April 2022 Presidents Message

Paul Deunk with a nice Silver from Kodiak Island.

Earlier this month I got some bad news that my friend Paul Deunk from Cleveland passed away. I met Paul on a fishing trip in Alaska and we remained friends. He battled some serious health issues over the years, including cancer, but always bounced back and kept living life the best he could. He was an inspiration. On the fly fishing side, he was a feature tyer at midwest fly fishing shows, a member of his local steelhead fishing club and managed to go fishing to Alaska most years. We kept in touch, mostly by texting, and we regularly sent each other pictures of our various interests & endeavors. I think my latest mountain biking adventure would have made him laugh, but I didn’t get to send him that one! Our last text exchange was about a Duck decoy he was carving; Paul was always doing something cool and different.

As I’m writing this Presidents Message it’s a very a nice spring day and after imaging trout rising at my favorite local lake for the umpteenth time, I decided to just go fishing, think of my friend Paul and catch a few trout in his honor. That mission was accomplished.

Over the last couple weeks I’ve (finally!) had some good success on steelhead…but with spoons. It’s been a busy month and I haven’t had time to get the spey rod going. Maybe next week! Locally Winter Steelhead are still available thru most of April plus Summer Steelhead start to show. Spring Chinook are coming too, but that’s a whole new level of fly fishing insanity. I did hook one on the spey last year but it ran way downstream then the hook pulled out. Still, it’s a great fly fishing memory.

We’ll have a regular meeting April 19th at High Rocks. I’ll be talking & answering questions about spring fly fishing opportunities on our local Pay to Play lakes like Oregon Fishing Club, Justesen Ranch and Rocky Ridge. We’ve had some great Fish A Longs at all these places but they’ve gone thru some changes. We’ll bring you up to date.

Speaking of Fish A Longs, we’ll be going to an Oregon Fishing Club lake and I’ll get an announcement out next week. With the warmer weather they are starting to fish very well.

In April trout fishing starts to heat up. Locally, the OFC lakes are fishing well. Further away the Deschutes and Crooked rivers are good too. Remember that good fishing on these rivers will depend on consistent water flows and irrigation season is just getting ready to start, so check the water flows before you head out. 

For several years now we have been posting monthly fishing reports. Looking back on them is a fun way to get ideas for local fly fishing opportunities currently happening or coming up. Type “April” or “May” and you’ll get all the past reports for those months. 

We’ve fixed the search funcion on the Fly Tying articles so if you type “fly tying” in the search box you’ll get all the old articles. There’s good stuff in there. Thanks to Jim Adams for bringing this to my attention.

Please remember our sponsors, they are the lifeblood of the club. Stop by their shops and let them know your appreciate their support. Better yet buy something or book a trip.  

Good fishing! 

Dave Kilhefner

Fly Tying April 2022: The V-Rib Chironomid

Chironomid Background Info—

Our April and May Fish A Longs will be on stillwaters and Chironomids are a top fly choice.

Check out the following link for some general information about midges and chironomids (midge pupae) taken from a previous CFF article.

The V-Rib Chironomid—
If you do some searching on the internet you will find all kinds of chironomid pupa patterns. And, surely, they all will work. But, as always, simple is a good place to start for a fly tyer. You will find using V-Rib (also known as D-Rib) for a body material will make your fly tying quick and fun. Winding V-Rib around the hook shank is quick and easy and gives the body of the fly a nice segmented look.

So what exactly is V-Rib? It is a translucent plastic material that comes spooled or packaged in ziplock bags. The “V” in V-Rib stands for “Vinyl” while the “D” in D-Rib describes the D-shape, or half-circle shape, the material has if you were to look at its cross-section. V-Rib comes in a number of sizes and colors. Hareline carries 16 colors in four different sizes from midge up to large while Ultra makes 11 colors. In general, the V-Rib (D-Rib) sizes are recommended to be matched up with the following hook sizes:

V-Rib Size/Hook Size
Midge / 16-20
Nymph / 12-16
Medium / 8-12
Large / 1-8

V-Rib Chironomid Recipe: (one of many variations)
Hook: 1X short scud hook; size of choice (usually 12-18)
Thread: 6/0 or smaller; color of choice
Gills: white antron
Head: Bead (optional) metal or glass; color of choice
Underbody: thread or flashabou; color of choice
Body: V-Rib; color of choice;
Thorax/Collar: peacock (optional)

Tying and Materials Tip: V-Rib comes in many colors, most of them translucent. By varying the V-rib color, and also the color of the thread or flash under the V-rib, you have an almost unlimited variety of shades of chironomids that you can tie. But don’t go too crazy and buy all of the available V-rib colors; red, black, olive, and brown are the ones most commonly used for chironomids.

The body of the V-Rib chironomids are sometimes first wrapped with a flash material like flashabou, followed by the V-Rib. The resulting shine in the body helps to simulate the gas that builds up in the pupa as it slowly rises through the water column. Examples of this are shown in the following photo:

V-Rib Tying Instructions: Refer to the following tutorials for four versions of V-Rib chironomids.
V-Rib Chironomid tutorial (olive chironomid)
V-Rib Chironomid tutorial (red chironomid with white bead and antron gills)
Chironocone (red V-rib sno cone chironomid; peacock herl thorax ); In The Riffle tutorial
V-Rib Chromie Chironomid (spacing the V-Rib wraps over flashabou underbody)

Chironomid Tactics and Strategies:
In stillwaters you can fish chironomid patterns under an indicator or let them sink near the bottom and then patiently simulate the pupa slowly rising to the surface by using a slower than slow hand-twist retrieve. When fish appear to be feeding just sub-surface, club member Lane Hoffman likes to grease all of his leader except the last six inches or so, thus leaving the chironomid pupa pattern suspended just under the surface. And don’t forget to try midge pupa patterns in streams, too. Dead drifting them tied off the bend of a larger nymph can be deadly. When the trout are feeding near the surface of streams, fishing them in a dry-dropper combination can be lots of fun.

If you are fishing your chironomids at depths greater than the length of your rod, landing your fish will be made a lot easier by using a “slip strike indicator”. Here is a helpful short video from In The Riffle:
Brian Chan and Phil Rowley, both noted stilllwater fishing gurus, have written extensively on chironomid strategies. Check out the following links for some great advice about fishing chironomids in lakes and ponds—
Brian Chan: Chironomid Fly Fishing Strategies (11 minutes; condensed basics)
Phil Rowley: Advanced Chironomid Tactics Class (1 hour 25 minutes; excellent info; technical glitches and less than perfect audio in places)

Some different examples of V Rib Chironomid Patterns. They are easy to tie and very effective!

March 2022 Fish A Long Report

The March 2022 Deschutes River fish a long was not steelhead focused, but it started off that way for me with several CFF members exchanging steelhead photos by text message. When steelhead are being caught, you naturally assume catching trout will be easy…but it wasn’t. Even with trout fishing a little on the tough side, it was great to enjoy dry weather on the east side.

The roads were clear and it was a fast easy drive over the mountain to Maupin. I hit the Deschutes Angler to replace a water thermometer that lost a battle with the tailgate of my pickup and checked out some flies. I noticed most of their patterns featured oversized tungsten beads, or at least way bigger than mine, and this was for good reason as I’d soon find out.

Friday afternoon saw me fishing up by Nena and no trout or whitefish were harmed…or even seen. Still it was a very pleasant afternoon to be on the water. At 6:30 I received a text that The Riverside was packed and I better get down there if I wanted a seat. I arrived just in time to get the last stool at the bar. Several of us enjoyed the lively atmosphere plus tasty food and beverages. It was my plan to camp at Harpham Flats that night but Paul said his room had two queen beds and he didn’t have to ask twice. I spent the night in comfort then coffee’d up the next morning and made the short drive to Harpham Flats. Darryl texted and said he was on the water at first light and got a couple redsides on beads. Several members were already at the campground before 9am and we got a fire going and enjoyed more coffee and conversation for about an hour, then it was time to hit the water.

Several of us drove up to the locked gate and walked upstream. The weather was a little cloudy, cool and windy. The wind made Euro nymphing difficult but indicator nymphing was working OK. Most of us got a couple trout but the consensus was you had to work for them!

By early afternoon Eric and I had migrated pretty far upstream, reaching the water 2 miles past the gate by “the House Hole.” The clouds mostly burned off, the wind died down a little and it was nice. I hadn’t had a single bite in several hours when I saw some nice fish rising, but they ignored what I threw at them, which was pretty much everything; I really gave my new magnetic fly threader gadget a workout this weekend. If you haven’t used one, I can say they work great but like everything else, they cause cancer in California.

With the slow bite in the morning my strategy was to find a promising stretch of water and hit it hard between 1 and 3pm. This approach has worked well in the late winter/early spring when the water is still cold and fish are not very active. While methodically beating through the brush and pounding pockets my indicator went down and I set the hook on… a snag… or so I thought. It was most likely an old steelhead; I never did see it because it didn’t jump but did peel off about half my fly line a couple of times. I thought I had a chance until it got behind a rock and sawed through the 5x tippet. While I would have preferred to land it fighting a big fish is always a thrill.

While continuing to work upstream I ran into Eric who caught his personal best whitefish, specimen at least 3 pounds.

We leapfrogged our way back down to the locked gate and ran into Chris, who echoed our experience; he got a few but had to work for every bite! Also the trout didn’t seem to care what fly you used, they disliked them all equally; there was no “hot fly” today.

By now it was 5 PM and time for folks to decide if they are going to stay another night or head home. As near as I can tell everyone left but me and Eric. We opted not to stay at Harpham Flat because it has no wind protection, so we drove upstream to Long Bend, built a fire and enjoyed some adult beverages and chili dogs for dinner.

The sky was clear when the sun went down and we decided to stay up and watch the moon rise as it was a 98% full (and 100% full on Friday). This may have had something to do with the slow bite during the day and actually, anytime fishing is poor you can dependably blame it on a full moon.

The night was clear and cold but we both slept well. We rose early, made some hot coffee, broke camp and were fishing by 9:30. The water temperature had dropped to 47° overnight and there was very little fish activity. We fished hard all day with very little to show for it, Eric hooked and lost it whitefish around noon. Other than that we didn’t get a single bite.

A little after two when our hope was waning Eric magically hooked into a nice trout that put up strong battle. If you’re only going to hook one fish all day you want it to be a fighter like this one! By now I was tired, having hiked far upstream two days in a row. I was mentally preparing myself for a skunking when I forced myself to walk off the road and down the hill to the water’s edge one more time. The wind wasn’t too bad and I was making some good casts in spite of a pretty nasty overhanging tree that looked to have eaten more than a few flies. Suddenly indicator plunged down and I was fast into a leaping trout. As he slid into the net I decided it’s really okay to work hard for one or two trout. It had been another fun fish long weekend with good friends.

March 2022 Presidents Message

Before writing this months Presidents message I looked at last years March Presidents message and can honestly say this year is starting out much better than last year!

This month marks two years as your club President. It’s been both interesting and challenging as fishing and everyday life is pretty much in a constant state of change. It’s more important than ever to be flexible.

Being flexible and adaptable to changing conditions has become “the new normal” these days. You’ll notice most of our Fish A Longs have “option 1 and option 2” these days so we can enjoy better fishing opportunities. For example, option 1 for the March 19th fish a long is to go back to the Crooked River, but if the water remains low and cold like last month we’ll shift gears and go to the Deschutes around Maupin. Both locations have good camping & restaurants nearby. I’ll get an email survey out the week before to see what everyone wants to do.

We’ll have a regular meeting on March 15th at High Rocks.

March signals the beginning of spring and many local fisheries begin to wake up and turn on. Trout in our local lakes will begin to get active as water temperatures rise from the low 40’s to the high 40’s. Central Oregon waters like the Deschutes & Crooked will have good fishing if water levels are stable & warming. Last but not least, March is the best month for trophy steelhead so don’t hang up your spey rod. Once the rivers drop back into shape it will be game on!

This months Fly Tying article will feature the V-rib Chironomid. This pattern is easy to tie in both regular & euro nymph styles plus it’s very effective in both lakes and streams.

For several years now we have been posting monthly fishing reports. Looking back on them is a fun way to get ideas for local fly-fishing opportunities currently happening or coming up. Type “March” or “April” and you’ll get all the past reports for that month.

Please remember our sponsors this, they are the lifeblood of the club. Stop by their shops and let them know your appreciate their support. Better yet buy something or book a trip. Good fishing!

Dave Kilhefner