Jun 25, 2017

Columbia Gorge Fishing Report (6/25/2017)

It's hotter than a well digger's armpit out there!

But there are fish biting all over the Gorge!

Exploring the Gorge never gets old

Trout fishing on the Deschutes has been pretty good and stable.  I have heard of some folks doing really well on yellow sallies and caddis.  Nymphing caddis larvae/pupae or a pheasant tail/hare's ear/prince nymph has been good as usual.  I would also be well stocked with PMD and PED adults/parachutes as that hatch should still be going strong.

Trout fishing on the local lakes has been stellar!  I have some seen some real beauties coming out of Lost and Laurance lake.  Lost lake resort rents boats as well, so if you don't have a watercraft and want to escape the heat, head on up and enjoy the view!  Lakes throughout the Cascades are fishing very well, but make sure you brings some DEET as the biting insects have been bad this year.  Ants, Callibaetis, damsels, dragonflies and buggers are the names of the game!  Check out my Stillwater Gear Roundup for details on getting dialed in!

Steelhead fishing has been quiet.  I have heard of a few fish being hooked on the Klickitat, but it has otherwise been very slow.  There are a few more fish between Bonneville and The Dalles, so hopefully we will see some fish getting happy!  The bulk of the summer steelhead should be showing up in the next couple months so book a trip with Sam at Steelhead Outfitters for a Deschutes jetboat trip or Travis at Western Waters for a float down the Klick before it's too late!

Another solid brick bronzeback
Bass fishing in Columbia has been very good.  I have found fish in both pre and post spawn depending on the part of the river I was on and the water temps.  I have had a couple killer evenings catching nice fish shallow on poppers.  Often the bite will come after the initial cast.  Just leave the popper sit for up to 30 seconds, if you can handle it...

Bass fishing on the John Day should be excellent.  We have had a lot of customers headed out that way, but no reports back yet.  I have to imagine the fish are hungry and plentiful! Bring a selection of small poppers, hoppers, and wiggle minnows and a light rod and have a blast on bronzebacks!

Flows:  The USGS sites give us real-time flows, while the NOAA site shows us predictions based on weather patterns.  Both are invaluable tools.

Hood River:



Deschutes near Madras:

Deschutes at the mouth:

Columbia River
Columbia @ Hood River (The mouth of the Hood backs up at 75 feet)

As always, we are happy to talk fishing anytime.  Give us a call if you have any specific questions on local rivers, gear, and tactics, or if you just want some encouragement to get out of the office.  541.386.6977

*Add us on Instagram for more fishy content! @gorgeflyshop

Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Stillwater Gear Roundup

It is no secret that I love stillwater/lake fishing, both for trout and warmwater species like bass, musky and carp.  I think many fly anglers are intimidated by lakes, or have a bit of a chip on their shoulder about it, but I can tell you it is an absolute hoot, and a totally different challenge than flowing water.

The testing station, complete with wind tunnel

Locked & Loaded
This blog was intended to be the second installment of my lake line review, (please check out last year's Lake Line Shootout here) but as I saw the number of new items I wanted to test I decided to make it an overall stillwater gear overview and review.  I tested most of these items intensively during our annual spring lake extravaganza.  I would take new setups and combos out each day to put them to the test.  I also have spent countless days casting in my yard and in the Columbia River to get a better feel for what is truly different about each rod and line and to dial in the best rod/line matches.

Before I get too in depth, here are what have become my go-to favorite stillwater setups for 2017:

Dry Fly Setup: 

This setup should be able to handle everything from midge adults/cripples to damselflies and Callibaetis dries.  The rod/line needs to be accurate and make long casts, but most importantly be delicate, as stillwater fish are pretty wary of their surroundings.

Rod: Winston BIIIx 590-4 or Winston Air 590-4

Reel: Tibor Tail Water

Line: Scientific Anglers Sharkwave Ultimate Trout or Rio InTouch Gold WF5

Chironomid Emerger Dry Fly Action!

Why I chose this setup:  Winston rods are known for their dry fly delicacy, and I make no bones about my love for Winston trout rods.  The SA Ultimate Trout is an excellent line.  It shoots like crazy, floats like a cork, and presents a dry fly as light as you could set it on the water with your hands.  The Ultimate Trout and Gold lines are slightly more aggressive than the other SA Trout lines which helps bite through the wind and load the slightly faster BIIIX.

Jun 22, 2017

Fly Water Travel Prime Availability - 6.22.17

Royal Wolf Lodge | Alaska
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Royal Wolf Lodge
Within the heart of Katmai National Park’s finest trout waters
One of  Alaska's finest fly-out fly fishing operations. In terms of location Royal Wolf Lodge just plain hard to beat. With short fly times to some of the regions premiere watersheds including Battle, Big Ku, Funnel, Moraine and the Kvichak are guaranteed to provide quality home water in the event of poor flying conditions. 

Available Dates:
August 18 – 25, 2017 (2 spaces)

World's End Lodge | Irigoyen River, Argentina
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 World's End Lodge | Argentina
Irgoyen River - Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina
A totally unique experience that offers huge sea trout on a small, intimate, tree-lined river system that has gained legendary status in Tierra Del Fuego over the last decade.

2017/2018 Available Dates (as of 6/20/17):
Dec 15-22 (4 rods)
Dec 22-29 (4 rods)
Dec 29-Jan 5 (4 rods)
Jan 12-19 (1 rod)
Feb 2-9 (2 rods)
Feb 16-23 (2 rods)
Feb 23-Mar 2 (2 rods)
Mar 2-9 (4 rods)
Mar 9-16 (4 rods)
Mar 16-23 (4 rods)

Gorge Fly Shop

The Gorge Fly Shop Team


"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Jun 20, 2017

On the Hunt - Stand Ready

Cast, Strip, Sight, Set, Fight

In continuation of the "On the Hunt" Series, this chapter addresses the stand or stance.

One day while swinging flies on the river I watched a guide boat drift down with a single angler in front casting a streamer. He stood there like he was in line at the dmv and held his rod with a matching amount of ambition. He made lazy cast after cast and stripped his fly back with rhythmic boredom.

I couldn't help to think that even if a fish struck his fly in no way was he prepared to react. He held his rod with a lazy grip high out over the boat creating a bow in his line. No focus...Not prepared...No enthusiasm!

There are those who hunt and there are hunters just like there are those that fish and there are anglers. This guy is clearly neither. On that day his wrong opened my eyes to what would be right. I slipped into deep thought about how often we decide our own fate without even knowing it.

My vision for writing this article mostly has to do with predator style streamer fishing whether it be for bass, pike, musky, brown trout or whatever you find yourself pursuing in what I refer to as predator fishing mode. These tactics also apply to predator top water fishing and may also apply to many other styles of fly fishing.

Stand Ready

The lazy guy I described above wasn't sitting down but he wasn't hunting.  The Phrase from the kick off article, "Never Sit Down", has a much deeper meaning than just a physical state. Your stand, or stance needs to put you in a state of preparedness. Prepared to cast, strip, sight, set and fight.


I like to put one foot in front of the other. Unlock your knees. Focus your vision on where you're casting and your fly when it lands. If your fly for whatever reason is not in sight, still create a mental image about where it is and track it as you strip in.

Grip your rod

After your cast put the rod tip to the water pointing in the direction of your fly. Eliminate any slack from your line immediately . Grip your rod firm but try to avoid a death grip.

Strip like you mean it

You will need a gloved finger or stripper finger in order to achieve proper strips. DON"T wait until you have line burned your finger. Equip yourself before you start fishing and you will strip better all day. Streamer strips should be aggressive with demanding intent. DO NOT DRAG your fly. The topic of stripping deserves much more attention than I can give in this paragraph. Watch for a future article on this subject.

Watch you fly

Most predator fishing I do allows me to see my fly in action. Topwater and shallow sub surface streamer flies allow us to see what's going on. Keep sight on your fly at all times. Watch for shadows, swipes and be particularly aware if suddenly it disappears out of sight. Also, watch the water for movement such as swirls or pushes. Pay attention to your flies action. Many flies require specific strips and/or even rod tip jerks to get the desired action the fish want.

Strike Back

I like to use the term "Strike Back" rather then "set hook". Key point is...DO NOT trout set. I'm sure this subject has difference of opinions but this is how I like to approach the strike back hook set. Strip with a lift. A strip set alone is great but there are times when these fish are swimming toward you making it nearly impossible to get a set with a strip alone. If you strip set and lift rod at the same time you increase the amount of line taken up. But here is the key, you must lift your rod in a horizontal plane while you strip set. Combination strip and lift will draw power from the butt of the rod and take up the slack quickly for a solid hook set.


Predator fish often try to go down and under a rock or brush pile and when they get there you very likely won't be able to bring them out. They can wrap your line around objects and either get free or break you off. Be aware of your structure and take action immediately to pull it away from possible escape.

Watch for my next article about stripping your fly

I'll see you on the water...But you probably won't see me!

Greg Darling 

"My Passion For Fishing Is A Lifelong Pursuit Of Discovery"

Jun 15, 2017

Fly Water Travel Prime Availability - 6.15.17

Middle Fork of the Salmon River - Last Call for 2017!
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"With an above average snow pack the Middle Fork should be fishing well into October this year!"
The most prolific and unspoiled westslope cutthroat trout fishery in the world, the Middle Fork of Idaho’s Salmon River offers what many consider the finest multi-day wilderness float trip in America.

Available Launch Dates:
July 17: 1 rafting seat available
July 25: 1 rafting seat
August 10: 2 rafting seats
September 14: 1 fishing seat
October 1: 6 – 12 fishing seats (Note: this trip is available for a one of a kind Cast & Blast trip!)

Prime Availability - BC Steelhead
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Prime BC Availability
There are still some very good openings available for the coming 2017 summer and fall steelhead season. Here are some of the highlights.

Dates available July into November.

The Gorge Fly Shop Team


"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Jun 13, 2017

On The Hunt - Never Sit Down

As a fly angler do you consider yourself a hunter?

I've never been an angler who sits and waits for fish to come to me. I don't see the point. Sure it's fun to hang with friends and drink lagers while waiting for the catfish to bite but that is not my definition of fishing or hunting.

Too often when reading fly fishing material the picture is painted of cool mountain streams, cascading clear water and matching the hatch. That's all good but is that always reality. It's like the sports car commercial were the drive is through scenic mountains and another car is nowhere in sight. Fly fishing like sports car commercials are often portrayed to give us feelings of peace, solitude and serenity.

That's great if you have time to find it. Sure I take trips and get off the grid but I can't wait all year for that special week of fly fishing. To satisfy my passions I must get on the water as often as possible. Most of the time the places I can go fish are shared with others.

Recently while hunting bass on a local reservoir I watched two guys in a boat sitting on pedestal seats, casting and waiting for something to happen. They came past me and said "Hi! Are you catching any?" At this distance there was no way they didn't notice I was wielding a fly rod. I yelled back my standard reply, "yeah, catching a few." Little did they know I've just landed an 18" smallmouth, a 17" white bass, two respectable largemouth's and more sunfish then I care to claim.
Take note that this all took place while this other boat was in my view and I never once saw these guys get out of there seats. I'm sure they caught fish but are they hunting fish!?

On my local lakes I watch an endless stream of guys who drag lures or whatever around all day but they don't really hunt. I never see another fly angler on lakes. Such a wide open field of opportunity. Image this...The fish in most lakes have never seen your flies!!! Yes, that sentence deserves three exclamation points. That is what I call opportunity.

I'm a hunter!  Are you a hunter?

I spend much time warmwater fishing from my boat. It takes me places I could otherwise never get to. It is my platform of which I operate from. At one time it was equipped with pedestal mounts for front and rear seats just like the ones those guys were sitting in. I say at one time because I just recently re-carpeted the boat and in that process I removed the pedestal mounts. I don't need them and was tired of stepping over them. I don't need them because I stand and hunt.

What is a fish hunter? To be a hunter from a boat you must...

Stand Ready! 

The entire day. Get into a stance that keeps you focused and ready to strip set in a nano second. Get serious about your footwear and comfort. Consider possible wind chop, swells and waves. Fly fishing is a sport, treat it like one!


Make every cast count and believe every spot you cast to has a fish to catch.


Remain fully vigilant for any and all clues. After the cast watch for swirls or pushes. Watch for shadows appearing under your fly. Watch your line. Fish will tell you what they want if pay attention and spot their reactions.

Embrace Wind! 

Most lake fishing involves wind. Let it be your friend. Winds helps to provide cover for both us and fish. It also helps to add oxygen to water and fish will naturally be more active. My experience is windy days are usually better fishing than dead calm days.

Make it Real! 

Make that fly real! You don't wait for strikes...you create strikes. DO NOT JUST DRAG THE FLY BACK TO YOU! Mix it up. Avoid rhythms. Vary your strips and pauses and mentally record the action you were giving your fly when a strike occurs.


Get you mind and body in the zone. Your thoughts, your posture and your attitude can affect your day. Believe that!

Summer is Here!

I've switched to hunter / predator mode. In the next couple months I wish to break down individually some of the bullet points listed above into much greater detail and share with you why I get so excited for this type of fly fishing.

I'll see you on the water...But you probably won't see me

Greg Darling 

"My Passion For Fishing Is A Lifelong Pursuit Of Discovery"

Jun 11, 2017

Columbia Gorge Fishing Report (6/11/2017)

Long days and mostly decent weather have made for some good fishing in the Gorge.

Classic Gorge Weather: Sunny with Pouring Rain

Deschutes trout fishing has been good/excellent and fairly steady.  There are an assortment of insects around and the fish have been happy to indulge in whatever is hatching.  They are still coming up to golden stone imitations and purple chubbies and I have heard of at least a couple anglers hitting the green drake hatch.  There should be some yellow sallies and pale evening duns showing themselves too.  As always, the standard nymphs (hare's ear, pheasant tail, possie bugger, copper John) are producing.

Local Legend Jim Greenleaf with a Deschutes Redside!

Stillwater trout fishing has also been very good locally.  The damsels and dragonflies have started hatching, especially on warm days, and the fish are eating the nymphs worked slowly around and over weed beds.  Chironomids, Callibaetis and buggers are also still in play.  As things warm up, look for the flying ants to start hatching around the higher elevation lakes as well.

Gabe found some hungry backwater smalljaws!

Bass fishing has been about the same as the last few weeks.  Fish are being caught, both in the Columbia and the John Day.  Many fish are thinking about spawning and are in shallow water.  I would suggest crawling a big bugger/leach or fishing a Clouser minnow quickly in the shallows.  There are should be a popper bite going in the next month as fish enter post spawn feeding.

A beauty of a mountain tiger musky!

We got out to one of the western WA reservoirs for some tiger musky fishing.  We saw a ton of fish and had most of them follow.  We had 5 good eats and landed one beauty.  5-10 inch flies on 10wts is the name of the game.  I really like the SA Sonar Titan WF10 full intermediate for 90% of the musky fishing.  You will want some type of wire bite tippet or leader, as these fish have serious chompers!  If you are looking for a new challenge on the fly, and have a boat or at least a buddy who does, you owe it to yourself to give it a try at least once.  There is a ton of info on the WDFW website.

Cody's Steelhead Report:

Enthralled by emerald green waters, and happy to be skating dries again.

Welp, it’s June and if you’re like me summer-run steel have been on your mind since… well, maybe they’re always on your mind! This could be attributed to a variety of reasons- A change of pace from tough winter fishing and rainy days, the finesse and presentation of scandi-style casting, fish willing to rise to the surface, t-shirts and sunnies, long days, etc. Though I’m sure once Thanksgiving hits I’ll be back on a winter-run mindset for thick bodied chrome and sea-lice covered fins. Ha! It really never really ever seem to end...

June 1st was the opener for the Klickitat River and it’s a quite a different start than last year. Numbers over Bonneville have been pretty slim so far, along with high and colored water to round it out as well. I’ve driven up the Klick a few times in the last two weeks to check on it, only to find flows ranging from 4100 cfs to its current level of 2700 cfs (for reference, average mean flow at this time of year is 2080 cfs.) What this means is that most of your favorite runs to swing flies are gonna be challenging to wade, and the few fish that are in the river won’t be too far out. If you do make it out and water clarity is decent, I’d focus on swinging shorter bits of line all the way into the bank. Wading staffs and boot studs will also ease getting into your favorite runs. As for predictions, it’s tough to say since we’ve got a fair amount of snow up high still and haven’t seen many super warm days yet.

Indeed predictions for this season’s Columbia run look to be on par with last year’s (unfortunately) and with some increased restrictions on seasons, this year will make it tougher for anglers. It’s important to remain mindful with our pressure on the fish we love with our handling and ethics. Monitor the water temps, revive and release fish quickly, keep them wet, etc. Opportunities are out there though with the Sandy and Clackamas still producing some good hatchery summer fish. However, I did get out and camp along a gem of a river in central Oregon for a couple nights. A few fish were seen as we chugged foamy dries, skated muddlers, and swung wets with floating lines but no fish to hand. Unfortunately, rains came a little earlier than expected. Transforming the river’s notoriously difficult wading in the already high water, to well, even more of a challenge. As is tradition, I filled my waders up once trying to get into a greasy tailout. It wasn’t the first time, and certainly won’t be the last...

High water but high hopes. Chelsey swings through the bucket.

Flows:  The USGS sites give us real-time flows, while the NOAA site shows us predictions based on weather patterns.  Both are invaluable tools.

Hood River:



Deschutes near Madras:

Deschutes at the mouth:

Columbia River
Bonneville Dam Water Temps
Columbia @ Hood River (The mouth of the Hood backs up at 75 feet)

As always, we are happy to talk fishing anytime.  Give us a call if you have any specific questions on local rivers, gear, and tactics, or if you just want some encouragement to get out of the office.  541.386.6977

*Add us on Instagram for more fishy content! @gorgeflyshop

Ryan Van Duzor
Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist

Read More from the "Bearded Pescador"

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Jun 9, 2017

Fly Water Travel Prime Availability - 6.9.17

Steelhead Cancellation – Sandy River Lodge, Alaska 

Sandy River Lodge - Alaska

Due to a cancellation, a single space has opened up for a prime week of steelhead fishing at the Sandy River Lodge, Alaska.

Available Dates: October 13th - 20th

Fishing Bear Lodge, Alaska
Fishing Bear Lodge
Fishing Bear Lodge is anything but easy. At its core this modest and endearing family run Alaskan lodge offers its guests just the right amount of “roughing it” and an opportunity to experience a remarkable diversity of true wilderness fly fishing.

Available Dates: August 14 – 20: 4 spaces
Read more about Fishing Bear Lodge at Gorge Fly Shop  

Discount Trip – Cancellation: Kendjam, Brazil
Kendjam, Brazil
Four open spaces at Kendjam during a prime week. More than any other destination that we have visited, Kendjam represent the ultimate jungle experience. 
Dates: July 29 – Aug 6, 4 spots 

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The Gorge Fly Shop Team


"Fly Fish the World with Us"


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