Aug 28, 2016

Columbia Gorge Fishing Reports - 08/28/2016

Find your water...
Summer steelhead numbers are still concerning, although passage did pick up a little bit through Bonneville Dam for a few days last week.  There are about 70,000 steelhead between Bonneville and the Dalles dams right now.  The best theory is that they are hanging in Drano, the Klickitat and off the mouth of the White Salmon seeking cold water before moving upstream through the Dalles dam.  The result is that fishing is better than numbers would suggest in our lower Gorge tributaries.

The Klickitat has been fair for the most part and guys at Drano Lake are doing very well.  Jon and I floated the Klick on Wednesday.  We did not hook any fish swinging flies all day, nor did a couple of other anglers that we ran into that were also swinging flies.  The guys throwing bait or beads under an indicator have been doing well though.  We have not heard of many wild fish being caught, which makes me feel better when we talk to guys hooking multiple hatchery fish on beads.  We find that wild fish are far more likely to eat a swung fly than a hatchery fish.  I say this based on the ratio of wild fish landed to hatchery fish compared to the ratio of wild fish to hatchery fish in the river.

The Deschutes has still been poor to fair for summer steelhead.  Guys have started picking up fish more consistently, but it is still not as red hot as anglers have come to expect over the past decade.  We still need to see water temps drop to pull in more of the out-of-system fish that we rely on in the lower river.  Most of the fish that would normally be found in the lower Deschutes have not crossed the Dalles dam yet.  They typically use the Deschutes as a cold water refuge, but water temps in the Columbia and the Deschutes have been so high that the fish are not crossing the dam or pulling into the D.  Cooler weather coming up should help tremendously.  We should see dam passage improve through September and October with cooler water temps coming up.  Fishing should continue to improve throughout the next two months.

Fall Chinook numbers are very impressive right now.  We are looking at another awesome run this fall.  They don't particularly like eating swung flies, but they often get caught whilst steelhead fishing.  Fishing eggs under a bobber is far more effective.  Once the Columbia River temps drop closer to 65 the bite will get even better.  They do get turned off by warm temps, and this can affect the bite in the tributaries also as they don't always "turn on" after spending so much time in warmer water.

Lost Lake has been the shining star of the summer and continues to fish very well for Rainbow and Brown Trout.  Pulling a woolly bugger or hare's ear nymph on a sinking line is a very good bet, while early mornings and late evenings have been known for epic dry fly action.  Many of the other local lakes are fishing very well too.  Our other favorite lakes are Goose and Laurance, but there are hundreds of lakes within a reasonable drive that are fishing well right now, many of which I have been sworn to secrecy about.

Smallmouth Bass fishing has been great.  The fish are fired up and eating topwater poppers with gusto.  The Columbia has been very productive this summer.  The weed growth is problematic, but there is plenty of good water that is concentrating fish.  They generally do not like to hang out in or near most of the aquatic vegetation in the river, so finding a rocky point with little weed growth should be a good bet.  Poppers are more productive early and late, while a big clouser on a sinking line moving fast, fast, fast is the ticket mid-day, but you MUST get your fly to the bottom or it is not going to be productive.

The John Day River is a different story.  The bass there eat poppers all day every day.

Carp fishing is still good, but starting to wane a little bit.  The river is as clear as it can be, so carp can see you coming in the Columbia from quite a distance.  This has made fishing tougher than it has been previously.  Fishing is better for carp in the backwaters than in the main river although the main river fish are bigger and fatter.

Redband Rainbow Trout fishing on the Deschutes has been fair to good.  Epic caddis hatches in the evening have fish coming to the surface in the last hour or so of light.

Flows:  The USGS sites give us real-time flows, while the NOAA site shows us predictions based on weather patterns.  Both are invaluable tools.  You can also check water temps here too...

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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