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We are projected to get up to 2 inches of rain in the next four days. This late summer and early fall has been one of the driest on record. As I can recall the last 3 to 4 years have been wet in the spring and early summer and dry in the fall. This means the fall migration of our anadromous has slowed and when the river rise in the next week there should be lots of action. It all depends on the amount of rain and how fast the river drop in shape to fish. So I am waiting for the rain today and in the meantime I will show you some of my recent pictures from my trip to Agness on the Rogue River September 18- 20.
Time flies! During my last update in July the fall Chinook were in the Umpqua Bay and it is peaking right now. Soon the Silvers will be mixed in the the Chinook. I don't fly fish for these fish. Trolling cut herring it the best producer and here is a picture of Gary Stevenson with his first ever fall Chinook. It is a 30 pounder!
I am really busy right now so I will have to hurry some pictures and info ... trout fishing is good, steelhead fishing is slowing down and the Spring Chinook in our valley is over. I have more trips coming up so let me show you some pictures ...
Another high water early summer but fishing started picking up in mid June. Most all my trips have been for steelhead on conventional gear and I am missing fly fishing for trout. But we have been getting the steelhead so I won't complain. I caught some big redsides on the Mckenzie the day before yesterday. To bad they were on bait instead of flies ... so fly fishermen book some fly fishing trout trips with me ...
This is Dr. Lieberman and he's about 6 ft. 5" so this 7 pound steelhead looks small in his big hands!
I didn't get out till May 10 on the Middle Fork of the Willamette. Some steelhead and salmon already being caught as reported by some fishermen when I put my boat in at Jasper. The next day Martin Thurber landed 7 Chinook. I couldn't hold in the high fast water without a motor so all I got was some trout. Haven't fly fished yet. Of course it started raining just as the water was getting good for a motorless drift boat. I stopped raining yesterday but the rivers are all still very high. I have fly fishing trip coming up on Tuesday and if it stays dry maybe the conditions will be good.
Will next week be the first time out for spring fishing this year? Stay tuned.
We have been having late winters here in Oregon the last few years. The usual March Brown hatch has been non-existent. I hate winters that drag on into June. Here is what I woke up to a few days ago ... it was a record for this late in March ...
I was out two days in a row on the Alsea River for winter steelhead with conventional gear. There were lots of fish in the river. Here are some pictures ...
I didn't get out for winter steelhead yet but my guide friend Martin Thurber got lots of them in mid-December. Crabbing has been good this winter and I have gone for them ... It was a mild winter until a week ago when we had lots of rain and flooding. Now fishing is over for a few days until the rivers drop.
We're getting ready to get some crabs ...
Some of these crab were really large ...
January 25, 2012!
And a happy new year to everyone ... We caught a lot more silvers into the second week of November. I think we landed about 25 to 30 and none of them were fin-clipped. So we got no silver keepers. We use lures and bait for these fish but they might be taken on the fly. I know they take them on the fly in Alaska. Here are some of Martin's pictures ...
These are winter steelhead caught on the same stretch of river as the silvers. The one above is a rare keeper and is fin-cliped. These fish were thick in the river in mid-December and not to many anglers were out there. One of the reasons is lots of anglers want to pick a fish or two and they are very rare these days.
Sorry for the inactivity the last few weeks. This fall has been relatively dry and there have been only 2 rises in our coastal rivers close to my home. As I mentioned in September the anglers in the Northwest turn their attention to the coast and our fall runs of salmon, steelhead, and the sea run cutthroat trout. Still an angler in our valley might stay home and target our late summer run steelhead on the Mckenzie and the Middle Fork of the Willamette. They are good shape into the end of November since they spawn in March -April. Check out the latestest pictures and the info about them ...
Here you see my client and friend Daryl with a late summer steelhead on the Mckenzie. It was still very bright and in excellent condition. We used spinning gear but they can be taken on the fly if you are good at getting the fly down. Or if you an expert at the "greased line technique."
Here is Chris with what I thought was a large sea-run cutthroat trout. But in reviewing this photo it looks like a small
steelhead about 20 inches long. We released it and caught more fish on bait and flies. This is on the Umpqua above Elkton.
This is a first for my boat. A winter steelhead before November and what a fish! Look at how bright it is! This fish could have been taken on the fly since the water has been low most all of this fall. It is bigger than it looks in the picture. About 12 pounds.
This is my expression when I get Chinook slime on my clothes! This is one of the largest Chinooks I have released. Look at it's girth. I weigh about 170 pounds and this fish is about as big as my upper body. We fish with 10 lb. test on the Umpqua in the fall so it took a long time to get this fish in my hands ....
Here is a summer steelhead on the lower Umpqua. It is also very bright but not like the winter fish above ...
I am missing some Silver salmon pictures ... I will post them later ... until then ... tight lines!
If you are fortunate enough to live in the Pacific Northwest your travels and thoughts will turn to the coast where the great fall migration of anadromous fish begin. These salmon can be taken with the fly but it is difficult to get a fly down 30 feet at the river mouth. When they move upriver to runs and rapids they are much easier to take on the fly. Even then you will be limited to the type of water you can fish. This is why I fish conventional gear for salmon in the fall.
When I was younger I fished salmon on fresh water rivers with conventional tackle and methods. I caught so many Chinook that I started releasing most of them. These are large fish and you cannot possibly eat more than 4 or 5 in a year. Of course I would also smoke 100 pounds in one smoking session just before Christmas. That was when I was younger. I am now 60 years old and I try to go for salmon closer to the sea and sometimes in the sea. The best eating salmon are in the ocean or just shortly after they enter the bay. If you fish for them on the spawning run in rivers you need to get to them as quickly as possible. I fish salmon now for the table. But I do not own a boat with a motor so I go with friends who have boats with motors so my time in the sea or the bay is limited to my kind friends who take me with them. I get asked quite often to go with them since I have some limited knowledge of how to catch them. My biggest asset is my knowledge of where and when the salmom will be in a river or river outlet. But as I fish more for these fish in the sea and closer to the sea my knowledge is piling up and I am catching more fish every fall. Here is the latest effort ...
My friend Kelly Couglin with a 15 pound bright fall Chinook caught trolling cut plug herring
I had a last minute call from Albert Yi for some Tenkara fly fishing. This is a recent popular method where the angler uses a long telescopic rod with no reel. The rod has to be fairly long to keep some distance from the fish. So you have a rod, long line, leader and the fly. A very fun and interesting way to fly fish. I think I am going get one of these long rods. I posted a video on You Tube but I still have to figure out how to link the video to my website ... later
I learned how to embed my You Tube video to this page. Here it is ...
Fishing biz really picked up this month and I have been on the move. My friend and client Laurent Chalard from Vienna, Austria fished with me three days for steelhead on the fly. First day he hooked two and lost them both on the Mckenzie. At least he got to play one of these fish for a minute before it got off the hook. Next day was a blank on the Middle Fork. The third day he lost one and got one back on the Mckenzie. We saw lots of summer steelhead on the Mckenzie River. Off course it is not easy to get them to bite. All the hooked fish were sight fished. The Middle Fork of the Willamette has some color and it is not as easy to see the fish. I was also teaching Laurent how to oar my drift boat. He is a fast learner on the oars.
Laurent Chalard of Vienna
I have been super busy fishing and picture framing and it seemed a long time coming. It finally got here! There was measurable precipitation every day of the month of May. Then June came with agreeable weather and everyone started fishing. Of course the fishing was difficult because of high water but everyone was trying! I started getting steelhead with some consistency in July. This is a month behind the norm. Here are the latest pictures ...
This is the true average trout you will catch on the Mckenzie. Fly fishing with Wally Creer and a 11 1/2 inch rainbow.
I really enjoy taking sons and fathers ... bait and hardware
Some steelhead caught on lures and bait
Kids enjoy fishing if there is enough action ... using lures and bait for the average trout on the Mckenzie ...
I took a couple from Arizona fishing on the Mckenzie from Deerhorn to Hendricks on the 22nd ... We spin fished and got our limit of rainbow trout. The surprise came toward the end of the trip when Mike hook a decent fish and it put up a really good fight. It turned out to be a 3 pound Bull Trout which is endangered on the Mckenzie. I got a picture of it before we released it. The high and cold water this spring probably brought this fish downriver since nearly all of them are caught many miles upriver.
It seems like it is still winter. All my guide friends are waiting for rivers to drop and temperatures to rise. One of the worst Spring - Winters in recent memory. I took myself from Jasper to Clearwater Park on the Middle Fork of the Willamette a few days ago and got lucky enough to land one and loose one summer steelhead on a plug. There was no roe or milt in this fish and this was a first. We put it on our grill and it was one of the best steelhead I have ever eaten.
This fish took a plug as it was being cast and retrieved. It doesn't look big but my rod handle and grip is a foot long. Weighed about 5 pounds.
I can't believe I haven't updated this page since February. The reason must be because we had measurable rainfall on everyday in March! That means no one was getting out fishing for winter steelhead unless you are young and adventurous. This means all the rivers in our region were too high to fish ... But I got out a few days ago to Coos Bay with Kelly Coughlin to crab and fish. Here are some pictures ... It's hard to catch crab with a fly!
Kelly got the first one ... turned out to be the biggest of the day!
The fruits of our labor!
We got lots of crabs for the amount of time we spent trying to get them ... only one pull on 3 cages got us 12 legal crabs!
You can always have some sashimi with fresh snapper!
We just had snow and cold weather to finish up February. Up until a week ago it felt like spring. My neighbor Wes Boeher caught an Umpqua Spring Chinook the first week in February. It was a 22 pounder. He caught it casting plugs in the Scott Creek boat landing area. Up till this entry the earliest Spring Chinook was caught by my daughter Naomi on February 21 near Elkton while casting a spinner. It is supposed to warm up a bit and start raining again. I am hoping the March Brown hatch will start in the next couple of weeks. I plan on doing a lot more fly fishing this year ...
Just a lot of rain. The south coast rivers have the last run of Chinooks but I am home staying warm! I thought I might write in my updates just to let you know I am thinking of all you die hard fishermen who will fish in any condition ... as I did in a earlier time in my life. Just to let you know ... there are fish to be caught just about any day in Oregon. You might have to drive a few hours. Winter steelhead is here as soon as the rivers drop ... Merry Christmas!
Sorry I have not been keeping up as often as I would like. Fall fishing is in high gear and lots of salmon are being caught. I have been on the Umpqua at Elkton and here are some pictures that will explain everything. We are using bait and hardware for the salmon. I think I'll take my flyrod tomorrow just for some fun.
Dave Churchman with his Umpqua Silver salmon before the release
Wife Lisa Churchman got one too ....
The world wide web is a remarkable communication device. Laurent Chalard found me in Austria and booked two days with me for steelhead and trout. One of his goals was to catch a steelhead on a fly and we accomplished this goal on the Middle Fork of the Willamette. The next day we were on the Mckenzie and although we saw more steelhead and presented these fish with lots of flies they were not on the bite. But the day wasn't wasted as we fly fished for trout and caught a good number of rainbows before our trip was over.
Laurent Chalard with his first steelhead on the fly. A few days after this trip we had our first rains of fall and some of our fall salmon are in freshwater on our coastal rivers. Time to head to Elkton on the Umpqua for me and my fishing pursuits.
It's been a few weeks and I have been fishing quite a lot. I'm not fishing for Spring Chinook since they are getting old and will start building beds in the next few weeks. They generally spawn in late September into October. Our summer steelhead will be good to fish into November since they spawn next March - April. Many anglers are now heading for the coast to troll for fall salmon in our saltwater bays. When we get our first amount of good rain which can happen as early as the last week in August the fall fish will start their migration up our many coastal rivers.
I have been trout fishing more as the season has rolled along. Most of the trout we catch are planted trout meant to be taken and eaten. And I do not feel bad about killing hatchery trout as they compete for food with the native fish and I like to eat trout. Sometimes I stockpile them and smoke and can them. They are very good smoked and canned. Here are some trout pictures we caught with bait. I generally fly fish for trout but some anglers don't know how to fly fish. And yes, you can catch just as many fish with the fly if you are a good caster.
This is 15 trout which is the 5 per angler limit. This day we caught and released the largest native rainbow in a long time. It was about 18 inches and weighed around 2 pounds. It was really fat and healthy. We also caught about 3 more native rainbows which we released.
Sometimes we find a salmon when we are fishing for steelhead. Here is a picture of Kim just a few hours earlier today. We got it on a diving bass plug in the current.
We are again back at chasing steelhead and salmon ... My daughter Naomi has been lucky on her 2 days on the Mckenzie with her brother Eil and her day with me - Tom. I didn't paste her earlier steelhead. Let me see if I can find it ....
Most of my trips this years has been spent chasing salmon and steelhead with conventional gear and bait. This is because we are seeing a big run of these fish this year in our Willamette Valley. It is always nice to have a day with a fly rod fishing for trout. Chuck Crom spent the day with me on the 8th fly fishing for rainbows on the Mckenzie. We didn't catch any real big ones buy there was enough action to hold our attention. My camera date was a day off.
Here's Chuck fighting an average rainbow about 11 inches ....
Our rivers have been high and fast for the first half of June. If you have a motorized boat your chances for salmon and steelhead was good since there are a lot of these fish in our rivers. The rivers started to come back in shape around the 14th of June and the fishing has been very good since. I have been splitting my whole day trips to a half day or salmon, steelhead and the other half for trout. This has been working out. I was out with a customer a couple of days ago and we hooked and played three steelhead and had a couple of good pull downs. I couldn't believe it ... we lost every steelhead! And this was on divers and sandshrimp with a double hook set-up. We hardly ever lose a fish that is hooked using this rigging. In the last 8 years that we have been using divers and shrimp I have had only one day where we lost every hooked fish. For the fly fisherman interested in catching some Oregon summer steelhead I can put you on the fish. Literally. You will be 15 feet from the fish and you will be able to see the whole picture. On the Mckenzie the sun is behind me if the fish are on the right side of my boat. This allows me to get really close to the steelhead as the sun is blinding him when he is looking toward me. But getting him to take the fly, lure, or bait can be very frustrating. You will understand why these fish looking for spawning instead of food are hard to catch. In the meantime here are some pictures of fish we fooled ...
My daughter Mckenzie and Sean on the Middle Fork of the Willamette with a nice steelhead.
Tony and his two boys with a bunch of trout after we quit for salmon and steelhead. I am starting to think it is best to take young kids trout fishing instead of salmon - steelhead since it takes much more patience for the larger fish. Trout fishing brings fast action (most of the time) and the kids can be rewarded in spite of their short attention span.
My son Eli with a chinook and two steelhead on the Mckenzie
The fly fishing for wild trout sucked from Hendricks to Bellinger May 17. There is still a shortage of wild trout on the Mckenzie. To be truthful a person will do much better fishing the stocked portions of this river. The river has never recovered from the silting of the river when the Corps of Engineers emptied Cougar Reservoir. This is a shame. And it was over 7 years ago. However we are having a good run of salmon and steelhead in our valley this year. It has been cooler than usual and wet. This is slowing the movement of these fish from Willamette Falls to Eugene. I took the Churchman family down the Mckenzie from Leaburg Dam to Leaburg town on May 30. We got one chinook and one steelhead using lures and bait.
Lots of Spring Chinook and Summer Steelhead expected in the upper valley this year and many are already here. I lost a huge steelhead a couple of days ago on the Middle Fork of the Willamette. I have a trout fly trip on Friday so I can update the fly fishing after next weekend.
Things really slow down for me in the winter in my guiding business. I had a fly fishing trip today but I had to cancel because it is raining cats and dogs. I did one winter steelhead trip in the first week of March and all we got was one fish going back downriver. We are now approaching April and this month is usually slow. What's available? Catch and release for wild trout in our valley rivers until the rivers are planted and open the last Saturday in April, crabbing in our saltwater bays if the rain slows down (too much freshwater drives the crabs out to sea), Spring Chinook start piling up below Willamette Falls thoughout April and usually start heading our way the last week of April. I sometimes make it up to Oregon City and fish with the crowds for some great eating Spring Chinook. The Spring Chinook on the Umpqua are in the Elkton area in April and I might make a trip down there once this spring. It is over for most of the smaller coastal rivers for salmon and steelhead. I forgot to mention the Spring Chinook will also be starting up down on the Rogue.
Here is the link to the ODFW website so you can see all the rules and regs and buy your license online ...
January 25 ---- 2010 --- I never would have thought I might be alive in 2010!
I will get all the latest rules and regulation for the State of Oregon in a couple of days and post it on my website. I know the fishing licenses have gone up. I need to get a copy of ODFW's new rules and regulations for 2010 ... this means I haven't had to do any guided trip this year ... you are not missing much. The rivers have mostly been too high for good fishing.
Welcome the new year!
December 23, 2009
I haven't been out lately. We had a really cold spell the first couple of weeks in December. Steelhead were starting up and the Umpqua at Elkton was producing a few. The weather is back to the rain but it is supposed to stop tomorrow. The steelheading on the coast should produce and the late run of fall Chinook on the Elk and Sixes should be good till the end of the year.
My sons Eli and Andy went back to the Umpqua at Elkton and hooked 40 silvers and landed 21. They had to release all of them! There were no fin-clipped silvers among all those salmon. In my last report with my daugher Naomi and son Eli we landed only 8 but 2 of them were keepers ... let me see if I can find the picture of those fish ...
I got one to keep! Notice how I am holding the fish away from my body. In the past we did this to make the fish look larger but today I do it to keep the slimy thing away from my nice sweater!
I enjoy the time spent with my kids ... Eli turned 40 on the 6th and Naomi will be 39 on Dec. 22. But I started early since I am only 58!
I went fishing with my oldest children Eli and Naomi. Eli will be 40 years old this week and Naomi will be 39. I have five children and they are all grown up and out of the house. We all love the outdoors and fishing. I get together with one or two of my children several times during the year to fish but this is the first time in many years that I was out with the two oldest. We fished for Silver Salmon on the Umpqua river and caught about 8 of them. Two of them were keepers (fin-clipped hatchery released fish) and Naomi and I cooked dinner after fishing trip. Let me see if I can link to Facebook. Click on my name ... I feel blessed to still be a part of my children's lives!
I was fishing and camping on the Rogue River at Agness from September 18 - 24th. We were fishing for half pounders and the first couple of days the fishing was terrible. The wind was coming downriver from the east and perhaps you have heard the saying, "if the wind blows from the east, the fish bite the least." This certainly was true on this trip. The wind let up the third day and we caught some fish. Fishing was fair the remaining days but nothing like last year. Here is a picture of our friends Wally and Jeannie driftboating in the canyon below Agness ...
August was good fishing and I had several trips for trout (fly fishing) and steelhead (spinning). There are many years when the hottest days are in August but this year we had those hot days in mid to late July. We are going into what I believe is an early fall. Anglers in my area are now shifting their attention to the coast. Our fall run of salmon is under way and most anglers are trolling for them in our many bays. I like fly fishing for trout at this time of the year near home since the rivers in our valley are almost deserted. You have days when the river is yours alone. Shoot me an email or phone me for a fly fishing trip on the Mckenzie ...
I have been fishing from Leaburg Dam to Deerhorn (Holden Creek Lane) in the past week. It has been record breaking hot the last couple of days but we still caught some fish. Haven't booked any fly fishing trips lately ... where are you? Here's some pictures ...
This is Leon and Chris Kambak with a big buck steelhead.
This is John and Joe Quigley with Joe's first ever steelhead.
OK, the fishing has been good. Trout fishing on the fly has been excellent. I have fished trout, smallmouth, salmon, and steelhead since my last update (not all on flies). Here are some pics ...
My son Andy with a summer steelhead from the Middle Fork of the Willamette below Dexter Dam
Eric Lieberman with a large smallmouth above Elkton. Eric is a big guy and that's why the fish looks small.
I had a great opportunity to take Jerry Taketa fishing on the Mckenzie today. If you have not fished from Leaburg Dam
to Leaburg town you are missing some great salmon and steelhead fishing. I could not have written this opinion a couple of weeks ago because there were lots more anglers fishing for these fish. It always start about the middle of May and lasts into the last week of June. You will be fishing amongst many anglers to catch a salmon or steelhead. But with the extreme pressure in a small area from Leaburg Dam to the town of Leaburg the fish are difficult to catch. The reasons I think the salmon and steehead were easier to catch today come from two observations. One is there is hardly any anglers out fishing for them because they were hard to catch when their numbers were small and the fishing pressure was great. And today there are many more fish and fewer anglers on the river. Anglers give up if they aren't catching fish. I'm glad they gave up because there are lots more fish in the river today and half the anglers gave up.
Here are some pictures from today. We were using conventional gear.
Here is what you can expect to get from a 10 pound summer steelhead ...
and here you have it bbq! This is hard to beat!
Here are a couple of pictures of Craig McVicker on June 28. I am also showing a picture of an osprey that took our fish while Craig was fighting his rainbow. This is the same bird I captured on camera last year. You can see him here.
The fishing is picking up because the conditions are better than they were a few weeks ago. For you salmon and steelhead fisherman the Mckenzie and the Middle Fork of the Willamette are getting low numbers of fish. As compared to when? As compared with 2002 - 2004. Last year spring chinook fishing was closed on the Cascade Rivers above Oregon Falls. Last year the spring chinook count was 7000 fish. During the period of 2002 - 2004 we had runs from 80,000 to 95,000 fish! This year they are expecting 37,000 chinook. We will not make it. But things are better than last year and here are some fish we caught a few days ago on spinners and bait. Fly fishing is good for planted trout.
Stephen and Chris fly fishing on the Mckenzie
Chris has a Mckenzie River Rainbow in the fly rod.
My good buddy Mike Leroy with a steelhead ... and his beautiful wife Kym!
My youngest child! Mckenzie with her first summer steelhead on the Middle Fork of the Willamette a mile below Dexter Dam.
June 16, The update for this day will be in depth and long. So click here for the latest fishing on the Row River, Cottage Grove.
This water is still high on the Mckenzie but fishable. A few chinook and steelhead being caught. Very few. We put in at Leaburg Dam and floated to Deerhorn. We caught our limit of planted trout on bait from Leaburg town down to Deerhorn. I'm sure flies could have taken them also but all we had was salmon gear. We also caught one huge native rainbow at 18 inches and another fine rainbow at 14 inches. So maybe there will be natives in the river this year.
I have been out on 3 trips in April and I haven't run into a day of decent fishing. I fished one day hoping I might fight an early summer steelhead ... not. I caught only a few native cutthroats in the wild section of the Mckenzie. One day on this stretch I caught no wild trout ... sorry Craig. There were plenty of steelhead smolts headed downriver and it was hard not to catch them on a couple of my trips. My friend Allan Kline also reports no natives and bad fishing on the Mckenzie.
The upper Mckenzie was heavily planted with hatchery trout but I haven't fished this section. Fishing for planters might be good upriver.
This month has to be the worst month in Oregon for anglers .... therefore I have no report. I did turn 58 on April 8!
I have been out a a couple times in the last week and the fly fishing for trout is nothing to write home about. We had a warm spell about 3 weeks ago but has turned very cold since then. It snowed a little today. Unless the March Brown hatch is happening our local rivers are not productive for the fly fisherman or the spin fisherman. Drifting bait might produce but most of our rivers in the valley are closed to bait until the general trout season opens the last Saturday of April. Our coast rivers have some winter steelhead but it is late for these fish. But there is always some fish to catch in Western Oregon and your best bet would be fishing in our bays and off our getties on the coast. In fact I might plan a crabbing and bay fishing trip for the weekend. We should catch something good to eat! This is the time of year when we are all waiting for the Spring Chinook (starting on the Umpqua right now and May in our valley) and Summer Steelhead and warming days to get some insects hatching for some good fly fishing. The warmer days could happen any day now and the March Browns and the Grey Caddises should provide some good fishing ... I will be in touch.
It is now Feb. 2009 (Happy New Year!)
We caught some winter steelhead and even got to Charlestown (Coos Bay) to get some crab. The bay got rough and I wound up being cold and wet. I learned one important lesson on this fishing and crabbing trip. Crabs are selective scavangers. We had 6 crab traps out with different baits. Most of our baits were freezer burned meats ( chicken, fish heads, herring, beef ribs, etc ). The one cage that had a fresh steelhead carcus had (95%) more crabs when we retrieved our traps. I am a fly fisherman but I also like to eat fresh seafood I catch on our great Oregon coast!
2008 - 2007
We have been having real winter with lots of snow and ice. It looks like it's just letting up and reverting back to plain old rain. I think I've mentioned this in a earlier writing ... I hate getting out in miserable weather! When I was in my 20's, 30's, 40's and even in my early 50's it wasn't to bad. So my latest news for all the anglers who want to brave the snow, ice, rain just to fight the winter steelhead. Get to Elkton right away. There are lots of winter steelhead there and only a few die hard fishermen fishing in this god forsaken weather. Good luck!
The Umpqua at Elkton fished well for winter steelhead for a few days after a slight raise in mid-November. No one knew the fish were there except for my sons and Martin Thurber of Willakenzie Guide Service. The winter run doesn't usually get going until Thanksgiving. The weather turned dry after mid-November and we are now into December. All the coast rivers are too low to drift boat and only the Umpqua and the Rogue offer some fishing. My sister Sally and my niece Margaret came up from Livermore for Thanksgiving and they both loves to fish. It was lucky for them the weather was dry but they were a couple of days late for the winter steelhead on the Umpqua. We had one on but it came off. But we managed to get up to Dorena Lake and caught some nice trout on bait.
I forgot to mention crabbing is excellent at Winchester Bay ....
I have fished the Umpqua at Elkton a couple of times in the last two weeks of October. Not worth mentioning how I fared. Poorly. I also fished the Mckenzie for steelhead and did poorly. And I fly fished the Mckenzie for trout just a couple of days ago and it also fished poorly. The water is starting to darken due to the tanins released from the falling leaves. It looks like our fall fishing for trout is about over in our valley. I'm sure a few steelhead can still be taken on the Mckenzie if the water doesn't rise too high. The Umpqua might still produce if this rain we are getting does not drop more than 2 inches in the next two weeks. If it rains more than two inches I think all the fish that are in the lower river now will charge upriver to their spawning areas without holding in the fishing areas near Elkton. By then it will be winter steelhead season.
I had a wonderful trip on the Rogue River at Agness from Oct. 10 - 13. There was a plentiful half-pounder run this year. These little steelhead are the best fish on the fly. The hatchery fin-clipped half-pounders you see in the picture below were all fly caught. There's a couple of fin-clipped Silver Salmon jacks in the picture that were also caught on the fly. Then there is the picture of my summer steelhead caught on a Thomas spoon. This fish weighed about 12 pounds which is large for a summer steelhead on the Rogue. Of course Ulla wants the oars!
Here's Ulla on the oars again. She really doesn't like to fish but she really loves driving the boat through rough water.
I have been chasing salmon in Coos Bay, Winchester Bay, and the Smith River tide water. I used to fish salmon for sport when I fished many days out of the year for them. Now I fish for them as a food item. The price for salmon also makes me hungry for these fish. I lost a beautiful chinook at the net, released a huge silver which was not fin-clipped and lost a couple of fish when I was fighting them. So zero is what I have come home with. We are supposed to be getting our first real rain of fall starting tonight. When the rivers start to drop (if it gets muddy) I will be headed to Elkton on the Umpqua.
I was out fishing steelhead with bait with 2 clients and we lost one large steelhead. To my surprise we caught 4 native rainbows from 15 to 18 inches long. All healthy looking fish. I haven't caught any decent sized natives since the early season. Now I am hoping that some decent sized rainbows will be back in the section of the river next year.
We are having a early fall and there has already been low fog on the valley floor. Everyone is fishing on the coast and our valley rivers are secluded. There were three boats yesterday floating below Leaburg Dam. Steelhead were being caught. I was floating a sight seeing trip which I find very enjoyable since there is no pressure to catch fish. Fly fishing for trout has been good.
While I am waiting for fly fishermen to call for bookings I get out to do some steelheading with spinning gear. It's easier than casting big fly rods all day long. Both the Mckenzie and the Middle Fork of the Willamette are still producing and not many anglers are fishing for them. I know lots of fishermen are now going to the coast for our fall runs but these two rivers are close to my home and convenient. I was the only drift boat from Leaburg Dam to Leaburg town yesterday.
The Mckenzie below Leaburg Dam got a raise of almost a foot in one day so I decided to fish with my son Andy on the Middle Fork of the Willamette below Dexter Dam. This water did not get a big raise. We floated from the dam to Jasper. If you float this section you must be aware of the piece of water from Pengra Boat Landing to the Jasper bridge. The river divides into 3 plus channels about a mile downstream of Pengra. All I can tell you is to stay right, especially near the confluence of the Middle Fork and Fall Creek. At the very last piece of water before you meet Fall Creek you must stay right (even though the main flow is in the middle) to avoid drowning! After I got advice from several people to stay right I still decided to go down the center channel since this channel had the most flow and the right channel had very little water. I am a veteran on our waters and I stopped above a corner I could not see around. I got out of my boat. I am wearing my felt bottom wading shoes. I wade across this channel and see that there is a log jam below our boat. I have to drag my 17 ft. aluminum Diamond Back drift boat upriver in fast current to be able to take the right channel. I barely have the muscle to to it! But I do do it!
The reason I am telling you this tale is to inform you that our rivers in the Willamette Valley are under the control of the Army Corp of Engineers (and other agencies) who decide how much water to release from our flood control dams. If the river levels raise quickly you might as well as kiss good fishing good-bye. This is why I decided to float the Willamette instead of the Mckenzie. This river did not get the big rise.
There is one more fact I must mention...we are into a early fall. It was misting all day as I got out of my boat to drag it upriver. The temperature the day before was 90 plus degrees! I am in my shorts and wade above my belt line. Yes I get cold. I am sure Andy and I could have caught more steelhead or trout if I didn't get stuck on this section between Pengra and Jasper....the trout were rising well in this overcast early fall weather....Here are a couple of pics from this trip...we released the small Chinook Salmon and kept the fin-clipped summer steelhead for dinner.
Fly fishing for trout has been good on the Mckenzie. Here are some pics of Jerry Weisbach and his son Shaun ...
I can't believe how time is flying! Busy, busy and more busy! I have been fishing lots of days and have been catching. The trout fishing on the Mckenzie is good and lots of steelhead are being caught below the Leaburg Dam. And lots of steelhead have been caught on the Middle Fork of the Willamette below Dexter Dam. If you're into steelhead fishing you'd better get out soon. These fish usually stop biting at the last of July and through August. I will report again sooner. Or at least I will make the effort.
I just cooked the last steelhead ...
I have also been steelhead fishing with conventional gear. My son Andy has been very lucky ...
It is hot lately. I have been out a few times and the fishing is good. Here are some pics from my trip with Ed Hopkins and his sons ...
July 8 - 2008
I have been super busy. I am trying to keep up with my websites. I can tell you that the fishing is good as the water has recently dropped to good fishing levels. I will get some pictures in as soon as I can get some time.....
June 20 - 2008
I took Ron Gomez and his wife Cindy down the Mckenzie from Deerhorn to Hendricks for some trout fishing. We used spinning rods and bait as requested. Here is a picture of Ron with a 8 pound steelhead we caught while drifting a nightcrawler for trout.
Cindy also had good luck. Here she is with a large planted rainbow.
And we also caught some good sized native rainbows ... my first time in over 4 years. We caught one 16 plus inches, one at 14 inches, and one at 12 inches. I believe the good sized native trout are back on the Mckenzie. Here is the picture of the 16 plus incher just before release ... my net hoop measures 16 inches.
The rivers are becoming fishable and I teamed up with Jon Payne of "o2fish" for a company fishing trip. We had the Mckenzie trout fry lunch. Here is a picture of Jim frying up lots of trout that were caught during this trip.
We had more snow this winter in over 60 years! This has meant very high water levels on all our local rivers. I was lucky to get out a few times in April when the snow was still frozen in the hills. May started the melting and the rivers have been impossible to fish correctly. It just rained a bit the last couple of days and the rivers are rising again. I had to cancel a few trips for this reason. I will be reporting as soon as our rivers become fishable.
We have been fishing the lower Mckenzie from Hayden Bridge to Armittage Park. Fishing is fair using wets and dries. If the river could drop a few more inches the fishing would be better. Here are some pics.
This is Scott Javine with his lovely girlfriend Nicole
We floated from Hayden Bridge to Harvest Landing on the lower Mckenzie. We fished from 11 am to 3:30 pm and caught some wild trout (cutts and bows) and lots of summer steelhead smolts that were headed downriver. There were no March Browns on this stretch but the caddises were abundant. The fish took wet flies better than dries. I would rate this fishing as fair.
We floated from Deerhorn to Hendricks on the Mckenzie and the bugs were out! So were some wild trout. The day was clear but the March Browns came up in good numbers for a cloudless day. We caught some wild rainbows and some nice cutthroats. I was surprised to see some cutthroats in this section of the river. They are usually in this section later on in the year. The grey caddises that usually follow the March Browns were getting active around 4 pm when we were taking out. These caddises should be on the water in the next few days. Fishing has started!
The big news is that the salmon season for commercial salmon fishing might close south of Cape Blanco. What did they expect? Or any commercial salmon fisherman on the California, Oregon and Washington Coast. When farm raised salmon first come into the market it was precisely the same situation...salmon stocks in the wild were low. Farm raised salmon augmented the short supply of salmon on the west coast. Farm raised salmon helped tremendously as it kept salmon available for the general public. As more and more consumers bought farm raised salmon the wild stocks started seeing a rise in population. When the populations became stable enough to harvest the commercial salmon industry began a smear campaign against the salmon farming industry. After you get through all the bullshit it comes down to the commercial industry criticizing farm raised salmon as not "natural" or "wild" or full of chemicals .... Now the commercial industry faces the same problems it faced only a few year ago. A shortage of wild fish. What the commercial industry should have done is form a partnership with the farmers. They can still do this. I have been fishing for wild salmon in our rivers since 1969 in our rivers and I believe that farm raised salmon or any fish (aquiculture) is the solution to our future. It is the same as maintaining our forests, farm lands, hunting wildlife, building codes, and all the other restrictions that come from many people wanting a resource with limited capacity. Someone has to manage it or it will become extinct.
We have had some great weather lately but I haven't been out. I heard some March Browns are hatching. Some one call me! I have the March Brown special for $180.00 for two fly fishermen. Check out my rates. I finally got around to writing about the fishing in the Cottage Grove area. Check this out if you want some info about the fishing down in Cottage Grove. I'm sure I'll be out soon and I will keep you posted. I forgot, my son Eli got a couple of wild winter steelhead on the lower Umpqua last week...
The rivers are still too high to fish...
January 26 -- 2008! Can you believe it? Another year is history!
Ulla and I are in Kona, Hawaii with our friends Chuck () and Beverly Wigzell for a short vacation in winter. After Ulla took some sea-sickness pills she was happy to get a short nosed spearfish that is local in Hawaii waters. This fish is excellent tablefare and we took it. But we released a striped Marlin. And of course I had to let an unknown fish back into Kona waters.
I personally have no fishing reports since I have been framing pictures and the people who have called me for fishing got rained out. But I do keep in touch with a few good fishermen who are young and the latest report is ... the lower Umpqua at Elkton has been red hot. It has been fishable for the last 3 days and people are catching Winter Steelhead. I have not heard about the Siuslaw or the Alsea. Crabbing in Coos Bay at Charleston has been very good. Rock fishing is also good in this bay. The heck with the Winter Steelhead ... I want to eat dungeness crab and white meated ocean fish! Back to the Umpqua at Elkton ... it is supposed to start raining and the river will rise ... so get out here now!
Nov. 6, 2007
We floated from Deerhorn to Hendricks on the Mckenzie on Nov. 4 and there were no trout to be seen or caught. As I have mentioned earlier this section of the Mckenzie has not rebounded from the silting several years ago. If there were some wild trout in this section we would have caught some trout. To prove my theory I floated from Jasper to Clearwater Park on the Middle Fork of the Willamette yesterday and caught lots of wild rainbows. This section of the Middle Fork is not planted with trout. It is not as good as the Mckenzie before the silting but 100 times better than she is today. After catching and releasing my wild rainbows I was thinking of another question ... "why were all the fish in this section of the Middle Fork all wild rainbows?" In the past 90 percent of the trout I catch on this stretch are Cutthroats! So here are the most recent pictures ...
An 11 inch wild rainbow before release
This is a big rainbow but it gets away
Ulla was on the oars today ...
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