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Gorge Fly Shop | River Reports

The below information is all outdated. This page has been moved to our blog where you can find updated river reports. For any questions regarding our local waters be sure to give us a call at 541.386.6977.
River Reports

River Reports
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.

July 23rd Report

Klickitat River: 7.23.13
The River is in great shape! Even with somewhat warm temperatures it has been cool enough in the evenings to keep it fishable for the fly fisherman. I fished it for several hours just this morning and I could see the bottom while standing thigh deep in the river. Which means an easy 3 feet of visibility. It has been spotty at best for the fly guys, and a little better for those gear fishing. I only know of a handful of fish that have been hooked by fly fisherman and two handfuls by gear guys.

I managed to hook 2 white hot steelhead last Friday that basically spanked me like a red headed step child (no offense to said step's just a phrase) straightened my hook (see photo),

The other bent the hook shaft. Now is the time to swing your dry line...both the Steelhead I hooked on Friday were hooked while throwing an Airflo Scandi Compact line with a 10' Clear Floating Polyleader and 4' of tippet to my fly. Cast across and downstream just a bit...set the fly up to swing broadside...lead with your rod tip through the swing...hold on...hopefully you'll go tight!

That being said, the counts over Bonneville are on the rise. I look for things to pick up in the next few weeks...

The Hood River: 7.23.13
The Hood has been running low and somewhat colored although fishable. The summer run is not a strong one although it is worth trying. Few folks will fish it during the summer because there are so many other options. That being said if you’re tired of the Klickitat or the Deschutes and want to try some different water...give the Hood a shot. Now is also a great time to use your dry line...

The Deschutes River: 7.23.13
I have not personally made it over to the "D" yet this season for I'm giving you second hand information. I have heard of a number of Steelhead being taken in the lower river. As always this time of year you will want to watch river temps. We have already had temps of 73 degrees. Currently the temps have hovered around 70-71 degrees in the heat of the day.

If you want to fish the "D" you might want to set the alarm clock for "super early" be on the water by 4:30 early. That's right 4:30 comes twice a day!...and be there early to take advantage of the cooler water temps of 54 degrees. Pull out the Rage Compact, with a clear floating Polyleader and 3' to 4' of tippet material and tie on your favorite fly...This will pay off for you! Early fish are HOT fish!

Lake Fishing: 7.23.13
Lawrence Lake and Lost Lake have been steady, especially to those who have fished it before. We have had several reports of Hex hatches and Flying Ant hatches that have caused the Trout to lose their minds for a bit. Be aware that if the Columbia River is windy...Lawrence Lake will be windy...

Until next time...don't worry about... "Is it worth my time to go fishing"'s always worth your time if you have the right focus...

Report for end of June, 2013

Klickitat River, WA:
The river has been stable, holding between 1300-1500cfs and the visibility has been favorable. Although look for that to change with the upcoming week of 90+ degree days with a few reaching near 100. The Klick is a glacial feed stream and can be affected by heat spells. Unless it cools considerably in the evening, this heat spell will cause the river to "cycle" and possibly "blow out", meaning it will turn like a creamed coffee color. I have had success fishing on the Klick with limited visibility, but you will have to work hard for them. If fly fishing, concentrate on the soft edges and spots closer to shore. You will basically use winter steelhead tactics under these conditions. Fly selection should focus on blacks, purples, reds & oranges, with my favorites being black or purples. I also recommend flies that will have large profiles that will create a large silhouette (such as, reverse marabou, fish tacos, intruders, hobo speys and the like)...remember that the fish are looking up and their eyes are always in focus, so what I may not consider fish, could in fact be fishable. In other words, if you measure the visibility and can see 10" - 1' down into the water...the fish can see twice that, because they are looking up and the fly silhouettes better against the sun than it does when we look at it in the water with the river bottom in the background. Also when fishing the softer pockets near shore, if the current is too soft for heavy weighted flies, I recommend the Fish Tacos or the Hobo Speys, which are non-weighted flies that still create a large silhouette. The gear guys are still catching a few more fish for obvious reasons, but they are still having to work for them too. After the initial rise in water and the heat spell, look for the Klick to pick up. Traditionally over the years, I've done better last part of June than the first part. Also, if the water conditions are favorable in the hot summer months, meaning it doesn't totally blow out, you would be hard pressed to find a steelhead that could give you a better fight...especially on a fly rod...these fish are hot! Keep an eye on the Klickitat River levels

The Hood River, OR:
The river has been on the low side. Holding near and around 550-700cfs, with good color. The Hood gets a decent run of summer steelhead and there have been a few sweet fish being caught. Now is the time to consider your floating lines and fishing your Rage Compact and Scandi type heads. It's a pleasure to cast these heads after a winter of slinging sink tips and weighted flies...but don't put the heavy stuff away too far in the back of the closet because conditions could call for if needed. Nymph fishing can be very productive on the Hood because there are tons of little "buckets" that will hold fish. The Hood can also be affected by heat, so keep an eye on water levels. Current USGS river levels for the Hood.

Report for 6/11/13 

Klickitat River:
Flows have been holding at 1500cfs pretty steady and with cooler temps it has great visibility. Just need more fish. Although a few are being caught sporadically. Gear guys are experiencing slightly more success. That's not to say a swung fly won't get you some action, I'm just saying it has not been steady, from personal experience historically later in June it will pick up...

Hood River:
Low and has slowed and it feels like it needs some fresh fish. The Hood gets a small run of summer steelhead; we're just waiting for a few more to show up. When I say waiting, that doesn't mean not means we're fishing, just not hooking many. Nymph fishermen are seeing a little more success. There are also a few Spring Chinook in the system but that too has slowed...

John Day River:
River level is low but this creates a phenomenon called "Feeding Frenzies". This happens when the water is low and the smallmouth bass population is so crammed that anything that hits the water has a dozen sets of eyes on it. This is the time you can play the game "Let’s see if I can cast somewhere and NOT hook a fish!" This is a time when you hook a fish, there could be half a dozen more following the fish you've hooked, trying to steal the popper, this is the time a smaller hooked fish can become dinner for a bigger one. So, in short, if you want nonstop popper action for Smallies...head to the John Day, tell em the Gorge Fly Shop sent you!

Deschutes River:
Still decent for trout fishing...a few stoneflies still hatching but it has slowed down. Focus has seemed to shift a little to waiting for summer steelhead. Not as much buzz about trout fishing the "D" right now. That doesn't mean you shouldn't go though, it just means less company/competition for you when you do go...I've had some excellent trips over the years when fishing reports were not the best. It just meant I had the river to myself if you get my drift...less crowds; the same amount if fish, equal more fish for me!

In general some good reports from those who have fished Lost Lake, Lawrence Lake and a few others on the Washington side of the Columbia River...which while we're talking about the Columbia...

Columbia River:
Bass are active, oversize sturgeon is ridiculous... Full Report 

John Garrett
Gorge Fly Shop

Report for 6/11/13
Klickitat River: 
River level is dropping nicely. Current level is 1830cfs and with cooler temperatures in the days to come, it should just keep dropping. Even with the level 1800cfs the Klick has stayed in fishable shape. I fished it yesterday swinging flies in some of my favorite runs and although I didn't hook anything it felt fishy and it was great to get out on one of my favorite rivers. Some years steelhead fishing can be pretty decent the first opening weeks of the Klick, but historically it tends to get a little better the end of June. The Klick, is a beautiful river that can be challenging, especially for the swing fisherman, BUT don't give up, when you do make a connection, you will tell yourself..."it was worth the wait"!

Klickitat River
My daughter Grace swinging for steelhead at the mouth of the Hood River!... Gotta love that!

Deschutes River:
Trout fishing has continued to be steady but has slowed down just a bit. I've heard from customers coming into the shop of a few Stonefly's still making an appearance. A few Yellow Salley's, PMD's, BWO's and a few other hatches will greet you when you show up. Be aware of walking along the banks as you know rattlesnake love the "D" as much as we do. Not to scare you, but just be aware.

Lake Trout:
I've heard reports from fisherman coming into the shop, that have fished Lost Lake, Lawrence Lake and a few others that the trout were pretty hungry after winter season. Anglers who slow trolled or slow stripped hale Bop Leeches, Wooley Buggers and such were having success.

Stay tuned for upcoming reports...if you call the shop wondering if its worth the trip to head out to the river or lake, I'll tell you ahead of time... "YES!"... I'll ask you if it's time for you to get out of the office away from your desk, I'll ask you if you love fishing, I'll ask you is there anything better to do with your time off...get out's ALWAYS worth it! There is so much to do outside in the Columbia River Gorge it not even funny... I've lived here most of my 50 years and folks come into the shop and ask me if I've ever fished here or ever fished there and there have been a few times I've had to honestly say "No" and they look at me like..."What?"...and I just have to tell them that there is so much opportunity, I haven't got to that spot YET...

John Garret
Gorge Fly Shop

Report for 4/09/13
River was on the rise and peaked near 3000 CFS...without blowing out. In these situations where the river rises but doesn't blow out, fishing can still be good. Most folks assume the river is blown and won't even bother. A quick trip to the river to check it out could pay big dividends.

Oregon Fly Fishing Report

When fishing high water conditions you'll want to focus on fishing the softer edges near the shore. These are sweet spots when the river is running high and fairly easy to spot.

Depending on conditions, rivers can rise but still have ample visibility. Yesterday I was wading waist deep and could just see my feet, so I had about 3' of visibility looking down into the river...keep in mind that the fish have much better visibility due to the fact they are looking up and your fly is silhouetted against the light.

You'll want to shorten your sink tips and try lightly weighted to non-weighted flies so they continue to swim and not die in the soft edges near the shore due to being too heavy. Flies that still have a big profile but don't carry a lot of weight and fish well in these conditions are the "Fish Taco" or a lightly weighted "Reverse Marabou Tube Fly" are a few of my favorites.

Yesterday at near 2800 CFS I was Abel to get out before work and hook and land about an 8-9 pound wild steelhead. The river dropped considerable over night and was about 1800 CFS this morning. Went out again for a short time before work and utilized the techniques mentioned above and caught a dandy 11-12 pound hatchery chromer.

So get out can't catch em if you don't go...if I had to wait for perfect fishing conditions my days of fishing would be few...

Report for 3/26/13

Well, finally a bit of moisture to spice things up.  It’s been tough fishing out there for fly anglers over the past couple of weeks, leaving many scratching their shivering heads in the cold, clear waters around The Gorge.  The Sandy, Clack and Hood all got a bump in levels and already, the reports are sprinkling in about bright steelhead eating flies on the Clackamas.  Not a huge bump, but just enough to get fish moving and zest up those dour attitudes. 


After a long winter, the hope of spring is finally here. With the change of season comes new fly fishing opportunities around the Columbia Gorge.
Trout fishing has been good on the Deschutes for the past couple of weeks. The recent bump in water put the fish off their game for a few days but things are stabilizing and the trout are getting happy again.

While the Deschutes has been giving up some decent Blue Wing Olive hatches over the past month, dry fly season really starts cooking with the arrival of March Browns. A fairly large mayfly, March Browns are hard to miss when the come off the water. Look for the hatch to get going around 11:00am. This time of the year the fish are typically relating to back eddies and softer water. However, with the Deschutes running at 6200 cfs, don’t overlook riffles that would normally be to fast for this time of the year. Come to the river armed with March Brown parachutes, blue wing extended bodies and BWO emergers. Also, it’s not uncommon to see a few Skwala stoneflies out there as well. Although this is not a major hatch, it pays to have a few in your box.

Prior to and after the hatch, try nymph fishing with fox tail squirrel nymphs (#14-#16), pheasant tails (#20-#22), Jimmy Rubber Legs (#6) and San Juan Worms.

The winter steelhead game has remained somewhat spotty. Some days the fishing has been great, other days you have to work for them. -Sounds like winter steelheading, right? We had a good flush of water last week that brought new fish into theHood,Sandy and Clackamas rivers. With a dry, warm weather forecasted for the week, the rivers will continue to drop. Sunshine in the winter is a blessing and a curse. The fish are less active when the sun is shining yet the warming of the water makes them more aggressive. Bottom line; focus your fishing efforts in the low light time periods and enjoy the sun and spring weather in the mid-day.

Good Luck!





In this article by Tom Larimer, he discusses the how changing river conditions influence sink tip selection and fishing methods.   It’s a great read and a must read for those anglers hoping to tailor their tactics to fit present conditions.  Presently, with the added bump in levels, we are now in a time of transition.  Levels have peaked and now are on a steady decline.  This is a great time for swing anglers, as fish will spread out more and travel a little higher in the water column to take a fly.  Moving through the week, the forecast is calling for more moisture with certain rivers expecting to rise a little, which is all quite dependant on freezing levels.  Although moisture is predicted, rivers are not expected to blow out.  So with a few small bumps here and there coupled with warmer temperatures, we should start to experience some better fishing.

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Current: River Levels

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