The first couple of weeks in October have been a great reminder why we live in Western Oregon. With mellow cool weather, rivers in perfect shape, and fishing simply excellent everywhere, the biggest daily challenge has been deciding which fishery to enjoy.
While most anglers put their energies into the coastal bays, trolling herring for ocean-fresh salmon (any boat that’ll float will do),
back here in the Valley, we’ve been enjoying outstanding fly fishing for trout and steelhead. The annual October Caddis hatch has made for some memorable days on the Lower McKenzie.
And thanks to a generous return of summer steelhead to the upper Willamette Valley, we’ve seen some of the best Dry Fly Fishing for these great migratory rainbows in recent memory. Whether chugging a dry across the shallows or swinging for the fences with a spey rod, the fishing has been steady.
Now here in mid-month, the rains have come as they always must here on the windward side of the continent. As the rivers rise and fill with leaves (and fresh salmon), our focus shifts to the excitement of late fall and the challenge of timing the spates in pursuit of the Pacific King. Tying flies, dusting off the 10-wts, buying hand-warmers at Bi-Mart; there’s plenty to keep you busy while the rain and wind pound around outside the house. Here in Western Oregon as one season winds down, another adventure is always on tap.
We’ve been enjoying a relatively mild midsummer weather pattern of late. Only in the last week or so has the temperature finally gotten downright hot. On the valley streams, the steelhead bite has been good.
At the same time, trouting has been reliably excellent in the cool of the mornings, with plenty of action on both dries and nymphs.
Summertime in Western Oregon: Paradise!!
June fishing has been very good at times, with mild temperatures and cool water conditions. Over on the McKenzie, the “breadside” trout fishing has been excellent, with action galore throughout the day.
In addition to the trout, the summer steelhead and spring chinook salmon are back in good numbers. As is typical this time of year, success has been hit and miss, with bright and brassy weather and lots of angler effort out there this early in the run. But every fish landed is a true trophy!
Summertime, and the living is easy!
After last year’s low warm water debacle, the 2016 summer steelhead return is looking great in the upper Willamette Basin. As of mid-June the summer count has already topped 10,000 fish, and we are seeing about 300/day ascending Willamette Falls fish ladders. All signs point to a solid season of swinging on the local waters.
We still have many prime dates available including some select openings in the Prime Time Season of September and October. Don’t delay. Now is the time to save a spot on the calendar for a date with a chromer.
Moving now into the latter half of April, fishing on the McKenzie has been just fine. With temperatures varying from unseasonably warm 85 degrees and sunny to some days in the mid-50s with rain showers, this is a dynamic time of year. Scott even had some guests tap out before the trip even started last week when they spotted a tornado en route to the river!
Nymphing has been the best throughout the late-mornings followed by decent if not spectacular mayfly activity in the afternoons. Each day, we see more diversity in hatches, and the fish are into a pretty wide range of offerings. And what a relief it is to have a reasonably normal flow after last year’s austere conditions.
Now home for the season from international gallivanting, it feels so nice to be back on the home waters! Looking forward to seeing you on the river!
The 2015 Fall Salmon Season has been a study in extremes. In the mild weather of late August and September, fly fairies like us spent days off getting our hands stinky down in the bays, trolling plug-cut herring for ocean-fresh chinook and coho.
As the days got shorter and the weather changed to autumnal rains, effort shifted from the bays to the rivers. In between spates and blow-out conditions (see exhibit A, below), when the rivers turned that perfect shade of jade, kings were biting flies.
Timing is everything when trying to line up the fly-grab for tide-running Kings. When the elements align, however, the fish of a lifetime can appear at any moment. A case in point: last weekend, Fred and I made a three-day trip during waves of storm activity that blew out many coastal rivers. Forecasts varied enough that success would be no sure bet. We hoped for the rain to hold off long enough for the brown waters to transition to green. Lots of time watching movies and eating bad diner food ensued. But on our last morning, we found the rain had held off overnight, the river had dropped and started clearing.
We had the river to ourselves (more or less), the rain was light and intermittent, and for a few hours, the salmon gods were smiling. After hooking and landing 5 sea-liced chromers, we were both tired and sated enough for a leisurely float to the take-out. The glow of the day and a cooler full of fresh filets carried us happily through the white-knuckle drive home in torrential rain and powerful gusting winds. As the rivers blew out yet again, we were warmed by the thought of all those magnificent Kings, ascending the river and making it unmolested to their spawning grounds.
And that fish of a lifetime? Fred let him go. Although he and Fred were a bit more tired than they had expected to be, the great fish too got to continue his journey upriver to close the circle for the next generation.