Apr 17, 2016

Columbia Gorge Fishing Report (4/17/2016)

Another Nice Rainbow from a Central WA Lake
Rainbow Trout fishing is now taking center stage in the Columbia Gorge.  The Deschutes River is heating up right now and fishing has been great.  We are really looking forward to the Salmonfly/Stonefly hatch coming up soon.  Trout have really started eating stonefly nymphs with gusto, but can be found eating mayfly nymphs too and maybe even some caddis pupa too.  There have been reports of an afternoon March Brown hatch that has been bringing trout up to the surface.  Small caddis have been hatching in the evening too, but I have never done that well fishing caddis dries in the evening this time of year.

Hendrix Loves to ride along
Ryan, Jeremy and I took a trip out to some central WA desert lakes this past week.  Despite generally slow fishing, we did catch some nice fish.  We got into an epic Callibaetis hatch one evening, catching some big fish that were cruising around eating dries.

Overall we caught fish in four out of six lakes that we fished.  We found some water that could certainly give up some tankers under the right conditions but didn't show any signs of life.  For the most part, the fish we caught were averaging 16" and very spunky.  One lake we found had very few fish in it, but they were mostly huge and very wary.  We never really got a good shot at any of the lunkers in there, but did get a couple of the "smaller" fish that were not as smart as their bigger brethren.  The only time we saw consistently big fish was during the Callibaetis hatch when all the trout that we saw were 18" and larger.

Ryan loves Ole Rubber Lips!
I have been doing this trip to a variety of Central Washington lakes annually since I was a young child.  I started taking my fly bum friends in 2002.  In all of those years, I have fished about 20 different lakes and have only run into a good Callibaetis bite like that maybe one other trip.  It is usually all chironomids and woolly buggers with an occasional chironomid dry fly bite.  We were, however, mostly unprepared for such a hatch.  I only had two solid Callibaetis nymphs and two good dries.  I lost both nymphs to a couple of carp within the first few hours, which just goes to show that no matter how prepared you think you are, anything can happen.  I will be loading my box up with Callibaetis nymphs and dries again.

The annual lowland lake opener is this Saturday in Washington and Oregon.  This signifies that spring is fully here!  Laurence Lake opens here in Oregon on Saturday, April 23 along with Rowland, Horsethief and Spearfish in Washington; and dozens of other lakes across our two states here.  While several lakes in our area are still inaccessible due to snow conditions, they are rapidly clearing up with this hot weather.

Jeremy catches another!

Steelhead fishing has really taken a back seat to trout and salmon fishing as it tends to do this time of year.  Winter steelhead are still kicking around in the lower part of the Hood River. The Columbia River is really high and backing up into the Hood.  This is causing the run at the mouth of the Hood River to turn into a lake.  Most of the effort in the river happens there, so effort is fairly low and spread out when this happens.  Summer Steelhead are not going to be around in any numbers for some months now, so start tying muddlers, skunks, and coachmen for the approaching summer steelhead season.

I wish there had been fish in this lake
Spring Chinook fishing is now open on the Hood River, although the Deschutes will not open until May 1.  Salmon typically don't start to move into the Hood with any consistency until May, but the potential for hooking a chrome "springer" any day now is enough to get people onto the river.  The Hood is still in good shape as there is water flowing in it and it has not colored up yet.  It will get muddy and really hamper angling effort eventually, but for now it is in great shape.  The river typically stays in shape into May.

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.

Local Water Flow Reports
Hood River:
Deschutes near Madras:
Deschutes at the mouth:
Columbia River water temperatures going through Bonneville Dam:

Andrew Perrault
Columbia Gorge Fishing Reports
Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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