Blog

October 26, 2012
Steelhead Trip to the Grande Ronde River

Thu and I ran up to the Grande Ronde River last week for our annual steelhead trip. The river had been low all summer and fishing reports for the early season were not good, but a week before our trip the rain finally came and gave the river a much needed blast of fresh water to bring fish up the river. As we had hoped, the river dropped over the next few days to a very fishable 815cfs prior to our arrival. The unfortunate thing was that the 10-day forecast showed 10% to 60% chance of rain every day and all we could do was go and hope that the river wouldn’t get blown out.

            We made good time on the drive over and arrived early enough to get settled into our lodging and still have a couple of hours of fishing time before dark. There was a steady rain falling and we thought we should take advantage of the good water conditions while we had them, not knowing when and if the conditions would change for the worst. We geared up and headed out to fish one of our favorite runs close to home. The best thing about the early slow fishing reports and the weather the previous week that had knocked the river out of shape, was that there was very little fishing pressure and we had our pick of where we wanted to fish.

            Thu stepped into the middle of the run and I started at the top to follow her through. It wasn’t long before Thu was calling out that she a big one on, so I quickly reeled up and headed downstream to give her a hand. As I was wading out to her I knew something wasn’t right about the way this obviously big fish by the extreme bend in her rod, was fighting. I had heard reports of big numbers of King Salmon in the river and the longer the fight went on, the more I was convinced she had hooked a King. After a long hard give and take battle Thu finally brought her first fly caught King Salmon to hand for a quick picture and release.

            I jumped back in the water where I had left off with only about 20 minutes of daylight left and just before dark, I hooked and landed a very bright steelhead that didn’t put up much of a fight, but was a great ending to our first evening on the water.

            The next day was awesome because we still had good water conditions, our pick of unfettered runs to fish, and willing steelhead looking up with their mouths open ready to take our flies. The weather hadn’t changed much and outside of couple of times when the sun would peek through the clouds, we pretty much fished in rain most of the day. We fished hard knowing that each day could be our last and were rewarded with one or more hook-ups in every run we fished.

            It rained most of the night and we woke to a rising river with some color and it made fishing pretty tough throughout the day. In the afternoon the river finally leveled off around 1,100cfs and we were able to hook a couple nice steelhead just before dark.

            That unfortunately was our last day on the water. It rained hard during the night and the river had risen to 2,600cfs by mid-morning and up to almost 4,000cfs by late afternoon with zero visibility. When there are logs and branches floating down the river, it’s a good indication to call it quits and head home.

 

The Patient Angler

Peter Bowers



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