Fishing Reports

9 reports totalpages: 1 2 Next >>
Grande Ronde River - October 26th, 2012
  • Recorded:
  • Rain
  • 54 ° F 
  • Fishing: Good

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


 
Grande Ronde River - November 9th, 2011
  • Recorded:
  • Mostly sunny
  • 46 ° F 
  • Fishing: Good

Just got back from a great trip to the Grand Ronde River. I go every year to this remote area of Oregon/Washington to test new equipment, relax after a busy season and to chase the great northwest steelhead that ascend this river every year. 

            The weather was really pretty good for us considering the time of year. Once November rolls around, all bets are off and you could see any kind of weather. You just have to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. The weather was great when we arrived with morning temperatures in the mid 30’s followed by clear sunny days with mid-day temperatures in the 60’s. As days passed, the weather started to change with clouds moving in and the average daily temperatures started to drop. By our last day, the morning temperature was a chilly 26 degrees with a light snow falling and daytime high that only made it into the low 40’s.

            The water was also in good shape when we showed up running about 800cfs, clear and with a temperature in the mid 40’s. As the days past and daily temperatures dropped, the water temperature also plummeted to a chilly 38 degrees, always making catching fish a little tougher on the swing.

            The fishing reports as well as the fish count numbers over the dam were not very good so far this season. Anglers were having some pretty good success in the middle of October in the lower river, but none of the reports were as good as recent years past in the same time frame. Because of the time of year and the dropping air and water temperatures, we swung sink tips and weighted flies through our favorite runs and did pretty well finding 2 – 6 fish a day. Better than most according to the creel checker we would talk to every day, but probably due to the fact that we fish hard most days covering a lot of water and our use of sink tips and weighted flies making sure we were close to the bottom and the fish.

            The numbers of hatchery fish are down and the number of wild fish is on the rise, so our catch rate of wild vs. hatchery was close to 50/50 this year, when normally it’s more like 75% hatchery and 25% wild. The great thing was the average size of the fish we did catch, was bigger than normal with a lot more fish in the 29 to 31 inch range.

            We tried a lot of different flies through our days of fishing including a number of new 2012 patterns we were testing, but the most productive flies were leech type patterns that were black and weighted. Moal Leeches, Articulated Rabbit Leeches, Craft Fur Stinger Flies and String leeches all tied in black produced the most fish. 

            The best thing about fishing the Grande Ronde River is not the numbers or size of the fish, but the river environment itself. It’s pretty awesome to be standing in such a beautiful river fishing for an amazing fish, in the bottom of a stunningly rugged canyon with deer grazing on one hillside and Big Horn Sheep on the rocky cliffs across the river and a Bald Eagle sitting in a tree on the bank watching you cast. It doesn’t get any better than that!…..Unless you have a fish on, then it would be a little better.

 

The Patient Angler                    patientangler.com

Peter Bowers

           
 
Grande Ronde River - November 15th, 2010
  • Recorded:
  • Mostly cloudy
  • 45 ° F 
  • Fishing: Good
Thu and I just got back from our annual steelhead trip to the beautiful Grande Ronde River. The river had been running lower and warmer than usual for most of the summer, and didn’t really get any water to raise the level and cool the river until October when fish started moving in and the fishing started to pick up a bit. There was a burst of good fishing mid October when the water was running around 800cfs, but the fishing soon slowed down. What the river needed was another flush of water to move new aggressive fish up the river. I got my wish, and a week before our trip the rain started to fall causing the river to jump up to around 1300cfs. As the days passed before our trip, the river started dropping, approaching the average water level of around 800cfs for this time of year, and I started getting excited about the prospect of fresh fish in the river along with good water conditions to fish in. The weather prediction for the area during our trip was a mixture of clouds, rain, and possible snow with breaks of sunshine, which is the norm for this time of year. You never really know what you’re going to get, until you get there. I’ve been there in November when it was T-shirt weather, and times when it was 30 degrees as a high with ice in the river. We ended up having pretty good weather to fish in on this trip, with mostly cloudy skies, a few rain showers and a few days that were mostly sunny. We did have a hard rain on our second night that caused a bump in the water level for a couple of days, which turned off the bite. As soon as the water dropped back down to 800cfs level, the fishing picked up and we started hooking fish again.

  When we arrived to the higher water conditions and the local reports of slow fishing, we immediately set up with sink-tips and weighted leech patterns to get down. We had arrived early enough on the first day that we could get a couple of hours of fishing in before dark. It didn’t take long after stepping into the water before Thu was calling my name with a bent rod and a line taking steelhead on the other end. After a quick picture and release, I headed back down to my spot and just as I got my line out picking up where I left off, Thu called out “Fish On” again, and I was headed back upstream to give her a hand. After getting back into the water, I soon hooked a fish of my own, but it was short lived, as it came unbuttoned after the first run. We soon ran out of daylight and had to call it a day, but we felt pretty good about the number of fish in the river and the potential for our week to come, based on the action we had had in the last couple hours. We hooked a couple of fish the next day, but the rain started to fall and continued throughout the night leaving us with a rising river in the morning. The water continued to rise throughout the day and into the next before the river started to drop. We still fished hard through the days of high water, but couldn’t find a willing fish until the river started dropping a few days later. Once the water started approaching normal water levels, we started hooking fish with regularity again. The fishing was a lot slower that last season (one of the best runs ever), but we were happy with the 5 or 6 pulls a day we were getting. Most of the steelhead we caught ranged in size from 5 – 10 lbs, with some of them colored up like a rainbow and some were bright as a dime.

  The most memorable steelhead of the trip was a really nice chrome bright wild fish that came to my fly while I was following Thu through a run. I was taking my time one morning, working a stinger fly called the Town Run through one of my favorite pieces of water with a sink-tip. I had just hooked and lost a fish about 10 minutes before and was still amped up and ready for another when I had the slightest tug on my line as my fly swung through the sweet spot. I though that I must have ticked one of the many boulders that cover the bottom of this beautiful piece of swinging water, but just to make sure I decided to make a few more casts through the area. The next two casts glided smoothly through the area without a bump and I again thought it must have been a rock or maybe just an aggressive bull trout that took a nip at my fly. I decided to make one more cast and then move on, and it turned out to be the right choice. On the next swing, I felt another little bump as my fly swung through target area, and this time I was sure it was a steelhead inspecting my fly. So I launched another cast out to the same spot, made my mend, and wham! What felt like a big heavy fish hammered my fly and took off down stream. When I finally turned the fish, I was into my backing and was having a difficult time working this fish back upstream. After a bit of give and take, I was able to work this nice wild fish back up and into softer water so I could land him. He was that big, bright, super strong wild fish that you are always looking for, but rarely find. The fish that makes your trip and the one that keeps you coming back for more.

  Time seems to go by so fast when your out on the river having fun in one of the most beautiful places in Oregon/Washington, but we are already looking forward to next years trip.

The Patient Angler        patientangler.com

Peter Bowers
 
Grande Ronde River - February 17th, 2010
  • Recorded:
  • Mostly sunny
  • 51 ° F 
  • Fishing: Great
Grande Ronde and Snake Rivers

                I got the opportunity at the beginning of the month to fish the Snake and Grande Ronde rivers, with Jay and a group of his Idaho buddies, on an annual trip they have been doing for several years.  It is a good 8 hour drive from central Oregon to the southeast corner of Washington, but a good book on cd makes the drive very easy.

                I had broken my Z-Axis 6126 at the end of December, and had it off to be repaired, but it showed up the day before we left.  A good omen!  While driving through the last of civilization in Washington, we witnessed the mother of all mullets! We should have stopped to take a picture, but just being in it’s presence was good enough.  Another good omen!  As we were driving up the Snake canyon, we saw a Bald Eagle flying the river.  A triple warning of signs of great things to come.

                We rolled into camp early afternoon on Friday, and after a thirst quenching beer, and a “Hey, how you been?” shot or two, we were able to wet a line.   Casting a rod into a river the size of the Snake is a bit intimidating, but it felt good to be swinging.  At last light, Jay landed a spunky 24”er.  It was only the beginning!  We fished hard for the next few days with incredible success.  We both swung and nymphed, but both techniques were equally effective.  For the record, Jay nymphed a heck of a lot more than I did.  Our trailing hook, marabou fly was the time proven success it always has been.  Rubble legs and large Prince nymphs worked, but egg patterns were the wet fly of choice.   Spey rods in 6 and 7 wts, and single handers in 7 and 8 wts were the rods of choice.  A versitip line with added T-8 and T-14 tips rounded out our arsenals.

                What an incredibly beautiful area!  Elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, bald and golden eagles, and raptors were just a few of the animals we saw that made the canyon a very special place.  While this was my first trip to this country, it will certainly not be my last.  Thanks to Josh, Pat, Mike, Nick, Seth, Brian, and especially, Jay for a weekend that won’t be forgotten any time soon!

 

Reed Teuscher

The Patient Angler              patientangler.com
 
Grande Ronde River - November 12th, 2009
  • Recorded:
  • Mostly cloudy
  • 50 ° F 
  • Fishing: Great
 Just got back from the second best steelhead trip to the Grande Ronde River I’ve ever had. Thu and I spent ten glorious days fishing the beautiful waters of the Grande Ronde and enjoying the abundant wildlife of the area. (Now I’m paying for it, working late in the office the last three days playing catch up.) As with any steelhead river connected with the Columbia Basin, the numbers of fish in the Snake and Grande Ronde River are far above normal, so we had high expectations playing tug-of-war with a lot of steelhead.

  After driving all day through rain showers and snow on the passes and worrying about water conditions, we arrived to find mild conditions in the canyon with a light overcast and the water in good shape running around 1050cfs, clear and 45 degrees. The weather turned out to be nicer than the forecasts predicted for our trip, with morning temps around 35 degrees and daytime temps in the 50 to 60 degree range with mostly overcast conditions. Just the way we steelheaders like it, and the steelhead too for that matter.

  It took a few days to fish through most of our favorite runs and find where the fish were holding at this water level, but after day three we had a good feeling about which spots were consistently holding fish. We call these spots our A water, runs we had to work a little harder to get fish our B water, and any run or water we didn’t normally fish our C water. We would hit A water at first light, B & C water in the middle of the day and finish each day with one of our A waters again. Thu and I had some great fishing, hooking and landing steelhead every day. The numbers of fish we hooked each day ranged from a low of 2 fish to a high of 16 fish, with an average of 7 or 8 hook-ups per day. Most of the fish we were catching fell in the 24 to 27 inch range, but Thu held the bragging rights for our trip by landing two fish that were 30 inches or more.

  One of the things I love the most about the Grande Ronde is being able to fish a great steelhead river while surrounded by the abundant wildlife that inhabits the area. Black bears, Deer, Elk, Big Horn Sheep, Cougars, Wild Turkeys, Chukar, Pheasants, Quail, Minks, Beavers and Bald Eagles all call the Grande Ronde canyon home and can be seen on a daily basis.  At first light one morning, Thu and I were walking across a field to get to our first run of the day, when I heard a thrashing noise to the right that caught my attention. I looked over and was shocked to see a very large 6x6 Bull Elk standing under an apple tree about 25 yards away, raking his antlers through the tree branches knocking apples off and eating them from the ground. Evidently, we were downwind of the elk and all the tree raking noise the elk was making must have covered the sound of us walking across the field and unknowingly getting really close. (How come this never happens if you go out and hunt for them?) We just stood there watching for a minute and all of a sudden he must have winded us and jumped out from under the tree and faced us with a couple big snorts. Immediately I’m thinking we’re going to be in the next episode of “When Wild Animals Attack Videos” show on cable.  But thankfully, the big bull just turned bolted from the field and crashed up the hill and into the trees.

  Thu and I were both fishing the Sage Z-Axis & Winston BIIX 7wt spey rods, matched up with 500 grn Skagit lines and sink-tips. We fished all different types of flies on the swing, but caught most of our fish on leech type patterns tied with either rabbit or marabou, my marabou stinger fly and a new fly we are stocking called the Hoh Bo Spey designed by Charles St. Pierre. Most of the fish came on flies that were black, purple and blue or combinations of those, but we also got a few fish on flies with pink or red in them and for Halloween I tied some black & orange spey flies that we caught fish on.

  It’s amazing how fast 10 days goes by when you’re having fun. We weren’t on the road home for more than 15 minutes before we were already making plans for next years Grande Ronde adventure.

The Patient Angler              patientangler.com

Peter Bowers  
 
Grande Ronde River - November 11th, 2008
  • Recorded:
  • Mostly sunny
  • 63 ° F 
  • Fishing: Good
  Just got back from a couple weeks out on the water looking for the elusive steelhead. I spent the first eight days on the Grande Ronde River with my girlfriend Thu. Thu shares my love for the outdoors and loves spending her days on the water learning to fly fish. Her new passion has been learning the art of casting a spey rod. I have to take my hat off to her and her ability to spend countless hours on the water with more concern for making the perfect cast than actually catching a steelhead. She’s hooked one before but never landed one and our goal was to get Thu her first steelhead on our Grande Ronde trip.

  We had great weather with sunny skies and air temps in the 60’s. The water was in great shape running around 700cfs and water temps in the mid 40’s. The reports we were getting from the folks we talked to on the river, was that the fishing had been slow and very slow if you’re fly fishing. The silver lining to the word getting out about the fishing being slow was the lack of angling pressure on the river. I think that worked to our benefit, because all week we were able fish wherever we wanted with little competition for runs and less pressured fish. Contrary to other anglers luck, we did pretty well hooking at least two fish every day. Three days we caught three fish and our best day we hooked five fish and landed four. Our best day was also the day Thu landed her first steelhead. We were fishing through a long run (we now call Thu’s run) and I was working with Thu on her spey cast and mending techniques. After working through 200yds of water, Thu’s casting was really coming together and she was in the groove covering water with perfect swings. Just as I turned my back to step out of the water to say hi to a customer that pulled-up roadside, Thu’s line went tight and she was hooked-up. Thu fought the fish well and brought her first big beautiful steelhead to hand for a picture.

  The next morning we were fishing Thu’s run at first light and I spotted a couple big Horn Sheep coming over the top of the 1500ft vertical mountainside across the river and slowly worked their way down toward the water. It took the sheep a couple hours to work their way down to the water directly across the river from us, so we got out of the water to give them a little more breathing room. At this point they were only 40 yards away across the river and we thought it was pretty bold of them to come down and drink right across from us. To our surprise, they jumped into the water and started to swim across to us. We stood there in amazement as they exited the water just 20 yards from us and started grazing on the waters edge. They kept an eye on us, but didn’t seem worried and after 20 minuets they moved up the bank and across the road and up the other mountainside. I was glad I had my camera with me, because I’m not sure I would believe the story myself if I didn’t see the pictures.

  I love the Grande Ronde not only for it’s steelhead run, but also for it’s beauty and abundance of wildlife that surrounds you every day. We saw Big Horn Sheep, Deer, Wild Turkeys, Beaver, Skunk, Minks, and Bald Eagles to name a few of gods creatures we had the pleasure of sharing the river with. 

  Thu fished the Winston BIIX 7wt. spey and I cast my Sage Z-Axis 7wt. spey. We both used Skagit lines with sink tips and assorted weighted leech patterns, mostly in black and purple colors, to catch our fish.

  I’m always a little sad when my annual Grande Ronde trip comes to an end, but it’s always comforting to know I’ll be back again next year.

 

The Patient Angler       patientangler.com

Peter Bowers
 


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