Monday, November 30, 2009

The John Day

With no duck game during the weekend, Simon and I had made plans to finally fish the John Day for those late summer steelhead that the river gets. We had read a few articles and seen the numbers that over 20,000 wild fish make it back to the John Day on an average year. Needless to say those kind of numbers got us excited.

After completing our respective "due diligence" Thanksgiving song and dances, we set out on Saturday morning in search of the mysterious grey ghosts. We were detoured slightly when my GPS took us into some old farm roads and into the middle of nowhere. After 45 minutes of muddin', we back tracked and found Rock Creek, our original destination.

We put together our spey rods and our single handers as well. We headed upstream and fished long and hard until around 2:30. I finally had my first action. After my "pick your pocket" swung through a deep pool the fly came under tension. I assumed my type 6 tip was hung up, but as I lifted, my line shot out and a fish flashed on the surface. Just as I yelled down to Simon I lost the fish.

We had been told the fish would be in deep slow water.'s hard to find deep water when the river is running at a shade under 400cfs. We got our workout as each plausible run was at least 1/4 away from each other. Simon and I rewarded ourselves for a hard days work back at our dive Motel in Arlington with nothing but the best: Local Pizza and cold Coors Light!

On Sunday, we hiked downstream and found a lot more fruitful looking runs. And I do say "looking". We didn't touch anything for the first few hours until it happened. The slow grab took place, I lifted my rod, and yes, a steelhead was on the other end! I snapped a quick photo and released the wild fish back into the river. I was sure there was more where that came from. Wrong again! We didn't touch another fish for the rest of the day. Simon and I in search of good water, trekked a good 4 miles down river. In an effort to save face, we made a decision to hoof it back to the car and drive home that night. The highlight of the trip ended up being the Asian Zing and Honey BBQ wings Simon and I put down at Buffalo Wild Wings while watching Dennis Dixon make his first NFL start.

To be honest, I was very pissed off at the John Day, but I know she can do better. I'll try again next year.

My one fish of the trip. A nice wild hen of about 26".

Beautiful scenery all weeked. Temps in the mid 40's on Sunday!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Veterans Day on the Deschutes and Crooked

I had a great idea for Veterans Day this year. Instead of doing nothing around the house with my day off I should go fishing for steelhead and trout! It was such a great idea that nearly everyone else across Oregon had the same exact though.

Simon and I rolled out of town at 4am and headed for Warm Springs. The goal was to fish steelhead until mid day and then drive over to the crooked to catch some trout. We arrived at Mecca Flat just shy of 7pm and there were already 4 cars in the parking lot. Not good.......well, we decided to fish the crappy run in front of camp and of course got nothing. While fishing the run, there were about 12-15 other cars that rolled into the lot to join the fun. I wasn't even about to attempt a frustrating hike down the trail, so we drove back out, fished the guard rail hole, got a tug, and headed for Prineville.

After a quick stop a McDonald's around 10:30(we were delayed for 5 mins while waiting for them to start serving lunch), we pushed on for Big Bend Campground in search of rising trout. A few people on the river, but it was a far cry from the Mecca parking lot. Our luck did not last for long as a friendly Subaru driver rolled up seconds after us, threw on his warm gear and rigged a rod. We had company!

No worries though, I was just excited to test out my new Sage Z axis 590-4 and my Sage 4550 reel that was paired with Rio's Gold trout line.

As I stepped down to the river, trout were already feeding on BWO's. I threw on a Baetis Cripple and immediately got fish. What a refreshing feeling. I hadn't fished dries to trout since coming back from Montana in early August. I guess when you have the Steelhead fever its hard to concentrate on anything else, but this was pretty cool!

A lot of the fish were small, but there was enough action on a few bigger fish to make things interesting. I later switched to a nymph rig when the hatch stopped and even hooked up with a nice bow of about 16 inches. I am not sure if we were in the best spot on the river or what, but Orvis Clad Warriors(definition to come later) just kept coming down the trail. One gentleman even decided it was kosher to fish within 20 feet of me. I wasn't even mad as I just convinced myself he was a veteran!

Great day to be on the river as always. We got home safely and Simon didn't even try to run us into a snowplow on the way back over the pass.

Simon thinking "Why did I come on this trip, I can't even cast my Spey Rod yet?"

A nice shot of the Crooked here. Foam lines baby!

This has nothing to do with the trip, but it is my beer of the night.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Town Run Fun

On Tuesday of last week I was able to slip out of the office early and do a little co-worker fishing with Chad. We hit the section of the Willamette that runs right through town in hopes of landing some late season Steelhead.

With the beautiful backdrop of the I-5 bridge, industrial yards, pizza parlors, and a mobile housing development, it's the epitome of commerce fishing. It's kind of cool to be chasing anadramous fish so close to work, but you lose out with the scenery. So be it!

We headed up to the most likely run and started casting away. About 20 minutes in, I was pretty sure I got slightly hung up on some bedrock. It was either bedrock or a fish because on my next cast as the fly hit the water a ravish boil appeared and line was being taken from my reel. The little Bantam I've been fishing strikes again. I must have really irritated the fish on the prior cast because you don't see many late October takes on the surface. It was one I'll surely rememeber.

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon: After kicking the cold, Chad and I headed back to the town run for a little float in the clack. We fished a few higher runs with no grabs. Since I went through this certain run first last time, I let Chad start in first. I sat in the boat for about 5 minutes and decided to walk up extra high to give plenty of room. I thought it would be cool while I was wasting time to see if I could throw my 12'6 Gary Anderson with a single hand. I was laying out some line and let it swing in a half hearted obligatory sort of way when I had a violent grab. Next thing I know, line is peeling from my Ross Momentum and I've actually got a fish on. I couldn't get the hook out of the fish's mouth very easily so the fish was sacrificed and later taken to Rick Axtell's smokehouse!

Did I mention I love to swing flies to steelhead?