Sep 23, 2013

September River Report

A hatchery (fin clipped) Coho (Silver) in mint condition caught while swinging for Chinook.
Deschutes River: The “D” has been fishing pretty steady recently. Although there have been a few “Off” days due to one thing or another, all in all it has been steady. It’s my opinion that when you have so many Chinook in the system the steelhead will feel spooky and hide. This is when you want to focus your efforts in the faster water at the heads of runs or in the very tail outs.



Depending on who you talk to the river is fishing poorly or it has been off the hook. So with that said, I typically will gage it somewhere in the middle if you know what I mean. Currently the river temperatures and levels are ranging from 54.5 degrees - 56 degrees, and flowing around 4050 – 4100cfs. Perfect, for active steelhead and Chinook. There are a ton of Chinook in the systems this year due to the record breaking numbers over Bonneville Dam. We recently had a single day where 68,000 Chinook crossed over Bonneville on their way to their home rivers. With that said, the Deschutes is still the best prospect for catching steelhead on the fly rod, with a possibility of hooking Chinook as well.

It seems like the Deschutes steelhead prefer smaller flies this season. By that I mean if you would normally tie on Low Water Purple Green Butt Skunk in a size #5, you might consider tying on the size #7 instead. If you tie your own flies, try scaling them down a size or two and see what happens. It’s amazing how small a fly a 10 to 12 pound steelhead will take.

The Klickitat River: The “Klick” is absolutely smothered with Chinook right now. So much so that it’s making it difficult to swing up a steelhead. Not impossible, but not easy. The river conditions have been pretty up and down. Meaning it has been off color and turbid. But with so many Chinook in the system it doesn’t seem to matter. If you desire to hook a Chinook on the swing this is the time to go for it. I don’t care what you’ve heard, when there are this many Chinook in the river you stand a good chance to swing up a Chinook. I recommend using your sink tips with a good size fly (3” to 4” plus) that will create a large silhouette. Try flies such as the HoBo Spey, Pick Your Pocket, Metal Detector, Fish Taco’s, Reverse Marabou’s and such in Blacks, Blues, Oranges and Chartreuse.

Look for the Klick to clean up and fish even better as this week calls for cooler temperatures throughout the evening and during the day. Keep in mind that the Klick is a fairly small river and it has become more crowded the last few years. With this in mind, please practice river etiquette (manners). If someone is fishing a run swinging their fly and working down the run, have some courtesy and fish behind them. Low holeing (jumping in front of someone downstream of where they are fishing) is NOT COOL! Respect other people and there will be peace on the river. Good manners and a polite attitude go a long way on every river I have ever fished on. This is even more important nowadays that the rivers are becoming more crowded. No one wants their day ruined by getting in a yelling match.

As October comes around the corner and the Chinook finish up their spawning, look for better steelhead fishing. The Klick fishes well through the end of November. One last note, the colder weather is upon us, you’ll want to break out your sink tips. The Klick runs cooler than the Deschutes and getting the fly down closer to the fish will pay big dividends. When the river temps drop, steelhead kinda react like you and I, when I am cold my body doesn’t work like it does when I am in the perfect temperature zone. I become lethargic. That doesn’t mean if you pierce my lip that I am not gonna give you the fight of your life…just because I might be cold.

This Chinook couldn’t resist this swung fly. He hit it like a lab being released after you've
thrown the tennis ball!
The Hood River: The Hood has been running low and turbid. With the focus on the Deschutes and Klickitat Rivers, there has been little pressure on the Hood. Steelhead will dip in to cool off from the warmer Columbia River Temps and if you are there when they are there, you just might score. With Steelhead, Chinook and Coho in the Columbia right now, you never know what you might swing up. Again with the cooler temps the Hood is cleaning up nicely.

Last Note: With so many choices during this time of year, not to mention lake fishing, there is no reason to not get out and fish, if you’re led to do so. I kid you negative! Get out there…before you know it we will be winter steelhead fishing…or not.


John Garrett
Gorge Fly Shop Team


"Fly Fish the World with Us"


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