Dec 4, 2017

Columbia Gorge Fishing Report - (12/4/2017)

Fishing Report:

Sorry for the delay to those out there who appreciate these reports! We’ve been pretty busy at the shop and escaping to the rivers when we can…
Gabe Cunningham locked and loaded. Wesley LaPointe photo.

On the steelhead front-

I’ve heard in a few different corners that this was “the best, worst year” for summer-run steelhead. A little bit ago I wrote an editorial piece on The Current State of Steelhead and how dam count numbers have been stirring the pot with angler expectations. The article’s purpose wasn’t meant to dilute the importance of protecting our fisheries and wild steelhead, but simply to say dam count numbers don’t always reflect fishing quality. The ebb and flow of steelhead numbers vary wildly, and naturally. Most importantly, it was to highlight that steelhead fishing should be regarded as challenging, fun, and appreciated on all fronts.
Pastel canyon colors to match rosey desert cheeks. Wesley Lapointe photo.
I’m the kind of guy who enjoys hitting the road to find new water or fish some old favorites. As the season progressed from Summer to Fall I’d been spending time on a variety of rivers. The vibrant fall colors, crisp mornings, and shorter daylight hours accompanied with aggressive steelhead willing to chase down tiny hairwings on floating lines is hard to beat... Fall steelheading is easily my favorite time of year!
A little extra coffee is always welcomed on chilly mornings...
My girlfriend, Chelsey with an unforgettable dryfly fall steelhead!
Fishing has been up or down depending on the day and the river. But, as is tradition for these migrating fish. The Deschutes has slowed down some now that it’s a little later in the summer steelhead season but some good fish are still being found. Remember, there is no winter-run on the Deschutes. Recently, the White River has given the Deschutes a tinge of color down in the lower reaches, along with the river as a whole settling into its fall/winter levels. Fish will be down deeper or in slower water at these levels and while the water temps have been good for dryline, a sink tip with small to medium flies might be the better option in the higher water. Fish are fairly well dispersed throughout the river and crowds are pretty unheard of this year so pick your favorite spot and swing some flies! The same goes for the John Day with a few fish also being caught out there in the slower, froggy water.
A feisty dryline desert steelhead.
NOTE: The Klickitat River closed November 31st and won’t reopen for steelhead or salmon fishing until June 1st.
Nevertheless, winter-run steelhead might be on the mind of some and they certainly are on mine. I mean c’mon, thick mature fish wearing heavy winter coats, ocean camouflage, and sporting a big fly hanging from their mouth sounds kinda good to me… I’ve heard a few reports of some early fish being found on a couple Columbia tributaries already, but nothing to write home about yet. The Hood River is at the far East of winter-run steelhead range, and as expected the fishing begins a little sooner with proximity to the coast. Time to tie some big sink tip flies and dial in your winter steelheading gear! Speaking of tying flies, if you’re interested in learning some new patterns or want to share your own, email with the “FLY TYING” in the subject line. Once I get an estimate of interested people, I’ll figure out a good date and we can get together at the shop after business hours.

Much of the trout fishing has closed this time of year in the mountain lakes and streams. Check with ODFW or WDFW if you’re ever unsure. However, the Deschutes river can fish great for trout this time of year. On those balmy overcast days, Blue Wing Olive hatches can provide some good dry fly action below rapids and in the softer water. Though a heavily weighted stonefly and a smaller bead head trailing behind would be my recommendation for more regular success. Streamer fishing can be good too if the water temps aren’t too cold- which they haven’t been lately- and we love to use trout speys for swinging soft hackles or fishing streamers on the Deschutes! Speaking of trout speys / microspeys / short speys / or whatever you want to call them, we’ve got plenty of rods and lines to match in the shop. Come in and we’d be happy to chat about the benefits of using these rods on our local waters as they’re certainly not a “one trick pony.” In fact, I’ve been out playing with the shop’s IMX Pro Short Spey from G. Loomis and have come to the understanding that I not only want one, I need one. First world problems I guess. Regardless of approach, open water and hard fighting wild resident trout sounds fun to me…

Warm water species:

Uh, what warm water? Obviously, our warm water species are pretty seasonal and fairly lethargic once water temperatures drop. Some of the small lakes along Hwy 84 can fish okay this time of year if you get out on a nice day and a few were even recently stocked, however the fishing is still pretty slow.  

Cody Booth
Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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