Grand Ronde River

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Grand Ronde River
Out Of The Gloom
Florida Keys
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Copper Body Nymphs


Grand Ronde River
By: Brent Kaufman
I was slowly coming to my senses after a sleepless night of working late and packing at the last minute. Some 150 miles from home, it dawned on me there would be no propane to fuel the stove, lights, and heater.  Thankfully, we were still in transit to our destination, The Grand Ronde River in Northeastern Oregon.  “I hate it when there’s no time to organize, pack, and get ready before a trip!... I always forget something important,” I complained to the group in the truck. 
We stopped at Pendleton and got a new propane tank.  As we left town, we wondered if I should have bought an extra one for the heater alone, as temperatures were forecasted to be anywhere from the teens to the twenties with snow for the entire week.  This was one vivid memory from the beginning of my first trip to The Grande Ronde River in November 2003.  Not quite what I’d expected after being told that this was a beautiful steelhead river that I would never forget.  “Never forget” came to be almost funny after we made it through the first float.  The river froze solid at the takeout, preventing any further downriver progress.  I believe it was 5ºF at the time.  
The Grande Rhonde starts its way seaward as a tiny mountain creek in the Elkhorn Mountains south of La Grande, OR.  It makes its journey Northeastward for more
than 185 miles before joining the mighty Snake River in Southeastern Washington.  The most popular areas for drifting and fishing are below the Wallowa River all the way to the confluence at Heller Bar.  The mouth area sees a bit more pressure than the areas upriver, but the bulk of the run comes in a bit earlier down below for you fair weather types.  This area has fish in the system starting in mid September and then continuing into November for the upper stretches.  Weather is generally mild, with temperatures averaging between the 30s and high 50s but be prepared for extreme cold and possibly even relatively warm conditions.  There is not a lot of road access in the upper reaches, so a boat is required to fish here.  Our group did a five day, 40 mile float through the upper Wild and Scenic section.  The only person I know doing shuttles out that way is Melva Horn at the little store at Minam, OR (541) 437-1111.  
River flows average between 600 – 900cfs this time of year, which are suitable for drifting rafts or catarafts.  The town of Troy has good road access in the area near it.  Also the mouth, at Heller Bar, has good access via a gravel road south of Asotin, WA.  Subsequently, this area also receives the bulk of the fishing pressure.
The river was home to the Nez Pierce Indian Tribe and the area has been inhabited for more than 10,000 years by indigenous people.  Chief Joseph, of the Nez Pierce led his warriors in 

fierce battles with the US Military before surrendering, stating, “I will fight no more forever.”  This ended the era of native inhabitation by people that were great hunters and fishermen.  Remnants of ancient pit houses and petroglyphs can be seen throughout the area.  
The steelhead returning to this river average between 4 – 6 pounds.  Rods in the 6 – 8 wt. range are sufficient tools to get the job done.  Both single and double hand rods work well.  The river is moderate in width, so bombing casts with a spey rod most of the way across the river is not uncommon.  The timing of the run, weather, and water temperature will depend on weather you fish floating or sinking lines.  I prefer to fish floating lines for steelhead if conditions warrant, but both the last two years, fish have only been picked up with sinking lines (3 & 6ips).  Water temperatures hovered between 33ºF and 45Fº   This river has a great reputation for fishing well with floating lines, and dry or skated flies, but I have never had the luck of warmer river temperatures during our trips. 
Being a spey rod aficionado, I found my T&T 1307 to be perfectly matched for this river.  Just make sure to have multiple lines/spools or a versi-tip system to ensure that you have the proper equipment to do the job.  A solid 6wt. single hander, like Sage’s XP-6100 is a great rod to have on hand to nymph through runs as well.  Also, being that these fish tend to be quite lively and strong fighters, make sure you have a dependable reel with a bombproof drag system.  I found my new Lamson Velocity not only a great match for my rod (as it balances perfectly), but it also had the gusto to fight long running fish.  My last fish of the trip was a beautiful, native 7 pound male brought to hand after a lengthy 10 + minute battle.  I’m glad I had the right tools for the job!
Our group for this year’s trip included three anglers who did their best to bring fish to hand each day, fishing hard for 4 to 6 hours each per day.  The first three days started off very slow with only 2 fish being hooked, one respectively by each guy.  They were both fishing sink tip lines with a variety of classic low water summer flies.  I, on the other hand, fished similar flies, but was stubborn in leaving my dry line on for the first two days in spite of cool river temperatures.  Successful flies fished included:  Purple Peril, Fly du Jour, Purple Angel, Undertaker (a classic Atlantic Salmon pattern), Green Butt Skunk, Halloween Spey, and finally, my favorite, a Purple Wooly Bugger fished on a sink tip.  This ended up being one of the most productive set-ups for this trip.  By trips end, 15 steelhead had been hooked with 11 landed between the three of us!  Also, a few bull trout were taken while swinging flies in the slower, deeper pools.  Bull trout are a federally protected, endangered species, so they must be released unharmed.  Only adipose fin-clipped steelhead may be kept, with a limit of 3 per day between Sept. 1 – Apr. 15.   All native, unclipped steelhead must be released unharmed.  Different from the Deschutes, for us local folk, you may fish from your boat.
Unlike our freeze over of the river last year, this year brought no permanent scarring to the group, or to the character of its individuals.  What this year did unfold for us was a small glimpse into what kind of potential this river has to offer.  If you like peaceful solitude with the opportunity to hook both hatchery and wild steelhead in a remote setting, then this is a river you should visit at least once in your lifetime.


Out Of The Gloom - Polarized Eyewear For Winter Fishing
Winter steelhead are most active when light levels are low. Shooters have known for a long while that yellow colored lenses brighten dark days and increase contrast.  The photo below was created with the trickery of Adobe Photoshop, but is a fairly accurate portrayal of what happens when you wear yellow polarized lenses on a gloomy day. Being able to see better has got to be an advantage.

  


Larger View

Solar-Lite Series, "Fly" wraparound is a best-seller; nylon frame with rubberized temple tips for non-slip comfort.   These glasses offer high performance at a reasonable price.  The Lenses in the Larger View are brown, but you will be shipped glasses with yellow lenses.  
Item Model Lens Color Frame Color Price To Top
90724 Fisherman Eyewear 16FLY yellow black $16.99

-->SALE ENDED

Or instead of buying yellow lens glasses, you can escape to the
Florida Keys
report from Captain Chris
The water has cooled off quite a bit and the sky has been very sunny, this amounts to great bonefishing the Keys. Tuesday in a half day charter we found 5 schools of 20 or more fish each, feeding (mudding) in 2 to 3.5ft depths. All of these fish were Pigs from 8 to 13-pounds.  My angler that day, BJ hooked and landed 2 of these fish on a fly, 
both were around 10-pounds.  Both fish made repeated runs far into the backing.
Ca[tain Chris says, "The Florida Keys offers a wide veriety of fly fishing adventures."
 Yesterday we landed 12 redfish in a half day, they really school-up when the water temperature starts coming down. Our water although still in the mid-70s has come down from the mid-80's a few weeks ago.   Today, we ran deep into the Everglades Park.  On the way in we got a 4-pound bonefish.  At another spot we got 3 nice sea trout and some ladyfish on the way to Sandy Key which is about 20 miles out.  There we caught 2 very nice Redfish on a white and chartreuse Deceiver. 
The rest of the day produced 2 smaller reds and a nice snook that broke off and got away.  Many other fish were sited including one tarpon. Also got pretty close to massive flocks of White Pelicans, which are kind of rare here. Saw 2 eagles also, one bald and one that was either an immature bald or a Golden.
Fun fun fun!!!!   
When most people think of a trip to the Florida Keys, visions of schools of large tarpon first come to mind. Or perhaps its the population of bonefish that can reach 15# that you think of, for some it’s the ultimate challenge that dropping a crab fly in front of our large permit. That is what its all about down here for most of the year, however what many folks do not know is that the keys is as diverse a fishery as you will find anywhere.

                       The "big three" of the flats (tarpon, bones and permit) are some of the best game fish that an angler can pursue. These fish are aggressive feeders and are usually eager to eat a well placed fly. What many do not know about the Florida Keys is that a fly rodder often is able to catch a variety of other hard fighting species.  This is especially true after winter cold fronts have pushed migratory fish and bait in a southerly direction. These cold fronts often push a variety of schooling species down into the Keys. In the middle keys for example (Marathon area), there are schools of Spanish mackerel, bluefish ( Yes Bluefish),  cobia, jack crevalle,  pompano, barracuda, black tip shark (like the one Amy is holding), sea trout, ladyfish, the list goes on.  Some Clouser Deep Eyed Minnows, Poppers and the occasional Deceiver pattern are all you need. Your guide will rig you with a wire leader if necessary.

During my time fishing the keys, I come to realize more and more how great a fishery we do have. One day that comes to mind happened this past January; I was out with 2 other fisherman on board looking for some permit. We stopped at a spot where I had seen them in the past and I started polling the boat across the flat. We spotted a school of small permit and cast a crab fly into them and got an instant take. Alright, I thought. The fish fought fiercely on the 9wt rod. And only when he came to the boat did we realize that it was not permit but a huge pompano! The two look almost identical but the size range on pompano is much smaller.  This one was about 6-pounds.  That is a huge pompano so we high-fived and started catching more fish from the school. At about the time my buddy was playing his 5th fish something great happened, a 40# King Mackerel came up on the flat and started circling the hooked pompano. He did not attack the hooked fish but acted like he was going to. As we played the fish closer to the boat, the big King, came close and actually had his fins and back out of the water as he viciously circled the pompano. It was awesome and many excited words were said as me and my pals tried to figure out how to hook-up with the King.

We never hooked him and that is the only encounter I have heard of with a King Mackerel on a flat.

Our next run-in was with a huge school of 3 to 5-pound bluefish.  I had to rub my eyes to believe what I was seeing as I realized that the 60ft across green patch on the flat was actually a solid school of fish that were moving in our direction. The sides of many of the fish were lazily flashing silver as they turned on their sides randomly as they swam along. The first cast into them was an instant bite-off.  So out came the wire leader and we had double-headers until we were tired of catching bluefish.

The next 2 hours were spent in pursuit of cobia, which were found cruising on some other flats a short boat ride away. Cobia fishing is great sport and is true sight fishing as well.

During warm spells in winter months, the tarpon and permit fishing can be hot in the keys.   And there are almost always shots to be had at bonefish, even when the water is a bit chilly.  During the winter most flats are deserted of other anglers.  The Keys in December, January and February can be a real treat  especially if you let your guide know you are open to catching a variety of species. 

 RIGGING UP

   I like to have a quiver of  about 3 fly rods rigged for a variety of situations. The extra rods give you a versatility that you will need to adapt quickly should you run into large Jacks, Shark or Tarpon (where you may want an 11 or 12wt) or perhaps mackerel, permit or bluefish are present, maybe a 9 or 10wt outfit and always you should have on hand your favorite 8 or 9wt stick for bones etc.

    I like to be rigged with a floating line on one rod and clear tip line on another rod.  You will also want an intermediate line on your largest outfit, in case tarpon are hanging low in the water column as sometimes is the case with the winter resident tarpon.

  Here is an incomplete list of some of the different kinds of fish that can make you rod bend in the Florida Keys if the water temperature is too cold for bones, permit and tarpon: snapper, mackerel ( 2-kinds), cobia, ladyfish, Jack Crevalle, yellow Jack, 5 species of sharks, sea trout, pompano, bluefish and more. That does it I am going to tie some Clousers.  Hope to see you on the water.

Capt Chris Morrison

Marathon, Florida Keys

On the Web at www.captchris.com

 


Which Company Produces The Best Fishing Flies?
World Competition Is A Great Proving Ground.
Capturing World Records Is One Way To Keep Score.
FLYH2O
The only company with over 
(30) IGFA world records.

We Stock All Their 
World Record Flies
F.P.F Hot Pink/Red - 10 F.P.F Green Mackerel - 1
F.P.F Blue Back - 5 F.P.F. Blue Mackerel - 1
F.P.F K.T.s Squid - 5 F.P.F Master Marlin - 1
F.P.F. Aussie Scad - 3 F.P.F. Master Sailfish - 1
F.P.F. Hot Pink/Black - 3 ALF Pin Head Anchovy - 1
ALF Stir Fly, Green - 2 ALF Blue Sardina - 1
F.P.F. Black Attack - 1 ALF Olive Sardina - 1
F.P.F. Mean Joe Green - 1  
Each pattern is listed with the number of records it holds (or has held). 

Hot Pink/Red flies appear to be the single most successful color combination for large pelagic fish.  Pink is a color that is prominent in Pink/Red, Pink/Black and K.T.s Squid patterns.  These three categories hold 18 of the 37 records listed on this chart.  As expected, blue back and green back silver sided, white belly flies hold most of the rest of the records.

Fly Used: Species  Class  Date  Weight Angler  Salt
water
Applicable Special Notes:      
          kg  /lb.   Fresh
water
 Records:      
F.P.F Green Mackerel 
00706 8" #7/0
Striped Marlin  10kg
(20lb)
9/12/98 48.7kg
107 lb.
John Costello SW South of Kenya  Kenya and All Africa first ever fly caught Marlin to be taken in African waters 
F.P.F. Aussie Scad
00700 12" #8x8
Dog Tooth Tuna 10kg
(20lb)
3/16/99 12kg
26.4 lb
Dean Butler: Australia SW Australia World Record    
F.P.F  Aussie Scad
00701 10" tube
Striped Marlin 10kg
(20lb)
3/17/99 90.5kg
199 lb
Dean Butler: Australia SW Australia World Record    
F.P.F. Hot Pink/Red
00710 10" tube
Black Marlin 8kg 
(16lb)
2/14/99 52.2kg
115 lb
Dean Butler: Australia SW Australia World Record    
F.P.F. Mean Joe Green
01172 12" tube
Narrow Barred Mackerel 10kg
(20lb)
  18kg
39.6 lb.
George Campbell: Australia SW Australia World Record    
F.P.F. Hot Pink/Black 
01169 14" tube
Striped Marlin 8kg 
(16lb)
2/14/99 49.5 kg
108.9 lb 
Sophie Grover: Australia SW Australia W. World Record    
F.P.F. Hot Pink/Red
00710 10" tube
Black Marlin 10kg
(20lb)
  38kg
83.6 lb
Roly Newton: Australia SW Australia World Record    
F.P.F. Hot Pink/Black 
01168 12" tube
Striped Marlin 10kg
(20lb)
  95kg
209 lb.
Fouad Sahaoui: Morocco SW Morocco World Record    
F.P.F Blue Back
00704 12" tube
Black Marlin 6kg
(12lb)
  56kg
123.2 lb
Fouad Sahaoui: Morocco SW Morocco World Record    
F.P.F Blue Back
00704 12" tube
Black Marlin 10kg
(20lb)
  52kg
114.4 lb
Fouad Sahaoui: Morocco SW Morocco World Record (Beaten)    
F.P.F. Hot Pink/Red
00711 14" tube
Black Marlin 4kg
(8lb)
3/15/99 30.55kg
67.2 lb
Fouad Sahaoui: Morocco SW Morocco World Record    
F.P.F. Hot Pink/Red
00710 10" tube
Black Marlin 10kg
(20lb)
  101kg
222.2 lb
Brian Kane: USA SW Australia World Record    
F.P.F Blue Back
00704 12" tube
Black Marlin 10kg
(20lb)
3/14/98 53kg
116.6 lb 
Jodi Pate:
USA
SW Australia W. World Record    
F.P.F. K.T.s Squid
01170 10" tube
Atlantic Sailfish 10kg
(20lb)
9/3/98 28.2kg
62 lb 
Jodi Pate:
USA
SW Senegal  W. World Record    
F.P.F Fat Albert Squid
02182 12" tube
Atlantic Sailfish 8kg 
(16lb)
9/2/98 28.4kg
62.4 lbs
Jodi Pate:
USA
SW Senegal  W. World Record    
F.P.F. K.T.s Squid
00714  6" tube
Dolphin (Dorado) 10kg
(20lb)
1/22/99 14.4kg
31.6 lbs
Jodi Pate:
USA
SW Costa Rica  W. World Record    
F.P.F. Fat Albert Squid
02182 12" tube
White Marlin 10kg
(20lb)
9/13/98 28.2kg
62.1 lbs
Jodi Pate:
USA
SW Morocco W. World Record    
F.P.F Black Attack
00702 10" tube
Stripped Marlin 10kg
(20lb)
3/23/99 75.5kg
166.1 lb 
Annick Prot: 
France
SW Australia W. World Record    
ALF Pin Head Anchovy
00731  3" #4
Arctic Char 3kg
(6lb)
  Ed Rice: USA FW B.C. Canada World Record    
ALF Stir Fry Green
00739 #3/0
Pacific Bonito 4kg
(8lb)
  Ed Rice: USA SW USA World Record    
ALF Stir Fry Green
00739 #3/0
Black Skipjack 2kg
(4lb)
12-98 2.9kg
6.3lb
John Rudee: USA SW   World Record    
ALF Blue Sardina
00733  #2/0
Pacific Bonito 10kg
(20lb)
1-95 4.6kg
10.2 lb
Bill Howe: USA SW   World Record    
ALF olive Sardina
00732 #2/0
Lake Trout 8kg 
(16lb)
  11.6kg
25.6 lb
Mark Sedotti: USA FW   World Record    
F.P.F. Blue Mackerel
01164  9" #5x5
Striped Marlin 10kg
(20lb)
1-95 50.9kg
112 lbs
Kate Howe: USA SW   World Record    
F.P.F. Blue Back
00704 12" tube
Blue Marlin 10kg
(20lb)
10-02 131.2kg
288.7 lb
Tom Evens:
USA
SW Australia World Record The biggest fish ever taken on a fly.
F.P.F. Aussie Scad
00700 12" #8x8
Dog Tooth Tuna 10kg
(20lb)
6-05 11.8kg
26 lbs
Dean Butler: Australia SW Papua New Guinea World Record (Beaten) The first IGFA Dog Tooth claimed
F.P.F. Hot Pink/Red
00710 10" tube
Striped Marlin 8kg 
(16lb)
2-02 104.9kg
230.8 lb
Tom Evens:
USA
SW Australia World Record The largest Striped Marlin ever taken on a fly.
F.P.F. Hot Pink/Red
00711 14" tube
Cobia 10kg
(20lb)
  29.5kg
65 lb
Bert Miller:USA SW Australia World Record (Released)    
F.P.F Hot Pink/Red 00709  9" #7x7 Wahoo 8kg
(16lb)
  32kg
70.4 lb
Dr. Baxter:
USA
SW Vanuatu World Record    
F.P.F Hot Pink/Red 00709  9" #7x7 Dog Tooth Tuna 10kg
(20lb)
  20kg
44 lb
Dr. Baxter:
USA
SW Vanuatu World Record    
F.P.F. Hot Pink/Black 
01168 12" tube
Dog Tooth Tuna 8kg 
(16lb)
  13kg
28.6 lb
Dr. Baxter:
USA
SW Vanuatu World Record    
F.P.F. Hot Pink/Black 
01168 12" tube
Dog Tooth Tuna 6kg
(12lb)
  13kg
28.6
Dr. Baxter:
USA
SW Vanuatu World Record    
F.P.F. Hot Pink/Red 
708  7"  #5/0
Dog Tooth Tuna 4kg
(8lb)
  7kg
15.4 lb.
Dr. Baxter:
USA
SW Vanuatu World Record    
F.P.F. Fat Albert Squid
02182 12" tube
Striped Marlin 8kg 
(16lb)
  54kg
118.8 lb
Dean Butler: Australia SW Australia Australia  
F.P.F. Blue Back
00704 12" tube
Striped Marlin 10kg
(20lb)
  76kg
167.2 lb
Naish Hogan: Australia SW Australia Australia  
F.P.F Master Marlin  01180 14"#10x10 Striped Marlin 10kg
(20lb)
  68kg
149.6 lb
Mark Carnegie: Australia SW Australia Australia (Beaten)  
F.P.F. Master Sailfish  01182
12" #8x8
Black Marlin 10kg
(20lb)
  54kg
118.8 lb
Stewart Reid: Australia SW Australia Australia  

Copper Body Nymphs Are Great Winter Trout Flies

Most days during the winter there is considerable insect activity on the bottom of most rivers.  Many of the insects that will hatch next spring and summer are already foraging and growing as they move across the bottom.  Most of these insects are still very small and they stay very close to the bottom of the river.  A really good rig for fishing in winter is  a twist-on, a Glo Bug and a Copper Nymph.


Attach 6" of 4X to the end of a 9' 4X leader, attach a #10 Glo Bug and to the hook bend tie a 10" of 5X leader and attach a #18 Copper Nymph to the end of it.  Lengths are between knots.  Above the upper knot wrap on a twist-on lead strip.


Bead Head Copper Nymph
Utilizing an incredibly fast sink rate for such a tiny fly it gets near the bottom where trout would expect to find it.  With a forked tail, neutral colored body and striped legs, this nymph approximates many things that trout feed.  It has been proven with many great 
catches.  Copper nymphs are especially good in winter for trout, whitefish and even steelhead.
Item Description Size Price To Top
010046-16 Bead Head Copper Nymph 16 3 for $5.25 -->SALE ENDED
010046-18 Bead Head Copper Nymph 18 3 for $5.25 -->SALE ENDED

Bead Head Copper/Black Nymph
There are many tiny mayfly and stonefly nymphs that have banded bodies.  This is a more subdued colored copper nymph.  The local on-stream tests lead us to believe that this will become one of the most popular nymphs.  Trout and whitefish love them. 
Item Description Size Price To Top
010047-16 Bead Head Copper/Black Nymph 16 3 for $5.25 -->SALE ENDED
010047-18 Bead Head Copper/Black Nymph 18 3 for $5.25 -->SALE ENDED

 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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