Jan 29, 2018

Columbia Gorge Fishing Reports - (1/29/2018)

Fishing Report 1/29/18

Some welcomed sunlight after a stint of hard rain on the coast. 

Winter steelhead

We’ve finally been getting a little bit more precipitation on all our rivers lately, which I am happy to see for a couple reasons- For one, the mountains need a lot more snow as the snowboarding has been just sub-par lately for the pow riding. Secondly, and probably more importantly to our readers, is because it pushes more of our favorite anadromous fish up our rivers! Obviously the swollen rivers make it tough to fish but once they clear up and drop the fishing is often pretty good with fresh and aggressive steelhead.

Tom Larimer casually demonstrating “line speed”.
Nevertheless, the last couple weeks have been fishing well over on the West side of Mt. Hood. I recently got to take my first jet boat ride and Tom Larimer showed me some of the latest G.Loomis rods. I previously hadn’t had much experience with Loomis rods but after the last year of spending some time on their new lineup, I believe they’ve got a pretty good thing going on (my reasoning for this is completely unrelated to Tom’s generosity in taking me out on the river). In fact, the IMX-Pro 11’11” 7wt could easily be my favorite rod right now- The action, feel, grip, weight, components, price, etc. But, we’ve got a whole wide array of rods, so if you feel like checking any out just swing by the shop or give us a buzz to chat about options.

When every swing feels like “the one,” it’s nice to eventually find one.
As a DIY guy who’s never fished with a guide or received any formal two-hand casting instruction of any sorts, I welcomed any tips Tom could offer up- It turns out that guy is a rocket scientist when it comes to steelhead fishing. As luck would have it (and if you believe in that sort of thing) a few minutes later, my Hardy Perfect was screaming with a hot buck in the tailout. I also realized how much of a game changer jet boats can be and am now saving up all my pennies… Ha!

Winter’s turbidity...
I had a few days off so I made it out to Oregon’s North Coast to camp with my girlfriend and found mostly unfishable water. Remember my last report when I said it’s good to have a backup plan and usually some river might be in fishable condition? Well that was surely tested on this trip. We checked out 7 different rivers/tributaries in hopes of finding some clarity, and ended up swinging a fly in a few of them. I had some coastal cutthroat action so the fish could still see my fly, but no steel to report.
Some less than ideal water.
Sometimes I mention to people that I was just out at the coast and when I say no fish were caught, people tend to respond that I didn’t need to drive very far to get skunked… Very true, but what fun is monotony? They say real adventure doesn’t begin until something goes wrong. While I’m not out looking for trouble, I personally get more joy out of exploring and adventuring than walking the same old beat. In the long run, it’s the experience and memories I’m after.

Reaching out for a hard pull after finding some fishable water. 

Trout fishing

Reports from the Deschutes continue to come back positive! Winter steelhead fishing often has a demoralizing element to it, so if you’re looking for little a moral boost try heading out to the Deschutes for some trout. While the trout fishing on that river is never a “gimme,” they haven’t received the same pressure that the summer-time presents. While hatches are minimal this time of year, the BWO’s can still offer some great winter dry fly action when the weather allows. Cold water temperatures and nasty weather days are often associated with trout sipping Blue Winged Olive mayflies off the surface. If the weather is more on the pleasant side of things, bring some heavily weighted stonefly nymphs such as a tungsten bead Trout Retriever and trail a smaller nymph behind like a #16 red Copper John. Possie Buggers or Restless Stones also work well, and sometimes a little split shot is needed too. Streamer fishing can also be a blast this time too so don’t be afraid to throw a little meat at them.

Nikki with a nice January Redside.
The best news about the Deschutes this time of year is how void of people it is. I like to trout fish below Sherars Falls for a couple reasons. First, it’s a shorter drive from I-84 without having to backtrack through Maupin. Second, I find the wading is a little easier down there than nearer-by Maupin. Lastly, that particular section of river generally receives a little less pressure (even less in the winter-time.) White River can influence the Deschutes’ clarity if it starts to rain up high on Mt. Hood, but with trout close into the bank and the Deschutes Redside’s naturally large eyes, it doesn’t seem to affect fishing too much this time of year.

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 anytime. 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

Cody Booth
Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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