American Shad are called the little tarpon of the Columbia River. This silver-sided finned friend is one of the most underrated game fish of the Pacific Northwest. With returns in the millions and eager to eat a swung fly what’s not to like?
Nick’s presentation will include a brief history of this patriotic fish, explain how it got to the west coast, and go through recommended tackle, techniques, and potential spots to catch these fish. American Shad are known for putting up a fierce fight and do not give up easily. Be careful, like popcorn, these fish can be addictive and will keep you coming back for more.
Nick Wheeler has been fly fishing for Shad for over 15 years and working in the fishing industry just as long. Growing up in Northern California on the banks of the Russian River chasing Steelhead and Shad had been his favorite pastime. Living just feet away from the best Shad run on the Russian he was lucky enough to spend most days of the season on the water. Now living in Vancouver Washington and working at Royal Treatment in West Linn Oregon, he spends his time targeting as many species as possible (trout, salmon, steelhead and even carp), but every year he still devotes the entire month of June to chasing American Shad.
Fly-Fishing for Smallmouth in Rivers and Streams by Bob Clouser. The book includes description on fishing the Umpqua and John Day Rivers for bass.
Smallmouth: Modern Fly Fishing Methods, and Techniques by Dave Karczynski and Tim Landwehr.
Reviews of these two books are in the summer 2018 Fly Fishing & Tying Journal (page 12), and on Amazon. Other library materials on bass fishing are: Fly Fishing for Western Smallmouth by David Paul Williams and the DVD Fly Fishing for Western Smallmouth by Joe Warren and Gene Hering
There is an overwhelming wealth of fly fishing information on the internet. One way of keeping up is to subscribe to weekly e-mail newsletters that may include fishing reports, new product information, and fishing techniques. Some of our sponsors send out weekly emails, and you should sign up. There are many others available such as Midcurrent.com, GinkandGasoline.com, and Troutbitten.com.
It would be a shame if each of us did not make it over to the Deschutes sometime during the trout season. In fact a number of trips would be more to the point. Dave Hughes refers to the Deschutes as his “river of renewal”. I know that, for me, just catching that first glimpse of the river on each and every trip never fails to lift my spirits.
When the salmonflies and golden stones have finished their annual show on the Deschutes it is time for anglers to move on to the insects that fill up the rest of the trout season. Some of the more dependable hatches involve caddis flies, with hatches that can often be very prolific, and at times almost mind-boggling. I recall one evening getting off the river at Beavertail with Gil Henderson after a day of fishing. As we loaded our pontoon boats piggyback style onto the top of his GMC Yukon, it was all we could do to keep from inhaling the swirling snowstorm of caddis flies that surrounded us during an epic hatch.
Caddis flies undergo a complete metamorphosis which involves the following stages:
egg —–> larva —–> pupa —–> adult
A commonly used larva pattern is the basic Green Rock Worm, which can also be tied in different color variations depending on the caddis species. A reliable go-to dry fly pattern for the adult caddis is Al Troth’s Elk Hair Caddis. But what do you use for the pupa stage, when the insect is transitioning from a stream bottom dweller to the flying adult insect? One pattern that has gathered a lot of fans is Brian Silvey’s Caddis Pupa. I came across a Youtube video of Jason Osborne from Northwest Flyfishing Outfitters where Jason mentioned that if he could only use one fly on the Deschutes it would be Silvey’s Caddis Pupa. Of course we are not just talking about a fly that is only to be used on the Deschutes, as caddis flies are more numerous and widespread than mayflies in western rivers and lakes. In one of his recent newsletters Joel La Follette of The Royal Treatment Fly Shop mentioned Silvey’s Caddis Pupa as one of only a couple of flies that he would not go anywhere without.
So what is it about Silvey’s Caddis Pupa that makes it so effective? Mark Bachmann of The Flyfishing Shop seems to think it has to do with the body material called “pearl core braid” that Silvey started experimenting with a number of years ago. As the pupa is emerging air bubbles develop between its layers of skin helping the emerging insect rise to the surface. The pearl core braid material used in the abdomen does a very good job of simulating the reflective appearance of the bubbles. And the pearl core braid comes in a range of colors that can be used to imitate a variety of caddis species.
You can fish the Silvey’s Caddis Pupa any number of different ways. You can nymph it, fish it on the swing, or fish it as a dropper. Casting it out in the current and then letting it swing and rise back toward shore does a good job of imitating a natural pupa rising to the surface to emerge as an adult. Brian Silvey says his favorite way is to fish it as a dropper under a dry fly.
Join us at the Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn for our next Fly Tying Night on Wednesday, June 27th to tie up some Silvey’s Caddis Pupae. As always we will be starting at 6:00 pm. Hope to see you there!
(Note: We will be taking a couple of months off from fly tying. This will be our last Fly Tying Night until we start up again in September.)
Fishing has been pretty good on the Deschutes as well as many other waters in the Northwest. Hopefully you have an opportunity to get out and have some quality time on a river or lake.If not then get out there as soon as you can.
An important item is a retirement from our board of directors. Red Smith has served as our Membership Director for almost 15 years and he has informed the board that he will be stepping down on 12/31/18. We will miss Red on the board and on behalf of the club we extend our Thanks for his many years of service.
We need a replacement for Red Smith as soon as practical so the person can work with Red over the next few months to get invaluable knowledge and incite about the position. It does not take a lot of time so please consider letting Red or any member of the board if your interested.
Our last month speaker was Randy Clark and he gave an interesting presentation on fishing for Sea Perch on the Oregon coast. The flies were pretty basic, but you did need a stripping basket and some saltwater tolerate gear. As our fisheries change it may be a species work looking into. Next he discussed fishing for Tiger Muskie in a few lakes in the Northwest that holds these monsters. They get quite large and are a wary adversary. It was a very interesting evening.
The speaker for June is Nick Wheeler of the Royal Treatment Fly Shop. Many of you know Nick from the shop and he will be speaking on flies and techniques of fishing for Shad. We have very significant numbers of Shad that return to the Willamette and Columbia systems and they are a fun to catch during late May and early June. Nick will share his knowledge on pursuing one of his favorite fisheries.
The last fish-a-long was at Rocky Ridge Ranch and as you saw on the blog it was a good day for everyone. The food and company was outstanding and the fishing, although, a little challenging was good. The lakes are always and enjoyable outing.
For June we are considering fishing a lake in the Cascades as they give us good flexibility of people and a good chance of participates success. More information will be coming shortly on the particulars of the event.
The Sandy River Spey Clave went off without a hitch with good instruction on Friday, presentations on Saturday and Sunday plus great support from a number of manufacturers. Many people were constantly trying equipment, listening to speakers and enjoying the good food provided for the event. Mark Bachmann and the entire crew at The Fly Fishing Shop are to be congratulated for a well run program.
Do not forget our sponsors as they are the lifeblood of our club. Stop by their shops to say hello and thank them for their support. Better yet buy something or book a trip to really underscore our gratitude for their support.
Last weekends Fish-a-long to Rocky Ridge was another good time with good friends, good food and good fishing.
For the crew that arrived on Friday night Lane served up some Elk Enchiladas. If that wasn’t enough, Tim served up some great smoked ribs for Saturday nights dinner. Good eats, thanks guys!
Saturday dawned with overcast skies but we had no rain or wind. Fish were rising here and there. Several of us started on the middle lake (Wild Rose). Naturally I tried a Green Devil but it wasn’t working so I switched to chironomids but strikes were slow in coming. A fine fishing riddle is brewing!
The water temperature was 64 degrees and the lake had good clarity. The conditions were ripe for a damselfly migration but chucking and olive/brown marabou damsel nymph didn’t produce.
After a while I finally brought a fish to hand on a small olive chironomid pupa. A stomach pump revealed a very a small damsel nymph, a few light olive chironomids and small scuds.
At lunch we compared notes. The upper lake (Mules Ear) was fishing better but the fishing was not hot. Lane did OK on his favorite seal bugger/intermediate line combo and Nancy did OK fishing with dries. Paul went down to the lower lake and did well on bass. Lastly, Lane observed a few callibaetis mayflies coming off and suggested we try fishing callibaetis nymphs after lunch.
Tim, John and I stuck with the middle lake. John and Tim went down by the dam and some callibeatis were coming off. John did well on calibaetis dry and emerger patterns on a floating line and Tim did well with a beadhead calibaetis nymph on an Intermediate line. The calibaetis were coming off sporadically, sort of in spurts, and when that happened the fish would stop keying on chironomids and would go after the larger mayflies.
I stuck to the flats near the boat launch. Strangely, the callibeatis mayflies were not hatching here (I tried them!) so I stuck with chironomids and did OK, but mostly I got short strikes, which tells me my fly was close but still not really the right one. About a half hour before I had to leave I saw some larger chironomids emerging—the pupa were chestnut brown and about a size 12. I had some similar patterns in my fly box, put one on and got several hard takes and landed a couple nice fish in short order. Finally! It was a great way to end the day.
Last week Gil fished the Deschutes around Maupin, reporting he saw plenty of big bugs in the bushes but not many flying over the water. He managed to catch a couple on dries but it was necessary to cover a lot of water to find a player. The stonefly fishing should be at it’s best in a week or so.
Yesterday I was able to fish the Warm Springs Indian Reservation water with Elke & Alysia of Littleleaf Guide Services. Because you always have miles of untouched water to yourself I can’t say enough good things about this angling experience.
We met at 11am at Kah-Nee-Ta; no need to get up early this time of year! The weather was warm, the skies overcast and a light breeze was blowing upstream, making for perfect fishing conditions.
Arriving at the river it seemed the flows were a little faster than normal. Discharge from Pelton dam was 4100 cubic feet per second, water temperature was perfect at 55 degrees with about 4’ to 6’ of water clarity.
I had a refusal at the first stop and then landed a 16” fatty at the next stop. This time of year, when a fish commits to your fly you can see, hear and sometimes feel the strike!
Today all the fish took one of Elke’s Predator Stonefly’s. Alysia showed me a recent picture of a 26” redside she landed, so I stuck with heavy 2x and 3x tippet (8lb & 10lb). Every stop produced some sort of action, mostly refusals but often enough a player would hammer your fly. As Gil said in his report, covering water is the best way to find the fish that wanted to eat.
I managed a dozen or so, but numbers do not really represent all the fun I had watching fish slash at my flies all day. The average size of the fish was around 16 inches and my biggest brought to hand was in the 19 to 20 inch range. However, standing on a steep bank with a good view of the bottom structure I had a much larger redside come up twice only to refuse my fly at the last instant.
Much of the time we focus our attention and energy to those anadromous fish whose numbers are dwindling and the forecast for success seems marginal at best. This year our chances to hook up with an elusive steelhead seems to be no different. Perhaps we should be taking advantage of fishing for shad, an anadromous fish whose numbers each year apparently are in the millions in the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.
When we say shad we are talking specifically about the American Shad, a species of shad that were originally native to the North Atlantic from Newfoundland to Florida. The American Shad are members of the herring family and are mostly plankton feeders, spending three to five years in the ocean before returning to their home rivers to spawn. At this time they usually range in size from 1 to 5 pounds, but will sometimes reach up to 8 pounds in size. After spawning about half of the fish will survive to return to the ocean to repeat the process again. Historically the American Shad was an important food source for the founders of our country and are still regularly consumed on the east coast. In 1871 American Shad were introduced to the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento River systems and they spread from there up and down the Pacific coast. The shad became so successful that the Columbia River system now has the largest shad run in the world, an estimated three to five million fish yearly. Unlike some introduced species, at this time there seems to be no documentation about harmful effects of the shad numbers on other native species of fish. Some depleted populations in eastern rivers have needed to be replenished with eggs from Columbia River shad. While still regularly eaten on the east coast, American Shad are often released by west coast anglers or are retained to be used as bait for crab or sturgeon fishing.
In June Nick Wheeler will be speaking to our club about fly fishing for shad, a species that is generally overlooked by most flyfishers. Nick, working out of The Royal Treatment Fly Shop, has become somewhat of a local guru regarding shad fly fishing. Before moving to Oregon, Nick learned about shad fishing in his native California rivers and later transferred that knowledge to our local waters. He now ties the shad flies used by Water Time Outfitters guide Rob Crandall, who seems to be the only fly fishing guide that is taking advantage of the shad fishery in the nearby Willamette Falls area. Some of our club members have been clients on Rob’s shad adventures and they all seem to come back with stories regarding the epic number of hookups. Following a trip with Rob, club member Linda Becker reported “numerous multiple hookups” and how she eventually “got tired from catching fish”. We should all experience that feeling once in a while! Of course that was fishing from a boat. For June’s Fish-A-Long we will be relying on Paul Brewer and Dave Kilhefner to find us a location where we can reach the shad from the bank.
At this month’s Fly Tying Night we will be tying up a fly designed for American Shad in preparation for the club’s Fish-A-Long in June. Nick Wheeler shared with me the pattern that has been proven time and again to be the most effective fly for shad in our area. Being the gentleman that he is, Nick is not taking credit for the design but I think it is fair to say that he has taken a pattern that was first introduced by Bill Schaadt in California and tweaked it to make it a real deadly fly for our local waters.
Curiously enough, Bill’s last name “Schaadt” is pronounced “Shad”. How appropriate is that!? Bill Schaadt (1924-1995) was a larger-than-life figure in the world of fly fishing and could be the topic for an entire article just by himself. In fact he was the focus of a Sports Illustrated article called The World’s Best in 1974 (si.com/vault/1974/12/02/619297/the-worlds-best). Schaadt is also featured in an acclaimed film called Rivers of a Lost Coast which documents the rise and fall of steelhead fishing on California’s north coast rivers. The movie is available in the Clackamas County Library system and can also be viewed online through Orvis. In 2014 a book came out called I Know Bill Schaadt. It is a tribute comprising tales from thirty people who knew this unforgettable fly fishing legend.
After much experimentation and testing Nick has found what works best!
Join us at the Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn on Wednesday, May 23rd to tie up some Bill Schaadt shad flies. As always we will be starting at 6:00 pm. The flies are easy to tie and should be suitable for tyers of all levels of experience. Nick Wheeler will be on hand as the celebrity guest tyer for the evening.
As far as equipment, techniques, and locations we will be looking forward to Nick sharing all of his knowledge about catching American Shad during his presentation June 19th.
This is your last chance for a day of Central Oregon lake fishing for trophy size trout.
CFF is auctioning off 4 rod days at Justesen Ranch Lakes , 59720 Twin Lakes Rd – Grass Valley, Oregon. This is the FINAL auction of four. As an added bonus each Winner can choose to upgrade by purchasing 1 additional day from the ranch and then receive overnight accommodations (cabin) FREE for 1 night. Scheduling is up to each winner.
A rod day at the ranch is priced at $100. CFF will start bids at $60 with a BUY NOW price of $120. Bidding is open to paid up CFF members only. This auction ends TUESDAY, May 15.
To make a bid go to AUCTIONS. If you want to join the club so you can be eligible to bid go to MEMBERSHIP and click the Buy Now button. Please allow a day or so to allow for processing. If you have questions please contact Phil at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Great month coming up for fly fishing. It is almost time for a stellar annual event as the 2018 Sandy River Spey Clave is coming on 5/18-20/18. Our own Founding Gold Sponsor, The Fly Fishing Shop, created and continues to present this annual event. If you want to begin Spey fishing or want to improve your Spey casting then this is a must go to program. Mark Bachmann and his crew have again provided a event which includes hands on casting instruction, on the water programs by a number of experts, tackle available for testing form top manufactories, as well as free meals and refreshments. Go to the website flyfishusa.com for all the details.
As you saw on the blog we had a great turn out for the April fish-a-long with about 15 people making the trip. It was a good day and everyone had a great time.
Our fish-a-long this month(5/19/18) is at Rocky Ridge Ranch for some great trout fishing as you saw on the blog and also above from a prior year. This is limited to 10 members and a few spots remain. In addition to the memorable fishing our own Lane Hoffman will be giving some pointers on lake fishing, rigging, and flies. This is a great outing so contact Paul Brewer to reserve a spot.
Our April speaker was Rick Hafele and well known entomologist and avid fly fisherman. He shared with us the timing of various hatches throughout the year as well as the flies to match them. As usual it was an informative and entertaining program.
This month(5/15/18) we welcome Randy Clark from Orvis who will be sharing with us a program about some alternative fishing opportunities in the northwest. More will be following on the blog so be sure to check it for more details.
Of course fly tying is set for 5/23/18 so keep checking the blog for more information.
Do not forget the Fly Fishing Challenge which is well into the second year. If you missed it last year you can catch up and of course undertake the current challenge. It is all in good fun and an encouragement for us to get out and fish.
Our sponsors are the lifeblood of the club so please support them whenever you can. Stop by a shop and thank them for there support, even better buy something or book a trip.