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Justesen Ranch | GFS Lake Experience

Gorge Fly Shop has partnered with Justesen Ranch to bring you a trout fishing experience you will not forget. Our staff loves fishing these lakes and we are excited to share our experiences and knowledge with you. Contact us today to get your reservation set up, and at the same time we can help you with any gear or flies you might need for your trip. Check out our Justesen Lake kits that we put together with our favorite flies and everything you need to get set up correctly.

Justesen Ranch is located in the North Central Oregon area. Just about 2 1/2 hours from Portland you can easily make this a day trip or stay the night in one of their variety of lodging options. Justesen Ranch is home to 15 private lakes that range in size from 2 - 20 acres. These pristine lakes are home to a variety of healthy sized trout. Some lakes can be fished from the banks or docks but a float tube, or personal watercraft allows you to access and cover the most water. Some of the bigger lakes you can even use a drift boat. Justesen ranch provides a experience that is truly one to remember. So if you choose to fish solo, with a friend, or group of people they can cater to any situation. And, they will not book anyone else outside of your reservation on the lake you are fishing. Providing a unique experience you cannot get with public lake fishing. These lakes are strictly catch and release fly fishing only.

Blue skies & Bows...Callum admires one that didn't resist a RIO's Platinum Soccer Mom!

NOTE: The intention of this article is to share our Gorge Fly Shop employees outing experience and fishing Justesen's Lakes for the first time. It is not an in depth how to fish lakes for trout read.  Maybe that will be a future post. If you are a seasoned lake fly fisherman or maybe just starting to be interested, do yourself a favor and check out the Justesen's Recreational Ranch.

Justesen Ranch near Grass Valley, is a vast, family owned working cattle, wheat and recreational ranch with some 10,000 acres in the heart of scenic Oregon.  A short hours drive to the lakes from The Dalles, Oregon and you're soon immersed in the beauty of the lay of the land and what it has to offer.  Having said this, they offer a wide range of activities to enjoy and participate in, including hunting, fishing, horseback riding, trail riding and bird watching. 

Gorge Fly Shop employees recently took a couple of days to head out to the ranch and fish a few of their 15 pristine lakes on the property.  Justesen Ranch in located near Grass Valley, Oregon.  The lakes range in size from 2 acres to 20 acres offering a fly angler some great options.  These lakes all have names and healthy stocks of quality trout and a few have bass for your angling pleasure.

Readying the rods as we talk strategies for Upper Twin Lake.


On the days we were to fish, both were chilly and windy, which created a few challenges in itself. Anyone with any experience fishing lakes knows what I'm talking about. Callum and I, met Travis and Lyndsey at their campsite at the crack of 9am to start the day.  Gotta be honest, it was kind of nice to leisurely arrive and feel like there was no pressure to perform or produce.  So after a nice morning meet and greet and a game plan chat, we were off driving around checking out the two lakes we had to choose from.  After checking out the two lakes and given the windy conditions, Upper Twin Lake ended up being our choice.

Upper Twin Lake it was, not because it was protected from the wind but because there was a dock there, and I decided to try a few cast off the dock.  Why not, we were there.  It didn't take too long to hook up with the first fish of the day.  That first fish of the day also ended up being the smallest fish of the day and yet it was a respectable 17-18" very healthy rainbow.  So with that happening fairly quick, we decided to take a little time and fish off the dock just to see what would happen.  Within a reasonable amount of time we had hooked some really nice fish.

Well, we ended up fishing the rest of the day off that dock.  I wouldn't say that it was lights out fishing hooking fish left and right, however I would say that the 12-15 fish that we did catch, were very nice and very healthy fish.  Quality fish I would say. Since I mentioned that I hooked and landed the smallest fish of the day I must add that Travis, the shop owner, hooked and landed a legit 24-25" beautiful rainbow.  The rest of the fish caught that day were of various sizes from 17" up to 25".

Miss Lyndsey with a decent dock caught rainbow!

Travis, with Mr. Big of the day, a legit sweet fish!


Living in the Mid-Columbia River Gorge, Hood River area, we are spoiled from the sheer beauty of the landscape.  But I can honestly say, traveling east to the "desert" to visit the Justesen Ranch with all the farm land and rolling hills, there is it's own kind of stunningly beautiful landscape.  It is amazing how in Oregon and Washington the diversity in landscaping in any direction that you drive.

Travis, Karrie & Angie enjoy fishing the "Big Lake"


Though we fished in less than ideal conditions with, at times, gale force winds, we were able to utilize a number of techniques with success.  We caught fish on dries, Chironomid nymphs, and small streamers. We would fish one way and the bite would slow down, then we would switch things up and catch a few, then it would slow down again, then we would switch up again and so on and so on.

On the first day when Travis, Charlie, Karrie and Angie were fishing, they only had a couple of rises to their dries, even though later in the afternoon adult Chironomids were on the surface and fish were rising everywhere getting their fill.  They were able to catch some with a slow troll with leech patterns, and they even fished under an indicator, chironomids with some success.  That's not too bad considering the conditions.

"As a first-time fly fisher, this was a great experience.  Having the lake to ourselves, without the distraction of other fishermen, was ideal for me so I could focus on what I was learning.  The setting was amazing and the lake big and well-stocked.  I can’t wait to go back!" - Angie Clark | GFS Team

On the second day when Travis, Lyndsey, Callum and I were fishing, we caught fish on a variety of techniques as well with the exception of dries.  There wasn't the hatch of adults like the day before.  This is why most of our success came fishing indicators with Chirnomids or stripping streamer patters like the RIO's Soccer Mom, in Olive or Platinum (White) colors.  The Platinum Soccer more ruled the day as far as streamers go.  They lit that thing up! If you don't have any of those in your lake box, you better get some!

Travis "locked up" with "Bow Bow" in his Outcast Cruzer Max float tube.


We utilized a variety of fishing platforms including a Drift boat, float tubes and docks.  Different rods for different techniques including,  A variety of Winston, G.Loomis and Sage rods, all set up for the various techniques that we used.  If you would like the details of them you can give us a call at the shop 541-386-6977 and we would be happy to chat about them.

Bow Bow says bye bye!


Several times during the day on the lake, I was considering future family outings and camp trips to Justesen's Ranch.  What a great way to retreat and unwind from the stresses of life and share the experience with family or friends.  If you book a day to fish at Justesen's Ranch and you're the only angler, you're the only one scheduled for that lake for that day.  So with that, there's not the pressure to be the first on the water.  As far as competition goes if you take a family member or a friend there is that friendly competition, among friends, it's healthy. It's fun.

Honestly enjoyed fishing the lake on Justesen's property, I enjoyed everything about the day.  The drive there, soaking in the transition of the landscape as I drove further east.  The scouting of the lakes, the random choice to fish off a dock and then deciding to stay there the rest of the day.  The quality of the fish that were caught,  The beautiful arid open country was a pleasant change from the surroundings I see everyday as well.  Best of all, it was a fun time with co-workers on our "out of shop" experience, talking, laughing, relaxing.

I recently attended a friends sons funeral and the thing that hit me really hard was the fact that his son loved to walk outdoors in the rain, he loved the outdoors so much so that when he would go on walks, he often would only walk a short distance but it would take so long, sometimes 2 hours.  So long, because he would stop and have to look and check out everything. Soaking it all in, he didn't miss the details along the way.

Personally, I have gone on 50 mile bike rides and didn't remember going through tunnels.  Having heard that, it brought some tears to my eyes as I reflected on the need to do the same.  To slow down and not miss the details.  To not miss the simple but important things in our lives.  If you were to take a moment just now and reflect, I'm sure things would come to mind.  If I were a betting man, I'd bet that we ALL could use a bit more of something like this in our lives.


Lakeside lunches are the best lunches, no matter how simple!

Thanks for reading

GFS Team
John Garrett

"The Gorge"

Gorge Fly Shop Team - 541.386.6977

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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