Archive for the ‘Fishing Reports’ Category

from our friend, photographer Matt Harris, who recently returned from Bear Claw Lodge on the Kispiox River in BC where he was shooting pictures for Maui Jim sunglasses:

Dear all,

I’m just back from a half-term mini-break with my wife & kids, and I am now getting down to editing the images from our recent shoot. I just wanted to say a very big “Thank you” to everyone for making our days at Bear Claw Lodge such an absolute pleasure. Jim, I’m sure I speak for the entire crew when I say that it was a privilege to spend the week with you and your family, not to mention Sheldon, Don, Brian and the entire mob at Bear Claw. Good on you for putting up with us all. Very best regards to all, but come on guys, brush up on your Foosball for next time – especially you, Kayliegh…

Ken, thanks so much for setting things up for us – very much appreciated. Will be back in touch with a ton of images very soon, but in the meantime, best regards to all & hope Bowser managed to hang on to his own pair of Maui Jims…

Head Guide Jim Allen and Bowser sporting their shades for the Maui Jim photo shoot, arranged by Fly Water Travel

Thanks Matt! Give us a call at 800-552-2729 if you’d like to fish with Jim Allen and Bowser next year at Bear Claw Lodge!

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Many seasons, September is the time to hook a trophy rainbow trout in Alaska. This year was no exception. The following two fish were both caught in Alaska in September. Give us a call if you’d like to hook one!

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These beautiful fish were caught by our good friend, Bruce Levin, who fished Silver Hilton Lodge week 6 this year.

Nice fish Bruce!

Give us a call at 800-552-2729 to book your steelhead trip to BC next year!

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by: Charles Gehr

Before joining the Fly Water Travel team, I guided for five years on the Deschutes River for trout and steelhead. I was lucky to guide and learn the finer points of spey casting technique and tackle under the watchful eye of long time Deschutes veterans John and Amy Hazel. Guiding over 150 days a year for them gave me a graduate-level steelhead education that I will always be grateful for. In my opinion the Deschutes is one of the great steelhead fisheries in the lower 48 and over the years I really grew to enjoy sharing it with others. I had been away from guiding on the river for two years when Chris O’Donnell came to me with the idea of hosting/guiding a Deschutes steelhead trip with him. Neeless to say I couldn’t have been happier to have a chance to share my love for this fishery again so I jumped at the opportunity. Chris is owner/operator of River Runner Outfitters in Maupin, OR. Although he is one of the younger outfitters on the river he has already established himself as one of the hardest-working guides on the Deschutes providing an incredibly high level of service. Besides that he is just a really nice guy and so I was totally excited to get back on the water with he and his guide crew.

With only a few days left in the month of August we launched three guide boats for a four day float trip. I enjoy fishing the lower Deschutes at that time because steelhead are reliably entering the system and early September in central Oregon means long days of warm, stable weather. This time on the Deschutes also means favorable water temperatures for floating line fishing. True to form, nearly all of the fish on our trip were hooked on floating lines.

Steelhead days on the Deschutes generally start well before dawn and this trip was no exception. We rose early each morning in order to be standing in the water at first light and take advantage of prime steelhead hours. After fishing hard all morning and early afternoon our group would meet at a shady area by the river for lunch and an afternoon rest. By late afternoon we got back in the river for the evening session, fishing until dark.

So…how was the fishing? It was steelhead fishing. Our first two and a half days were what I’d call “normal steelheading”. That is, one or two fish per person per day and someone in the group having a blank day. On the evening of the third day our camp was set up on a very productive run. Comparing notes with the other guides, we had all witnessed steelhead rolling in our camp water. This was the push of fish we were hoping for. That evening the camp water started producing steelhead. Our final morning everyone in the group had caught at least one fish before leaving camp. That last day we all enjoyed productive steelhead fishing. It’s always nice to go out with a bang.

Like most of my best trips I learned a lot on this one, such as:

  • Nick and Nate, guides for River Runner Outfitters, are both passionate anglers and guides who have their own unique skill sets and styles of guiding.
  • Chris O’Donnell is a darn good cook.
  • I still know how to catch steelhead on the Deschutes.
  • I’m really looking forward to fishing with Chris, Nick and Nate more in the future.

See my pictures from this trip here

Chris and I have already set dates for our trip next year. Give me a call if you’d like to join us!

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by Charles Gehr

We’ve all heard the stories that start with “back when I first started fishing here.” Those stories almost inevitably explain why the fishing was better than it is now. I’ve heard enough of these stories to form the general impression that all the known fisheries in North America are less productive than they once were and if you want to find an unspoiled resource you need to fly half-way around the world or, at the very least, somewhere that they don’t speak English. As I made travel plans to do some trout fishing in Canada this year I frankly didn’t believe a lot of what I heard. Tales of two-foot long river-born rainbow trout and unusually large cutthroat that eat dry flies all day, every day left me cynical and using the phrase “Gee, that sounds like the way things used to be.” After a week of trout fishing in British Columbia (with Elk River Guiding Co.) and Alberta (with Eastslope Adventures) I am here to say the stories I had heard were true and the good old days are alive and well.

After landing in Kalispell, Montana I rented a car and drove three and a half hours to meet Cam Jensen in southwest Alberta. Cam runs an operation, called Eastslope Adventures, that guides a number of streams in the Cardston area, approximately 30 miles east of the Rocky Mountains. Rolling, wide-open ranch land stretched as far as I could see as I pulled into the Eastslope Adventures Lodge on the banks of the Waterton River. I had recently heard that Alberta’s record brown trout was caught in the Waterton and immediately inquired about what section of the river the big fish had been caught. Cam pointed to where the river dumps into a reservoir about 150 yards downstream of the lodge and said “right there.” I knew I was in the right place.

Like most of the Rockies, rivers in southwestern Alberta were higher than average for this time of year. Cam let me know during my orientation that they were still floating the rivers in rafts where most years we would spend our days walking and wading. The other guests in the lodge nodded in agreement as Cam explained that, although the dry fly fishing had been off, nymphs drifted under indicators were producing fish and the general health and strength of these fish is such that I wouldn’t mind catching them subsurface if I could just land a few and see how big they are. I told Cam that I wanted to get my gear organized so what sort of tippet would we be using. Cam’s response was that I might hook a few more fish with 3X fluorocarbon tippet but if I wanted to see any of the fish I hooked I had better have 2X. This advice kept me up half the night wondering what lay in store for the next day.

As we arrived at our put-in the next morning Cam explained to us that we’d be fishing while he and his guides got the boats in the water and prepared to float. On my third cast into the water Cam put me in I hooked a rainbow trout that was every bit of 22” and STRONG. Although the fish jumped and took short, sprinting runs I had the definite impression that this animal could have gone anywhere it wanted in the river and was giving me a break. Cam looked down at the water and said, “you’re going to get ‘em a lot bigger and stronger than that!” while I tried unsuccessfully to land my fish.

I spent the next two days trying to land the big, strong rainbows that I was hooking. Although I didn’t/couldn’t land anything over 23” I hooked fish over that size and was nothing but impressed by the fight and strength of the fish I was able to land. And yes, I did hook the big one that Cam was hoping for. It was somewhere in the 26 – 28” range and without exception the single strongest trout I’ve ever tangled with. No, I didn’t land that one either.

After leaving Eastslope Adventures I travelled west into the Canadian Rockies to visit Elk River Guiding Company in Fernie, BC. Fernie is located on the Elk River in a stunning valley in the heart of the mountains with views of snow-capped peaks in all directions. Every time I caught sight of the Elk River I could see productive-looking trout water. Crystal clear water dancing through a well-structured river bottom just begged to be explored with my dry fly.

I fell in love with the town of Fernie my first morning there. It is quite apparent that people are in Fernie because of its’ proximity to outdoor activities. Rafters and kayakers shuttled vehicles and boats around in preparation for a day of adventure while anglers strung rods and repaired leaders in front of the fly shop. Paul, owner of Elk River Guiding Company, pointed me in the direction of a coffee and bagel shop while guides and their clients loaded coolers and boat trailers before heading to the river. Everyone was quick to point out to me that since we’re all there to fish with dry flies there was no need to be out on the water early. Chilly nights where the temperature drops 35 degrees F from the daytime high meant that the river would need a few hours to warm up to a level more conducive to bug hatches. Although my internal steelhead-fishing clock had me up before dawn each day, I quickly relaxed and enjoyed the pace of fishing on “banker’s hours”.

Every time I go fly fishing for cutthroat trout I have to re-learn the timing of the hook set and this trip was no different. No matter that I coached myself to “wait to set” I still managed to miss the first four or five fish that ate my dry fly. This experience is enhanced by the fact that the Elk River generally runs crystal clear so you can see your fish charging the fly well before it eats. Fortunately I had plenty of opportunities to hook and land fish.

Fly selection was fairly straight-forward on the Elk River. When I saw little yellow stoneflies flying around I did well with small stonefly dries. The same held true for mayflies and caddis. At one point while fishing with Paul we encountered an hour-long hatch of green drakes. After going through my box of green drake dries and cripples, we finally found one pattern that didn’t work out of about eight patterns that did work.

Although floating the Elk River in driftboats enables you to fish a lot of water in the course of the day, it’s the side channels that really captivated me and provided my sweetest memories. Aside from being incredibly productive, the side channels and braids provide the intimate “small-stream experience” that many of us miss when throwing dry flies from the front of a drift boat. Wading the side channels really broke up the day nicely and gives visiting anglers a lot of variety in their fishing each day. It’s also a lot of fun to present dry flies to 16” – 19” cutthroat that are actively feeding in two feet of water!

All of my fishing time in Fernie was on the Elk River, but the folks at Elk River Guiding Company have a host of smaller streams in their catalog of guided waters. Three days of fishing in this area is just barely enough to scratch the surface and instill a desire for more exploration. If for no other reason, I need to go back and see how many more green drake patterns I can get those westslope cutthroat to eat!

See my photos from Alberta here

See my photos from Fernie here

Give Charles a call at 800-552-2729 to book your trout fishing trip to Canada next year!

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from our good friend, Mark, who recently fished the lower Sacramento River:

Wanted to thank you for a fabulous father-son trip on the Lower Sacremento. The guide you suggested, Andrew, is an artist! He was not only proficient and patient, teaching my son Tate how to read the water, how to swing and catch “a big fat trout” but he also provided us with a precise and incredibly effective tutorial on how to work the Lower Sac using numerous dry flies. Frankly, I didn’t know that quality of dry fly fishing existed so close to home. My son Tate summed up our day when he said, “It was cool to catch those big trout!”

Thanks again. We had a ton of fun. We’ll be back for more. – Mark

Thanks Mark!

Give Charles a call at 800-552-2729 to book your trip on the Sacramento River!

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From our good friend Scott Hagen, who just returned from his third trip to Suskeena Lodge on the Sustut River in British Columbia:

“I finally enjoyed good water conditions on my third trip to the Sustut. That said, I blanked for two days on the Bulkley and went six landed for ten hookups on the Sustut. Not bad steelhead fishing, but somewhat slower than some of us had hoped for, given the ideal clarity and level of the river. There was a lot of talk about the netting at the mouth of the Skeena having something to do with that.

The food was super, B. and Chris do a great job. The fire burning in the cabin stove when we got back from a day’s fishing was a very nice touch, as the weather and the water were pretty cold. The guides were very knowledgeable, and consistently put us on great looking water.

All in all, I am glad I went, and I caught some very nice steelhead.

I would like to go again, but two or three weeks earlier, when it’s a little warmer and I have a better shot at raising some fish on a skated dry. Attached is my biggest fish of the trip (38”X19”)

Best regards, Scott”

Thanks Scott!

Give us a call at 800-552-2729 to book your BC Steelhead Fishing Adventure!

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