Another great fish a long is in the books! Last weekend we
traveled to the Justesen Ranch Lakes located by Grass Valley. The weather was
very nice and the fishing was good and the company even better. Everyone had a
very good time.
We stayed in a nice farm house and had a hearty dinner of
Sloppy Joes and Ceasar Salad provided by Cheryl Kilhefner. We also had a great
apple cake for desert provided by John Warren’s wife Linda. A big thank you to
everyone that chipped in with food, snacks and spirits!
The fishing was a mix of hot action at times mixed with
periods of selective trout when a different kind of bug started hatching,
giving us all a riddle to figure out…or not!
On Sunday the fish went selective on us and while they were
jumping everywhere, we could not buy a strike! On this day Trux Dole earned top
honors for staying with it and finding the hot fly: a blue damsel dry pattern
that the fish absolutely hammered.
For subsurface patterns, most of the time the hot fly was a
Red Snow Cone Chironomid fished about six feet under and indictor. When that
stopped working casting and stripping green damsel nymphs drew strikes. Green
Devils and Callebaetis nymphs also worked well.
This weekend the water temperature was in the mid 60’s producing good damselfly and mayfly activity. And as always, Chironomids were a stillwater staple. Some of the lakes have very clear water and have better dry fly/hatch matching opportunities. Other lakes have a higher nutrient load and while the water isn’t as clear, they have better subsurface fishing as the fish are not as picky. One of the best things is Justesen Ranch offers many lakes to choose from so there is no shortage of water to explore.
The Clackamas Fly Fishers board retreat at Rocky Ridge was a big success with many large trout landed. The wind was blowing hard but the trout were on the bite. There’s lots of room on the Rocky Ridge schedule so get over there!
Don Lewis traveled to Yakutat to fish for steelhead with his son Gary. They had a great father/son trip and hooked many steelhead!
In mid April Chris Dudley made the journey to Omak Lake to fish with his sister Cynthia and other friends. The fishing was a little slow with 6 fish landed in two days, but all the fish were big! The best techniques were slow trolling a woolly bugger on an intermediate line or suspending balanced leeches below an indicator. Wind was a problem for the pontoon boats so most fish were taken from shore on this trip.
Chris Dudley and his son Jason and fished Justesen Ranch Lakes April 19-21, with four pairs of fathers and sons. They did very well with suspended leeches, chironomids and dark woolly buggers, but by far the best fly was the Jolly Rancher, obtained a the Deschutes River Fly Shop in Maupin. The largest was 22 inches, with many at 16-19″. A great time had by all. The best chironomid patterns were chrome, snow cone and black in medium sizes fished just before dark.
Darryl Huff fished the Warm Springs section of the Deschutes when it opened on Monday April 22nd. The water was high running at 6300 CFS but the color was ok. Crowds were expected but the high water and Monday opener kept most away. No single fly was best Darryl caught trout plenty of 12-18″ trout on the san juan worm, zebra midge, blue perdigon, olive sculpin, glow bug plus multiple stone fly patterns.
Paul Brewer and Dave Kilhefner fished some of the Justesen Ranch Lakes (there are a lot of them!) this past weekend (Oct 6 and 7). After fishing Saturday we stayed at the Shaniko Lake cabins. Besides being a nice place to stay, we were right next to several good trout lakes that we fished on Sunday. It’s a nice setup and we are planning a Fish-A-Long there in the spring.
Fishing was good for rainbow trout in the 14 to 20 inch range and we each landed 20+ trout both days. The two best tactics were casting & stripping/twitching Green Devils and fishing Chironomids under an indicator about 6’ deep.
We did a stomach pump and found dragon & damsel nymphs along with chironomid larva & pupa.
You need a float tube to fish these lakes as much of the shoreline is surrounded by cattails. It was chilly with a cool breeze blowing both days so layers of warm clothing were a must. The water temps at the lakes ran from 50 to 55 degrees and the water was very clear.
Besides good fishing, we had good wildlife viewing and saw lots of deer and turkeys.