Feb 27, 2018

Columbia Gorge Fishing Reports - (2/27/2018)

Fishing Report 2/27/18

Winter Steelhead:

The fishing has been improving lately as catch rates are increasing, however so is the pressure. Portland folks are trying to beat the crowds by heading our way, and us here in Hood River tend to head west for more available water. It’s kinda a role reversal. The Hood River doesn’t support a ton of pressure well as there’s far fewer fish returning to our system than larger watersheds elsewhere. Meanwhile places such as the Sandy River will sometimes recycle hatchery fish back down to the mouth after they’ve met their retainment quota. I have seen some photos of Sandy fish with a few hook holes in their mouth, which is somewhat disenchanting, but that tends to be the nature of fishing pressured waters. However, now is when we start to see more wild fish returning- Those big bright brutes we dream of!

Speaking of pressured waters, I made a detour to the Olympic Peninsula for my first time while on my way south after a recent snowboard contest at Mt. Baker, WA. I’d stopped by the Nooksack first outside of Bellingham as it was closing soon, but turbidity was too high so I pushed on. Though the Nooksack is a somewhat underutilized system that receives about 1000-2000 winter fish annually- if you can catch it when the glacial waters are in shape... Nevertheless, on to the ferry and out to the O.P. I went.

Trout Unlimited’s Wild Steelhead Initiative Science Director, John McMillan and I had been trying to link up for some time to get on the water, however John was unable to skip out of some field work on short notice, though graciously shared some intel of where to swing a fly with relative solitude. With water levels good I fished hard for two days on a couple different rivers, walked/fished a total of 8 miles, saw some big impressive water, counted over 50 elk in a meadow, and got a one solid take and loss. Not bad considering that a couple miles down from me a gillnet was stretched from bank to bank over the few days prior to my arrival. While I don’t typically fish two-handers over 13’ feet, I can definitely see the advantage of the bigger 8wts out there for covering water and handling some of O.P.’s fish.

After a week spent in Washington I came home to a revived winter- The mountains got nuked on and I’ve been spending my evenings and days off riding powder, while the rivers have gotten low, cold, and clear. When water gets like that, I generally start fishing smaller and less intrusive patterns with more natural colors.

Trout Fishing:
It’s been the same program for the last couple weeks. Heavy skwala-like nymphs, afternoon BWO hatches, and rust or olive streamers. Our manager, John got out for some solitude above Macks Canyon to streamer fish his Winston 3wt Microspey, and was instantly into an honest 20” Redside. For those that know the Deschutes trout, a 20” trout will kick some butt! If you like solitude and hard fighting trout, the mighty Deschutes can be excellent this time of year.

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. 

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