Cottonwood Canyon Fish-A-Long Report

Thanks to everyone who made it over to Cottonwood Canyon, it was a long drive! The John Day River Canyon is inconveniently located but the scenery, the good weather and the large numbers of willing smallmouth made the trip worthwhile.

We met at 8:30am in the parking lot. A couple folks decided to camp at the park, which given the 3 hour drive makes a lot of sense.  We had perfect fall weather with clear skies and a light breeze. It was a little crisp in the morning but by 10:30 it was time to stow the vest in the daypack and keep fishing.

The water was very clear and warm enough for wet wading, which was good because it was too warm to wear waders. The recent big rainstorm increased the water flow from the fall average of 125 cfs to 275 cfs. Even so, it was still easy to wade across the river and the shallow spots were only knee deep.

Paul and I worked our way upstream a couple of miles—you can go downstream too. There is a dirt road that follows the river. It seemed like a good place for mountain bikes, but they are not allowed; foot traffic only. At the end of the day I had logged 7 miles on my pedometer.

Everyone caught fish today. Most of the fish were small in the 5-7” range but a few larger bass in the 12” range were taken.

I did not get a chance to talk to everyone but Paul  and I did well on White Devils and dark Woolly Buggers. We tried some Chubby Chernobyl’s on top and had a few half- hearted strikes so we stuck with subsurface patterns most of the day. Paul was doing well in working downstream in front of me so to be different I tried indicator nymph tactics with a size 6 Red Fox Squirrel Nymph and did well.

This was another fun Fish-A-Long. Given the length of the drive we’d like to get some feedback to see if we should have another Fish-A-Long this far away or not. Please get hold of Paul or Dave with your comments.

Here is a link to more pictures of this trip and a few others:

Fish-a-long Update

Due to the closure of I-84 we WILL NOT be meeting in Troutdale to carpool.

The drive is about 3 hours no matter what way you go. (Up the Washington side, or over the mountain to Hood River).

I plan to be at the gravel parking area at Cottonwood Canyon on the right just as you go under the bridge to enter the park around 8:00. I expect that most will not get there until around 9:00 or so.

When you get to I-84 go east and get off at the Biggs exit.
Go South on US-97 for about 8.5 miles then take exit to OR-26 south
Follow US-26 for about 14 miles until you get to the park.
If you cross the river you just passed the park entrance

Hope to see you there.


September 23rd Fish-A-Long

This month’s Fish-A-Long will be on the John Day River at Cottonwood Canyon State Park. The John Day is one of the best smallmouth bass fisheries west of the Mississippi. It is possible to catch 75 or more fish in a day; these fish average 8-12 inches.

It’s a very beautiful area to hike and explore. In the fall, the water is low and easily fished from the bank.

When- 8am Saturday September 23rd. Meet in Troutdale at a yet to be determined location and carpool to Cottonwood Canyon State Park. It’s about a 3hr drive from Troutdale.

Where- Cottonwood Canyon State Park

– 4 to 6wt rods with matching reel
– floating fly line
– sturdy footwear for walking over rocks
– rain gear, layered clothing, rain is unlikely but it is Oregon
– flies: surface poppers, muddlers, woolly buggers.

Come to Tuesday’s meeting to see sample flies and get more details. There are no services close so its suggested you bring a lunch and something to drink. Email with questions.

Library Additions


Lefty Kreh and Ed Jaworowski, The Complete Cast: Applying Principles to Fresh & Saltwater Fly Casting. This is a four-hour video by two experts in fly fishing and casting. There is both a DVD and Blue-ray disc. Read reviews here.


Jay W. Nicholas, Fly Fishing Pacific City: Ocean, Estuary & River Perspectives. The book is documentation of the presentation by our July speaker.

September 19 Speaker – Jim Coulthurst

Jim “Doc” Coulthurst will be the CFF’s guest speaker Tuesday, September 19th. Doc is a long time CFF member who now spends much of his time in Xcalac, Mexico. Xcalac is pronouced “ish-ka-kak.”

Doc’s presentation will be on fly fishing his home waters of Xcalac, the home of Baby Tarpon, Bonefish and Permit.

It will be a great presentation you won’t want to miss!

Meeting details:


Fly Tying: September, 2017

The Green Butt Skunk


After a hiatus from the tyer’s table it will be good to get back to our monthly fly tying sessions. Heading into the fall months of the year the thoughts for many of us turn to swinging flies for steelhead on the Deschutes. In spite of the dismal prediction we are hearing about the outlook for steelhead on that river, it’s important to think positively and keep telling yourself that this year you may just have to work a little harder to find the fish that has your name on it. And always remember, just getting out on the water is a reward in itself!

Instead of looking at some hot new pattern I thought it would be good to look closely at a truly classic steelhead fly and some of its history. An Oregon attorney is credited with being the creator of the Green Butt Skunk. As happens in the world of fly tying, existing patterns continually evolve as new fly tyers add their own innovations in an effort to improve the effectiveness of the fly. That is the case with Dan Callaghan. It is thought that Dan most likely came up with his idea for the Green Butt Skunk in the 1950’s, tying it for the steelhead on his favorite river, the North Umpqua. He added some chartreuse chenille to an already existing steelhead pattern, The Skunk. If you are not familiar with The Skunk, just visualize something close to a classic Green Butt Skunk, minus the green butt. Adding the green butt apparently turned an already good steelhead fly into an iconic pattern used today by steelheaders in all parts of the world.

The true origin of the original Skunk may have been lost to time but the earliest mention of the fly seems to credit a Seattle gentleman named Wes Drain back in the 1930’s. Some sources say the name came from the general black and white color of the fly and some say that early examples used hair from a skunk. Apparently Drain’s original recipe actually called for a wing made of skunk hair, white over black. What better source of both black and white hair than a skunk! You can imagine that a single skunk skin would have provided early tyers with a lifetime of material for Skunk flies. But thank goodness we have a variety of other wing materials to use today because I can’t imagine where in our house my wife would allow me to keep a skunk skin!


The original Skunk fly

But being an innovative fly tyer was far from being Callaghan’s only claim to fame. A lawyer by trade, he lived in Salem his entire life. After discovering fly fishing for steelhead on the North Umpqua, Callaghan made it his life’s mission to do all he could to protect that river. He was one of the founders of both The Steamboaters and The North Umpqua Foundation, two organizations that are focused on protecting the North Umpqua River. Callaghan was a very accomplished photographer, and after his death in 2006 Callaghan’s wife helped to publish a book called Dan Callaghan’s North Umpqua, a collection of 156 of his photos taken over a period of fifty years. He was also a member and supporter of many conservation and flyfishing organizations, too many to list here. But if you ever feel like you have too many things going on in your life to participate in or support conservation and flyfishing, check out this link,  to read more about Dan Callaghan’s dedication and accomplishments:

Another tribute to Callaghan was conceived by his good friend Steve Bukieda, along with Joel LaFollette to honor his memory. The plan was to display some variations of the Green Butt Skunk as a way to honor its creator. It came to be known as “The Dan Callaghan Collection – 101 Green Butt Skunks”. An idea that started out to be a modest display of a few variations of the Green Butt Skunk soon snowballed to the point that the number of flies had to be cut off at 100. The 101st fly in the display is one that was tied by Callaghan himself. LaFollette accompanied the impressive 3-panel display down to Salem for its official unveiling at the state Capitol. It was later auctioned off for $6,300, with the proceeds going to the North Umpqua Foundation to protect fish habitat. The winners of the auction chose to remain anonymous and wanted the collection to be displayed in a place where it could be enjoyed by the public. If you haven’t already seen it, stop in at The Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn where it is on display. If you are like me, you may have seen the collection there but never examined it very thoroughly. Upon looking closely at the names of the tyers, you will undoubtedly recognize many of them. It’s almost a “Who’s Who” list of noted Pacific Northwest fly tyers and steelheaders, as well as recognizable names from outside the area. It is interesting to see in one place how 100 other tyers have their own take on Dan Callahan’s fly.  Indeed it is certainly an appropriate and impressive tribute to the man who brought us the Green Butt Skunk, arguably the most recognizable of all steelhead flies.


Joel LaFollette and Mary Kay Callaghan, Dan Callaghan’s wife with “The Dan Callaghan Collection– 101 Green Butt Skunks”

A few Green Butt Skunks should be in the flybox of every steelheader. Join us for our next Fly Tying Night on Wednesday, Sept. 27. As always, we will be meeting at The Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn at 6 pm.


President’s Message September 2017


Greetings!!  With all the things going on this year it seems like forever since a President’s Message was prepared for you. It has be a busy summer and now we are seeing it come to an end, although the weather is still holding on to summer.  Hope you all had a chance to get out and fish and enjoy our great outdoors.

Now  we are starting to see our fall fish return to the rivers and although the expected  returns are not as strong as years pass you still have a chance of connecting with a Steelhead  or even a Chinook.

After our month off we are now getting down to business for the remainder of the year.  We have a good list of speakers coming up and to start the line up is a founding member, Jim Coulthrust.  He will be speaking on Fishing in Xcalak, Mexico. He has been doing it for years and spends a lot of his time pursuing fish in this area. It should be interesting and informative.

Of course we will be having a September fish-a-long and this year it should be fun and different as we plan to go after small mouth bass on the John Day River.  More information will follow on location, flies, etc. so mark you calendars for 9/23/17.

Please, welcome Dave Pelgorsch as our new Director of Technology.  He joins to board to assist in our various technology issues and we are looking forward to working with him in the upcoming months.  Next time you see him be sure to thank him for his willingness to assist the club in this important area.

As posted on the blog, this Sunday 9/10/17 is the 15th annual Clackamas River Cleanup.  It is a great event and your efforts are rewarded with a BBQ after the event.  Please register per the message on the blog.   Hope you can help out.

Remember our sponsors who make a lot of things happen for us with their continued support.  Drop into their shops and say thanks or better yet buy  something or book a trip.