Fishing Reports

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North Umpqua River - March 11th, 2012
  • Recorded:
  • Rain and/or snow
  • 36 ° F 
  • Fishing: Good

            I’ve been away from home waters for about a month now and I was really getting the itch to swing a fly for steelhead, so Thu and I headed down to the North Umpqua last weekend to scratch that itch.  I had checked the forecast before we left and knew we were heading into some bad weather and most likely a bump in the water levels, but we were desperate to fish and went anyway.

            We arrived to find the river at a constant 1,700cfs, with that winter emerald color and a temperature of 41 degrees. We geared up and started fishing our way downriver heading for Glide where we were staying for the night. After fishing a couple of spots upriver without and luck, we were driving past camp water in the middle of the day and noticed that there was nobody fishing. Not a common sight in the most fabled waters of the North Umpqua River, so we turned around and headed for the trailhead to the camp water. We hiked down the trail and stepped into one of the most popular runs and started working our flies through the green water. I did manage to get a hookup about halfway through the run, but it was short lived. My line came tight, there was the confirming headshake of a fish with 10 feet of line slipping from my reel and then everything went slack. I hate it when that happens!!!

            We continued fishing downstream and with every little nook and cranny along the road gushing with runoff as well as all the major tributaries, we could see the river starting to get bigger and a little more off color the farther downstream we got. We opted for a hot shower, an early dinner and a couple games of cribbage (let just say, I didn’t win).

            The next day was a wet one with intermittent rain showers mixed with short heavy downpours. The river was definitely getting bigger and the flows increased close to 300cfs during the day while we were fishing. We decided to drive upstream and start in the fly water since the river seemed to be getting bigger by the hour and was pretty off color in the Glide area. We had a lazy morning and got on the water late, so when we arrived at the run we wanted to fish, there was already someone parked in the turnoff. I knew they were probably the first one through and should be about finished, so I hiked down the road to take a peak, and sure enough a spey fisherman was close to the end of the run. When the run was free, Thu & I hiked down and split up the run. We fished through run in the rising water and hooked a few really nice sea-run Cutthroats that ate our flies on the swing. As I approached the end of the run and just as I swinging what I thought would be my last cast before I reeled up to move to a new spot, a bolt of electricity shot up my line and into my rod with a hard hitting fish that just hammered my fly and scared the crap out of me. Then the fight was on! This fish jumped from the water and shot downstream ripping line from my reel well into my backing and into the tailout in seconds. There was no way I could follow the fish through the next set of rapids, so I put the heat to her thinking it was now or never, and she finally turned her head and stopped at the end of the tailout. I slowly took line and she dogged me all the way up stream with short bursts just to let me know she was still there. I finally got her around some big boulders and brought her to hand for a quick photo and release.

            We fished two other spots working our way upstream with no other takers. The weather was getting pretty bad with rain turning to snow and the water wasn’t getting any better, so we decided to call it a day and head home. There’s always another day and I was lucky enough in the short time that we fished, to get some action and land a beautiful wild North Umpqua Steelhead.

            Remember, this is the time of year when these beautiful fish start to move onto the spawning beds. Watch out for spawning fish and avoid fishing or wading over spawning beds. If you find some active fish, sit down and watch for a while. It’s amazing what you learn just buy watching them.


The Patient Angler

Peter Bowers

North Umpqua River - September 8th, 2011
  • Recorded:
  • Mostly sunny
  • 80 ° F 
  • Fishing: Fair

            Thu and I headed back down to the North Umpqua for four days during the Labor Day weekend. As you know the weather was fantastic with sunny warm days for fishing and cool nights for sleeping. The water was in great shape running around 1,000cfs in the upper river with a temperature of 50 degrees and just a little touch of color to the water. The big surprise was how few people were on the river. I don’t know if it was because it was the last weekend before schools starts, or because the fishing has been pretty slow all season, but we were happy to have a lot less pressure on the water and choice of open campgrounds. The fishing pressure did pick up on Monday with everybody having the day off, but there was still a lot of open water to fish.

            The steelhead fishing was slow for us, or average for the time we have spent on the river this season. We fished all four days, although not hard days with some late a.m. starts and the occasional nap in the afternoon, and only hooked three steelhead. The funny thing was, that all three fish were hooked on day 3 and two of them in the same run. The best part was that the run that produced the two fish for us was a run we had never fished before. This was a piece of water that I have driven by for years that always catches my eye in small glimpses through the trees and always looks inviting, but with no apparent easy access. After some more challenging hiking along the river than we expected with some major boulder hopping and bush whacking, we finally arrived at one of the many picture perfect steelhead runs on the North Umpqua that looked even better up close than I could ever imagine from the limited peak-a-boo view from the road. It’s always a little more exciting to me to search mysterious new waters never knowing where the fish might be and having to probe every nook & cranny carefully covering water with the full expectation of hooking up with every swing.  Searching new water paid off for us, saved the weekend and the mysteries of the pool were exposed a bit as the run produced two fish for us. It doesn’t happen very often, but one of the fish we hooked in that run was a bright, hot fighting hatchery fish.

            The trout seemed a little more aggressive than normal as we hooked a couple of nice size trout each day on the swing. Not the prize steelhead we’re looking for, but enough to get your heart going for a second during the take when you first think it is!

            We had a great time, as we always do on the North Umpqua.  We enjoy the camping in such a scenic place on a beautiful river and catching fish is great, but truly just a bonus for us when we are on the Umpqua.


            Just wanted to let you know if your license plate number is 395ERC, I saw you fishing down there and sporting The Patient Angler sticker on your car. You just earned 3 points on the bumper sticker program.  



The Patient Angler                

Peter Bowers

North Umpqua River - August 22nd, 2011
  • Recorded:
  • Sunny
  • 78 ° F 
  • Fishing: Good

            Thu & I went back down to the North Umpqua last weekend to camp and fish for steelhead.  Everyone keeps asking me why I’m not down on the Deschutes where the catch rates have much higher with lots of fish moving into the river, and my answer is the camping. I love camping on the North Umpqua River; sure you have to work a lot harder to find a fish, but you couldn’t find a more beautiful place to fish and camp while you’re looking for one.

            Anyway, Thu & I arrived Friday morning and fished throughout the day without a pull. We covered a lot of water but couldn’t find a willing fish. Saturday morning after making breakfast we headed out for another day in paradise with hopes of finding a bright summer fish. I skated flies all morning with Thu following behind with a sink-tip. I had lots of action and my anticipation was peaked with trout smacking my skater every twenty casts or so, but couldn’t find a steelhead that would take. While skating through the second run of the day with Thu swinging behind me about her line length away, I heard Thu call my name as a bright steelhead exploded from the water with Thu’s Marabou Madam hanging from the fishes mouth. This wild fish made three runs ending with cartwheeling jumps before Thu could bring the steelhead to hand for a quick picture and release.

Although I did switch to fishing a tip during the middle of the day, I still couldn’t find any North Umpqua love. It was day three at the very end of the day in the last run that I found a fish with my name on it. I only had 10 minutes left before the time I had set to quit fishing, when my line came tight with a solid pull and head shake of a mighty North Umpqua steelhead. It took a little give and take, but I soon had a beautiful wild hen to hand. I’m always excited about catching fish, but this fish also kept me from having to listen to Thu rubbing it in about her fish all the way home.


The Patient Angler

Peter Bowers

North Umpqua River - July 29th, 2011
  • Recorded:
  • Sunny
  • 78 ° F 
  • Fishing: Fair

            Thu & I spent a couple of days down on the North Umpqua River camping and fishing for steelhead. The weather was great with warm daytime temps and sunny skies. The river was in pretty good shape running about 1500cfs and clear, with a temperature in the low 50’s. The river has been high all spring, but has been slowly dropping for the last month or so making it a little more fishable.

            The reports for the North Umpqua so far this season have not been very good, with the high water and the slow return of fish making their way up river. Ira hooked and landed one a couple of weeks ago and we’ve had two or three other reports from customers that were lucky enough to get one on the line after a couple of days on the water. But overall the reports have been of lot of time on the water with very few fish to show for it.

            We love fishing and camping on the beautiful North Umpqua, even when there’s not a lot of fish around, so we thought we would head down and give it a try anyhow because you never know when you might find one. It’s sometimes more fun to fish when there’s not a lot of fish around because it normally means that there are less anglers around and it also makes it more challenging to find one, which in turn makes it more rewarding when you do catch one.

Anyway, we set up camp and started to get dressed to fish when we realized that we had forgotten Thu’s waders. Lucky for us the fine folks at Steamboat Inn had a pair that would fit her that we could rent while we were there. After our short delay, we finally geared up and hit our first run. We swung flies the rest of the afternoon and I switched to skaters after the sun was off the water.  No love on our first night, but it was sure nice to be swinging the North Umpqua again.

The next morning and as we climbed down the bank to our first run of the day, we saw a nice steelhead roll twice in the heart of the run as we approached the water to fish. I was set up with a skater, so I fished through first hoping that I might interest that active fish we saw, but couldn’t get him to come to my skater. Thu also fished through behind me without any action, so reluctantly we packed it up and headed off to our next spot.  

I hate leaving water when I know there’s one there, but more times than I care to count, I’ve wasted precious fishing time pounding water that I know holds fish, but never getting one to come.  As a general rule now, I just fish through water covering the best that I can and hope to find an aggressive one, and then I move on to the next run.

 Later, in the middle of the day with the sun high in the sky, I was waiting for Thu to fish through a one-person spot so I walked down the next long narrow tailout and started to lengthen line and swing through the gut of it. The tailout was a narrow shoot that ran down the other side of the river with a gravel bar in the center of the river that keeps you from swinging all the way through, so in order to swing farther down in the heart of the channel, it became a game of shooting, mending and feeding line each time to reach the small holding area. I was really just messing around and trying to see how far I could set up and control the swing through this spot that I normally would pass up, while I waited for Thu.  At around 125ft of line with nice cast and multiple funky mends to set up the swing, my fly entered the channel on a perfect slow swing on a tight line. Just as my line started to catch the faster current over the gravel bar that normally pulls my fly form the sweet spot, a really nice bright wild buck hammered my fly and immediately catapulted into a series of cartwheels, jumps and general thrashing about that left me felling totally out of control. Relief soon came as this buck settled down and moved up into the slower pool where I could put some pressure on him.  After a couple attempts to land this hot fish, he finally came to hand and after a couple of pictures, then released back into the cool clear waters of the North Umpqua.

We fish through the rest of the day and fished through a lot of good water on our last day, but couldn’t find another fish.  I did feel pretty lucky to have hooked-up with that one really nice steelhead, especially with all the slow reports, but that’s what keeps us coming back. You never really know when it’s going to happen, and it will never happen if you don’t go!

So, what are you doing reading this, Get Out And Fish! 


The Patient Angler       

Peter Bowers

North Umpqua River - March 30th, 2011
  • Recorded:
  • Showers
  • 49 ° F 
  • Fishing: Fair
  With a busy end of the year, a trip to Mexico, inventory having to be done, tax preparation demands and the fact that every chance I have had to sneak away to fish for steelhead the rivers have been out of shape with high water. I’ve been chomping at the bit to get out and swing a fly, finally, Thu & I had a chance to get out and chase steelhead on the North Umpqua River. The North Umpqua has been slow for winter steelhead this season with just a few reports of fish being caught in the upper river or “fly water” section.  The river has been a little on the low side most of the winter, but received a good amount of water from precipitation and runoff two weeks ago which gave us steelheaders the hope that the bump in water would move some fresh fish up the river. Now it was just a matter of waiting for the water level to drop into shape and making the drive. Well the river did just that over the last week so Thu and I decided to drive down for the weekend and scratch that steelhead itch.

  We left Friday afternoon so we could make it down there in time for an evening fish. We left Bend in the rain, which turned into snow on the Hwy 138 pass and back into rain when we dropped into the river basin. The weather forecast predicted rain showers all weekend, but we were hoping it wouldn’t be enough to cause the river to rise again. The River was running around 2800cfs below Steamboat creek, with  a temperature of around 40 degrees and had a little color to it. We geared up in the rain and stepped in the river splitting up one of favorite long swinging runs. Even in the rain, a calm comfortable feeling came over me as I worked my line out in consecutive swings washing away any trace of anxiety caused by my lack of time on the water. We fished until dark without a bump, but felt rejuvenated from being on the water again and headed to our lodging with anticipation for the days ahead.

  The next morning after an all night rain, I checked the river levels to see how bad it was (I never thought I would say I loved my smart phone) and to my surprise things were still looking good.  The Copeland gauge was still dropping and the Steamboat gauge was just starting to rise a little. We grabbed our coffee, hopped in the truck and started fishing our way up river from Glide. We spent, a long wet day fishing a lot of our favorite spots through what seemed like an endless rain shower. The nice thing was that the monotony of the never ending rain shower was sometimes broken up by a hard torrential rain, which retrospect made the constant rain showers not so bad. We did see an occasional glimpse of the sun, but I haven’t fished in such wet conditions for years. Thu got a solid pull in one run, but couldn’t get the fish to come back for more. Then later in the day, she snagged a sucker that had us going for a while before we realized something wasn’t right.

  I checked the water levels the next morning and the Copeland gauge was still good, but Steamboat gauge had gone up 700cfs and was still on the rise. It was good little bump in water and enough to add a little color, but not enough to blow it out.  We headed up river to fish our way home and stopped at our first run of the day just after daylight. I stepped in the water and started working out line with each swing. I’m a big fan of starting with just your leader out and slowly lengthening your line a couple of feet at a time until you get to the length you want and then you start moving down stream. This time covering the close water paid off, as a steelhead picked up my fly with only twenty feet of line out. At first I only felt a little tug followed by a slow increase of line tension and then came the tell tail sign of a steelhead with your fly stuck in his mouth, a couple of short tugs indicating the head shake of fish trying to dislodge the fly. I applied some pressure towards the bank to set the hook and the fish bolted down stream ripping line from my reel. The fish stopped after a short run and I applied more pressure and reeled in most of the line I had lost. Just as I was calling up steam for Thu and thinking this was going to be a quick catch and release, this beautiful bright steelhead came to the surface and rolled twenty feet out slapping the water and spitting my fly in the process. My line went slack and I was a little disappointed about loosing such a nice fish after everything seemed to go as planned during the hook-up, but s _ _ t happens and I still had the best part of the to go! We fished through that run and a number of other spots working our way up river throughout the day and never got another touch. At about 4:00pm I was fishing a run in the upper river when all of a sudden the water went from five feet of visibility, to five inches of visibility in only two or three minutes. I reeled up and headed back to the truck taking it as a sign from the steelhead gods that it was time to get out of the rain and go home. As we drove up river towards home I found the source of the muddy water. There have been a few mud slides along the highway that runs next to the river and a big one above Copeland Creek that crews have been working on for some time. My guess is that they must have pushed some mud off the road and into the river, since the road looked like it had been scraped clean shortly before we drove by.

  We ran into and fished with Sierra Lewis on Saturday, she’s the graduate student running the Fish Creek Steelhead Project on the North Umpqua. If you’re going down there in the next couple of weeks and want to give her a hand trying to tag some fish, get in touch with me and I’ll pass along her contact info.

The Patient Angler    

Peter Bowers
North Umpqua River - January 31st, 2011
  • Recorded:
  • Partly cloudy
  • 45 ° F 
  • Fishing: Good
Despite living within a few hours drive of the North Umpqua for the majority of the past 7 years I never actually made the trip to one of the most famous rivers in all of steelheading. I was comfortable on the Deschutes and thus focused most of my energy on fishing it. But with the recent high water putting a serious damper on my fishing time and the prospect of not fishing on my days off out of the question I figured it was time to give the Umpqua a try. I was lucky enough to have somebody who was familiar with the river to show me around and with two thermoses full of coffee we hit the road at 5:15 Sunday morning.

The plan was to drive to the bottom end of the fly water and work our way up throughout the day. The drive down through the canyon was torture as nearly every view of the river provided a view of perfect steelhead water. After passing the fly only boundary we turned around and after driving back upstream a ways pulled into the first run of the day. The Copland Creek gauge was running at 2400 c.f.s. with Steamboat Creek contributing another 1100, the water had a slight tint to it but overall was very fishable.

Since this was all unknown water to me I selected a fairly flashy intruder style fly with red flashabou and purple Rhea and Amherst spun over the top in the hopes that it would move fish from a longer distance then a more subdued pattern. Seth, the guy I was fishing with suggested a small pocket of water to fish while he was going to head off downstream to another run. With the water at the level it was I couldn't get the drift I wanted into the pocket due to a large tree hanging out over the water, so I moved below the tree and with a cast directly across stream and a large upstream mend I was satisfied with my swing. Somewhere around my fifth cast and half way into my Skagit head I felt a solid grab of a fish. Even though all the physical signs showed I had a fish on I still couldn't believe I had just hooked a North Umpqua steelhead on my fifth cast. Around the time I finally recovered from the shock of hooking a fish he was starting to get tired and I was able to guide him to shore where Seth attempted to tail him but the fish had other ideas. He quickly ran back into the current and after another battle, I was able to guide him in and tail him.

I have been steelhead fishing most of my life and while my first steelhead will always be my most memorable this fish was a close second. It wasn't that he was my largest steelhead or had the best fight in him, but to catch him on one of the most storied rivers in all of steelheading in what may be one of the prettiest river canyons I have ever seen was a memory I wont soon forget.

We spent the remainder of the day fishing our way up river and each run looked so promising that I was sure my next cast was going to be the one. It seemed that after almost every spot we fished I would declare it “one of the best looking steelhead runs I had ever fished” and while it almost became a joke I really meant it. No other river I have fished has so much water that lends itself to a swung fly so well. If you haven't checked it out already its definitely worth the drive, although be sure to pack a change of clothes, because if your like me you wont start to respect the Umpqua's reputation as a tough river to wade until sometime around your second dunking.

Ira Miller

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