You’ll notice this Fish A Long report features pictures of some really nice fish and scenery. If this was a fishing show it would be easy to bend the truth and say the fishing was hot, but the reality is the fishing was tough, very tough! Rich and I fished for 3 solid days and the first two days I was pretty sure I’d get skunked and nearly did. On the last day I caught 1 trout, but it was a big enough to make all the effort worthwhile.
Rich and I arrived Thursday night. It was a cold evening, an even colder night and we burned most of our wood. As the campfire burned the stars came out and were very bright! The guys in the site next to us said it snowed a little when they were setting up camp. Fortunately the cold snap was short lived. By the time we finished our coffee the following morning it was pretty nice out and stayed that way the rest of the weekend.
The river was off color with about 2 feet of visibility and flowing at 242 cfs. The week before it was at 125 cfs and since there wasn’t a full moon to blame the slow bite on, we blamed it on the increased water flow. The water temperature was 48-49 degrees which is pretty much perfect. Everything seemed OK but as I said before, fishing was tough!
Rich got into a few and I struggled. I was well on my way to earning my skunk stripe when a whitefish rolled on my two fly nymph rig. While I missed the strike, the dropper fly hooked it in the tail and I was able to bring it to hand. While the skunk was officially off, it felt like taking a hand off at the trout farm. Fortunately we had our traditional Mexican feast at the Mazatlan Restaurant in Prineville to look forward to, and it didn’t disappoint!
Saturday dawned with a repeat of Fridays good weather and slow fishing. We had our traditional fish a long breakfast of coffee and donuts, swapped recent fishing stories and got ready for the day.
Fishing was slow again today but Rich found a good pocket close to the deadline up by the dam with some willing trout and managed to hook 9 and land 3 in a couple hours, all on his little bright red midge pupa pattern. The biggest was 20” long and fat as a pig. It was a real brute!
We broke for lunch and I tied some of Rich’s bright red midge pupa’s for myself and also the guys in the camp next to us.
Armed with the the latest hot fly renewed our confidence. We worked downstream into the pocket water by the campground. Rich was able to grind out some trout by concentrating his approach around the rocks. I stuck with my “cover lots of water” steelhead approach and had no luck. Lesson learned: work harder on picking the water apart and working the structure! In the afternoon a huge cadds hatch came off. When the sun got low the fish started rising. I put on an Elk Hair Caddis, swung it just below the surface and did well. It’s also a really fun way to fish, especially after you’ve been hyper focused on nymph fishing all day!
Saturday night we hung out with the guys in the camp next to us. Like us, they traveled over from the Portland area to do some fly fishing and enjoy the dry east side weather. We built a big fire, talked fishing and had a fun night.
Sunday was another nice day. The plan was to hit the Crooked in the morning then maybe try the Deschutes on the way home. We hiked back up to towards the dam and while crossing the river saw an Osprey dive into the water and sink it’s talons into a fish so big it could not lift it out of the water. It was a tense two minutes while we watched & wondered if the Osprey might not make it. It was a relief when the osprey was finally able to unlock its talons and fly away to seek smaller prey next timel.
We went back up by the dam and fishing was tough. After pounding the water with my indicator rod, I switched to Euro nymphing and hooked a big trout on the first cast by slowly walking one of Lane Hoffman’s red squirmy worms down the current seam. We fished the water thoroughly for another hour or so without success. At lunch we broke camp and made a quick stop at the Deschutes by Warm Springs. The big stoneflies were active but it was the middle of the day and the trout were taking a siesta so we didn’t linger very long before calling it quits and heading home.
Even with the slow fishing it was a great fishing weekend with good weather and fun fishing companions. While nobody wishes for slow fishing, it’s a good teacher and I learned a few new tricks.
Next month’s fish a long is June 11th (free fishing weekend in Washington). We will be chasing Shad up at Bonneville Dam. Hope to see you there!