Monday, August 21, 2017

Fishing under the Dark Side of the Moon

Gunsight Mountain 
Steven, Buddy and I had talked about making today's Total Eclipse, a once in a lifetime fly fishing event by sitting on Anthony Lake for the day. Dale (club secretary) had emailed all club members that this was our intention, several replied that they had jobs, or busy elsewhere, and unable join us for the very rare occasion to log into their fishing diaries. Therefore to share this rare event with all, Dale is posting to the club's blog.

5:30 am for Steven, 6:30 am for Buddy and I, this day started under clear blue skies as we headed for our favorite trout lake; nearer the sun, moon, and stars at 7100 feet elevation.

When Buddy and I got to I-84 it looked like most of Portland's morning traffic was headed east - the same direction which we were headed. Steven said he experienced the same when he got to I-84 coming out of Tri-Cities. This did not concern me much until we got pass La Grande, then I began to worry... How many of these people / vehicles had the same idea in mind as Steven, Buddy and I...  Let's Go High and Enjoy the extraordinary view of this very rare event.
Last week, last Wednesday Steven, Buddy and I had been on Anthony Lake, when the east side entrance using NFR 73 was closed by the Bear Butte Fire



During last week's travel using Hwy 395, and coming from Ukiah on NFR 52, I had passed only 2 vehicles in that 48 miles drive from Ukiah up to the lake. Oh what a difference 5 days can make.
Talking during our lunch break, Steven and I exchanged the same feelings; that on our way up the mountain each had wondered / questioned if we could get our boat to the lake's boat launch this morning, or would we be hiking up to the lake from a mile or so away? Would we be able to have our boats on the water for the eclipse event, or be standing in line with many others to watch this eclipse??

It was a beautiful morning's drive into the Elkhorns, surveying the damage done by the Bear Butte Fire that had burned the mountains, and closed the roads to the lake the previous two weeks.

As we got closer to Anthony Lake, there was less and less traffic, until we ran into NO traffic at all. When Buddy and I got to the lake, we found only our fishing pal Steven at the boat launch, in bright morning sunshine along with a squirrel munching on its breakfast. 
Steven and I got our pontoon boats geared up, lake worthy and jumped in. 
As we got into the lake there was a very slight shadowing effect taking place across the area. 


The "darkness" progressed until 10:25. At that point wearing our solar eclipse glasses we did not witness a full black out of the sun, even though we were in the path of Totality. I did get a few photos of the eclipse in progress using my Eclipse glass to shield my camera's lens.


I was amazed the we did not go into total darkness, and that I could not, did not see any stars in the sky as I had expected. 

After Totality had come and gone, we fished on. Both Steven and I caught 2 fish not long after sunshine brightness returned to our world, and then the bite was off until after lunch.
video
VIDEO - click box in right corner for FULL SCREEN viewing -VIDEO

After lunch we both hooked into a number of fish. I watched a lone fisher work the lake for maybe an hour, catching nothing that I could tell about. A beautiful sight - white head and tail blazing bright white - while in flight under the sun.

Steven landed a couple more, and kept two for the day for his neighbor, and I landed two more before sunset for my day's catch of four. When casting distance is not an issue, these Anthony Lake triploids are a lot of fun coming in on the ole SPL 2-wt.

While Steven and I spent most of the day working at catching dinner for neighbors and self, Dale's Buddy watched patiently at the boat launch, greeting everyone and their doggie coming by. At the end of the day Buddy was also exhausted.

A great day to be alive, another great day of catching at Anthony Lake


Tight lines and good fishing
A report by Dale McKain

Tight lines and good fishing.


Walla² Fly Fishers



Thursday, August 3, 2017

Chasing Steelhead through the Pacific Northwest - Tis the season


Steelhead are not just another 20" to 45" Rainbow Trout

Unlike their double-first cousins (rainbow and redband trout), steelhead run to the ocean and back during their life cycle. During that time they become large, fat and sassy. To tell the difference between a steelhead and rainbow / redband trout, one has to look for them in the salt of the ocean, or do genetic testing in a lab. 
For the sake of a legal definition most state regulations designate a 20" rainbow trout found in a river or stream, to be a steelhead, whether it has ever run into the ocean's salt or not. There is a difference between the two.


Steelhead run... from their fresh water natal habitat to salt water, then in 3 to 4 years they return to their fresh water natal habitat to spawn. They are an anadromous salmonid, but unlike salmon, steelhead can run to the Pacific Ocean multiple times and return to spawn, coming back larger with each run.

Steelhead run... when they feel the point of a steel fly piercing into their jaw. This is what make the search, the chase, the hands-on experience so exhilarating, and happens using a very wide variety of steelhead flies that are available, and to tye.
Green Butt Skunk







 









Spawning Purple









Articulated Egg Sucking Leach









It is said that the best steelhead fly to use is "the one you can catch a steelhead with." A general "Rule of Thumb" for selecting a steelhead catching fly is... On bright days - use bright colored, flashy flies; on overcast days - use dark flies. Flies tied with Krystal Flash or the likes (colorful or dark), are good steelhead attracters.

Angling for steelhead and salmon is unlike chasing other fish species in fresh waters. Until they enter their natal spawning water/area, they are constantly on the move... here today, gone tomorrow. Fortunately for the Walla² Fly Fishers', we have kind of a flow chart -of fresh salty adult "steelies" migration- to show us when and where the steelies are, when they are  running up the Columbia River and throughout it's tributaries. We have the Columbia and Snake rivers dams with fish counters, that give us these reports. 

If you are one interested in chasing Pacific Northwest steelhead, you might want to follow the fish runs through these Columbia/ Snake rivers dams via the USACE adult fish counts.
Water temperature 8/2/17 at  -- Bonneville = 72.14
°F, McNary = 71.42°F,  Ice Harbor = 71.96°F

Current 2017 Adult Steelhead Counts and 10-year average Y-T-D

Adult Steelhead dam counts


The Dalles

John Day

McNary

Ice Harbor

Lower Monumental
8-2-2017
25,331
7,349
4,106
4,806
2,075
2,368
10-year average to date Aug 2nd

113,339

58,903

41,980

30,644

17,532

18,120
The Dalles Dam
Steelhead Passage/Count - 2017 Return ~~~~~ Past 10-Year Average



Adult
Steelhead
dam counts

The Dalles

John Day

McNary

Ice Harbor

Lower Monumental
9-2-2017
78110
20855
8069
7850
3116
3514
10-year average to date Sept 2nd

256930

132007

98223

72305

41334

38662

Year-to-Date 10-2-2017

One might say that Walla² Fly Fishers' steelhead home waters are throughout the flow of the Mid-Columbia River Basin tributaries beginning at the Klickitat River in WA, the Deschutes River in OR, and following the Snake River into Idaho. Along the way they stray into every river from Bonneville Dam to Dworshak Dam to Pateros Lake.

Because Idaho Department of Fish and Game have used a hatchery strain of steelhead from coastal British Columbia rivers, the Columbia River Basin has two "runs" of steelhead... the A-run and the B-run

Two (2) steelies on the left are female ~~ One (1) steelie on the right is a male

Both of these "runs" have to pass through our Walla² Fly Fishers' waters to make it to their natal spawning waters.

Usually the early steelies are being caught in the Columbia River Basin around the Klickitat River and Deschutes River in July and August. For the lower-Deschutes River the peak of the steelhead catching season is from mid-September to October. Other rivers are the John Day - October and November; Umatilla and Walla Walla - October, November, and December; Snake River rivers - late October, November, December, upper Columbia River - October through January. Higher tributaries usually begin hold steelies in November with spawning returns in April and May.
Many rivers will draw "strays" into the lower stretch of each river until irrigation has been turned off in the upper stretches of the river - usually after frost. Steelhead are usually straying or running up most rivers in November and December to re-enter the upper reach of their spawning rivers / streams in January to late February.
Steelhead tend to be in no hurry to get to their natal spawning waters until March through May, with most spawning being in late-March and April. It is during this time of the run that many hatchery steelhead are beating their heads against the doors of the hatchery they were reared in. 

The Pacific Northwest Columbia River Basin
Click on link - then click on map to enlarge for details
When on their spawn run, it has been said... they are not feeding, or do so very little. Having run from the ocean being bright and flashy, fat and sassy, by the time steelhead have spawned and are returning to salt, they are dark, tired, and very thin. To hook a spawned out "steelie", is much like landing a stick.

Always check the fishing synopsis governing the state you are steelheading in to confirm you are angling legally. You might also check the websites thereof to see if there have been any update/changes to the regulations for steelheading... per river, per county. 


2017 Steelheaders' NEWS:

Poor run prompts Columbia River summer steelhead fishing restrictions

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Low steelhead count expected in Columbia River

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Adult
Steelhead
dam counts

The Dalles

John Day

McNary

Ice Harbor

Lower Monumental
9-2-2017
78110
20855
8069
7850
3116
3514
10-year average to date Sept 2nd

256930

132007

98223

72305

173530

38662



If you would like to learn more about steelhead angling, you may wish to read the works of; and contact this Oregon Pro of steelhead angling -- John Shewey for greater insight in chasing, catching these elusive fins and tails that run through the Pacific Northwest.


















  
Grab your rod, grab your flies...
and let's go Steelhead catching, Tis the season.
The End


Report submitted by
Dale McKain



Tight lines and good fishing.


Walla² Fly Fishers