Mar 24, 2018

Columbia Gorge Fishing Reports - (3/24/2018)

Fishing Report - 3/23/18
In-Camera double exposure. Almost as surreal as swinging up wild winter steel...
Winter Steelhead: More fish in the rivers makes things a little nicer, don’t it? Now that we’re nearing the end of March we have a pretty decent number of steelhead in all our favorite waters. Even with some of the low flows we’ve experienced as a result of a relatively mild winter, we’re still finding a few fish.

When I encounter low and clear flows I simply change my tactics a little bit to smaller and less obtrusive flies. As the season progresses I also start utilizing more natural colors to mimic the sculpin and lamprey, which I believe steelhead hate. In fact, I’ve found plenty of dead sculpin near redds in years past. Which leads into a quick reminder that as we are nearing spawning time for many steelhead it’s important to be mindful of redds- watching where you step and to not disturb or harass the fish during spawn. I’ve even seen a couple kelt fish already caught while on their journey back to the salt for reconditioning, and with any luck they’ll spawn again.
Spring on the coast… Warmer days, budding plants, and fresh steelhead
The coast had been pretty fairly quiet for much of the season (might’ve been just me), although the last couple weeks have treated anglers nicely. Meanwhile, the Portland rivers seemed to slow down a touch. We’re also seeing less hatchery fish, and starting to get a push of some the larger native fish- something I’m always happy to see!

Chelsey with her first coastal steelhead.

Trout: The Deschutes has been cranking out a some fish, and while most won’t approach it until Salmon Fly hatch, now is a great time for solitude and hard fighting Redsides. Euro-style nymphing has been increasing in popularity along the Deschutes banks, and it certainly will pick up a trout or two in places you might not have before. Though the tried and true indicator rigs we’ve all known for years still do the trick- and we’ve got the gear for it all. For nymphing I’d bring some size 8 - 10 Restless Stone’s in darker colors followed by a size 16 Hares Ears to replicate Skwalla/Stonefly nymphs and March Brown nymphs. Similar sized colors/patterns will also work, but if you’re fishing unweighted nymphs be sure to bring some split shot.

John with his G. Loomis IMX PRO 41111-4 Short Spey and 330gr Airflo Scout.
For me though, I never get tired of watching a surface rise or feeling a hard yank as I’m stripping streamers. For those in the same boat, I’d recommend bringing some Skwallas, BWOs, and March Browns for the surface action. Streamer wise- Klamath Intruders in rust or orange, Sculpzillas in natural or olive, or any orange/tan/olive streamer from Woolly Bugger size to 3” Sculpin patterns
New Aqua Flies Summer Sculpin patterns from Jerry French. Would work great for meat eating trout and angry steelhead!
Warm water species: Stay tuned! The Columbia is slowly warming and we’ve seen a few guys out catching some Smallmouth Bass. The action is only going to get better as the days progress into spring. For now though, focus on fishing deeper as the cold water keeps them from chasing down surface flies.


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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