Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Big Fly = Big Fish trip on the lower “D”

salmon fly on the Deschutes

Deschutes River Redside
We started our day early and arrived at Trout Creek recreation area around 9:30 A.M, of course we got lost first. There actually happens to be a sign about 10 miles from the turn off that say’s “trout creek the other way” how awesome, just wondering why they didn’t put the sign a little closer.
We tied big salmon fly imitations on our lines and got our spinning rods together and headed down the trail. First spot we stopped I caught a couple 10 inch little red bands on the salmon fly, it looked like the day was going great. After that the fishing was absolutely slow for 4 hours. In fact after catching two northern pike minnow I almost threw the towel in and quit. Good thing we didn’t quit.
As Shai was taking a nap on the trail I was watching the river closely and saw a very large red side slapping the surface in some heavy rapids next to the bank. And I also noticed that the golden stones were out and flying around and falling in the river. So what better thing to do but tie on a golden stone dry and cast it up to that big bastard. First cast and nailed it, I have been waiting a long time for that. A nice big red side tearing down the river with my fly in it's mouth. I yelled up to the road and Shai came running down to help land it. A nice 18 inch beautiful red side came to hand and was returned after a few snaps of the camera. We caught plenty more trout on golden stone dries but no more pictures we were both too busy catching to take any pictures.
Fish On!
The moral if this story is the salmon fly hatch is not what it is added up to be. The fish really like the golden stone flies better, and frankly I think they might even be scared of the big salmon fly or maybe they are sour, hell I don’t know. Just one thing certain, on June 4th 2011 the red band trout of the Deschutes river wanted to eat Golden Stonefly adults.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

5/31/11 The Ultimate Five Day Blizzard at Diamond Lake.

View of Mt. Thielson
Last time I checked the weather when it hit the end of May we were looking at some nicer days in the Cascades and maybe getting some nice sunny weather into the 60’s. And maybe look something like this ----------------------------->

Not so for Memorial day weekend of 2011. Instead we got this.

Snowy Memorial Day on Diamond Lake
We drove up on Wednesday night in a snow storm/blizzard. I had thought maybe the weather would clear sometime during the trip, but that was not to be. We set up camp in the snow in a spot the forest service plowed out at Diamond Lake campground. The bathrooms were locked and found out later that the campground was not officially open until the Friday after, Woo Hoo two nights for free. Anyways you know the drill, tarps over the whole camp and a huge fire, and thankfully we brought plenty of blankets, raingear, coats, and sweaters.

 As we woke up frozen on Thursday morning there was no end to the weather, snow and wind. We decided to stay up there on the “good” advice from our children, quoting my daughter, “Daddy we like camping in the snow”. I gave them options even, like “let’s go to Madras where it’s 80 degrees and you can ride your bikes and play in the sun”. Nope we stayed freezing our ASSES off, with five feet of snow in places and snowing some more. Despite the weather, we did make it out on the lake twice everyday that we were out there, and we did have some calmer moments.

Now I am going to tell you what we were fishing out of, we have a 17 foot Coleman fiberglass canoe with no motor. A little crazy in a blizzard and a temperamental lake that looks a little like the Pacific Ocean when it gets mad. Oh, well we did just as good or better than most of the folks out there in the nice boats with heaters and even one pig party boat with a BBQ, propane heaters, canopy, the whole nine yards (what a sweet boat). I’ll put it to you this way; we caught 22 rainbows, 4 were over 16” and one that was 18”.

Big Diamond Lake Rainbow Trout
All but a few fish were caught on spinners and plugs, we caught a few drifting worms around as the wind pushed our canoe around the lake like a dandelion fluff. At one point the lake calmed down, it got sunny, and there were fish rising to the top. We got them from casting and retrieving size 3 spinners from the boat. We are testing a new size of trout lure and it was killing them.

After 5 nights in the cold we came home and relaxed in the sunny skies of Bend and slowly put our gear away. It felt good to warm that blood back up. I am sure the kids had stories to tell at school. Like when my daughter and I got caught out in the lake in a snow squall, and had to pull the canoe in to the shore to walk back to camp soaked in wet snow. Oh well, it was a fun, and little insane trip, and now we have some nice fish in the freezer.

Next weekend to the lower “D” to do some salmon fly fishing in the warm sunny weather.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Trout Fury: A crazy fishing adventure that never ends.

My life is about fishing and mostly for species in the trout and salmon families. I have spent my whole life pretty much obsessing about fishing for all of these different and sometimes rare species. I have lived in some pretty cool fishing places including on the Wilson River in Oregon, The Washougal River in Washington, and now in Bend Oregon, minutes away from the Deschutes River. I spend my fishing life with my wonderful fishing wife, and two wonderful, sometimes fishing kids. I fish usually two times a week, and I am always looking for the big one. spinfishing for wild cutthroat

I am going to start my blog with a great fishing story. I should have written about this when it happened but life gets in the way sometimes. It starts on a journey to the Idaho Panhandle to catch some west slope cutthroat trout out of the St. Joe River.

Our original plan was to take our fishing adventure to the Chewaucan River in Central Oregon; this is normally a pretty dry and warm region during the summer time. This summer the weather was going to be particularly warm, as a heat wave that would reach 100 degrees or more, was predicted to affect much of the Pacific Northwest, as luck would have it right during our vacation time. We always plan ahead with wiggle room so we changed or plans, last minute (in the driveway, camping gear packed, just about to head out, last minute) and decided to go a little further east to the Wallowa River in eastern Oregon and then head north to the St. Joe in the Idaho panhandle.

It was 100 degrees when we hit Portland coming from Tillamook; it was only noon, and already crazy hot outside. We headed to the Wallowa River at Minam state park to stay a few days and fish for the wild Columbia River redband trout that inhabit that watershed. We arrived at about 8 P.M, still hot and humid. We set up camp and headed to bed early. Now I want to tell you that Minam state park is really nice, there are deer and wild turkey running everywhere and the river is right next to the park.

22" columbia redband rainbow trout
I awoke early as usual and raised everyone from sleep. It was bright and sunny and quite cooler than the day before. There is a big pool at the head of the park if you have ever been there before you know it holds some big trout. Well of course this is where we headed. My plan was to float some stimulators in the fast water and try to catch one on dry flies, after about 10 minutes with no action I set the fly rod down. Time to try to make the trout eat metal. Now up until this point I had never caught a trout over 18 inches on a lure, and always thought somehow big fish in rivers only fell for flies. That is dead wrong; my first cast into the pool with a Black Stonefly lure, quarter cast upstream and bouncing on the bottom, produced a hook up that I could hardly believe. I thought I had hooked a spring Chinook until this large fish erupted from the river it was a very large trout, not a steelhead, it was to early for them to be way up there Of course I confirmed when I landed this beauty..
After a long battle on 4 lb line and the whole family helping I landed a 22.5 inch wild Columbia River redband trout. My lure a 1/8 oz small little spinner caught this huge fish, how does that saying go. The larger the lure the larger the fish. Not always, as I proved. I put the fish back where it came from and it happily swam away. Since then I have caught another fish from the same spot in 2010 that was 19.5 inches but that’s another story.

After that I thought “how am I going to top that?” on my first day of vacation a very large wild trout, and I didn’t top it either. We camped at Minam for a few days. My daughter Adrienne caught a nice 14 inch wild trout on our last day on the Wallowa before heading to Idaho, but it was warming up and we wanted to get out of the heat wave so Rocky Mountains here we come.Adrienne's westslope cutthroat
We spent half of our trip on the north fork of the St. Joe and the other half at the end of the road on the St. Joe above Red Ives ranger station. To anyone planning a trip to this awesome river, skip the lower end, particularly if the weather and water are warm, and just go to the end of the road to the last drive in campground. On this trip I had some of the best dry fly fishing of my life up there, and some of it right in the campground, it was crazy. 13 to 16 inch trout all day on a dry fly all native west slope cutthroat trout. We didn’t want the trip to end so on the way back we stayed at marble creek and caught some more nice cutthroat up there and had a great time just camping and hanging out in the woods. The next day we had make the drive from Marble Creek to Tillamook in one day. One hell of a drive.

The country up on the St. Joe is awesome. Nothing beats camping out on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains and fishing for wild trout eager to take dry flies. Every creek and river is loaded with cutthroat; Idaho is doing a wonderful job taking care of their rivers. If anyone wants more information on fishing the Wallowa, or St. Joe Rivers just e-mail me, I’ll hook you up with the details.