Oregon Striped Bass

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Oregon Striped Bass
By: Dean Finnerty

A Striped Bass from an Oregon River...

In southern Oregon, the intrepid, traveling fly angler can pick just about any day throughout the year to target a variety of fly rod species.  Steelhead, Salmon, Smallmouth Bass, Shad, Trout and Striped Bass all play important roles in providing year ‘round opportunities to keep their flies wet!
In the coming months, it will be my pleasure to introduce the many readers of The Fly Fishing Shop’s “weekly newsletter” with the wide variety of fly fishing adventures available in my neck of the woods in southwestern, Oregon.

This first installment will introduce readers to one of my favorite fly rod species, the Striped Bass.  Oregon is home to the world record, line class, fly-caught striped bass.  This monster “line-sides” was taken July28, 1973 on the lower Smith River (a favorite haunt of striped bass and a tributary to the Umpqua River near Reedsport) and weighed 64-pounds 8-ounces!  It was caught with 12-pound class tippet by Beryl Bliss.  The 16-pound class tippet record was also caught in the same area in May 1974 by Gary Dyer.  It weighed 51-pouds 8-ounces. 

The fly rod striper season starts as the winter steelhead season on the North Umpqua and Coquille Rivers begins to wind down.  Beginning in late February and lasting well into May, the annual out-migration of salmon and steelhead smolts begins as these juvenile fish head towards the ocean.  This happens to coincide with the striped bass spawning migrations, which occur in the lower reaches of many southern Oregon coastal estuaries.  Popular systems include the lower Umpqua, Coquille, Millicoma, Smith and Coos rivers.
The Striper season in the rivers slows down through the summer months as food sources, mainly in the form of sand shrimp, sculpins, herring, anchovies, candlefish, and sardines in the bays, draws the marauding “wolf packs” of aggressive stripers down river to the bounty of these rich salt and brackish waters.  On a recent outing, a twenty-pound striper was kept for the table.  I

...lucky night-fisher...

make a practice of examining stomach contents of any fish that I’ve retained.  This fish had consumed 5-6 salmon or steelhead smolts, 6-7 fairly large sculpins, one small clam, one 6” lamprey, a small pink-fin surfperch and a 2” long wooden stick!

Striped Bass scale pattern gives them the nickname "line-sides"...

In the fall, the season begins again, but for the fly fisherman, the best opportunity to connect with these incredibly strong fighters occurs during the spring season. 
Timing your trip to cover likely water during low light, particularly during an ebb tide is key to success.  Stealth and keeping noise to a bare minimum is also crucial.  Some of my best trips occur during the dead of night, quietly working my drift boat into position for clients to cast their patterns towards holding water which can include pilings, rock outcroppings or the mouths  

of sloughs or creeks where bass lay and wait to ambush unsuspecting prey.
Fly rods capable of throwing 5 inch long, “bucktail” type patterns and handling fish in the 20 to 40 pound class are necessary.  Reels need to have smooth, powerful drags with a large arbor to aid in keeping lines tight to these incredibly powerful fish.  Popular fly lines are full floaters and intermediate full sinking lines.  Once in awhile it’s necessary to get deeper, but most of the time, these two lines will cover the bases.  Leaders are very basic, 4 feet of 15 lb. maxima for sinking lines and 6 to 10 ft. of tapered leader with 12 to 15 lb. tippet on your full floater should suffice.  Presentations vary from situation to situation, but most of the time, a simple wet fly swing or cast and strip retrieve will draw plenty of strikes.  It’s often said that it is impossible to strip line too fast for stripers.  While there are times this may be true,  I find a varied retrieve that mimics injured or escaping baitfish works best. 
Locating actively feeding bass is one of the most exciting aspects of this fishery.  In the darkness, out ahead of your slowly moving boat, you can hear splashes; LOUD splashes often times sounding like someone throwing bowling balls out in the inky darkness.  This will tell you all you need to know about where your bass are.  Eastern anglers refer to this phenomenon as “popping”. It is the bass’s method of attacking baitfish that have been corralled into shallow water.  Once you’ve had the opportunity to experience this “call of the wild”, it will bring you back year after year to experience it over and over again!
Oregon’s striper fishery appears to be rebounding and is increasingly becoming more and more of a viable option during the spring smolt out-migration, thus filling a void for many fly anglers during a time of year when winter steelheading is over and summer steelhead have yet to arrive in fishable numbers.   Getting a 30 pound striper on a fly rod should be on the list of very west coast fly fishermen’s “must do” list.  Once you try it, I’m certain you’ll find it as challenging and rewarding as any fly-fishing experience you can have anywhere. 
Anyone interested in participating in this fabulous fishery is encouraged to contact me at
(541) 942-2535 or (541) 731-9649.  A visit to my website located at www.5riversguideservice.com may also be helpful to readers.   Anyone with questions or comments are welcome to call me anytime or e-mail me at fiveriversguide@yahoo.com

Second Annual
Oregon Fly Fishing Festival
June 16, 2007 - 9:00am – 5:00 pm
Free Fly Fishing Games, Drawings & Prizes
Fun, Fun, Fun !!!
Presented By: The Fly Fishing Shop in Welches Oregon.
We are at the foot of Mt. Hood, 45 minutes from Portland on Hwy 26.
100 miles of Class-1 streams are within 10 miles of this event.
The Topics Covered Are Uniquely Oregon!
What happened at the 2006 Oregon Fly Fishing Festival?

Jim & Donna Teeny To Provide A Program
At The Oregon Fly Fishing Festival

Jim & daughters in Alaska...

Jim and Donna Teeny will be joining us at our annual Fly Fishing Festival this year.  Their hope is to encourage families to learn and enjoy the art of Fly Fishing.  Come join them with your questions and the desire to learn one of our Greatest Outdoor Sports.  Jim Teeny, born in Oregon and grown up fishing the West Coast, designed the Teeny Nymph at the age of 16 for large, cruising trout at Oregon’s East Lake.  Little did he realize then, as a junior in High School, how this simple

fly pattern would impact his future. Jim started the Teeny Nymph Company in July of 1971.  This was the start-up of what is now Jim Teeny, Inc., the business which Jim and his wife, Donna, now run from their HQ’s in Gresham, Oregon. Jim, an avid steelhead fisherman, conceived an idea for sinking fly lines which resulted in his T-Series sinking tip fly lines which, over twenty years later are still the standard salmon/steelhead line use with single hand rods.  Jim has, subsequently, designed a full line of specialty fly lines that range from full floating lines to deep sinking salt water lines. Jim and Donna have fished all over the western hemisphere from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.  As a matter of fact Donna managed a bone fish camp in the Bahamas for several years.  The Teenys are avid photographers and will have a slide program for your pleasure at the Oregon Fly Fishing Festival for your pleasure.

Donna teaching the finer arts of bass fishing...

Abel's NEW Super 12W

Super 12W quartering veiw... Super 12W back...
Super 12W front... Super 12W rear...

A super wide large arbor reel aimed at the unique needs of Spey rod fly-fishers is available now. The new Abel Super 12W has a diameter of 4.450- and a spool width of 1.375-inches.  The reel weighs 10.7 ounces. Abel’s newest reel is precision machined from cold rolled 6061-T aircraft quality aluminum and anodized against saltwater corrosion using Abel’s proprietary metallurgical process.  The reels are available in standard high gloss Black Coral or non-reflective matte black finishes.  Fish graphic and artistic graphic anodized finishes are available at additional charges.  The Super 12W was designed with a fully caged frame for increased durability and to eliminate the possibility of an ultra thin running line finding its way between the frame and spool.

Standard 12-weight line and 400 yards of 30-pound backing
9/10 Spey line and 250 yards of 30-pound backing
10/11 Spey line and 225 yards of 30-pound backing.

Model Line Capacity Backing Capacity Weight Price To Top
Abel Super 12W Reel WindCutter 9/10/11 250-#30 10.7 oz. $850 SALE ENDED
Abel Super 12W Spool       $390 SALE ENDED

Stonefly Nymphs
Troy Bachmann testing FLYH2O flies on the Deschutes River...
Deschutes Redsides, like most trout, voraciously feed on stonefly nymphs early in the season.
Golden Stone and Salmon Fly nymphs...
Large Golden Stonefly nymph showing prominent light colored gill filaments.
...scurrying to find cover...
The same Golden Stonefly nymph showing bright yellow bands between body segments.
Freshly molted Salmon Fly Nymphs are orangish color...
Salmon Fly nymphs under water.
...out of the water, they look different...
Salmon Fly nymphs out of the water.

Mucho rods...

We Got Rods (hundreds of them in stock).
At The Fly Fishing Shop, we stock several hundred fly fishing rods from such renowned makers as Sage, Winston, G. Loomis, Thomas & Thomas, C.F. Burkheimer, Echo and Temple Fork Outfitters.  Rod sizes vary from 00-weights for catching tiny pan fish & trout to 16-weights for landing monster fish that live in the world's oceans. This rod selection was built on customer demand. The companies represented here, not only build high-performance rods, but also take care of business after the sale with high-speed warrantee systems.  This way you are assured of competent & quick repair-work if you need it. The rods are warehoused for immediate delivery to you anywhere in the world.  Pictured in the rod store-room is Roger Shearer, who is always glad to help you select the right rod for your needs, and then ship it to you in the quickest & most economical way possible. We ship to anywhere in; North America, South America, Europe, Asia,  Australia, New Zealand and Africa.
Feel free to make your selection now: Fly Fishing Rods

The Fly Fishing Shop HOME. The Fly Fishing Shop, Welches, OR

1(800) 266-3971

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Fish long & prosper,
Mark & Patty

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