Winter trout fly fishing

Peaceful

Peaceful

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Hi guys, first post in the OFF. I love the spirit of camaraderie here, especially during these semi-chaotic times.

I have a two-part question for y'all:

1. Fly Fishing Swollen Rivers -- I went out to a few of my favorite runs & riffles on the Wilson river this weekend and got mostly skunked and completely soggy. I'm willing to deal with the soggy part, but I'm wondering what I should expect when the river jumps up a couple feet in one weekend... I'm certainly not an advanced fly fisher, but I usually pull in at least a dozen to two dozen fish (not big ones necessarily, but something) from these spots on the Wilson. I felt like I was throwing my go-to nymphs, droppers, and dries to what I usually consider prime trout water, but to my dismay -- nothing. (One exception: caught a 10" in the side. 🤦‍♂️ eesh) Just wondering what you guys expect/do differently when these favorite trout streams jump up the banks in Oregon rain showers.?

2. Portland-area Winter Stream Options & Trout Regulations -- the regs are kind of exhausting for us non-analytical types! :rolleyes: I'm looking for small / mid-sized streams within a couple hours of Portland and it seems like there are a couple dozen creeks that I'd never heard of buried in the Exceptions section. I can go google map each of those exception creeks / small streams, but just wondering what you guys & gals in the PDX area like to do? I know Maupin / Deschutes is ~2hrs away (and I can't wait to go exploring Fall & Crooked, too!), but at that point I'm going to be staying/camping out there and that is not my wife's idea of a great weekend. I know this is a very common question here in the forum, so I apologize for the overlap.

Thanks in advance everyone!

Jason

Attached: a pic of my first "one cast, two fish" experience, double nymph rig on the Wilson a couple weekends ago.
 

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olshiftybiscuits

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Hi, thanks for that insightful reply, @olshiftybiscuits . I have indeed been getting familiar with the Deschutes recently, although I get a bit confused by the regs! This last weekend a steelhead fisherman told me I needed a steelhead tag, even though I was very much targeting trout. Here's what I read on page 6:



So do I need the tag if I'm 1000% not angling for those species? (Nor would I even think about harvesting it if I caught one of those species.)

He also told me (in a very friendly way) that the river was closed for trout fishing as of Oct 31st. My mouth dropped when I heard this, as I was under the very strong impression that this was an all year fishery. So now I'm even more confused, because the signage out there at Trout Creek campground/day use indeed said "open for trout and whitefish between April something and Oct 31". But the online regs say that that area, Northern Boundary of the Warm Springs Reservation to the Pelton Regulating Reservoir. is open Apr 22 - Dec 31 for trout and hatchery steelhead. (Whereas the rest of the river downstream is open all year for trout.) Is this just a matter of "posted onsite regs" being outdated? Should I trust what I read in the online version?

On a more fun and interesting note, at least to me, I hooked on to a wildly unexpected fish this last weekend there on the Deschutes! If you're interested, I put compiled the footage of some of the bigger fish in this youtube video:

Love to hear your thoughts on that first fish! 😅

You bet. That first fish is a largescale sucker. They’re natives and fairly rare, that’s a cool catch. Looks like you also got a bull trout in there, which is very cool.

You need a steelhead tag if you’re doing any type of fishing in a stream where they’re present, regardless of whether you’re targeting them. It’s a bit of a drag but ultimately a relatively low cost. Easy to add online so you’re good to go next time.

The friendly dude on the river was confused about the regs, you had them right! That section is open through the end of this month. After that you’ll want to head toward Maupin, that stretch is year round. Regs change year to year based on the health of the fishery, so it can be tough to track them and everyone thinks they know the right answer. The regs themselves are the only expert! Even then I’ve ended up on the wrong side of them more than once due to a misread.
 
Peaceful

Peaceful

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I get suckers on beads all the time. Feel like steelhead for a bit when they're 4 or 5 pounds.
Yeah, first time for me so I was a little perplexed. Gave me a good walk downstream... didn't help that my second nymph had hooked into its fin. Just an awkward landing altogether!
 
Peaceful

Peaceful

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You bet. That first fish is a largescale sucker. They’re natives and fairly rare, that’s a cool catch. Looks like you also got a bull trout in there, which is very cool.

You need a steelhead tag if you’re doing any type of fishing in a stream where they’re present, regardless of whether you’re targeting them. It’s a bit of a drag but ultimately a relatively low cost. Easy to add online so you’re good to go next time.

The friendly dude on the river was confused about the regs, you had them right! That section is open through the end of this month. After that you’ll want to head toward Maupin, that stretch is year round. Regs change year to year based on the health of the fishery, so it can be tough to track them and everyone thinks they know the right answer. The regs themselves are the only expert! Even then I’ve ended up on the wrong side of them more than once due to a misread.
Totally hear you on that... and then on top of that it seems like there's outdated info posted out on/near the river.

I was going to do Maupin this time but found some nice pockets on the first stretch there and, like you'd recommended, fished the holy hell out of them until it was too dark to see my sighter.

Speaking of dark... the trout really started munching on the surface right around dusk but I just could not seem to get them interested in anything I tied on. Tried emergers, midges, tiny bwo, etc -- not even a nibble looky loo. It was mildly amusing to run 5 dead drifts on 5-7x tippet, no rise, and then see a nice fish eat something else off the surface within seconds of my offering. Any hints there?
 
jamisonace

jamisonace

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You need a steelhead tag if you’re doing any type of fishing in a stream where they’re present, regardless of whether you’re targeting them.
Where do you see this?

So, if I'm fishing for bass in the main Umpqua in August I need a tag because there are summer steelhead and fall chinook present?

I think you should only need a tag if you're going to harvest fish. Especially now that they are trying to turn everything native into c&r.
 
TheKnigit

TheKnigit

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I think you should only need a tag if you're going to harvest fish. Especially now that they are trying to turn everything native into c&r.
This was my understanding of the regs. Except I would swap the word "harvest" for "target".
 
jamisonace

jamisonace

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This was my understanding of the regs. Except I would swap the word "harvest" for "target".
Right but I'm not talking about what is currently the rule. I'm describing how I think the rule should be written. C&R all you want without a tag. Buy the tag if you're going to take a fish home.
 
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Snopro

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Looks like you specifically need it for C&R. From the ODFW,

"Who Needs a Columbia River Basin Endorsement?

All anglers fishing for salmon, steelhead or sturgeon (catch-and-release and retention) on all rivers and tributaries in the Columbia River Basin."

I think intent has a lot to do with it. Brought up the question to a LEO. Used the Deschutes as an example. If fishing a size 18 BWO on a 4wt without the CRBE you would get a pass. Spey rod fishing a 1/0 Max Canyon and no CRBE gets a ticket.
 
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olshiftybiscuits

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Where do you see this?

So, if I'm fishing for bass in the main Umpqua in August I need a tag because there are summer steelhead and fall chinook present?

I think you should only need a tag if you're going to harvest fish. Especially now that they are trying to turn everything native into c&r.
I agree, if you're not planning to harvest the fish or specifically targeting the species, it seems like it shouldn't be something people have to pay for. But guides won't take you on an anadromous water without a steelhead tag.

Intent doesn't really matter either, unfortunately. The lines have blurred so much between winter trout and steelhead tactics. People euro nymph for steehead on three weights with size 20 midges these days.

I'd be more than happy to fill out a report card of incidentals every season, but totally agree with you that I'd rather not pay for it as someone who rarely targets anadromous fish.
 
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olshiftybiscuits

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Totally hear you on that... and then on top of that it seems like there's outdated info posted out on/near the river.

I was going to do Maupin this time but found some nice pockets on the first stretch there and, like you'd recommended, fished the holy hell out of them until it was too dark to see my sighter.

Speaking of dark... the trout really started munching on the surface right around dusk but I just could not seem to get them interested in anything I tied on. Tried emergers, midges, tiny bwo, etc -- not even a nibble looky loo. It was mildly amusing to run 5 dead drifts on 5-7x tippet, no rise, and then see a nice fish eat something else off the surface within seconds of my offering. Any hints there?

That's frustrating! It sounds like you did everything you could. Sometimes they're just keyed in on something you can't see. Mercer's Missing Link pattern is great to have on-hand for hatches you can't quite nail down. One thing I've noticed about the Deschutes in cold weather is that even if fish are feeding at the surface, they'll take heavy nymphs drifted slow and deep. So I stick with those rather than trying to match the hatch, mostly because they're so short this time of year and I get impatient!
 
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