pheasant tail and change flies often until you find a good combo.

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"

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