Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Whitefish and Rainbows on the Deschutes

I was in Bend, Oregon for business last week (my real job). I knew the weather was supposed to be a little warmer than the last time I was there (-10 degrees Fahrenheit), so I packed my fly rod and fishing vest, just in case I got a wild hair, and decided to walk down to the Deschutes River near the office and fling a few flies.

After a little investigating, I became privy to the fact that there is a nice little park within walking distance of the office. So, on Thursday night (April 22, 2010) I walked down to the river, wearing my nice shirt, pants and shoes (I never learn). I didn’t want to drive all the way to the hotel and change.

Arriving at the park, I donned my fishing vest and when I reached the river, I realized that I was standing on the edge of a miniature canyon. Of course that wasn’t going to stop me (being a full fledged, self proclaimed nimrod)… I began to climb down the canyon wall, about 20 - 25 feet high.

I know what you are thinking… “He just did this because he knew it would make a great story for his blog.”

My friends, I can assure you that I wouldn’t purposefully risk my life (or even extreme pain) just to impress my faithful lectors. Though, if you throw in the guarantee of a few nice fish in the deal, I’ll probably shake on it.

As I made my way down the canyon wall, I noticed a gentleman sitting on a rock overlooking the river about 30 feet away from me. I could tell he was soaking in the peace and serenity that surrounded us, and he apparently hadn’t seen me. So, I tried extra hard not to make any noise. Maybe he wouldn’t notice me. I guess I just didn’t want to disturb him. Besides, I was feeling pretty self conscious, being all dressed up, wearing a fishing vest, and climbing down a rock cliff with a fly rod in my hand… you know the feeling… don’t you?

On my way down, I got a small taste of the excitement experienced by rock climbers, when I almost fell backwards onto some unfriendly rocks below. I’m pretty sure I would have survived it, but it definitely would have been extremely painful. “What the hell am I doing here?” I thought to myself (like I say, I never seem to learn).

My hopes of a covert mission were in vain, however. When I was safely standing on the bank below, I took a quick glance over my shoulder in the gentleman’s direction. It looked like he was staring right at me (it was kind of hard to see, because there were some branches in front of his face at this point). I could only imagine what he must have been thinking… something like “Who is this idiot?”

I thought I might be able to impress the gentleman if I was able to cast into the small pool and land a nice brown trout or something. “Just keep it cool,” I thought. After making a couple of casts I made another quick glance over my shoulder, thinking this time he would wave or something. Well, he was still looking at me, but no wave. I fished on…

A couple of minutes later (still not a single fish), I looked in his direction again and waved this time. He immediately waved back. Ok, cool, he doesn’t seem to be angry that I am invading his territory and spoiling his solitude or something. I fished on….

A few minutes later, I had a strike, a good one! I set the hook and FISH ON! It was a big, fat… brown… ish… gray… something. I brought the fish to hand. It was about 15 - 16 inches long . “Oh, that’s right,” I thought to myself, I did read in Fishing Central Oregon and Beyond 5th Edition
that there are whitefish in here! It was a very respectable and heavy Mountain Whitefish.

Oh, I forgot to mention that as I started walking down to the river, I stopped and turned around to go back and get my digital camera… then I stopped again and thought, “Forget it, I am only going to be down there for a few minutes, and I probably won’t even catch anything.” So I turned back around and walked to the river…

And it’s a good thing, because I am sure if I had the camera with me, I wouldn’t have caught a single fish over 9 inches long!

I released the fish, quite content myself (though I would have preferred a brown trout of the same size, or of any size).

View a YouTube video about the Mountain Whitefish here:

After standing up and looking around, I shot yet another quick glance over my shoulder to see if the gentleman would give me a thumbs-up or something… but, when I looked, he was nowhere to be seen - go figure!

I fished on… casting:

a size 12, bead head Copper John (the same fly I caught the large whitefish on);

a size 10, bead head, rubber-legged Hare’s Ear; and

a size 12, standard bead head Hare’s Ear.

I ended up fishing for a couple of hours (I was having so much fun) and hooking 4 - 5 more fish. I landed a beautiful 9-inch wild rainbow and another whitefish at about 10 inches long.

It turned out to be a very enjoyable evening. I only scratched my new leather shoes up a little bit and most of the mud washed off pretty easily. So, I didn’t end up doing any significant permanent damage to any of my office garb… and I had a few fish to show for it (or tell about rather).

And that’s the story of the first fish I ever caught on the Deschutes River.

Tight Lines!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010


It’s that time of year, when I begin to wonder if I will ever get out in the woods or on the water again. It‘s mainly your classic case of couch potato style laziness holding me back.
It’s January 20th and I don't even have a fishing license yet. I’m finding all kinds of excuses to put other "priorities" first. Priorities like working, paying bills, getting over this cold, and just sitting back until the days get longer and warmer.
Winter steelhead fishing is usually beginning to “heat up” here in Oregon this time of year. I guess I ought to try my hand fishing the local rivers before the peak of the run is over. The local rivers I have fished during the winter are the Alsea, the Siletz and the Siuslaw. I will have to keep an eye on the fishing reports and start looking at the river levels and try to time it just right. That’s a science in and of itself.
Unfortunately, my inventory of fishing rods suffered greatly during 2009. I don't currently have a steelhead worthy fishing rod, and, to be honest with you, I'm a little anxious about the prospect of buying a new one, considering the untimely demise of my last two rods. That’s something I am just going to have to overcome sooner rather than later.
Sure, I've heard stories of people catching steelhead by some pretty unorthodox methods. There’s even a legend about how a guy I know landed a steelhead with one of those little children’s fishing poles; the ones that are about two feet long and emblazoned with images of some popular superhero or cartoon character.
I used to figure that if my fishing rig had a reel with any old line, at least a few eyes, and a hook with something enticing attached to it, I would be able to hook, fight and land any fish out there.
Unfortunately, I am a pretty slow learner when it comes to certain things. During my adolescence I was terribly surprised and dumfounded on several occasions. My rotten mono broke off almost every time I hooked something bigger than 12 inches long.
Images of huge fish jumping out of the water and laughing at me still haunt me to this day.
These are among the many frustrations that I can only assume must plague even the best of fishers, when the sunlight is diminishing by the second, and the fish are on some kind of once-in-a-lifetime feeding frenzy.
There was the time I hooked a salmon on a little Rooster Tail spinner in the middle of a rapid on the Siuslaw River while fishing for cutthroat trout. I remember thinking it was really quite unfair when it broke my line a nanosecond after I saw it roll in the current.
On the South Santiam River, I once hooked two steelhead in the same number of casts, only to have them both break off within seconds...
Let's see, then there was the day I was fly fishing from my float tube on Junction City Pond and finally hooked one of those huge brood trout on a size 12 nymph. That fish must have been over ten pounds! In all my excitement, how was I supposed to anticipate that the fish was going to make a hard, drag stripping run, straight away from me, just to turn right back around and make a 30 yard dash straight between my legs as I stripped in line as fast as I could, looking like a real ninny to the crowd of onlookers.
I guess we all have stories of the big ones that got away, but I am pretty sure I have had a little more than my fair share. To be honest with you, it probably isn’t all because of the fishing equipment, if you know what I mean. There may have been some other kind of equipment (between my ears) of questionable status involved.
I want to be totally honest here with you. If you couldn't tell by now, I am not professing to be an expert hunter or fisherman. I don't claim to know it all. My alias (nimrod243) should have probably tipped you off on that one.
Just because I write a blog about hunting and fishing doesn’t really mean I know a damned thing about it. Notice that the name of the blog isn’t “Expert Hunting & Fishing Tips,” or, “The Prodigious Entomologist,” or, “The Bodacious Blacktail Biologist.” It’s just My Hunting & Fishing- hunting and fishing, nimrod style.
When the time is right, the time is right; then the fever will hit. All of the sudden I will get the undeniable and irresistible itch to go check out my “equipment,” flies, lures and what have you. Then the necessary licenses will be purchased and I will be hiding off to the nearest fishing hole.
Until then, I’ve got rifles to clean, flies to tie and other “priorities” to take care of.
If you happen to get out and wet a hook during the lovely month of January I wish you the best…

Tight Lines! (Yes, that's plural.)


Friday, January 15, 2010

Bow Hunting Escapades in the Cascades

I started bow hunting when I was thirteen years old. I used a 45 pound bow and practiced in our yard. We put some targets up on some cedar bales and practiced all the time. I thought I was a pretty good shot… until it came to shooting at deer.

My brother (one of the five) had a membership to an archery range and we went and practiced there with him every now and then.

I really enjoyed shooting the hand-me-down bow and honing my archery skills.

The first year I bow hunted I actually got a doe on the first day! That is a story I will write about another time.

One day I was accompanying one of my brothers as he bow hunted for blacktail deer. I think it was the same year I harvested my doe, because I wasn’t hunting.

Anyways, we were walking down this road that winded left and right through some mature timbers and slightly down hill. All of the sudden my we saw a buck trotting through the trees just around a bend in the road. So my brother drew back, took care to lead the animal, and let the arrow fly. Of course in moments like these, time stands still and judging by the trajectory of the arrow it looked like it was going to hit the intended mark, but all of the sudden THWAK… the arrow pegged solidly into the middle of a tree that was about eight to ten inches in diameter about half way between us and the buck.

My brother was disgusted with his luck. But, the buck only trotted off a short distance and then turned back around and ran in the direction it had come from, only this time a little farther away.

My brother and I couldn’t believe that he was going to have another chance at the buck! So, my brother nocked another arrow and drew back, taking careful aim.

When my brother thought the time was right he released the arrow… and again judging by the trajectory of the arrow it seemed that this time he had delivered the fatal shot when… THWAK, his arrow hit the same tree, smack dab in the middle and only about five feet above where the first broadhead had anchored itself.

Now the buck had had enough and escaped unscathed. As you can imagine, my brother was not very happy with his luck.

After the frustration and disbelief wore off a little bit we walked the short distance down the hill and saw that the arrows were out of reach, so my brother gave me a boost and I was able to un-screw the lower arrow from it’s broadhead, which was permanently imbedded in the tree.

So, then I tried for the second arrow, but for some reason my tunnel of vision began closing in and all I could see was a little tunnel of light in each eyeball. I started feeling light-headed and a cold sweat formed on my forehead. My brother let me down and I sat on the ground until I recovered a little. I was now feeling really weak.

So, we called it a day. We never did recover that upper arrow. A couple of years later, they logged that whole area and I always wondered if some logger saw that arrow there in that tree and wondered about the story behind it. I bet he could have never guessed…

Happy Hunting! - nimrod243

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fishing at Foster

My son and I went fishing at Foster Reservoir today. We arrived and noticed that the water lever was back down at the same level it was at in May of this year, so I decided not to go to our secret location on the North side of the lake but to go to the South shore where we fished during May and had a lot of luck. I was kicking myself for not bringing my fly rod. This is the place I like to roll cast some Balls O' Fire Pautzke Salem Eggs and let it slowly sink down and then watch the line go shooting out when a fish takes it. Oh well...

Again, I don't usually fish Foster this time of year, so I was hoping for some fish but not fully expecting to catch any.

We got down to the lake and the water was perfectly calm and reflected the sky like a mirror. The sun came out for a while and we enjoyed the warmth.

About twenty minutes after casting out our lines, my son had a fish on. He reeled it in and it was a big rainbow trout (about 15 inches).

He was using green PowerBait and size 18 treble hooks like we usually do. I was using orange PowerBait. I got a bite right as I was trying to pull the hook out of the fish's mouth. I went over to my pole thinking that I would easily bring in the fish. I think I picked it up a pre-maturely, because after picking up my rod I felt nothing. Oh well, I was sure now that we would have more chances today. The weather was great and we had a couple ours left of daylight still.

And more chances we had, but for some reason we couldn't bring the fish in for one reason or another. My line broke once, my son wasn't paying attention most of the time and I had to tell him when his rod was about to take off into the lake. He would pick it up and there would be nothing there. So, as the sky darkened from an imminent storm, his rod fell over and I yelled at him to grab it, but he didn't grab it fast enough, so I grabbed it and reeled it in. And that was the only other fish we caught today (rainbow trout, about 13 inches long).

Note: At first we were casting out about as far as we could, but one time I was reeling in and I saw a fish chasing the bait less than ten feet from the bank. So, I decided to start casting out in that area and we started getting bites on a more regular basis. But, still, we couldn't bring them in for one reason or another. It was beginning to make me mad, because these fish usually hook themselves and you have to practically pull their guts out to get the hook out of them. It may have been because we were using some older bait that wasn't quite as soft as the fresh stuff.

All the sudden, the wind picked up and it started to rain on us sideways. The wind was blowing so hard that it kept blowing my fishing pole off of the rock it was propped up on. It was miserable and cold and although I would have kept fishing if I'd have been alone, I figured we probably should should go because my son was shaking like a willow in the wind. It was extra hard to leave because the fish started biting like crazy when the wind picked up.

So, hey, the fishing at Foster can be pretty good at Foster in November!

Tight Lines! -nimrod243

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Willamette Steel At Last!

It was one of my best fishing days ever. I got up early, in order to make the 45 minute drive to Springfield by 5:30 AM. When I got to my older brother’s house, both he and my younger brother were waiting outside for me. They already had the boat hitched up. We were headed for the mighty Willamette River again. Two weeks prior I had hooked a steelhead and lost him and I had a good feeling about the prospects of hooking another steelhead or two today. Today was a special day because I was going to be fishing with both of my “Oregon” brothers, which unfortunately is somewhat of a rare event. I hope it becomes more frequent as time goes by. Since my older brother bought the drift boat, we have had the pleasure of fishing together a lot more often.

We were down at the boat ramp within minutes and launched the boat as the early morning darkness began to lift. My older brother jumped on the oars and we started across the river as I threaded a coon-stripe shrimp onto my hook. Then, in a somewhat uncharacteristic act of selflessness, I pilfered another from the small jar of brine and threaded it onto my younger brother’s hook, just below the black diver, menacing with it’s yellow eyes (I thought this was a nice touch). We let line out of our reels, closed the bail and then watched the tips of our rods to see if the action on the divers looked right. Not long after that we were on the other side if the river in some excellent looking water and… tap, tap, tap… I had a fish on. It wasn’t a steelhead, but it was a nice fish! I was not upset to reel in an 11 inch cutthroat trout. A great start to a great day. Things were definitely looking quite “fishy”, and what a beautiful morning it was. It was nice and cool at the moment, but promising to be another hot August day.

We drifted down a little farther, and at some point my older brother, between working the oars for us and offering up helpful tips to his amateur steelhead fishing companions, had tossed out his fly line and put his fly rod in a rod holder, letting an Irresistible Adams dry fly skid across the water’s surface about 6-8 feet past the end of the boat. As we approached the head of a big run, all of the sudden, SLAM… a fish nailed the Adams. A big fish was on momentarily, and oh what a strike! That really got me excited. This whole experience of drift fishing is new to me, I was amazed at how the fish had attacked the fly, just feet from the end of the boat. It made me feel delightfully optimistic of my future fishing success.

Not long after that, we continued fishing and SLAM… another massive strike on the fly nearly doubling the rod over to the water’s surface, peeling drag off the reel. This time the fish did not fail to impale the hook into it’s mouth and it was fish on! My brother removed the rod from the rod holder and began fighting the fish. He commented that it might be a small steelhead… it was that big, and heavy! He also commented that he was using a four pound leader and the fish was swimming in a substantial current, which amplifies the fighting power of the fish at the end of the line, so he had to be very careful not to break the line.

The fight continued on and I was determined to do all that I personally could to make sure we got that fish in the boat. I am a rookie at netting fish, but my brother told me to grab the giant salmon/steelhead net and prepare to net the monster. I pulled out the telescoping handle of the big net and followed my brother’s instructions, keeping the net back from the edge of the boat in order to avoid scaring the fish into another drag stripping run. He patiently and methodically worked the fish closer to the edge of the boat and when the fish was in range, I quickly scooped under and up with the net and swung it back into the boat. Success! It was a BIG, FAT rainbow trout, measuring 18 inches long. My brother commented that the fish was probably an old hatchery fish that was thriving in the big Willamette river, kind of surprising, but a pleasant surprise to be sure.

We continued fishing above the big run for a little while longer and then decided to go down to the next hole. So we raised the anchor and my older brother navigated us through the rapids.

Down below the rapids we continued down the middle of the hole. We saw two bank fishermen on the north bank of the river. When we got within earshot of the first he yelled out, “have you guys had any luck today?”, and all of the sudden, BAM, BAM, BAM… I had a fish on! I set the hook and tried to keep myself calm. I was determined to get this fish in the net. I immediately tried to loosen up my drag and let this fish do it’s thing. The problem was that the fish was apparently swimming towards me, so, I was trying to loosen the drag and reel at the same time. This is impossible to do unless you have a third hand. I thought I was doing ok, putting the right amount of pressure on the fish, but about six or seven feet from the boat the fish did some kind of underwater acrobatics and the line went slack. I was so mad! I was pretty sure that I would never, EVER catch another steelhead (my first and only steelhead was more than twelve years ago on the Siletz river). The opportunities to fight fish seemed to come so few and far between, and when I did manage to hook a fish, I couldn’t stay cool enough to make the appropriate maneuvers necessary to get them in the net!

I sat down in disgust (mainly with myself, partially with the rascally fish) and figured I had lost my only chance for the rest of the year catch a steelhead. But, I know you can’t catch them if you don’t have your hook in the water, so I checked my leader and made sure it wasn’t damaged, then I skewered another coon-stripe shrimp and tossed it into the current, letting the diver make it dance along the bottom of the mighty river.

It wasn’t but twenty minutes later on our next float down the big hole, when my younger brother set the hook and had a fish on! I was sure he was going to land this one, he seemed so much more calm and collected that I managed to be. He fought it for a few minutes and… all of the sudden the fish was off.

By this time my older brother was getting pretty perturbed by the number of fish that had been hooked and lost in his boat this year. I think by this time it had been six fish in a row.

Our hopes of catching a steelhead were diminishing, but we still had time, so there was nothing left to do, but keep fishing. We made a few more passes through the big hole and then my older brother asked us what we wanted to do. Did we want to make another run or two through the big hole and then go over to the far side of the river and fish a likely looking hole that none of us had ever fished, or should we go to the far side now?

I suggested we go to the far side of the river now. So, my older brother rowed the boat over to the shallow area in the middle of the river. It was so shallow, in fact, that the bottom of the boat scraped the rocks and we couldn’t continue on. So, my brother took off his shoes and jumped out of the boat. I’m sure the rocks felt real nice on the bottom of his feet as he dragged us across the rocks towards the South bank, where there was a very inviting, dark green run waiting for us. As we scraped along for a moment or two, we began to sense two pairs of eyes boring down on from the North bank. We figured those ol’ boys thought we were either crazy or were going to get really lucky fishing the other side of the river.

Once the scraping stopped, my older brother jumped back in the boat, put his shoes on and paddled us to the top of the hole. We began to drift down very slowly, allowing the divers and shrimp do their work. A little over half way down, when we got to the second or third bush that was sticking out over the water, all of the sudden, TAP, TAP, TAP… I set the hook and FISH ON! I wasn’t sure what I had at first. It wasn’t fighting as hard as the other steelhead had fought. I started to play the fish, with a good measure more of patience this time. At first my older brother didn’t believe I had a fish on. He thought this was just another of many snags that we had had during the day’s fishing. I assured him it was a fish, I just didn’t know exactly what kind of fish it was at the moment. I will be honest with you, for a moment I thought I might have had a large sucker on the line or a large cutthroat trout. But then I got a glimpse of the fish and I said, “It’s a steelhead!”

We weren’t messing around this time. I loosened the drag a little in case the fish decided to make a run, but when I saw the surprised look on the fish’s face, I knew that he didn’t know what was going on. So, I tightened up the drag a little more, still being cautious not to tighten it too much, and worked him gently, closer and closer to the boat. My older brother had the net in hand and, it seemed to all work out really well. The fish didn’t make any big runs, and like I said, I don’t think the fish even realized what had happened. My brother netted him and when he hit the bottom of the boat, that’s when he started “flipping out”. I, however, was the one that was doing the most “flipping out,” because I yelled out with glee and gave my older brother a hug a really made a fool of myself. I didn’t care because I knew my first steelhead in 12 years was now in the boat and wasn’t going anywhere. My brother asked me if I wanted a picture with the fish and did I want him to conk it on the head first, as it was still going crazy on the bottom of the boat. I said “you better conk him first, I am not going to take any chances with this fish.” So, when the conking was done I lifted him up with my hands through his gills and mouth and got several pictures with him on our cell phones. Unfortunately, my digital camera was about 3,000 miles away in Nicaragua with my wife and son. So, that’s the best we could do. Meanwhile, I noticed that the fish had some very sharp and large teeth that cut my hand pretty good, but I still didn’t care. I lifted him up for the ol’ boys across the river, who were watching from the North bank. I gave them a big thumb’s up and continued acting like a 9 year old for a minute or two. Until the excitement ebbed enough to sit down and go back to fishing.

We headed back to the top of the same run on the South side of the river and began to float it again, being sure that our chances for another fish were pretty good, seeing how none of us had ever seen a boat fishing this particular hole during the whole season. There had to be more than one in there, right? Well, we made it down the run a little farther, lining up with the next bush downriver from where I had hooked mine, and BAM, BAM, BAM, my younger brother had a fish on!

This fish was a little more crazy than mine and I would say my younger brother did an excellent job playing him. I got really concerned when the fish headed down river a bit and swam under one of the bushes that hung right over the water. We rowed downstream a little and got parallel to the fish. We could see him swimming in the water under one of the branches. Like I say, I got pretty worried by this and said, “Oh, crap!” But thankfully, my brothers stayed more calm. My younger brother began to patiently work him out from under the bush and I jumped on the oars to try to keep the her steady as my older brother netted her. And… she was in the boat!

A two steelhead day!
We also caught two or three other 10-11 inch cutthroat trout that day as well. I am really starting to like this drift fishing business.

My steelhead measured 27 ½ inches and if I remember correctly, my brother’s fish measured 26 ½ inches. What a great day!!!

Tight Lines! -nimrod243


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Diamond Lake Rainbows Survive Thrashing

Made the 175 mile trip to Diamond Lake on Thursday, July 2nd to camp for the night. Silly me, I didn't make reservations and I was lucky to get a camping spot. When I drove down to Diamond Lake Campground, the sign said, "Campground Full," so I headed over to the resort and asked them how I could find out if there were any campgrounds available. They said they were all full as of Wednesday, but one guy told me to just ask around because he saw some people leaving because of the mosquitoes. So, I headed back down to Diamond Lake Campground and asked the young lady in the Kiosk if there was a campground available for just one night. And indeed there were a few available, I just had to be out by 1:00 PM on July 3rd because the sites were reserved. She gave me a list and told me to go pick one out. I was pretty embarrassed by all this, but was pleasantly surprised when one of the available sites was right on the water! I quickly set up my tent and headed back up to the kiosk to pay the fee of $18 for the nights accommodations. First Class!

It was about 3:00 PM by the time I got back to camp and got everything set up. I was informed by a nice couple that if I didn't have any insect repellent, I would want to go purchase some. It was breezy at the moment, but I was assured that when the wind died down I would be glad to have some. So I headed back over to the store at the resort and after a few minutes of looking around, I found the insect repellent, which was for sale at its every-day low price of $9.25. That an a package of hot dogs and some ketchup ate up a twenty dollar bill. I can't say I was surprised at the prices, being 10,000 miles from nowhere and all (again my excellent planning was manifesting itself as usual).
Back at camp I started a little fire and cooked up a couple of hot dogs which I washed down with a couple of cans of Mountain Dew... Dinner of champions.
I was kind of killing time, waiting for the blazing sun to lower into the western sky and for the wind and the waves to calm enough to safely fish from my float tube into the evening. I have heard the fishing can be excellent at Diamond Lake, but, for some reason I don't have a lot of faith in my ability to locate and catch fish on the big central Oregon lakes after being skunked at Crane Prairie earlier in the season and skunked at Davis Lake several years prior. I kept telling myself I had to try in order to catch them. I guess, In a way I was just putting off the pain I was afraid I would face, when rejected again by the large rainbows of Central Oregon.
I drove to the Northwest side of the lake and launched my float tube. It took me several minutes longer than I would have liked however, because a nice camo-clad gentleman who had just sat down to fish for the evening was talking my ear off. I don't know why, but I have a hard time concentrating when someone is yacking away at me. But, I forced myself to just look away from the man and get my gear on and into the water. He continued to talk until I had kicked a good distance into the lake and I was quite relieved when another bank angler approached him and started fishing next to him, falling victim of his incessant chatter about 18-pounders from before they poisoned the lake.
I kicked around and around and around and was half tempted to kick out into the middle of the lake where several boats were congregating in the deepest water, most definitely catching more than their fair share of the fish. I'm pretty sure I had one strike on a bead headed woolly bugger, but of course I didn't hook the fish, even for a moment.
I changed flies several times and tried to stay just on the deeper side of the weeds as I was counseled to do by a couple of fellow fishermen. It was a beautiful evening and my hopes hadn't been completely dashed out because it is a big lake and I still had plenty of time to fish the next day. I took lots of pictures... probably more than I should have, and just kind of relaxed and enjoyed myself as much as possible without catching fish.

The next morning I rolled out of bet at 5:00 AM. I started a little fire to take the chill off and to help me wake up. Then I had a breakfast of champions, chocolate covered graham cracker cookies and a couple cans of Mountain Dew (is this turning into a confession session?).After inflating my float tube, I made sure the fire was out and jumped in the car and headed towards the shallower south shore of the lake where Silent Creek enters the lake. It wasn't until 7:00 AM that I was launching my float tube onto the sandy beach-like shore and kicking out into the water.
As the morning wore on without any action, I began to see more and more mayflies on top of the water. I have never seen so many bugs in my life. It was amazing. I figured there weren't that many trout around because I assumed the fish would be feasting on them... Water was probably too warm. I did see some fish rising, however. I am pretty sure there were a few fish that kept cruising around and sipping up a fly here and there. Because I would see one ring on the water's surface, then a few seconds later another ring about 10 feet away and so on. So I tried to target the cruising fish as they came within casting distance a few times. If I had been better prepared to capitalize on these opportunities, I just might have hooked one.
I did come close to hooking one around 11:00 AM when a fish submarined into casting distance and I flipped my olive Woolly Bugger right in his feeding lane. I could see the leader move ever so slightly as if the fish had it in it's mouth, so I tried to set the hook, and there was nothing there. I was excited to get a little nibble. I ended the trip with three small strikes, all on medium sized Woolly Buggers, both bead-headed and standard variations.
Overall it was a pleasant stay at Diamond Lake, the scenery is even better than Crane Prairie and the weather was awesome.
If you go to Diamond Lake, I would strongly recommend taking some insect repellent, make sure you make reservations at the campground ahead of time, and be patient with the fish. There are lots of large trout in the lake, but they don't come easy, they can survive a good water thrashing! But hey, you can't catch them if you don't try.

Tight Lines! - nimrod243

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fishy Daze!

Saturday, June 20th was a wonderful fish filled day! I got up at 6:15 and loaded up my gear in my Nissan Sentra and hit the road.
I headed up Oregon's Highway 20 through Lebanon and Sweet Home and over he Santiam Pass to the Highway 126 Junction. From there I headed southwest about 10 miles past Clear Lake and on to one of my favorite summer fishing spots, Trail Bridge Reservoir.
Trail Bridge is frequently stocked with rainbow trout during the summer and ODFW has restricted fishing to artificial flies and lures. I'm afraid many fishers are not aware of those restrictions however as I heard bank anglers speaking of bobbers and saw PowerBait floating in the water along the bank.
I arrived at the Reservoir at about 9:00 AM and hastily inflated my Caddis Float Tube (by dizzying lung power), then donned my new(ish) lightweight breathable waders and wading boots. I packed my float tube, flippers and fly rod down to the lake by the dam and was in the water in a few minutes!
I already had a size 10 bead head Carey Bugger in “brownish-red” tied on the end of my leader, so I cast it a couple of times as I kicked over my favorite weed beds, not expecting much action. After a few casts, I made the wise decision and snipped off the Carey Bugger and tied on the fly fish go crazy over at Trail Bridge, an Olive Woolly Bugger (a very entomologically correct fly - not!).

On the first cast, I shot out all the line and just let it sit there while I put my gear away in the float tube pockets and all the sudden... fish on! I didn’t even have to set the hook. It was a beautiful rainbow trout about 10 1/2 to 11 inches long. Some of the stocked fish take on a beautiful "purplish-blue" color that helps them blend into the color of the dark blue water.
I fished on, from 9:00 AM until about 1:15 PM when, after 27 hard fighting fish, my Woolly Bugger broke off in some poor fish's mouth. I think I got my money's worth out of that fly! So, I tied on another and continued fishing.
At this point I had convinced myself that I just had to catch 30 fish (releasing all but the largest fish unharmed, so as not to exceed my daily limit) before I left...
Well, a major psychological barrier set in or maybe it was the barometric pressure, or the fish were taking a siesta, or something and it took me another 45 minutes to round out my 30 fish day. In fact, I had all but given up and then caught the 30th fish as I kicked my way back to the bank!
So far, the day had been quite fishy, but I wasn't finished yet! I took off my boots and waders, deflated my tube and packed all my gear into the trunk of my car and was off down Highway 126 towards Springfield to my brother's house to help him move some stuff into storage and then hit the Willamette River in his drift boat for steelhead/salmon!
As soon as I saw the little bars on my cell phone, I called my brother, who probably was wondering why the heck I hadn't answered his phone call about an hour and a half earlier. I explained the predicament I had been in, and got a laugh out of the 30 fish statistic. We chatted until I hit the town of Leaburg, where I made a pit stop for some health food (2 chicken strips w/ Ranch, a jalapeƱo corndog and a 32 ounce of Mountain Dew) and some sand shrimp for “big fish” bait, provided to the store by Steelheaders West according the lady behind the counter.
Made it to Springfield, fulfilled moving duties, hooked up the boat, loaded our gear and headed of to a nearby boat ramp.
With the boat in the water, the excitement began! I desperately tied my one-and-only, purple Egg-Sucking-Leech onto the end of my Scientific Anglers 9ft, 6lb, tapered leader. Casting just slightly upstream, letting the fly “dead-drift” for a few seconds, I let it swing across the deeper runs. I fished this way for a couple of hours. My bro was using a red diver with sand shrimp...
Sure enough, all of the sudden, I was minding my own business, waiting for the tug at the end of my line when my brother called out my name excitedly, and I looked over to see the spinning rod that was sitting in the rod holder flapping like a willow in a stiff breeze!
I took to the oars in short succession and, seeing how we haven't invested in a steelhead/salmon net, I had to maneuver the drift boat over to a shallow area to "beach" the beautiful bright hen steelhead.
The fish made a couple of runs and after one failed attempt on my part to grab the fish, my bro took over, and successfully scooped her up, with one hand under her belly and the other securing her powerful tail. She was up out of the water and into the boat!

Now, that was exciting!

The only thing I caught a little later that evening was a nice cutthroat (about 15 inches) on the same diver and sand shrimp, which managed to release itself right next to the boat. I should have been really excited about it, and hey, I'm not complaining...
but I really wanted it to be a steelhead!

Tight Lines! - nimrod243