This months Fish A Long was about more than fly fishing. Besides catching fish in a beautiful coastal forest setting, we had a steak lunch, camp fires plus some very good weather.
Several of us decided to have a long weekend, starting off with a late lunch at Copper River in Hillsboro on Thursday before hitting Howell Ponds for Bluegill. We fished for a few hours then headed to Rainier Lakes, arriving about 8pm, pitched camp and started a fire.
On Friday we slept in then enjoyed coffee and conversation around camp. There didn’t seem to be any reason to rush as the early morning anglers were not catching anything, so we eased into the day and started fishing around 10:30 then quit for lunch at 2:30, all of us doing pretty good on Chironomids, both cast & slowly strip or dangled under an indicator. With the warmer weather many of the trout were six to eight feet down in the cooler, deeper water near the dike.
We made a run to Longview and had a late lunch at this great place called Porky’s then picked up a few supplies for our Saturday lunch at Fred Meyer.
On Saturday I went down the hill to open the gate, made coffee and waited for people to arrive from 7:45 to 8:30 while listening to an Audible book. It was a relaxing way to start the day.
With the warm weather all week the bite was a little slow but everyone got fish.
The best flies were Red V-Rib Chironomids, Brown Snow Cone Chironomid and an Olive Chironomid w/red tail, all around size 12-14.
Our steak lunch was a big hit and we had a perfect day for it. Afterwords several of us had a strong case of food coma. This lead to the invention of a new effective technique; dock nymphing. This is nothing more than being too lazy to put back on your waders and fins to float tube, so you sit on the dock, soak an indicator rig close by and tell jokes & lies until a cooperative fish comes along. It’s surprisingly effective!
The weather turned cooler on Saturday evening. Sunday dawned cool & cloudy. We each caught a few in the morning before packing up and heading home.
Thanks to everyone for coming and making this months Fish A Long a success!
Our fish a longs are starting to morph into some first rate guys weekends! Rich came up with idea to head out Friday & camp at the lake. But first we’d stop at the newly opened Smokehouse Chicken & Guns in Gales Creek before hitting Howell Pond (we didn’t want to soremouth the fish in Schmedeke before the fish a long). It was a great place to fuel up before fishing.
Fishing at Howell Pond wasn’t hot but we all got some nice fish up to 19 inches. Rich stuck to throwing small “no see um” dries to match a hatch of small dark midges while Dave & I got our fish on leeches.
After fishing we had good burgers at the Gales Creek Tavern before driving to Schmedeke Pond to camp for the night.
Saturday dawned a little misty with drizzle off and on thru the morning.
Woke at 7am with a call from Chris B who got to the lake early. His extra effort paid off with a 27 inch piggy rainbow that took a brown balanced leech in the morning.
The afternoon weather was very pleasant with little or no wind and the perfect amount of cloud cover to keep the fish focused on the surface. The trout rose all day to larger sized “bomber” midges, but they were very picky! Rich solved the fly pattern riddle and got 18 fish on dries. A Midge Cripple was the best pattern with Griffitts Gnat a close second.
Midge pupa patterns fished close to the surface produced too but it was a grind. Most of the trout were good sized and we all agreed the effort was worth it.
Since the weather was nice Rich & I decided to stay one more night. The next day we ran into some locals that had the bomber hatch wired using a foam “suspended” midge pattern that hung vertically in the surface film. Those picky fish loved them.
This fish a long was very well attended. It was great to see everyone having a good time on the water. Thanks to everyone for coming!
With all the cold weather this winter some of us had a good case of cabin fever and decided to have a multi-day camping trip rather than a one day fish a long.
Rich got the river on Thursday afternoon and enjoyed some good fishing, getting a couple nice sized redsides on streamers before the afternoon wind blew him off the river. I arrived about the time the wind was in full force so I found Rich and we had an early dinner at the Riverside. The big news was tonight we were able to see the Northern Lights. I’ve never heard of them being visible this far south before, but according to NASA the sun emitted the strongest solar flare in the past five years and the Northern Lights were visible as far south Phoenix, Arizona.
On Friday the fishing was dead; as in totally dead. The big winter storm front rolled thru and nobody touched a fish. Darryl got a take down that didn’t stick. That was it for the Friday crew. Fortunately Rich and I thought ahead and made dinner reservations at the Riverside and we all enjoyed a well earned hot delicious meal after battling that epically slow bite, chilly weather and a strong Deschutes canyon wind.
Saturday was much better. In addition to the six people camping out at Harpam Flats on Friday night four more showed up. The winter storm that shut down the bite on Friday also made driving conditions a little sketchy going over the mountain so most people drove up the gorge and dropped down from The Dalles. With the water temp at 45 degrees the morning bite was pretty slow but it picked up in the afternoon and the fish got interested in a decent Blue Wing Olive hatch. Darryl got one on a dry but everything else was a subsurface show. Afterwards we had dinner at The Rainbow.
Sunday dawned sunny and calm. A couple of us considered fishing the whole day but the wind came up early and personally, I was glad as it got me home at a reasonable hour. Looking back it was great to get out of town, catch a few fish and enjoy some good restaurant meals. It was another fun and successful Fish A Long, thanks to everyone for coming!
The Trask River is just a fun river to fish! It’s shallow & slow enough for easy wading. The fishy spots, basically the deep & shady water, is easy to see and cast to. When the strike comes its solid and leaves no doubt.
We fished at the OFC property on the lower river not far from tidewater. We need some rain to bring in the main push of sea runs but we managed to get a few in the 14” range along with the smaller resident cutthroat. Mike brought his float tube and did well in the pond, catching several 18” plus rainbows trolling leeches.
We had perfect weather all weekend long and several of us camped at the Trask River County Park. It’s a very nice campground located upstream above the mile 11 marker. We went all out on the food this weekend with bbq brauts for lunch and New York steaks for dinner. The fire ban was lifted so we had a nice campfire at night. It was a real good time!
The next fish a long is October 22nd at Beavertail Campground on the Deschutes River. Hope to see you there.
It’s not every day, year or even decade that you get a 26” rainbow on a dry fly, but last weekend the stars aligned and that’s what happened on Hosmer Lake. It’s a catch to remember and making it happen was a team effort, which I’ll explain at the end of this report.
Most of us arrived Thursday evening for a dinner of BBQ Chicken cooked by Lane & Laura. It was a little too late to do any fishing so we took a walk along the Fall River, which was just up the road.
Friday we hit Hosmer Lake and the weather was perfect. The fishing was good too but you had to be on your toes, all day the fish kept shifting gears. They’d go on and off the bite, hatches changed plus there were lots of short strikes. We caught brookies, rainbows and a few cutthroat. Damsel nymphs were the best subsurface pattern. With good numbers of callibaetis mayflies hatching you’d think that would be the fly to use but this day the fish preferred ants or dry damsels. That took a while to figure out but it paid off with my biggest dry fly trout ever, a fat & hard fighting 26” rainbow.
After a long sunny day on Hosmer it was great to get back to Chris’ place and down a few cold ones before inhaling some top notch BBQ Burgers cooked by Chris. Mmmm!
Saturday we hit East Lake and Chris’ brother Steve joined us. Again, the fishing was pretty good but you had to work for your fish. We tried for the numerous cruisers in the morning and while it was fun to cast to them, mostly they ignored your flies. Getting a follow & rejection was a small victory. Most of the fish we caught on East were rainbows but there were some small brookies mixed in and even a Kokanee. Damsel nymphs on an intermediate line worked OK but most strikes didn’t stick and strangely, most of the fish taken this way were small. Steve had this great beetle pattern and he brought enough for everyone. Today, we mostly pounded the banks with beetles. It worked good, got the bigger fish plus its just a fun way to fish.
It was a hot day on East so after chugging a few cold ones we had a delicious dinner of Flank Steak provided by Laura, then washed it down with “the good stuff” provided by Lane. We finished the eveing with a game of scrabble while flicking beetles off the table. Theres a lot of beetles so it’s no wonder that fly works so well.
Sunday we enjoyed a delicious pancake breakfast cooked by Chris. After we were stuffed to the gills with good food we went to Crane Prairie Reservoir, putting in at Quinn River launch. It was another sunny, mostly windless day. The preferred strategy on Crane is to suspend balanced leeches under an indicator in the channel. Laura got a takedown about 5 seconds after we started fishing but it didn’t stick. We all had a few strikes that didn’t stick! Lane landed a nice fish on a damsel nymph fished on an intermediate line. Since we had to drive home we wrapped it up early and got on the road.
This fish a long was really a team effort, both in terms of catching nice fish, eating good food and having a great time. Naturally I’d like to say I got that big rainbow on a dry because I’m such a good angler and luck didn’t have anything to do with it, but the truth is I couldn’t have done it without my CFF team. Chris put together a top notch fish a long and got us down there. Then he put me in the right spot on Hosmer Lake. Finally, I never would have had any dry damsel patterns in my fly box if Trux Dole hadn’t figured out that trout get focused on flying damsels & sometimes ignore other good hatches when the damsels are out in force, which he did several years ago at the Justesen Ranch fish a long.
Special thanks Chris for putting this together and to everyone that came and made this a fish a long to remember!
This month the Presidents Message will be combined with June Fish A Long report. The two mesh together pretty well as it’s been nearly impossible to pick decent fish a long locations in 2022 with all the colder weather & high water making for unpredictable fishing. For instance, this month we were supposed to go for Shad at Bonneville but very high water put the kibosh on that. So when Mike Shiiki texted a couple weeks ago to say he’d made it down to Lake Harriet and not only was the “catching” on fire but there were lots of big fish too, it was a huge relief to finally have a “can’t miss” spot for the fish a long.
Unfortunately, I probably jinxed the weather by buying that extra box of donuts for all the people that were going to show up to catch a bunch of big trout last Saturday. The forecast was for heavy rain and on Friday we did have what could be described as a raingear test, but on Saturday the weather was pretty nice with a mix of low then high clouds and a few sprinkles from 8am to 2:30 pm.
With the high gas prices I’ve been trying to camp out and get in an extra day of fishing whenever possible & made a plan with Rich Harvey to fish Lake Harriet Friday afternoon. The forecast was for wet weather but the road from Rhododendron the Timothy Lake was dry: it turned out to be a good sign that didn’t last. By mid afternoon the rain arrived. Fortunately we caught a fair number of trout from 11” to 18” plus Rich got the Lake Harriet trifecta, landing a cutthroat, numerous rainbows and a brown.
On weekends like this my outdoor clothing motto of “don’t buy if it’s not quick dry” really paid off and I was able to quickly dry out and get comfortable after enduring a good downpour out in my float tube.
While the campground at Harriet wasn’t full it was “fully reserved” so we drove a couple miles up the road and truck camped at Shellrock Creek camp & we were the only ones there. The rain let up at dusk and we built a nice fire and enjoyed a cold one and a cigar, but it was drippy under the trees. Then it started raining harder and harder so a little before 10 we went to bed. It was for the most part a restfull night but around 2 am driving rain woke me as it sounded like I was in a car wash ( I slept in the cab of my truck). Fortunately it didn’t last.
Saturday dawned rain free but the creek was high and flowing hard. I made the short drive to Harriet and met Dave Doble in the parking lot. Dave got geared up & started fishing while Rich and I BSed until 9:45 but no one else showed, so we got geared up and out on the lake then started catching fish right away. Better still, we had the lake to ourselves, I guess the weather forecast kept folks away. Then the clouds lifted and it got pretty nice out!
Rich stayed by the boat ramp area and I could see he was doing very well. Dave was stationed by the catwalk and he was doing well too. I kicked down around the corner and there wasn’t another soul in sight and the fish were cooperative. It doesn’t get any better!
We compared notes at the end of the day and there was really no “hot fly” as Rich was using a sparkly minnow looking fly, Dave did well on a #12 black woolly bugger and I tried various leech patterns and they all worked; the key on this day was to just get something in the water. Lots of strikes were soft and came on the drop. I missed many of them but connected with several dozen too!
Most fish were the 11-13” planters but we all landed a handful the larger rainbows up to 18” plus a brown or two. The lake was 48 degrees & the water was very clear on Friday but got colored up a bit on Saturday.
Weather was pretty nice in the morning but it got windy and rainy around 2pm so we decided to pack up and head home, otherwise we might have stayed another day and kept wearing out flies!
This month we’ll have a regular meeting at High Rocks on Tuesday, June 21st. Social hour starts at 6pm and the presentation starts at 7pm. The “first beer free” rule will still apply. Hope to see you there!
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!
During the month of October my mantra for fishing the Deschutes is “find the salmon and you’ll find the trout!” The weather can be bad, the White River can be blown but trout and whitefish can’t resist the egg bonanza when the Chinook are spawning.
Seven of us braved the chilly weather conditions and colored up water but the payoff was sweet! Everyone got into plenty of fish and most of us broke into double digits.
As an added bonus, the Bighorn Sheep were playing on the wall and Richard Harvey got a nice video of two rams chasing a ewe.
Thanks to everyone for coming! Next month we’ll try to hit the Kilchis River for Chum Salmon but if the water conditions are poor (like they have been the last 3 years!) we will go to an Oregon Fishing Club lake.
This month’s Fish A Long will be held Saturday, February
22nd on the Sandy River. The location is Dave K’s place about halfway between
Sandy and Welches.
What- Winter Steelhead
Where- Sandy River
When- 8am until lunchtime, Saturday, February 22nd
Spey or Switch Rod
Skagit Line & sink tip(s)
15lb tippet material
flies, bright patterns and dark patterns
waders & wading staff
warm, layered clothing
Directions- take Hwy 26 like you are going to Mt Hood. 10
miles past Sandy, turn left onto Sleepy Hollow Drive (there’s a big sign) and
then take the 1st left. It’s a steep gravel driveway with a black
We will have coffee, donuts and a hot lunch. This fish a
long will focus on spey casting and swung fly presentations. Questions; email
or call Dave Kilhefner. Hope to see you there!
From Tim Morton: Last month I was able to go on a bucket list trip to Patagonia. The Brown Trout is from the World End Lodge, and the Sea Run Trout is from Las Buitreras Lodge. The sea run trout was 13.5 lbs. Didn’t get the weight on the Brown,
Fish a long Report: You can see from the river level screenshot that we had some higher than normal water for our Fish a long. While this didn’t impact our spey casting, it did put a damper on our Euro Nymphing as it was hard to find any decent nymphing water. On the good side, for January we had a surprisingly warm and dry day. This made it easy to set up for morning coffee plus Chef Cheryl’s delicious lunch of homemade soup, Texas toast and salad. Thank you for everyone that came out!
From Ed Rabinowe: Duck season ended and my got a new knee. I think I have a fishing rod somewhere!
From Dave Kilhefner: Got lucky on my first steelhead trip of the year with this 12lb hen; she was a jumper! The following week I fished the Oregon Fishing Club ponds and caught a nice trout dragging a Booby Fly along the bottom. Saw another angler doing OK fishing a woolly bugger under an indicator.
Brad Jonasson and David Hopkins had a good outing to the Deschutes River by Maupin.
From Greg O’Brien: My brother visits once or twice a year to go steelhead fishing and we hire a guide to get to water we normally can’t get to on foot. We fished 2 days on the Sandy, floating from Dodge to Dabney with Travis Johnson of All Waters Angling. Monday was tough with just one solid pull & no hookup. Tuesday was a slow morning but landed a big wild hen around noon, followed by another nice wild fish in the afternoon.
From Darryl Huff: A nice wild steelhead caught just before New Years.
From Greg O’Brien: Hugo and I hit the Deschutes for a trout spey session and I got this nice one. It ate the caddis emerger dropper of a swung 2 fly rig.
From Henry Muehleck: fished the north coast with Gil Muhleman. We were gear fishing and had a great day. I hooked 8 and landed 3. Two of these were 14 to 15 pound natives. Gil is a great guide and definitely goes the extra mile to get you fish!
From George Krumm: Fished the lower Sandy with gear. Landed a couple, a smaller hen and this nice buck. The buck went to the broodstock program.