CFF May 2022 Fishing Reports

The water levels and weather this May were a little crazy, but as you’ll see from this report CFF members were flexible and found plenty of good places to fly fish. As always, pictures first with the reports below.

From John Silkey: Spent last week at Guide School on the S. Fork of the Snake in Idaho with Worldcast. Amazing experience! Got to dive deep into all things fly fishing for a week and spent most days on the water learning how to properly and safely pilot a drift boat while guiding clients. (Even got to do a little fishing and got this nice Yellowstone Cutt.)

I don’t own a boat yet but am looking to practice more, so if anyone needs an oarsman I’m keen to spend time paddling and getting to know area.

From Mike Shiiki: Lost Lake in the coast range: First time there and it was recently stocked with a bunch of hatchery rainbows and some steelhead.  The rainbows hit all day, all were hatcheries from 8-12″.  We trolled #14 black/red Half-Wit leeches on an intermediate line from our float tubes; this technique is still killing it! My friend Christian was using float line, no indicator and stripping a long leader with leaches/buggers.  Steelhead could be seen near the surface and occasionally rise. I ended up landing two that hit leaches; the first was 26″ and the second was bigger.  It’s an easy lake to get into, has a parking lot, bathroom and a hiking trail around it.  Worth checking out.  

My son Nathaniel and I made our first trip to Harriett Lake May 28th; the road from Timothy to Harriet is under construction AGAIN, but the detour is clearly marked & adds 15 min to the drive. It was worth the trip! We were the only ones out on the lake and we found some big fish by the inlet. Nathan caught a couple nice browns and an 18″ and 20″ rainbow, plus we found ALOT of 16-17″ hatchery rainbows down stream from the big orange barrier and into where the lake widens up.  It started pouring rain from about 12:30pm – 3:00 but the bite didn’t slow down at all.  Trolling black hal-wits on an intermediate line was the ticket.

Went back Monday 5/31 and it was a good day again, but not like the previous trip.  My friend Paul landed a 19″ rainbow and I landed a couple 18″ers. There just aren’t many people making that drive up there, so now’s a good time to go.

From Chris Brehm: I was able to spend a day on the Big D with my brother Steve fishing the Salmon Fly hatch. Fishing near Warm Springs and Dry Creek, we caught multiple fish up to 17″ on nymphs in the morning, then on big bugs from late afternoon til dark.( Steve’s shirt is off after falling in)

I had two trips on the ocean for Halibut. The first was 40 miles out of Westport WA, but was cut short by engine problems after quick limits of Lingcod. One might think that a 15 hour trip which featured an 8-1/2 hour return (limping back to port  at 5 knots) would cure me of long ocean runs, but 3 days later out of Newport I landed a 46″ Halibut near the “Rockpile”. Three of us limited on Halibut plus a few rockfish.

From Wayne Hughes: Fished Rocky Ridge lakes with Jim Teeny. We caught and released a lot of really nice fish in the 18-22” range. Of course all our fish were all hooked on Teeny Nymphs; Jim’s new size 14 leech in blue/black with silver bead and natural size 12 leeches were best. We used Jim’s 5’ ghost sink tip line and in the deeper part of the lake, the T-130 sinking line.

CFF Board Retreat: We had our annual board retreat at Rocky Ridge in early May. 15 to 25 mph winds made for a tough fishing day and Jim got his pontoon boat pinned against the rocks at Mules Ear when the wind was blowing especially hard. In spite of this we all got fish in the 18” to 22” range, landing about 10 fish each. Leech flies on an intermediate line worked the best by far.

From Dave Kilhener: I’ve been spey fishing the Clackamas for summer steelhead without any success. It’s a super slow year plus the crazy water levels haven’t helped but its fun to get out when the weather is nice plus you can’t catch them if you don’t try! On the first trip out I got my spey rod stuck togther and it didn’t seem like it would ever come apart again. I read up on various ways to get it apart and tried them all. After a couple weeks I tried packing the ferrel in ice & salt, let it sit for an hour and that did the trick.  

To put a bend in my fly rod I made a couple trips to the Oregon Fishing Club. The fish were finicky and my standard long tailed woolly buggers & half wits produced mostly short strikes, so I put on one of Phil Hager’s size #8 brick leeches and converted those short strikes into hookups!

Thanks to everyone for providing these reports!

Fly Tying June 2022: Shad Fly Revisited

Here’s the only fly you’ll need for next month’s Fish A Long on June 11th, Bill Schaadt’s Shad Fly. This updated post features both written tying instructions and a video.  

Nick Wheeler, formerly at The Royal Treatment fly shop in West Linn, introduced this pattern to us while speaking to our club on the topic of Shad fly fishing a couple years ago plus was on hand to lead us during an evening of tying up shad flies. Nick is still fondly remembered for the expertise he added to local anglers’ knowledge about flyfishing for shad. Despite the good natured banter he suffered from others in the fly shop, Nick’s enthusiasm for the previously overlooked shad was infectious.

Click here to read an article on Bill Schaadt and his shad fly that is being reprised from the Clackamas Fly Fishers blog from 2018. Much of the information in the article was gathered from an interview I did with Nick, as well as his evening presentation to the club.

Below is the Recipe and Tying Instructions for Nick Wheeler’s version of Bill Schaadt’s Shad Fly:

RECIPE:

  • Hook: Tiemco 3761 #6 ; or Fulling Mill F35085 #8; or similar
  • Thread: anything hot orange; Nick Wheeler recommends Danville’s Fire Orange flat waxed 210
  • denier thread (covers well with fewer wraps); a second color of choice would be fluorescent green
  • Tail: pearlescent krystal flash
  • Body: silver mylar; size 12 or 10
  • Eyes: medium size silver bead chain
  • Head: thread; tapered behind and front of the eyes
  • Coating: head cement (or Sally Hansen’s or UV resin)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Lay down a thread base.
  • Tie in a tail of about 10-12 strands of krystal flash; trim the tail strands fairly short, about 1/4 to 3/8 inch long.
  • Tie in a strand of mylar at the base of the tail. Tie it down with the gold side facing up so that when you wrap it the silver side will be facing up. Move your bobbin forward.
  • Spiral wrap the mylar forward to about the mid-point of the hook, overlapping each wrap onto the previous one so there are no gaps. Tie it off and remove the excess mylar.
  • Use a few figure-8 wraps to tie in the bead chain eyes, at a distance about 1/3 of the hook length back from the hook eye. That should put the eyes at a position slightly more than halfway back from the eye to the mylar. See the drawing below. (Although not essential, anchoring the eyes in with a drop of super glue may be helpful because these flies can take a hammering during your multi-fish day of fishing! )
  • Continue wrapping the thread to form the head which will extend from the mylar to the eye of the hook. Taper the head both behind and forward of the bead chain eyes so that the head is thickest at the eyes and then tapers to the front and back. Because of the way you positioned the eyes in Step 5 the taper in front of the eyes will be slightly longer than the taper behind the eyes. Whip finish the head right behind the eye.
  • For added durability give the finished fly a coat or two of head cement or epoxy over the entire body and head (but not the tail!).
  • The bead chain eyes are not centered on the head. The taper of the head in front of the eyes should be longer than the taper behind the eyes.

May 2022 Crooked River Fish A Long Report

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!

CFF April 2022 Fishing Reports

After a pretty slow winter fishing really picked up in April and our members had some great fishing. As always, pictures first with the reports below.

From Joshua Marsh: Had a great trip to Xcalak, fishing out of Casa Paraiso.  We had two slams in our group (tarpon, permit, and bonefish in a single day) and lots of action throughout. It was amazing fishing in a fantastic place with bones and permit caught right off the dock.  I’m sorry to say no permit for me, but next time!

From Keaton Andreas: I don’t have a fishing report, but I’ve been working on tying a pattern that I plan to target cutthroat trout with. My plan is to test them on resident fish at the opener on 5/22 at the Wilson River weather permitting. 

From Tim McSweeney: All I’ve been thinking about all winter is figuring out fisheries that are closer to home. Between work, and family life I don’t get out nearly as much as I’d like and when I do, it’s always been LONG day trips or weekend trips.

So what did I do? Went after smallmouth; never caught one and didn’t know anything about them. Drove 3 hours to a river that was way too cold, dirty and high to be fishing for them. I had a couple friends that casually fish and wanted to get out this weekend before our Spring’s got to busy. I threw out a couple ideas and they clung to this river and spot even though I knew it wasn’t the right time of year. In two solid days of fishing all we got was 1 eat & one lethargic smallie around 10″. Regardless, it was absolutely gorgeous, and was able to catch up and relax around the fire.

On our way home we stopped for 1.5 hrs at a popular state park on a much lower stretch of this river where the water was warmer but much dirtier. In the end we landed two good, thick fish and 3 dinks. Including my fish smallie that really doubled over my 6wt. I can’t wait to start fishing for these more, especially, you know, actually closer to home.

From Chris Brehm: Started the month fishing the Lower Sacramento near Redding. Got some beauties fishing Bubble Back Caddis and Peaches and Cream nymphs under indicators.  Went to Crane Prairie for the opener and got our son into some nice Cranebows inspite of rather slow fishing. Action on  Balanced Leeches and Rootbeer colored Chironomids.

From Dave Kilhefner: I’ve really taken my lumps this winter steelhead season. Finally some showed up in the upper Sandy for a few weeks. It was fun while it lasted!

From Greg O’Brien: Another club member and I hit the lower Deschutes to swing flies with trout spey gear.  It wasn’t lights out, but we got a few decent fish on sculpin patterns.

From Darryl Huff: I was able to squeeze in three trips to Warm Springs in the first week after the opener. Fishing was definitely good with perdigons leading the way as the most productive fly. Perdigons tied with Glo Brite Floss in Fl Highlander Green #13 consistently outperform all other colors for me. Water temps reaching 50 degrees seems the magic number to stimulate fish movement into faster water and increased feeding activity. My size 14 nymphs were for the most part completely ignored. The magic combination in most water was a size 16 with a 3.5 bead on the point, and a size 16 or 18 as the upper fly with a 3.0 bead. Fish were also caught on Walt’s Worm, Golden Stone, Jimmy Leg Stone, Rainbow Warrior, and Frenchies. 

From Ed Rabinowe: This beauty took a wooley bugger at tide change 😉

From Bob Beswich: Just a quick D report, no Stone flies in the Maupin area yet. I managed to land a few nice trout in the riffles with a nymph dropper; while it rained Saturday.

From Richard Harvey: The OFC properties have been good all month with warm water fish starting to get active. 

From George Krumm: Spring Chinook gear fishing has been great in the places that are open above Bonneville.

Great job everyone and thanks for sending in your reports!

May 2022 Presidents Message

Frankly, fishing last month was on the tough side. The crazy weather unsettled the local lakes and had the river levels bouncing up and down like a pogo stick. Still, I got out fishing when I could and had a few surprisingly good days for steelhead, and these days any good day for steelhead is a big surprise! As I’m writing this the sun is shining, all the trees have leaves and the nice spring weather raises my hopes for good fishing to come; May is one of my personal favorite fishing months!

When we had that one nice day last month luck was with me I ended up being part of a future episode of Angler West TV & a Salmon Trout Steelheader YouTube video, which is online now. I’m on from 5:40 to 8:30, click the link above if you want to check it out. I’m talking about swinging beads for steelhead, which was taught to my by master angler Phil Senatra, plus you can see my crazy boat.

We don’t have a speaker for our May 17th meeting as High Rocks had a big group book the meeting room and more power to them during these tough times! We can still have an informal & fun “flies and lies” meeting down by the fireplace. The “first beer free” rule will still apply.

Our May 21st Fish A Long will be at Clear Lake on Mt Hood. The last couple years its fished very well in May and by the time we have our fish a long it will have been stocked with thousands of trout varying from standard planters to brood stock hogs. While it’s possible to catch fish from shore, its best fished from a float tube and this time of year the best patterns are chironomids & callibaetis fished slow or small leeches stripped & trolled.

Good fishing reports are startig to roll in from the Deschutes. No big bug action yet but nymph fishing has been fair to good. Darryl reports a #16 green Perdigon has been best. Rich reports the OFC lakes are starting to fish very well and besides trout, the warmwater fish are getting active. Eric & Jack at NWFFO have been getting some nice bass pre-spawn largemouths recently. Being a steelhead nut, I have foolish hopes that summer steelhead will be cruising in the Clackamas. Early summer steelhead are the best fish of the year and since most folks are either chasing spring chinook or heading to the Deschutes it’s common to have the river to yourself.

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 “May” or “June” and you’ll get all the past reports for that month. 

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. Here’s a link to the Shad Fly: you’ll want a couple dozen of these for the June 11th Fish A Long at Bonneville.

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

April 23rd Fish A Long Report

We had wonderful weather for our April 23rd Fish A Long at Schmadeke Pond and it was very well attended. However, the fishing was a little slow and this was forshadowed by a report from Vickie Loftus, who guided CFF member Peter Lymm to his first stillwater trout the day before. Vickie reported the recent rains and cold fronts have chilled the water to 51 degrees and put the fish down for a while. Bites were slow in coming and when they did happen, short takes were common. This was our experience too.

On the good side, most of the trout were pretty big, everyone had some action plus not everyone struggled to catch fish. So the silver lining on this slow bite day was we learned some valuable new stuff as Mike Shiiki & son Nathaniel tube-trolled a small black leech on intermediate line and consistently hooked fish all day long. Mike says this is a really good technique on Timothy Lake as well.

Their hot fly was Egan’s Half-Wit Leech. Click the link for tying instructions.

I tried to imitate Mike & Nathaniel’s tube-trolling approach after lunch but couldn’t quite pull it off as I got a cramp in my leg. But I did find something that worked OK, slow trolling a white leech 10 feet under an indicator (much of Schmadeke Pond is 12 feet deep). I have seen this technique in the past and decided to give it a try today & started getting bites with some consistency. FYI, it’s also supposed to be a good tactic for bass when they are not very active; it’s called the “float n fly” technique.

It was a little strange that leeches were the only fly that was working well as I stomach pumped a couple trout and the only thing in their stomaches were Chironomids. Mysteries are part of fly fishing!

Around 3:30 fish started rising pretty good in the shaded area along the far side of the lake and I was able to get a nice one on top with a Shipman Buzzer. While different looking, it’s easy to tie and very effective, imitating a hatching chironomid. Plus it floats very well, making it an excellent dry fly for suspending a pupa pattern on a dropper.

Thanks to everyone for coming and making this Fish A Long a success. Next months Fish A Long will be at Clear Lake on Mt Hood. Hope to see you there!

CFF February & March 2022 Fishing Repots

We didn’t have many February Fishing Reports so February and March are combined, but somehow we managed to put together some really good stuff. As always, pictures first with the reports below.

March:

From Ian Porteous: I don’t think I’ve ever tried harder for a fish! I’ve been fishing for weeks and missed one at the run before and thought that was it. Then I got this one!

From Dave Doble: No fly fishing for me in March. In March I change over to springer fishing. Just for bragging purposes, here is my first springer of the year! (Congrats Dave!)

From Chris Brehm: I started the month fishing the Owens River near Bishop California and managed a few small Browns on Zebra Midges. Fishing for Bull Trout in Lake Billy Chinook is always fun in March. This beauty took a stonefly nymph at the Deschutes Fishalong. Back to Lake Billy Chinook to celebrate friend Neil’s 15th Birthday. Can’t get the smile off his face!

From George Krumm: Fishing was pretty good at Lake Billy Chinook; I fished it 5 times in March. Large baitfish flies fished on fast-sinking lines like the 300-grain RIO Striper on 8-weight rods worked. All fish were released, and I encourage everyone to release those fish, even though it isn’t required by law.

From Ed Rabinowe: I wanted to see and fish the San Juan. Did that with lots of other folks. Fishing was great; catching not so good!

From Dave Kilhefner: I’d been on a major steelhead dry spell, so I’ve been fishing with gear. Then after work on St Patricks day got 2. I’ve had regular success since then (with spoons).

February:

From Trux Dole: The only Fishing I got in was that guided day with Dave Johnson on the Wilson steelheading bobber & jigs. The only fish of the day was caught by my buddy caught on a blue hot shot litterally within sight of the takeout!

From Chris Brehm: Caught and released one Steelhead on the Sandy, one on the Umpqua, and two on the Clackamas including this one on a jig under a float. My friend got this one on the Umpqua. First cast with a Thomas lure.  Had a few non eventful fly fishing trips and finished the month watching others catch fish on a quick stop at Pyramid Lake Nevada.

From Darryl Huff: Found a large colorful steelhead on the upper Sandy. It’s been pretty slow on the lower River.

From Rhona Dallison: got my first steelhead nymph fishing on Eagle Creek! Sorry no pics !

From Jim Bennett: I built a fly tying vice. Now I need to remember how to use it!

Great job everyyone and thanks for submitting a report!

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.
https://clackamasflyfishers.org/2019/05/14/fly-tying-may-2019/

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)
https://mossycreekflyfishing.com/blogs/fly-tying/d-rib-nymph
V-Rib Chironomid tutorial (red chironomid with white bead and antron gills)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBwpPdpufMs
Chironocone (red V-rib sno cone chironomid; peacock herl thorax ); In The Riffle tutorial
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9CPsNVBg-8
V-Rib Chromie Chironomid (spacing the V-Rib wraps over flashabou underbody)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cWqqZRlYeg

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:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2cbPXxvxRI
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)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXSEyvkqORQ
Phil Rowley: Advanced Chironomid Tactics Class (1 hour 25 minutes; excellent info; technical glitches and less than perfect audio in places)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cj8kV2P9RvQ

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.