Feb 5, 2016

Gearing up for Meat Eating Trout

meat eater

Hi, my name is Ryan and I have a streamer problem.

Some would say I have an addiction. 

Some would say it’s not “real” fly fishing. 

Some would say you might as well fish with a spinning rod. 

I would say bite me!

 I have been a die-hard streamer guy for over a decade now and I will do my best to try to explain why and how I am setup for slinging big flies to monster trout.

There are 3 reasons I have become a streamer junkie:
  • Streamer fishing is active fishing or what they would call power fishing in the tournament bass world. You are casting and moving a lot, and really looking for fish that want to play ball. It isn’t a finesse game, but it will work when you can’t move fish other ways. 
  • Streamer strikes are often vicious and jarring. Once you have felt a few big trout crush a sculpin pattern it is hard to go back to watching a bobber… 
  • Streamers will move the biggest fish in the system. If you want to catch big fish regularly, then you better learn how to feed them some meat! 

Sculpin pattern
There are some important things to think about when considering the whys, whens and hows of streamer fishing. If you think about a simple energy used to energy gained equation, it is easy to understand why a trout would eat a sculpin, dace, leech, or another trout. How many midge larvae does it take to equal the calories in one sculpin? A bunch, I would say. Another crucial aspect of streamer fishing is understanding territorial behavior and reaction strikes. Trout, particularly large trout, will defend their area even if they don’t eat what they attack. Large trout will also strike invaders for no other reason than instinct. If a big “thing” is suddenly slapped in front of them or jigs right through their field of vision, they will often strike with malicious intent.

There are many ways to fish a streamer, and I can’t possibly cover it all here, but there are a few major categories: slapping the bank, swinging, and jigging/twitching. As you dive into the streamer chucking realm you will find out when and where to use each of these, and often I will use all of them in the same day. Now don’t get me wrong, if there is a good steady hatch I will put the streamer rod down, but when the insects aren’t prolific, you will most likely see me with a leech or sculpin on my rig. And I can tell you that I have caught as many sporadically rising trout on a well placed streamer as any dry fly I have tried to present.

Meat Locker

Rainbows on the Yakima River
So let’s get down to brass tax; gearing up for the streamer game… Let me start by saying that you can fish streamers on any trout rod and line you already own, but a dedicated streamer rod will make your life easier, and give you the ability to fish effectively, especially with bigger flies. For me, a single hand trout streamer rod should be a 6 or 7 wt that isn’t too fast. Some of my favorites are the Winston BIIIx, Sage ONE, and G Loomis NRX. I know these are top end rods, but trust me, you want a rod that performs well and is light enough to cast all day when you are throwing big flies. The fly line is equally as important as the rod. For most western rivers you will need a sink tip line. My favorites are the RIO InTouch Outbound Short full floater (WF6) and intermediate/type 6 sink tip (WF6I/S6), the RIO InTouch Streamer Tip intermediate and type 6 and the RIO InTouch 15ft Sink Tip type 6. Of these the 15ft sink tip is the most versatile and the outbound short is easiest to cast. I prefer the type 6 tips for all of these because I rarely if ever wish my flies would sink less, but often wish I could get deeper.

Winter Brownie

Now let me tell you that not all streamer fishing has to be aggressive and with big flies. Fishing a streamer in smaller water or quiet pools requires some finesse and working the fly in a seductive manner. For smaller water, i.e. spring creeks, small freestones and slower tailwaters, etc. you will like a shorter rod in a 5wt as it will really help your accuracy and will load quickly. There aren’t as many choices in short 5wt rods these days, but a few I can recommend are the Loomis Shorestalker 8ft 5wt, the Scott G2 8’4” 5wt and the Winston 8’6” 5wt BIIIx. If you are in really small water or fishing for smaller fish don’t hesitate to throw small streamers on your 7’6” - 8’ 3 or 4wt too! You will also not typically need a sink tip line for small water, but a good all purpose line should get the job done.

Trout Spey Chronicles
Microspey, trout spey, small ball, whatever you call it, trout sized spey/switch rods have changed the streamer chucker’s game for good. How I would have killed for one of these rods 10 years ago. The ability to make long casts with big flies and sink tips across a river and into that deep slot has always been the bane of a streamer nut, but we did it anyway. Now we have rods and lines that can do it with nary a thought. If you find yourself deep in the throes of streamer addiction, grab a trout spey rod from Winston, Sage, Loomis or Echo, put an Airflo Streamer Switch or OPST Commando head in the appropriate size and a T-8 through T-11 tip and huck meat!

Reels for the streamer game need not be too complicated, but having a good piece of equipment that won’t fail you when you hook a monster, is wise. Some of my favorites are the Tibor Back Country Wide, Lamson Litespeed, Ross Evolution and Galvan Torque in the appropriate sizes. I try to avoid very heavy reels as it is a bear to cast with those all day. Just make sure you have something that is dependable.

Leader and tippet should be fairly short and strong. I rarely use anything less than 8# or 3x for streamers and mostly 2x or 1x. I am a big fan of fluorocarbon tippet, but for the most part good mono is just fine. Leaders on your sink tip setup should only be 3-6ft long with a heavy butt section to help turn over your flies. I like to build my own with Maxima or heavy Rio shock or saltwater tippet in 30-50# and then double uni knot to my tippet off of that.

Streamers are as varied as the anglers that fish them, but my most successful flies have been heavily weighted rubber legged buggers, bunny leaches, and big articulated sculpins. My favorite fly, one I dubbed the Mohawk, is a bunny or squirrel strip/bugger mutant. It can be tied with a cone, bead, or dumbbell eyes, but it should be fairly heavy. Some other really good choices are the sculpzilla and skulpin bunny. Colors should range from natural olives, tans and browns to bright colors like yellow and chartreuse, but the go to when all else fails is black.

BB - Before Beard

The bottom line is this: if you want to try a new technique, or are sick of watching a bobber, or want to find out what the biggest fish in your local water is, grab a big meaty streamer, drop it in and find out!
If not...Then Bite Me!

The Bearded Pescador

Ryan Van Duzor
Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Feb 3, 2016

Going Old School - Click Pawl Reels

Hardy Clickers

Reel technology has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years.  From stacked disc drags to fully sealed, saltwater-proof drags; there are a ton of choices in reel platforms out there.  All of the fancy drag systems out there have benefits that provide an edge to the most skilled anglers.  Sealed drags are the latest and greatest systems out there.  They are impervious to sand, silt and saltwater, giving anglers a peace of mind that there will likely never be a problem with their reel.  It wasn’t long ago that cork drags were the latest and greatest, offering the smoothest function of any reel.  Before that, the latest were conical clutch systems which were preceded by stacked disc drags and previously by drum brakes.  But in the beginning, it all started with the click pawl. 

Hardy Bougle'
Most modern anglers go for the latest, most modern system, or at least the most modern that they can afford.  Let’s be honest, people love having the greatest, newest technology out there.  That is why people stand in line for days in order to get the new iphone when it comes out. 

But some of us are cut from a different cloth.  I believe that some of the best reels ever made are still made today in much the same way as the very first production fly reel designed in 1874 by Charles Orvis.  His click pawl reel was the benchmark for countless generations of fly reels, and not much has changed in click pawl reel design since then.  Now the gold standard in classic fly reels across the world is the Hardy Perfect.  It has been made in Allenwick, England since 1891 and almost nothing has changed in its design because it is Perfect. 

The mechanics of such a simple design leave little room for failure.  The pawls (triangular pieces of metal) in the frame click against a gear on the spool that prevents the reel from overrunning if moved quickly.  There is little to no stopping power on click pawl reels.  While the pressure that it takes to move the pawl can be adjusted on some models, running fish should be slowed down by applying pressure to (palming) the spool.  Anglers can almost never blame a lost fish on a drag that was too tight or too loose on a click pawl reel, nor will you see anglers fiddling with the drag knob at crucial moments, because there isn’t much that can happen between the loosest and tightest setting on a click pawl reel.  Lost fish can only be blamed on an angler’s own lack of controlling the pressure on the reel.  It does take more skill to control the pressure on a click pawl reel, but it takes one back to the simpler times long ago where it was just man vs. fish.
Inside the New Pflueger Medalist

The original reels only had one pawl, forcing anglers to retrieve with only their right hand.  The biggest change in click pawl reel design in the past sixty years is the addition of a second pawl so that anglers can change their reel from right to left hand retrieve.  One pawl or the other is engaged by turning it so that the teeth interact with the gear while the other pawl sits at an angle so that it is not functioning.  Another adjustment in design is the addition of an “adjustable drag”.  It is a simple addition; a small tensioner pushes against the pawl to increase the pressure that it takes to move the gear.  There is not much difference between high and low pressure (hence my quotation marks), but it is enough to give anglers peace of mind and to quell the doubters. 

Hardy Bougle'

Now the best part of a click pawl reel...  Why I love them so much:  the sound.  Oh the sound of a screaming click pawl reel cannot be paralleled!  A digital recording of a screaming Hardy Perfect was set as my ringtone for a couple of years, but just made me want to fish too much every time my phone rang.  Now, I have had anglers in the shop compare the sound of a click pawl reel to nails on a chalkboard.  For them, I suggest a quieter reel like a Bauer or a Galvan.  Not everyone needs a reel like this. 
Hardy Bougle'

Why else should you buy a click pawl reel?  You’re buying a piece of history. The Perfect has been made by Hardy since before any of us were born.   The Hardy BouglĂ© and Lightweight series have been around since before WWII.  The Marquis is one of Hardy’s newer reels, although it has been in production since before the founding of most other reel companies in existence.   

There are some newer click pawl reels on the market, and they also have the same worry-free drag, awesome sound and classic look as the old stand-bys.  Hardy introduced the Duchess last year in both trout and spey sizes.  They are simple, yet elegant and look just as good on the water as they do in the store.  They are also a bit lighter in weight than a Perfect or a Bougle. 

Hardy is not the only game in town when it comes to click pawl reels, even if they are by far the top dog on the street.  Abel has been building their TR trout models since the mid 1990s, and their Classic, Spey and Switch reels since 2012.  The cool thing about Abel reels is the multitude of color and porting options to choose from.  You can customize your reel to the last detail while still getting that classic click pawl experience and the finest craftsmanship, perfect machining and unparalleled attention to detail. 
Abel Classic Spey and Switch Series

Yes, it’s true, click pawl reels are not just for steelhead fishermen, although that is where the majority of our sales go.  As mentioned earlier, Hardy has been making their lightweight series trout reels since the 1930s, with four models to fit any of your trout rods. And Abel’s TR models are beautiful reels with a classic design; but there are more options out there. 

Pflueger Medalist mounted to a Fenwick Fenglass
Most seasoned anglers have owned a Pflueger Medalist at some point, or at least have seen them at a garage sale.  I have two old Medalists; one of them is from the 1940s and still works just as smooth as it did on the day it left the factory in Akron, Ohio.  The original Medalists used a drum brake system, which was one basic engineering move above a click pawl, but far less complex than any type of disc brakes that we see today.  Pflueger, which is owned by Pure Fishing, the same parent company as Hardy, re-introduced the Medalist this past year, and the new model incorporates a click pawl system instead of the old drum brake.  This is the most affordable click pawl reel in the store and comes in trout sizes too, plus they look pretty darn cool on the new fiberglass rods.

Galvan Brookie on left and Sage Click on right

Other companies offer a modern hybrid version of a click pawl reel.  Sage’s new Click series reels feature a composite pawl that is quieter, yet just as smooth and efficient as a traditional reel but with large arbor design and modern looks.  Galvan’s Brookie reel features a Click-Ball system that is similar to a click pawl design but with modern bearings, smooth operation and a similar, modern, large arbor design.  Both of these reels are top-end alternatives to the traditional click pawl reel but with even smoother function and a quieter click. 
Hardy Marquis

I have heard concerns from anglers about using click pawl reels for trout.  They are afraid that delicate tippets will break easily because of the “startup inertia” required to move the pawls.  A couple of thoughts on this:  In the past one hundred years, tippet strengths have increased dramatically while engineering abilities have improved substantially.  Anglers back then caught plenty of fish on poorly machined reels bought at local drug stores using the weakest of tippets.  Abel, Hardy, Sage and Galvan are big names in reels today.  Many of their best small stream trout reels are click pawl (or similar) designs.  This should give you a little comfort in knowing that these systems have been designed by the best reel manufacturers in the world and after more than a hundred years, they are still the go-to reels for some of the best anglers on earth.

The only thing that has really changed that would hurt an angler fishing light tippet for big trout is a fast, stiff rod.  If you prefer a fast rod for sneaky trout fishing, I would suggest reading Ryan’s article on Soft Rods and Light Lines There is a lot to be said for the capabilities of soft rods when it comes to casting at, hooking and playing big fish on light tippet.  His article is definitely worth the read. 

Maybe a click pawl reel isn’t for everyone and I am ok with that.  I still own plenty of reels from names like Ross, Bauer and Lamson and I will continue to collect reels like my girlfriend collects shoes.  But when I am looking to find that reel that I will never sell to put on the one rod that I will own until I die, there is only one thing for me to do, and that is to go old school.   

Andrew Perrault
Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Jan 30, 2016

Ross Reels - A Closer Look at the Animas and Cimarron II

Back by popular demand!
The original Double R logo

It's been about a year now since Ross Reels announced their return to a fly reel ONLY company and I have to say we were glad to hear the news. After Ross Reels acquired the new ownership from a company called the Mayfly Group (who happens to also own Abel Fly Reels) it was decided that the right direction for Ross was to drop the line of imported rods and get back to their roots of building high quality USA made fly reels.  

Ross Animas
The Animas is named after the Animas River that flows through Southwest Colorado and conjoins the San Juan River in Northwest New Mexico. Some key features to note about the Animas is the machined aluminum reversed taper crank, tool-less easy right-to-left conversion and a time honored drag system taken from the indestructible CLA and remodeled with some high grade component upgrades.

Animas Specifications
Model Diameter Width Weight Rod wt Line
3/4 3.125" 0.97" 4.3 oz 3/4 WF3+75yds/20#
4/5 3.25" 0.97" 4.5 oz 4/5 WF4+100yds/20#
5/6 3.50" 1.01" 4.9 oz 5/6 WF5+150yds/20#
7/8 3.875" 1.09" 7.0 oz 7/8 WF8+200yds/20#
9/10 4.25" 1.17" 8.5 oz 9/10 WF9+250yds/30#
10/12 4.625" 1.19" 9.5 oz 10/12 WF12+275yds/30#

Ross Cimarron II
The Cimarron II replaces the aging CLA (Cimarron Large Arbor). The Cimarron II models the drag system from it's predecessor but sees some upgrades including some new composite  and stainless steel materials resulting in a much more powerful drag pressure while maintaining smooth startup inertia. In keeping with the CLA tradition the new Cimarron II offers high performance large arbor disc drag design in a lightweight economical USA built fly reel.

Cimarron Specifications
Model Diameter Width Weight Rod wt Line
3/4 3.125" 0.97" 4.77 oz 3/4 WF3+75yds/20#
4/5 3.25" 0.97" 4.85 oz 4/5 WF4+100yds/20#
5/6 3.50" 1.01" 5.11 oz 5/6 WF5+150yds/20#
7/8 3.875" 1.09" 6.82 oz 7/8 WF8+200yds/20#
9/10 4.25" 1.17" 7.54 oz 9/10 WF9+250yds/20#

Oh and the one of the best changes that happened at Ross Reels was the return of the double R logo! Sometimes you have to take a step back to see the correct path forward!

Ross is Back!

Just Wrong!


Gorge Fly Shop Internet Sales Manager | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Jan 25, 2016

Columbia Gorge Fishing Report (1.25.16)

Fishing Report

Short and sweet, and maybe the last report for a few weeks as not much is changing and it’s getting repetitive…

Winter Steelhead:  Rivers go up, rivers go down.  Fishing is hot, then its not.  It’s all about what you make of it.  If you have a decent amount of skill, then it’s all up to luck and how much time you can put on the water.  That’s really all there is to it.  There are plenty of steelhead in every river right now and there will be plenty of them through March.

Rainbow Trout fishing is still fabulous right now on the Deschutes.  Fish are starting to really key in on Skwala nymphs, while Blue Wing Olives are being taken in the back eddies, and sculpins are being eaten on the swing.

As always, we are happy to talk fishing any time.  Give us a call if you have any specific questions on local rivers, gear, and tactics, or if you just want some encouragement to get out of the office.  

Andrew Perrault
Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist

"Fly Fishing Report"

Jan 18, 2016

Soft Rods and Light Lines

Winter Brownie

Soft Rods and Light Lines a 2 part series.

Part 1: The rods

I have always had an affinity for soft, smooth fly rods, rods and lines that were a joy to cast, that kept you from being in a hurry and that often resulted in fish. For me, fly fishing started on a whippy fiberglass rod, a Daiwa I think, and a Martin reel handed down from my dad. I really began to learn how to cast on that rod, and maybe that feel has stuck with me till today.

Winter Trout'in
The modern fly fishing world is full of catch phrases like “high tech, high modulus, fast action, ultimate performance” etc, etc… which is all fine and good, but is that always what you really want in a trout rod? I tend to think not. Many would argue with me, which is fine, to each their own, but give me a medium to soft rod, an appropriately weighted line and put me on an intimate trout stream and I am in heaven! Not only will you be able to make nice, delicate presentations, but you will fight fish in a much more enjoyable way and lose less fish! Soft rods have all the give you need to keep fished hooked and to protect the lightest of tippets. OK, you probably have heard all of that. Here is where I deviate from the standard soft rod talk; I like medium to soft rods for everything, including streamers. You will have to adjust your cast, get the right line, but in the end you will have a rod that you can do it all with. I nice medium 5 or 6wt will allow you to fish with anything. Throw a size 4 streamer in the morning, nymph during the day, and get the midges out there delicately in the evening.

In the shop we often talk about rods that we would never part with, that we would be buried with, rods that have soul and that speak to us. I have 5-6 trout rods that certainly fall into that category, and you guessed it, they are all medium action graphite, glass or bamboo rods, and most have the name “Winston” on them.

If you have never fished a softer rod, you owe it to yourself to try one. I recommend you start with glass, as it is the most easily accessible and the easiest on the wallet. The revamped Fenwick Fen Glass rods, which we just received in the shop, blew all of us away. These are by far the lightest and most balanced glass rods on our rack, and just a joy to cast. Built on the newest S-Glass technology, they have a rod for every scenario; the lineup amazingly includes 3 to 8wts! Grab the 3wt for a high mountain stream or take the 8 out for steelhead or bass. Whatever you do, take a dip back into simpler times with a modern glass rod!

If you are having a hard time adjusting your cast or transitioning from fast rods, the Winston Boron III-LS, G Loomis NRX LP, Sage Circa and Scott G2 rods are perfect for you. You are still going to get that classic smooth feel, but with modern light graphite and exceptional performance. All of these rods have a reserve of power for when you need it, and with the Winston, a boron flavored butt section is to thank for that. These rods are awesome, and really what any “modern” trout-oriented fly rod should be like. We definitely have more people choose trout rods like these over faster rods after casting them side by side.

Now let’s say you have tried all of that, or you want to connect to a time before high tech. Enter cane. Rod tapers so well known they are named after their creators: Leonard, Payne, Garrison and Powell to name a few. Rod shops and builders as famous as coliseums and Greek gods: Winston, Orvis, Thomas & Thomas, Morgan, Brackett and Oyster. A historically designed taper and well-crafted bamboo rod is the closest feeling I have had to pure fly fishing joy. They cast like an extension of your body and they absolutely come alive when you hook a fish. Even a little 10 incher will give you a rush. You will find yourself giggling like a school girl when you fish cane. This grass, and yes bamboo is a grass, the best of which grows in only one region of Asia and given the name Tonkin, has the perfect attributes for a fly rod: strength, flexibility and quick recovery. Do yourself a favor and see what the fuss is all about. You only live once!

Most bamboo rods require patience to acquire and often involve wait lists. I waited 3 years for my first… That’s why we at the Gorge Fly Shop keep some on hand, just to fulfill your cane desire. The Winston shop has carried on the tradition of building beautiful and smooth casting bamboo passed down through many generations of world class rod builders and innovators. Check out or current selection here of R.L.Winston Bamboo. We can all relate to the impulse buy, especially for something as far fetched as a bamboo fly rod, so we decided to keep some on hand to help you get your fix. If you are looking for the ultimate gift for the fly fisher in your life or for the person that has it all, a Winston bamboo is it.

Part 2: The lines

We live in a remarkable time as fly fishers. Fly line design has gotten to the point where you can find the perfect line for any rod and any application. The downside is that the number of choices can become daunting. I will try my best to keep it simple when it comes to lines for medium to soft trout rods. For the past few years it has been a pretty simple equation for me. If you had a medium to soft 8’6” or longer rod, go with the RIO Trout LT in a WF (weight forward), and if you had a shorter rod go with the DT (double taper). These lines are appropriately weighted for softer rods, have a nice long taper that casts beautifully, and they roll cast well in tight quarters, especially the DT. Don’t be fooled though, you can easily chuck a big bugger or sculpin with these lines! But the real beauty of this line is in accurate, delicate presentations; from dry flies to small streamers.

RIO LightLine
I was very excited to hear that Rio was releasing another line choice in the soft rod game; the LightLine. This line is perfectly weighted to load medium to soft rods from graphite to cane. I have had a chance to fish the DT (Double Taper) version on my glass, classic Winston graphite and Sweetgrass bamboo and let me say it is phenomenal. The taper is built to traditional standards of weight and length; these rods were often built around the limited availability of lines at the time. The line lands so softly that the fly can make a bigger splash than the line. It floats down at the end of your forward stroke like a feather. The DT in particular is a wonderful line to roll cast with too. DT lines have fallen from the limelight as fast modern graphite has become the norm, but make no mistake, they are wonderful to cast. The extended rear taper helps you keep your casts subtle and helps load the rod for a roll cast at any reasonable distance.

If you have a medium-soft rod (and you should) and live anywhere near small streams and spring creeks, from the Northeast limestones, Driftless spring creeks, or high mountain streams of the West you need to try this line. The taper has enough weight in the front to quickly load your rod for casting in tight quarters. It will seriously load up with 10ft of line out or even less. If you are familiar with the old Sage quiet taper lines, then you will dig this one. I would have loved to have this line as I cut my teeth learning the myriad of spring creeks in the SW Wisconsin and NE Iowa; that’s for sure!

With ice on the guides!

My final words on these lines, both the Rio Trout LT and the Light Line, and soft rods in general are this: slow down… Take your time; get in a rhythm with the creek, your rod and the fish. Relax your tempo, take a chill pill, take a step back and remember why you enjoy fly fishing in the first place.

Ryan Van Duzor
Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Columbia Gorge Fishing Report (1.17.16)

Fishing Report

We had one week of low water conditions, and now our local rivers are on their way back up.  This is great news for winter steelhead junkies.  In an typical year, there is a lull in steelhead numbers during mid to late January, before the later spring fish start really coming through in mid-February.  Not that there are not a whole bunch of fish around; winter has been great so far and our rivers are full of steelhead.  So don't look at the Bonneville Dam counts and come to the conclusion that there aren't any fish around.  It only takes one and there are plenty of nice steelhead in all of our rivers.  

As long as the Pacific Ocean keeps pumping rain and snow at us, we should continue to see great fishing throughout the region.  Pick your favorite river and get your swing on.  Just keep an eye on the levels and don't try to fish rivers when they are too high.  Some of them dirty up really quick and others can stay in great shape after heavy rains.  Some rivers get really high and are dangerous to wade or float, so please be aware of your surroundings and conditions  

Rainbow trout fishing has been great on the Deschutes.  It is now open for trout all the way to Pelton Dam. Midges and Blue Wing Olives are the most productive patterns right now, but streamers have been working well too.  

Andrew Perrault
Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist

'"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Jan 17, 2016

How far would you go?

The dark side
"There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact it's all dark. "
Pink Floyd

Great hypothetical questions of all time: if you won the lottery would you quit work? Would you travel to the ends of earth to catch fish? Is it possible to eat too many tacos?  I've always thought there this is no limits to where I would go to find aggressive bad ass fish, like Giant Trevally. Hell, if they were on the dark side of the moon, I'd go there. Recently, my hypothetical was tested by a dose of reality by traveling to the Seychelles to chase a number of species but specifically GT's,  the psychopath of the jack family.

The Seychelles are a group of over 100 islands with a only a few inhabited that lies about 1000 miles off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. The largest island is Mahe which hosts a number of flights from Europe and the Middle East. A few of our group made a detour for a few days in London. And yes, you cannot travel further to find fish since the Seychelles lie 12 hours ahead of our own Pacific time zone. From Mahe, we took a small plane to Farquhar atoll to a small landing strip. The atoll forms a semi circle to an approximately 60 square mile area with only about 5 square miles of land where Fly Castaway, headquartered in South Africa runs one of several operations throughout the Seychelles.

Simple yet clean
Lodging at Farquhar is clean, comfortable, and simple with a/c but certainly not luxurious. A large porch sits facing the beautiful turquoise waters of the atoll. A thatched open air area serves as the dining area with the best view of all towards the water and the sunsets. Food is exemplary and plentiful especially when you realize that everything has to be imported to the atoll.

We were there for a week of fishing with some of the most accomplished and knowledgeable guides from South Africa, France, and the Seychelles who speak excellent english and are highly motivated to make sure the week is a success. Be prepared for extensive wading over large flats with uneven terrain and coral, therefore, boots are a must. Ratio of guides to clients is 2 to 1 being ferried around by very nice open console boats. In the morning one option is to start by trolling teasers for sailfish with bait and switch to fly options. Guides are adept at discussing the fishing options depending on the flat and the tides. The night before everyone gathers in the “rec room” to discuss pairings and strategies for the next day.

The ecosystem in Farquhar is truly amazing given the lack of impact from man and no commercial influence. Across the flats are numerous non game marine life including large numbers of sting rays, Manta rays, turtles, many species of sharks and bird life. In a subsequent article, I explain how the bird life can influence fly choice. Just walking the flats and spying all this wildlife is worth the trip. But since I had traveled to the “Dark Side of the Moon”, I thought I might make a cast or two.

A few friendly faces.
Game fish include GT’s, permit, bonefish, trigger fish, sail fish, barracuda, snapper, grouper, milk fish, Napoleon wrasse and a fish that looks like it’s from the movie “Avatar”, the bumphead parrotfish or bumpy. Through the day you might catch any number of species. And any number of these fish will test your gear to it’s limits, just ask my new reel that decided to hiccup on a bumpy. Thank god for my guide who was willing to wade out and chase down my fish. Fishing is primarily done with 12 weights for GT’s but one always carries a 9-10 weight for other less fearsome species. GT’s are definitely worth their reputation in terms of attack of the fly and their strength.

All in all, a trip of a lifetime where I’ve proven that I’m willing to travel any distance to chase fish. Now if I can just win the lottery to to test one of my other hypothetical scenarios. 

Charlie Chambers
Gorge Fly Shop Contributor 

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Jan 11, 2016

Columbia Gorge Fishing Report (1.11.16)

Sam Sickles - Clackamas River
Fishing Report

For winter steelhead addicts, local rivers are back to low and clear conditions for the moment.  

Rain is in the forecast, but how much is questionable.  At least it is warmer outside than it has been for most of the past month.  Warming conditions should cause fish to be a little more active than they have been.  My advice is to invest in an intermediate Skagit head as long as the water is low.  Yes, even in low and clear conditions, especially in low and clear conditions, an intermediate head is an advantage.  It moves slower through the water than a floating head, allowing your fly to be presented in front of fish for a longer period of time, as well as assuring that you are probing the depths of the run.  In low, clear and cold water, fish will hug the bottom of runs in the middle of the river, whereas they will hang in softer water closer to the banks in higher water conditions and do not require ultra-deep presentations. 

Choose intermediate heads about 30-60 grains lighter than your floating Skagit head, as they are harder to get moving quickly.  My intermediate Skagit head is the same grain weight as my Scandi head. 

All of the rivers that are accessible within a day of Hood River are low and clear, but they all have fish in them, so pick one and hit it while you have the chance.  Ryan, Jon and I floated the Clackamas on Friday and did not touch a fish, and apart from seeing one bait plunker pull one in, we didn’t hear of much action from other anglers.  A beautiful day on the river with good friends and great scenery, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. 

Clackamas River
Rainbow trout fishing on the Deschutes should be great as the air and water temperatures are increasing.  Increasing air and water temperatures can trigger hatches of midges and Blue Wing Olives.  Barr’s BWO emergers, zebra midges, #18-20 flashback pheasant tails and hare’s ear are all good choices, while doubling up with a bigger nymph like a March Brown Mayfly nymph (Anato May or Posse Bugger) is also not a bad bet.  If you are going to go bigger, I would also look at a Skwala pattern like a #8 peacock rubber leg.  Skwalas should be on the move now.  They hatch in January through February and into March, and the March Browns usually start during warmer days in February and go through early April, but nymphs can start moving as early as late January.  Skwalas hatch at night in fairly low numbers and is not considered a productive hatch for dry fly action, although it is possible to hit it right.  Most anglers and trout focus on the nymphs. 

The Crooked River is also a good winter trout fishery when the air temps warm near or above freezing.  It is a tailwater, so water temperatures are fairly constant as long as it is warm enough for fisherman to be comfortable.  For best results, fish small flies under an indicator on the Crooked.  I’d start with a #20 zebra midge and a #20 pheasant tail and change flies often until you find a good combo.

As always, we are happy to talk fishing any time.  Give us a call if you have any specific questions on local rivers, gear, and tactics, or if you just want some encouragement to get out of the office.  

Andrew Perrault
Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist

'"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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