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October 23, 2011 / flogginwater


Been feeling in a funk lately. I went fishing on Wednesday this week, as my lil’ guy had his 6 month check up and shots on Thursday. I intended to get up at 5:30 in the morning, hop in the car, and be on the river bank by 6:30 or at the very latest, 7AM.

After the previous week’s car burgle, I took no chances. I stripped the car’s interior of just about anything that might entice a thief. I took only the barest of essentials, wanting to stay light and mobile. I opted for a single rod for this trip – my 10′ 8 weight Echo. I busted out the Cabela’s chest/waist pack I bought a while back, opting to leave my bigger pack at home. I took one fly box, a package of indicators, my split shot, a spare leader, and two spools of tippet material (6lb and 8lb).

My fly box was small – I took about a dozen and a half flies. 6 of them were my new dubbing loop creations, the rest were other steelhead flies I’d tied up – some traditional wets, some tube flies, and some #4 woolly buggers in black and olive. Like I said, I was traveling light.

5:30 came, my alarm went off. I turned it off and said to hell with it, and opted to sleep in – since I didn’t get to bed until 1AM Tuesday night. I awoke at 8:30, and was at my first fishin’ hole along the river at about 10AM. Very late start.

I took a bit of time rigging up – there was no point in rushing. First light is the best time to fish for salmon and steelhead without a doubt. I was already well into daylight, so the fish would be a bit less willing to bite. I approached the pool with caution, moving slowly and staying behind the trees. The trail leading to the spot crests about 20′ in vertical elevation above the stream, and with the water still a bit low, and crystal clear, you could see the fish on the bottom of the pool. There were at least a dozen and a half fish huddled together in the deepest portion, and another dozen or so fish scattered throughout the pool. Of course, the largest fish had the best spots. These were Chinook salmon – which are Oregon’s second largest freshwater game fish (sturgeon, which can grow to the size of the average passenger sedan, being the first.) Mixed in with the ‘nooks were coho salmon, and on the periphery, were some summer run steelhead.

I tied on the pink & purple flashy worm onto my 8lb tippet, stripped some line, and cast ahead of the pod of fish closest to me. They didn’t spook – but they just sort of slid out of the way of the fly. I cast again. Then I broke down and started dapping for the fish closest to me. Nada. These fish weren’t interested. After half an hour or so this insanity of cast, watch, recast – I reeled in and walked back to the car.

I drove a couple miles downstream to another likely run – looking for good swinging water (as in wet fly swinging, not as in wife-swapping water. My wife was tucked safely in bed at home, snuggling with the baby.) I found a few good runs, and kept casting until I was sure that any fish, down to the smallest of parr, were scared off. I wound up hiking at least a good mile and a half downstream – it took me almost two hours to cover the ground moving in and around the edges of the stream. Then I hiked back to the car.

I just knew this was shaping up to be a fishless day, so I thought what the hell, if I’m not going to catch a salmon or a steelhead, lets go see how the good ol’ trustly lake was doing. I was hoping to luck into some bass – and give my new worms a try with them too.

The lake was down, but clear. And cold. That meant the bassing was going to be tough, to say the least. I tried the old defunct boat ramp first, having done well with smallmouth there in the past. Nada. I moved to the closer of the two operational boat ramps – where the Sheriff’s boat house is located. I can almost ALWAYS count on there being fish there.

There were only a couple other anglers, and only a pair of boat trailers in the parking lot – so I decided that the “NO FISHING” sign on the dock was silly enough to bypass it. It’s a stupid rule anyway. I could understand the rule being no fishing when boats are launching or landing – but if there’s no boats coming in and out, you’re not in anyone’s way – and c’mon – docks are GREAT fish magnets.

The clear water let me see the bottom in 5-6 feet of water, and there was a nice school of 12-15″ bass hovering over the boat ramp (the concrete ramp probably warming the water, thus drawing all the fish in.) I tried my worm. The fish chased the worm, they followed it, but they wouldn’t eat it. Then one of the only three boats on the lake decided to land. So I reeled in and drove to the other boat launch.

This boat launch is bigger – two docks, and a wider ramp. It was, however, on the western shore, and thus didn’t have the same intensity of the sunlight warming the ramps up. There were some fish hiding on the southern side of the southern dock, but they had lock jaw.

I began working the shore line around the point just south of the dock. Just when I was about to bag it, I noticed a truck pull up and two guys hopped out. They took up station on each of the docks and began fishing. The fellow on the northern dock began casting a lure larger than the average stocker trout in this lake. He was obviously hunting for the record bass the lake is known for (it’s spit out 8 state record bass in the last decade or so.)

I mosied over and struck up a conversation with them. The swimbait guy was tossing an 11″ rainbow trout lure. The other fellow was sticking with a drop shot setup with a finesse worm. Through the course of the conversation, I learned these two guys were members of one of the fishing forums I belong to, which was cool. None of us caught fish. It was just too cold for the bass in the lake, the water was too clear and the day light was just wrong for the salmon and steel on the river, and honestly – my heart just wasn’t in it very much.

I probably won’t even be going fishing this coming week. My wife & I are going to try visiting some friends we haven’t seen since August, thanks to mutually horrible schedules. (My buddy is a cop, and all of his bad guy bustin’ last summer has caught up with him in the form of court days. It’s made for some killer OT for him, but also has sucked up most of his off time.)

So chances are, it’ll be November before I’m fishing again. Which isn’t horrible. November is generally the start of the winter steelhead run on the coast, and with the delay in the salmon run this year, it might wind up being the peak of the coho salmon run, and there are always some straggler fall chinook salmon still moving into the rivers in November.

I’m going to be doing a lot more fly tying in the next couple weeks though – stocking up the bass and panfish boxes, building a carp box, and replenishing my trout boxes.

Eventually I’m going to buy the components to try my hand at building another rod. That’ll be a cool winter project. Since I’ve got some nice graphite sticks, I’m seriously leaning toward building a fiberglass fly rod.

I’m sure this funk is nothing that catching a fish or five won’t cure. I hope.



  1. Cofisher / Oct 23 2011 06:48

    Aw Mark, you do sound like you're in a funk. Buy that fiberglass blank and get to work, you'll love it no matter what it is.

  2. Mark / Oct 23 2011 14:37

    I'm really eying up the Steffen Bros. 8' 5/6 weight. The hardest part is determining if I want to go with a 3 piece or a 2 piece. I'm getting spoiled by all my 4 piece graphite sticks being so compact when taken apart. Aside from the little 5'6″ rod I built, all my current crop of fly rods are 4 piece rods that pack down no longer than 2.75″

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