May 8, 2016

Columbia Gorge Fishing Report (05/07/2016)

Salmonflies a plenty on the Deschutes!

The fabled Salmonfly hatch on the Deschutes River is now in full effect on the upper river.  Sam Sickles of Steelhead Outfitters and I, along with our buddy Jamie did an overnight float from Trout Creek to Maupin on Wednesday and Thursday (May 4-5).  We were not expecting to see the hatch moving along as quick as it was, but were happy to have the river mostly to ourselves with very eager fish snapping at our flies with gusto.

The biggest concentration of the insects were from North Junction to Whitehorse.  Nymphs were crawling all over, Golden Stones were more prevalent farther downstream, but there were an incredible number of bugs around the entire 30+ mile stretch of river.

Sam does have a few openings coming up during May if you want to fish with one of the best on the river during this fantastic time of year.  You can do a camp trip, a day float or a jet boat trip (on the lower river).  No matter how you go, it is worth it to get expert advice and a world-class experience.

This fattie was eager to eat a Clark's Stone
The fish we caught  mostly ate dry flies. They seemed to like smaller flies more than the big mamas that get thrown alot.  They should turn onto the bigger patterns soon as they are seeing more and more adult flies everyday.  Our three best flies for the trip were a #10 Yellow Stimulator, a Clark's Salmon and a #10 Purple Chubby Chernobyl.  Sam caught his biggest Deschutes trout to date on a Clark's, while I caught my biggest Deschutes trout to date about ten minutes later on a Stimulator.

We did use the nymph rods a couple of times when they were not responding well to the dries.  On Wednesday, rapidly declining weather caused the fishing to be a little spotty, so we used the nymphs a about a third of the day.  On Thursday, it was just for an hour or so in the morning before they started eating on top and we never looked back.  A competent angler should be able to crush fish for the next couple of weeks on dries, especially if fishing from about 10:00 to dark.  Early mornings can be tough during the hatch before the bugs get moving as it warms up.  Late evenings can also see a slowdown in activity; some days they eat all day and some they don't.

Salmon Fishing continues in the Gorge for Spring Chinook.  Drano Lake has been tough, but anglers are catching enough fish to keep most everyone happy.  When the Columbia is high and cool, salmon don't move into the lake as much as they do when the water is low in the big river.  The big reason that Drano is so popular is that it can be a cold water refuge for salmon as they migrate up the Columbia.  They will pop in for a day or two, cool off and then head up the big river.  They don't seem to be doing that as much this year as others because of good conditions in the Columbia.

A few fish have been caught on the Hood River as well.  There are few fly anglers that put in any effort towards salmon on the fly.  The chances of hooking one is pretty minimal, but it certainly does happen occasionally.  There is not much of a salmon run on the Hood, but it is open until the end of June.

The Klickitat is another option for salmon anglers in the area.  There is only one good spot open for salmon: the famed Pine Tree Hole about one mile upstream of the mouth.  The river is closed above Lyle Falls (1.4 miles upstream of the mouth), which is just upstream of the Pine Tree Hole.  It is only open three days a week until June 1 (Monday, Wednesday and Saturday)

June 1 is just around the corner and the Klickitat opens for Summer Steelhead.  While there are very few fish around before August, it is nice to get back out on one of the most scenic rivers anywhere after a long winter.  Just a note:  The Stinson Boat Launch is gone.  It collapsed into the river this winter.  Here is a post from Rolf of Klickitat Trader showing the damage.  No word on rebuilding efforts.  Anglers will have to launch at Leidl Bridge three miles upstream of Stinson if they want to float the canyon section this year.

The Clackamas is a great river to float in May and June to look for early Summer Steelhead as that is when the bulk of the summer fish return to the Clack.

Ole One Eye Sally put up a great fight
Smallmouth Bass fishing is still incredible right now on the Columbia River and it's impoundments.  Fish are pushing into the shallows, scouting out spawning beds, and generally being aggressive.  The fishing is best when the Columbia is high, which it has been, but regardless of water levels the bass fishing is great right now.  They love just about anything that is moving, from big buggers to clousers to poppers and I bet that they would eat just about any winter steelhead fly in the box.

The Loomis GLX Crosscurrent
is very impressive
Tom Larimer and I went out to a little impoundment on the side of the Columbia last week for a few hours in the morning. Bass fishing was great.  We caught some nice fish and I was able to try out a couple of G. Loomis rods that I had wanted to cast.  The 8'8" 8wt Shorestalker was a fun rod to pound the banks with.  It is very accurate and easy to pick up big flies.  I was a little concerned that it would be too short for the float tube, but it was great.  The other rod that I really, really liked was the GLX Crosscurrent 9'0" 7wt.  It was very impressive, lightweight, and powerful.  A fabulous streamer rod for trout, saltwater rod and bass rod.

The John Day River is a great place to go whack some Smallmouth Bass.  It is better from about mid-June through the summer, but it is available right now.  People have been catching them but water clarity and levels have been less than ideal.

Lost Lake is fishing well for rainbow trout, as well as Kingsley Reservoir and Laurence Lake.  I would imagine that Goose Lake should be accessible any day now.  The May 5 road report from the USFS in Trout Lake says that the lake is still inaccessible, but it shouldn't be long before the last of the snow clears off the road.

Flows:  The USGS sites give us real-time flows, while the NOAA site shows us predictions based on weather patterns.  Both are invaluable tools.

Hood River:



Deschutes near Madras:

Deschutes at the mouth:

Columbia River
Bonneville Dam Water Temps
Columbia @ Hood River (The mouth of the Hood backs up at 75 feet)

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.  541.386.6977

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

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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