Wallowa & Grande Ronde River Reports
October 16, 2016 Wallowa and Grande Ronde Fishing Report
What to say about last week’s fishing . . . the bad news first. Last week was one of our slowest weeks of fishing in a long time and we didn’t land any steelhead. We had some unseasonably cold nights the first 2 nights and the water temps dropped which seemed to play a role in slower fishing the first couple days although we still had quite a few nice fish landed each day. Then a weather system rolled in and rained and rained and seem to throw everything all out of whack. When we got off the river the word from other guides and shops was consistent that “the bite” was slow last week.
Now the good news. It was still a great trip with great guests, great food, awesome scenery with mountain goats, bighorn sheep, otter, eagles, and the normal splendor of the roadless section. We caught resident rainbows that would be trophy fish in many, many streams. More good news, the river went from bumping along at 580 cfs to 1,200 cfs with all the rain. The weather forecast shows more rain for the next several days before clearing up a bit Wednesday. If any steelhead were waiting for more water to push upstream . . . they got their wish! I am always an optimist, so I am going to assume that a week of poor fishing only leaves great fishing to come this week!! Tight lines,
October 9, 2016 Wallowa and Grande Ronde Fishing Report
We are in the middle of our busy fall season, so apologies for not getting an update out last week. Trout fishing on the Wallowa and Grande Ronde has been pretty normal this fall, meaning good to excellent fishing depending on the day for medium up to very large (21”+) rainbows. Steelhead have been caught each week and we got into a number of very large steelhead last week, some were landed, and some just exploded tippet on long runs and big jumps!
So far I have no complaints about the quality of the steelhead fishing. The steelhead run forecast sent from our district fish biologists, Jeff Yanke & Kyle Bratcher, are bearing out in our daily catch down the roadless section: bigger (2 salt) steelhead coming up earlier, in larger numbers than smaller one salt steelhead (although we did land a 1 year salt hatchery steelhead Friday as well).
We had a lot of rain on the river last week (daily), and the river has been given a nice bump in flows which should keep the big fish coming! Pictures, as always, on our Facebook page at this link. See you on the river,
September 26, 2016 Wallowa and Grande Ronde Fishing Report and Steelhead Forecast
We launched our first multi-day trip down the roadless section last week and the fishing did not disappoint. The Wallowa and Grande Ronde produced a lot of big, hard fighting rainbows as we expected with the largest rainbow landed on this trip pushing 21 inches with incredibly thick shoulders! That is a nice fish no matter where you go. It was also good to see a 2 year salt steelhead hooked and landed on the Wallowa this early as well! The steelhead was pushing 27 inches, so it was no slacker.
We had a nice rain as well which has followed up good rains in August and earlier in September and the river levels have stayed relatively decent all summer. These last few pushes of water have kept the gauge at Troy close to 600 cfs up from the 450 cfs range we saw at the lowest point in August. We are launching again this morning for another 5 day trip and I expect to see more steelhead this week than last.
Now for projected steelhead numbers from our district fish biologist, Jeff Yanke. There is good news and bad news this year. Bad news first: last years low, warm water was extremely hard on our 1 year salt steelhead population. The 1 year salt steelhead run is almost nothing this year, about 600 fish compared to last years nearly 8,600 fish. Now the good news. Last years run of 2 year salt fish was 5,686 at this time, this year it is 7,518! There is nearly 2,000 more 2 year salt steelhead!! Second part of the good news: our steelhead are migrating upriver at a faster pace this year. Last week saw nearly 1,500 Grande Ronde hatchery steelhead pass Lower Granite Dam, the same time last year saw only 869 hatchery steelhead past Lower Granite Dam. So expect fewer smaller steelhead this year (20"-24" 1 year salt steelhead) and expect more, bigger 2 year salt fish.
Overall numbers matter to hatchery producers and those fishing the big rivers on the Columbia and Snake, but the quality of the fall fishing in the roadless section is really determined by how soon fish come up. This year I am very optimistic seeing more big fish coming up the river much faster. Just so this point doesn't get lost let me emphasize this one more time, WE HAVE MORE STEELHEAD FURTHER UP THE RIVER THAN LAST YEAR AND THEY ARE BIGGER STEELHEAD! And as always the proof is in the pictures, a 27" 2 year salt steelhead landed on the Wallowa last week speaks to the numbers and my optimism! I don't have much time this morning to get through many pictures, on our Facebook page here are a couple highlights from last week: a nice steelhead, a few nice rainbows, a good bear shot, and a pretty cool elk shot I captured from the raft on our float. See you on the river!
June 10, 2016 Wallowa and Grande Ronde Fishing Report
Apologies for not keeping fly fisherman up to date on the hatches, between guided trips, raft rentals, and projects at Minam it has been a busy spring! Golden stoneflies began hatching pretty heavily in the lower half of the roadles section the first of June. I guided a 3 day fly fishing trip starting Memorial Day and the river fished good. The first half of the float we didn't get many fish to come to the dry fly, but did best with a combination of dry droppers, or streamer/nymph setups. In the lower half of the float the stoneflies were much thicker and the fish very willing to come to the surface!
This week the stoneflies are beginning to get thick all the way to Minam! Add to that we are beginning to see some good caddis hatches on the Grande Ronde again and we have had tons of Yellow Sally stoneflies hatching for the past 2 weeks on the Grande Ronde. Conditions have been pretty good overall with only a few off color water days when we got a big push of water.
We have had good to excellent fishing this spring and some great Wine and Food on the River trips. If you need any fly fishing gear stop by the Minam Store and stock up. If it is finally time for you to enjoy a guided trip down the river whether it be a fly fishing trip the second half of June or a Wine and Food on the River trip July 18-20 (featuring chef Andrae Bopp and winemaker Andrew Trio from Corliss Estates and Tranche Cellars) give us a call (541-437-1111) and we will see you on the river!
May 10, 2016 Wallowa River Report
We had a big storm come through Minam last week that brought heavy rain and hail while also triggering a lot of snowmelt. The river peaked at 8,000 cfs the last 2 days but cool temperatures last night tamed things down and the river is dropping and clearing, currently 6,500 cfs at the Troy gauge and falling. The Minam River has cleared to excellent clarity and the Wallowa is clearing up, but still slightly off color. There is plenty of visibility in the Wallowa to take advantage of our new year round fishing season on the Wallowa and Grande Ronde rivers. The "Mother's Day Caddis Hatch" began in earnest on May 1 and we have been getting thick clouds of caddis on warmer days starting in the afternoon and going into the evening. Get in on the caddis hatch while the river is in good shape!
April 28, 2016 Wallowa and Grande Ronde Fishing Report
I would hate to seem unappreciative of the ODFW giving us a year round trout season on the Wallowa and Grande Ronde so I made good use of dropping river flows and good visibility to test out our new fishing season the last 2 days through the roadless section. Although we fished a streamer a little bit, we primarily fished dry dropper set ups and had excellent results. Even with the Wallowa River running at 1,900 cfs at Minam when we put in and the Grande Ronde running 6,200 cfs at Troy, we had no problem finding willing trout with the excellent water clarity.
I landed one 21" rainbow (picture on facebook here) on the Wallowa River on the tried and tested Dali Lama streamer. My fishing partner had a steelhead rise to his Chubby Chernobyl dry fly and after a well fought battle the steelhead came off almost to the net. Those 2 fish alone would have made a great day of fishing, but there was pretty much non-stop action of smaller to medium rainbows on the dry dropper setup. Most fish the first day were taking the dropper, a size 12 Rubber Leg Pheasant tail.
At camp that night we started discussing how many fish we landed and how many fish hooked and played. Although we couldn't come up with an exact number, we both agreed it was a ridiculous number of fish so for day 2 we counted how many we landed in an hour a couple times just to get an accurate idea. And what was that number? It varied between 15-20 fish landed per hour with some slower spells intermittent throughout the day. Early on the second day the dropper was still outperforming the dry, but as the day progressed and more caddis came out, the trout began taking the size 10 Chubby Chernobyl as much or more as the dropper fly. We switched out to a Chubby Chernobyl and a size 14 elk hair caddis pattern and although some fish did take the Caddis pattern, more fish were keying in on the larger Chubby Chernobyl so we switched back to the highly productive dry dropper combo.
There are some huge salmon flies out, but they are not abundant. There are quite a few small (size 10-12) black stoneflies out, a large smattering of size 12-14 mayflies, and at times an awful lot of caddis.
Since the river has never been open between April 15th and late May, I had no idea how the roadless section would fish at 6,000 cfs but the answer is unequivocal. With good water clarity, the river fishes excellent! Add in abundant wild flowers blooming and good weather and you have a pretty awesome trip. As long as water conditions are good, I will be offering 2, 3, or 4 day guided trips in the roadless section throughout the spring to take advantage of our newly expanded season and the great trout fishing it has opened up. Tight lines,
April 8, 2016 Wallowa River Steelhead Fishing Report
(Another quality trip report from one of our guides, Austin in this case) With air temperatures reaching almost 80 degrees yesterday, I could have not asked for a better day to be guiding. While the weather was a gift itself, a dozen trout and a big aggressive steelhead made for a great day on the water. The river temperatures appear that they will continue to climb over the weekend, however, as this hot spring weather sets in it can be expected that the snow melt will start raising river flows. Keep your eye on the Minam flow gauge to get an idea of what you can expect to see on the Wallowa. Just last night the Minam river began to climb raising over 100CFS, but don’t let the higher flows keep you away. It’s during periods of high water that the remaining steelhead in the system will push up river. Look to find them in slower water and closer to the bank where they can hold without exerting to much energy. We are also continuing to see increased trout activity as we move into spring. This is a great news for those who are continuing to chase steelhead late into April because while you are searching for the next big tug, there is plenty of trout ready to supplement the action. Most trout yesterday and our steelhead were caught on Pat's Rubber Legs patterns from size 4 to 8, and we can expect fish to really start keying in on stonefly nymphs as both the golden stones and salmon flies prepare to hatch in a few months time. While targeting steelhead, stonefly nymphs, egg patterns and attractor nymphs should continue to produce. For those who enjoy swinging flies, now is a good time to be doing so. I recommend using sink tips or weighted flies this time of year such as a 12ft piece of T-11 or T-14, to get down to the proper depth. Get out and enjoy some warm weather fishing, and make sure to stop by the Minam store to get the proper gear and answer any questions you may have.
April 4, 2016 Wallowa River Steelhead Fishing Report
It is not too late to get out on the Wallowa and be catching steelhead! New ODFW regulations now allow us to target steelhead on the Wallowa and Grande Ronde rivers until April 30th, so get out and enjoy the final few weeks of fishing for these great fish. While guiding a day trip this last Thursday we were able to pick up a beautiful 2 salt hen that would make any angler happy. The warm weather has raised the river temperatures to the highest they have been this year, so while nymphing stonefly and egg patterns will still be productive, those who wish to swing flies for steelhead, now is a great time. The warm weather has also spurred quite a prolific hatch of skwalas, caddis, and several species of mayflies such as BWO’s and march browns.
Other changes in the ODFW regulations also now allow for trout fishing throughout the year and as water temperatures continue to increase over the next couple weeks we will see those feisty rainbows become increasingly active. If you have not been on the water recently now is a great time to get out. Bring your steelhead rod, trout rod, and be prepared for it all. Make sure to stop by the Minam store for any questions or gear you may need to be properly outfitted for a successful day on the water. Tight Lines,
March 4, 2016 Wallowa River Steelhead Fishing Report
I decided to fish a classic trout fly for my hour of fishing at the end of the day today, of course this fly is tied for steelhead on a good hook that is incredibly sharp and wont bend out on a bright 2 year salt wild hen pictured on our facebook river report at this link. That is a size 8 Montana Prince tied with a tungsten bead and one of many flie patterns available for purchase at the Minam Store. If you haven't been out catching steelhead that is your fault! The rivers have been in great shape and there are lots of steelhead in the river to catch.
February 20, 2016 Wallowa River Steelhead Fishing Report
Today's fishing report is provided by one of our guides, who had an excellent day on the water yesterday. Thanks Ben! "If you think the high flows on the Wallowa are slowing the fishing think again! The recent surge in flows is subsiding and it appears that we are on the drop at least for the next few days. When I started out this morning I was concerned that the off color water was going to make for a difficult day of fishing. I quickly discovered that fish were still eager to play. Over the course of the day I hooked into a dozen steelhead and managed to land six. One of which was a beautiful wild buck! River conditions got better as the day progressed and should be game on for the weekend. Nymphing seems to be getting it done with most fish taking the Crystal Meth fly. At this time of the season focus on egg patterns or flies that involve some type of hot bead. A 10 ft. rod in the 7-8wt range is the prefect tool to nymphing for steelhead. The extra foot dramatically improves mending and line control. If you are in the market for a new steelhead rod, flies, or other gear to make your day on the water a success make sure to stop in at Minam for all your fishing needs and the latest conditions."
As always, check out our facebook page at this link to see a picture along with the fishing report.
February 17, 2016 Wallowa River Report
The Wallowa and Grande Ronde peaked yesterday and flows have begun dropping. Clarity this morning is not good, but it is beginning to clear here at Minam. We have another warm day in the forecast today with a chance of significant rain tonight and tomorrow which may keep the river up for an extra few days. Cooler temperatures by the weekend should help get the river back into good shape for fishing.
February 15, 2016 Wallowa River Fishing Report
With warm weather and rain the past few days the Wallowa River is high and dirty today. Forecasters predict it will peak tonight and begin coming back down. Fishing has been hot downstream near Rondowa so expect all those fish to be up near Minam with this big flush of water. Fishing conditions should become very good as the water drops and clears and I would expect some very hot fishing action in the next week or so if conditions stabilize.
February 11, 2016 Wallowa Fishing Report
In my 2 hours of fishing late this afternoon I only caught 4 rainbows 18-20 inches, a dozen or so rainbows 10-15 inches, and a 23" bull trout. Wait, that was pretty darn good fishing even though I didn't get any steelhead to hand! Picture to go with the fishing report on our facebook page here.
Feburary 10, 2016 Wallowa Fishing Report
River conditions have been getting better and better each week. I snuck off for an hour and half this afternoon and caught a pile of rainbows and one very nice 2 year salt wild steelhead (picture on facebook river report here). Best 2 flies for me this afternoon were a size 8 black and brown Pat's Rubber Legs and a steelhead orange glo bug with about 70% of the fish (including the steelhead) caught on the Pat's Rubber Legs and about 30% on the egg pattern. The Wallowa is in very good shape right now and fish are pushing up through the system. The Grande Ronde is at decent flows for fishing down the roadless section right now as well.
December 4, 2015 Wallowa River Report
We have had cold weather the past few weeks at Minam and while the Wallowa experienced a little ice build up on banks, the Minam River froze over. What happens when you get a warm night after 2 weeks of single digit nights? Ice melting, an ice dam, and eventually a big flush of ice, debris, and water coming down the Minam River. I watched logs go by the window as I ate breakfast this morning. The Wallowa River downstream of Minam will have poor fishing conditions today and possibly into tomorrow, but the Wallowa River upstream of Minam is running clear and fishing conditions should be better with the warmer weather. To see a video of the ice floating past Minam this morning, check out our facebook page here.
November 1, 2015 Wallowa and Grande Ronde Steelhead Report
Another good 5 days of steelhead fishing in the books. Some days were better than others, but that's just fishing. The Wallowa produced steelhead for everyone on this past week's trip so steelhead are becoming denser in the Wallowa. The overall catch normally goes down as water temperatures drop in late October (i.e. fewer and fewer rainbows, less incidental catch of bull trout) but steelhead numbers increase so it is always a balancing act between large catch numbers of lots of different fish, good weather, and steelhead. I appreciate all the weeks in September, October, and November for their slightly different balance of fishing and weather but this week we primarily caught steelhead and not a lot of trout or incidental catch of bull trout. We have 2 weeks or so left of primetime steelhead action! I hope you've gotten your fix of steelhead before the weather turns, if not call me up and we'll try to remedy the situation.
We've had mild, warm weather all of September and October. We finally have begun to get consistent rains here and the river levels are rising. That should bring a larger influx of steelhead into the system but temperatures are going to begin to get a bit cooler. Check out our facebook page here to see pictures along with the river report.
October 25, 2015 Wallowa and Grande Ronde Steelhead Report
Fishing for steelhead remained good this past week. We have some room on our guided trips the first and second week of November if someone is still wanting to get a trip in on this great steelhead year. Call Lottie at the store number (541-437-1111), I will be on the river getting clients into steelhead! Sorry, not much time to write an in depth fishing report with another 5 day trip leaving tomorrow morning. A picture along with the fishing report is always available on our facebook page here.
October 18, 2015 Wallowa and Grande Ronde Fishing Report
Despite any real big pushes of water, steelhead have been steadily pushing into the roadless section of the Grande Ronde between Minam and Powwatka Bridge. I can't remember everyone's catch numbers on our different guided boats this past week but for my own boat we saw no steelhead day 1 on the Wallowa, two steelhead landed day 2 on the Grande Ronde, four steelhead landed day 3, three steelhead landed day 4, and five steelhead landed on my boat day 5. Fishing for big rainbows was good to excellent depending on the day as well as incidental catch of huge bull trout. All in all it was a great week of fishing.
We did get some rain last night here at Minam and rain is in the forecast today and tomorrow. Fishing has been consistently good to excellent since the beginning of September and steelhead numbers are looking great. Check out our facebook page here for pictures to go along with the river report.
October 10, 2015 Wallowa and Grande Ronde Fishing Report
No two trips are ever the same. This week the fishing cooled slightly from last week's super hot fast action fishing, but we had good fishing day one for small to medium rainbows with each boat getting 2-4 large fat rainbows to the boat. Day 2 was a similar story with good fishing for small to medium rainbows with slightly more large fat rainbows to each boat. Day 3 saw hot fishing similar to the week prior and it didn't seem to matter where you threw your fly or what pattern you had on, big fish were everywhere and aggressive. Day 4 simmered back down and the rainbow catch went down while the incidental bull trout catch went way up with most bulls in the 20"+ range. Day 4 also saw 1 hatchery steelhead landed. Day 5 was similar to day 4 with lots of incidental catch of very large bull trout up to 26". We caught less big trout the last 2 days than normal. I'm not sure if all the big bulls coming into the Grande Ronde have pushed the trout around or if the weather system we had on day 3 with super hot fishing had a bit of a hangover effect on the rainbows day 4 and 5.
The rain this past week bumped flows up a little again and the wind is blowing and clouds are forming over Minam tonight with a good chance of rain. So I hope it pours tonight and bumps the river up again.
The latest steelhead estimates based upon PIT tag detections was in my inbox when I got off the river last night. Nothing drastically new. But the total steelhead heading to NE Oregon is now over 20,000. That is very, very good numbers. Things are shaping up nicely for another good season. For a picture from the last trip to go along with the river report, check out our facebook page here.
October 4, 2015 Wallowa and Grande Ronde Steelhead Fishing Report
It's hard to describe the fishing on our last 4 day trip as anything other than phenomenal. The end of September and beginning of October consistently brings some of the hottest fishing of the year. I always expect to have good trout fishing this time of year, but this past week saw a lot of steelhead to the net and many other steelhead spotted in tailouts as we floated by. Rainbows pushing 20" were too numerous to count and we were debating on many thick bodied fish in the 21" range whether they were trout or steelhead. We went on the conservative side and called them hog trout just to be safe, but who really cares when they are big, fat, hard fighting fish! Besides the trout and steelhead action we saw a lot of incidental bull trout catch in the 20" to 24" range. It is always fun to see big fish rise to your streamer as it barely hits the water!
As a group we landed one hatchery steelhead on the Wallowa on day one, 5 steelhead on the Grande Ronde on day 2, no steelhead on day 3 but tons of big fish pushing 20", and 5 steelhead again on day 4. Steelhead fisherman are often waiting for rain to "push" fish upstream and although we had some good rains in September I really didn't expect to see so many steelhead this high up this early. I am not going to complain about it though. We did get some more rains yesterday and some irrigation withdrawals upstream are done for the year which has bumped flows again. From the run numbers and fish we are finding in the river, it looks like it is going to be another very good fall fishing season. As always check out our facebook page here for pictures to go along with the river report. See you on the river.
September 28, 2015 Wallowa and Grande Ronde Steelhead Fishing Report
Just off the water from another 4 day guided fly fishing trip and the fishing this past week was excellent! Way too many fat hard fighting rainbows to count with a lot of them in the 16" to 20" range and 3 steelhead as a bonus to a great trout trip! The river is in great shape for fishing although it is a little bony here and there. Any rafters heading down the river should be prepared to hop out and walk their boats through some bony spots. It is work to get down the river below 500 cfs, but worth it for us when the fishing is so good.
October Caddis are hatching heavily all through the roadless section and on the Wallowa highway section upstream of Minam. We continue to use streamers and stonefly droppers to target the largest trout, but if you are a dry fly enthusiast, the October Caddis hatch is on! I have just restocked the fly bins at Minam and expanded our rod selection again. Stop in and check it out.
One thing I hear from clients over and over again is that our wild rainbows in the roadless section fight harder and longer than any other trout they have caught. I often take this for granted since I get to enjoy these fat, hard fighting fish on a weekly basis, but our 16"-20"+ rainbows have no problem bending a 7 weight rod in half and making you work for it! We catch a lot of big rainbows in heavy, turbulent pocket water and heads of runs. The kind of water these fish live in probably have something to do with their strength and stamina. As always, check out our facebook page here to see a picture from the last trip to go along with the river report.
September 23, 2015 Wallowa and Grande Ronde Fishing Report
Just a quick report tonight as we just got off the water this evening from a 4 day trip and back on the water again tomorrow for another 4 day trip. What I will say is that it's hard not to smile when you just landed a hard fighting 20" rainbow on the roadless section of the Wallowa and Grande Ronde. Fishing the past 4 days varied from fair to excellent, but there was a lot of fish landed and many BIG fish landed. No steelhead yet this week, but it's hard to complain about landing fat hard fighting rainbows all day not to mention some incidental catch of bull trout that pushed over 24". To add to the fun bull elk were bugling every day on the river! To see a picture along with the river report see our facebook page here.
September 18, 2015 Wallowa and Grande Ronde Fishing Report
We completed our first late summer/early fall trip last week. The fishing was good but the wildlife viewing was excellent! We often see a bear or two. Big bull elk like to hang out on the river bottom this time of year, bighorn sheep are a somewhat common sight, and golden eagles are a common occurrence. But this trip we came around a bend in the river and there were 4 Bighorn sheep on our left, a bull elk on the right, a golden eagle in the middle of the river, and a larger bull elk standing in the middle of the river bugling next to a cow and one of this years calves! It was pretty amazing!
No new reports from our district fish biologist on the steelhead run, but I will include a few more specifics from the first update. Last update Jeff Yanke sent out estimated 19,000 hatchery steelhead headed to NE Oregon which already surpassed last years entire run and last year we had very good returns. We have all wondered this summer what the lower water flows and warm summer temperatures would do to steelhead migration upriver, but Jeff Yanke reported that steelhead PIT tag detections showed a "typical" distribution upstream for the time of year. That is more great news! Jeff's report really felt like Christmas in September after the long hot summer and many fisherman grumbling speculations of poor steelhead returns. I'm very happy to see the numbers are shaping up for another great season. Last on the steelhead report, 60% of this years return to the Grande Ronde will be 1 year salt fish in the 22"-26" range with 40% of the steelhead being 2 year salt fish in the 26"-29" range. I can't find much reason to complain about that either!
We have continued to get September rains which keep bumping the river flows up and that is always good after a low snowpack year and a hot summer. All in all, things are shaping up nicely. Although many weeks are full, we have some slots open still for the fall guided season. Give us a call if you want to get into some steelhead this season! And stop by to check out our expanded rod and fly selection at the Minam Store. To see some pictures along with the latest river report, check out our facebook page here. See you on the river!
September 9, 2015 Grande Ronde River Steelhead Report
I received Jeff Yanke's (district fish biologist) first steelhead run forecast based on detected PIT tags at the dams and my response is YAHOOOOOO!!!! It is still very early, but PIT tag detections have already equaled last years entire run!! So we could be looking at another great steelhead season.
The Grande Ronde was very low this summer due to a lower snowpack and the heavy irrigation withdrawals upstream, but we had some great rains last week and the river went from 380 cfs up to nearly 700 cfs! Just in case you did not read the last report about our river cleanup trip at 380 cfs, I found the Wallowa and Grande Ronde is still doable at 380 cfs. We are running at 555 cfs at the Troy gauge today which is easy floating in my book, but less experienced rafters may find it challenging.
We are starting our first fall trout trip this weekend and will be doing 4-5 day trips every week for the rest of the fall. Some dates are full at this point, but we do have a few slots open on some of the weeks. If you are looking to get in on a guided or supported trip this fall, book now before they are all full. Check out our guided trips page here. To see the river reports with pictures, check out our facebook page and we will see you on the river!
August 30, 2015 River Cleanup, Low Water Rafting, and Fire in NE Oregon
It has been a very interesting week or two. We have made a voluntary agreement with SOLVE for quite a few years now to do 2 river cleanup trips per year. Since we are acting as volunteers, the signed agreement is really just a symbol that we are doing our best to be good stewards of the section of river that we make our living on. But I take it seriously and twice a year come hell frozen over and high water in the spring, or hell on fire and low water in the summer we run a trip. What marked this last trip as so "interesting" was the low water of 380 cfs when we put in. I normally ask some close friends and people who have volunteered to come along and help, but I didn't know how much dragging of rafts through shallow gravel bars would be involved at 380 cfs, so I took the crew I have rafted the most with and trust the most. The crew I knew could endure, persevere, and kick butt at any flow high or low! I took my family.
First the low water. What, you ask, is 380 cfs like? Ehhh . . . not too bad if you pack light, deflate your boat to wet noodle status, and don't get too worried about hopping out here and there to give your raft a shove. If you can't meet any 3 of those criteria above; don't raft at low flows.
Second the cleanliness of our river. We have been doing river cleanup trips for 5 years now beginning with the first year we bought the raft rental business at Minam and frankly, there are years that have pissed me off. Between garbage floating down the river from towns upstream, people who feel like they need to make campsites feel like their home by leaving trash, broken beer bottles, crapping near where they sleep, etc. there have been some camps and trips that make me mad. Yes, I have a bit of Scottish and Irish blood in me (last name Richie, go figure) so certain things absolutely make me mad. But each year our river cleanup trips have gotten easier and easier and we find less and less trash. I can only attribute those facts to YOU, my fellow river users. All of you must be putting in more effort and watching out for the resource we all care about more, or these river cleanup trips would not have gotten easier. So I say THANK YOU!!!! to all of our fellow rafters out there who care, take the time to makes things better, and make our river cleanup trips easier.
Third, the huge fire that has scorched nearly 75,000 acres in the Wenaha River Canyon and tributaries. When we started our last river cleanup trip the Grizzly Bear Complex Fire (as it has been named) was pretty small, far away, and not really a concern. When we got to the takeout sustained strong winds had pushed the fire from very small to very large and as we took out evacuation notices were going to people all over NE Oregon near Troy, Boggans, Eden Bench, Grouse Flats, etc. A large billowing black cloud formed on the skyline after loading our last raft and bit of garbage onto the trailer. As we made our way up the zigzag of Powwatka Ridge Road, the black cloud towards the north was one of the scariest things I have ever witnessed form in such a short time. As it began to glow red, reflecting the heat and light of the fire, I became very worried about my very beloved Wenaha River.
The stress of worrying about that fire and what it might do to the roadless section of the Grande Ronde has kept me from updating our facebook page, river reports page on our website, or talking about our river cleanup trip. A crew of over 700 people have been working hard at building fire lines and protecting as many structures as possible around Troy as well as to the west and east of Troy. The fire jumped the reinforced 62 road a few days back and tried to start down Elbow Creek to the Grande Ronde, but fire crews have been able to contain it and keep the fire overwhelmingly to the north of the 62 road that splits the ridge between the Wenaha and Grande Ronde. Strong winds yesterday could not break the fire lines and today . . . thank god, finally we had a good rain. I haven't heard a fire update since the rain this afternoon, but a good rain is only good news in a time like this. At this point, I think the fire is finally reaching an end at least to the south and east. On the north and west boundaries, it is still in wilderness and who knows where it will stop on those boundaries, but I hope the rain today will get things under control. Enough of the Wenaha River watershed has burned for this year. Mother Nature can leave those other tributaries for another year. Please! That is a request . . .
To end I hope everyone will keep contributing in a very personal way. Take responsibility for the river each and every time you are here, not just responsibility for yourself. We still have to make up for the few idiots out there. Be safe, keep the river clean, and by all means BE SMART when it comes to fires!! See you on the river and as always, to see pictures with the river reports, visit our facebook page here.
August 24, 2015 ODFW Proposed Rule Changes need your support
ODFW is proposing some very good rule changes. Please read the overview below and then write in to express your support for these good rule changes. Not mentioned in the overview below is the fact that the Wallowa and Grande Ronde would become year round fisheries so we can start fishing the great mayfly and caddis fly hatches in May!!!!!!! Email your comments of support to: firstname.lastname@example.org this week! The comment period is almost over. Below is the quick overview:
New fishing rules proposed for northeast Oregon
August 14, 2015
LA GRANDE, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s recent efforts to simplify fishing regulations include several proposed changes for fisheries in the La Grande and Wallowa districts of eastern Oregon. The new regulations would take effect in 2016.
The proposed changes are part of a statewide effort to streamline and simply fishing regulations for trout and warmwater fish. At the same time, the agency has proposed several changes to some popular steelhead fisheries that could increase angler opportunity.
Among the proposals for 2016:
In the Northeast Zone, reduce the daily bag limit for trout in streams from five fish to two, and restrict fishing to artificial flies and lures only.
Extend the steelhead fishing season to the end of April in Grande Ronde, Wallowa and Imnaha rivers.
Increase the daily steelhead bag limit on the Imnaha River to five hatchery fish.
Open the Powder River and Burnt rivers to trout fishing year-round.
According to Jeff Yanke, ODFW fish biologist, the rule changes are designed to condense the number of different special regulations, bag limits and seasons, into fewer, broader categories that would a apply across several fisheries. For example, the rules banning bait and limiting trout harvest in streams are designed to help protect native fish populations in waters where no hatchery fish are present.
“On the other hand, the daily bag limit for hatchery fish will remain five fish in most places, including the Grande Ronde, Imnaha and Wallowa rivers,” Yanke said. In addition, bait will continue to be allowed in both trout and steelhead fisheries in these waters.
Anglers can see the latest draft of the proposed 2016 regulations changes on the ODFW web site. The Fish and Wildlife Commission will be adopting the final 2016 sport fishing regulations at its Sept. 4 meeting in Seaside. Comments on the regulation proposals can be sent to email@example.com
August 14, 2015 Wallowa River Fishing Report
I gave the rivers a break for a couple of weeks to work on projects, but am back to fishing this week and the fishing has been very good in the mornings. REMEMBER!!! most rivers close after 2 pm due to the low water and higher water temperatures that occur from mid-afternoon on that become lethal to trout when caught and played. Better yet, be proactive and carry a thermometer with you. When the river gets to 68 degrees call it a day whether it is 2:00 or not. Let those big bruisers you caught have some time to recover with decent water temperatures before the afternoon heat. Fishing has been very, very good the past 2 days I have been out.
Let me also add this picture on our facebook page from this morning, this is the right way to handle big fish. DON'T lift big fish out of the water and never, never, never lift a trout, char, steelhead, or salmon by the jaw unless you are keeping it for dinner. Someone who didn't know any better did that to a 30+" bull trout the other day on the Wallowa and carried it to his vehicle to snap a selfie!#@?? Be smart. If you are going to fish waters with endangered fish, know how to handle them properly PLEASE!
AND!, if you are fishing the Wallowa highway section from Rock Creek downstream (about 10 miles upstream of Minam), you are pretty much targeting fish that have to be released. It is catch and release for all wild trout from Rock Creek down the Wallowa and Grande Ronde. So you shouldn't be pulling any wild rainbows, steelhead, bull trout, or salmon out of the water in this section period. Know the regulations and know how catch and release ethically. As always, to see a picture along with the river report, see our facebook page here.
July 24, 2015 Wallowa and Grande Ronde Floating Report
Here on our Facebook page is a shot of me on a trip a week ago running one of two gear boats with enough food and very comfortable camping gear (6 man tents per 2 people, cots, sleeping pads, tables and chairs to eat at, etc.) for 20 people for 3 days. So I have gear and food for 10 people in my boat and the river was in the 500 cfs range. How many times did I get stuck? 3 times. Each time I had to hop out of the boat and give it a quick shove to be on the move again. Several days before this we ran a similar sized group in the high 600 cfs range. How many times did I get stuck with a heavily loaded gear boat in the high 600 cfs range? ZERO!!
If you read water well and have your boat properly inflated for low water (like a wet noodle) you wont get stuck very often. How do you get better at running low water? By running low water! Good polarized sunglasses help to spot those shallow sleeper rocks as well!
Every year we get lots of questions about flows high and low, gear heavy and light, what is safe for high water, what is safe for low water, etc. Although I have many discussions with renters and rafters each year about this, let me expound a little now.
The highest I have personally run the Grande Ronde and Wallowa is around 14,000 cfs. It was very easy. I made great time and didn't have to row much. Should you take a bunch of drunken idiots down the river at that flow? No! But you should probably never take a bunch of drunken idiots down the river at any flow.
To quote a former BLM ranger, the Wallowa and Grande Ronde should be rated C for Complacency. The Wallowa and Grande Ronde is very user friendly unless you become complacent to the fact that all moving water is dangerous!
Is there a dangerous low flow? No! I have personally ran the Wallowa and Grande Ronde into the low 500 cfs range without getting stuck. How do you do it? You do it like I explained above: run your boat very soft (think wet noodle or leaning into your tube with a knee depresses it 1/2 way), you wear good polarized glasses that take the glare off the water and allows you to see those sneaky quiet rocks, and you practice by rafting at low water to become better!
We want everyone who runs the roadless section of the Wallowa and Grande Ronde to have a good time. If you are not ready for an adventure and expanding your skills, DO NOT RUN THE RIVER AT 500 CFS! We try to talk to people about this, but you know yourself better than we do. We are fine with you renting our top of the line equipment at low flows as long as you are willing to test your skills and become a more adept rower. But, don't expect to float at 500 cfs and not pick up the oars until you get to camp. As in most things in life, you are rewarded for the effort you put out on the roadless section of the Wallowa and Grande Ronde. Let's all hope for a better snowpack next year!
July 3, 2015 Wallowa Fishing Report and Grande Ronde River Report
Well it has been an odd year. We had great water all through June, but it dropped off fast as record high temperatures have hit all over the Pacific Northwest. Today the river is dropping below 800 cfs which marks the "low water season" for us.
Fishing was absolutely great through June, but has slowed since the river got low and the temperatures hot. I personally will not be fishing the roadless section until water temperatures improve due to the fact that landing fish in there right now will amount to killing them. The Wallowa is still fishable the first half of the day. Please check the water temperature and if the water rises above 68 degrees, strongly consider calling it a day and getting a cold one at the Main Street Grill in Wallowa, The Lostine Tavern in Lostine, or one of the many options in Enterprise and Joseph. If you keep fishing at 68 degrees be sure to land fish fast, keep them in the water, and treat them well. If the water temperature reaches 70 degrees, STOP FISHING. The lower Wallowa has been getting over 70 with these record hot days. So if you want to go fishing, keep it focused on the mornings.
Now for floating. Can you float the Wallowa and Grande Ronde right now? You bet. Can you float with an overloaded raft and expect not to get out and push it off a shallow gravel bar? NO, of course not. We float regularly into the 500 cfs range with full size rafts. The keys to success at low water is to keep your load light. Deflate the tubes and floor until you can kneel into a tube 1/3 to 1/2 the depth of the tube. Stay in the deepest water. Have fun and don't be afraid of the fact that you will have to hop out here or there to give the boat a push or pull. A person with good rowing and water reading skills can expect to get out 5-6 times with a HEAVILY loaded raft over the 40 mile float and spend 12+ hours floating. A poor rower and water reader will get out more and can expect to spend 16+ hours floating. A person with good rowing and water reading skills with a LIGHTLY loaded raft, can expect to float the entire way without getting out at all, or maybe 1-2 times when you are watching the scenery and don't see that sleeper rock. Have fun on the river and have a safe fire-free 4th of July!
June 15, 2015 Wallowa Fishing Report and Grande Ronde River Report
If you haven't been out floating or fishing yet, get out there. Great weather, great flows, and great fishing await. For the fly fisher, the stoneflies are still out in force and the fishing remains very, very, very good to excellent. Don't overcomplicate things. Tie on a big dry, drop a stonefly nymph 18" under, fish it tight to the bank seams and structure and enjoy catching big fish like this one we caught yesterday. See you on the river!
June 11, 2015 Wallowa River Fishing Report
The Evening Hatch Report: 1st Edition
Stoneflies hatching on rafts, stoneflies landing on your neck, stoneflies divebombing the river, etc, etc. The Wallowa has dropped a little more and gotten clearer. Fishing is from very, very good to excellent if you fish where the fish are and with the right patterns. Patterns you say? Stonefly, stonefly, and golden stonefly. My favorite current dry fly is a Chubby Chernobyl. My favorite nymph of the day is a Pat's Rubber Legs. Trout are beginning to come to the surface, but most fish (and some big ones) are taking the dropper. I would say it was a 70% dropper to 30% dry fly ratio tonight. River is still high for much wading, but picking good spots from the bank should yield good results, while fishing the best water from a raft will yield the best results. Either way, get out there and catch some trout! See pictures to go along with the river reports on our Facebook page here.
June 10, 2015 Wallowa and Grande Ronde River Rafting and Fishing Report
The Wallowa and Grande Ronde rivers are in great shape right now for floating or fishing. The Wallowa finally cleared up and the fishing was good to excellent yesterday. The river is still high for wading. Fish the holding seams tight to the bank from a boat or find somewhere you can get to the river on foot and work the banks with a Chubby Chernobyl on top and a Pat's Rubber Legs dropper. The stoneflies are getting thick and trout will begin keying in on the surface any day.
Stop by the Minam store for your leader, tippet, flies, a new fly rod, etc. or give us a call if you want us to guide you down the river for a day trip or multi-day trip or rent a raft and row yourself down the river. If you have your own boat, stop by for the shuttle and stock up on ice, beer, and any other last minute needs before you head down the river. See you on the river! As always, check out our Facebook page if you want to see some pictures to go along with the river report.
June 5, 2015 Wallowa and Grande Ronde River Rafting and Fishing Report
Despite all the people worrying about whether we would have water through all the way back in May, on in June, and into July, WE HAVE LOTS OF WATER! A few large storm systems passed through last week and some heavy rain muddied up the Wallowa and Grande some which has made the fishing less than excellent. Floating is great. The canyon is green and gorgeous. I spotted 7 mountain goats yeserday on our float and they are losing their winter coat, so they look less than excellent as well but it is still fun to see them.
Fishing has been slower than normal simply due to water clarity. I was able to get some fish rising yesterday even though there wasn't much visibility for fish. Large golden stoneflies are hatching in abundance up and down the canyon. The river is beginning to drop and clear and fishing should pick up with it. We just got a new shipment of Echo and Redington fly rods so if you are looking for a great single hand or two hand rod, switch or spey, come check out our new selection.
We are putting on a trip that will simply be awesome July 13-15. We have teamed up with Andrae Bopp from Andrae's Kitchen in Walla Walla and Annette Bergevin from Bergevin Lane Vineyards in Walla Walla to not only give people a great rafting or fly fishing (two options) trip, but multi course gourmet dinners along the river paired with wine from Annette. You don't want to miss this trip, check out the details here, or click on our guided trips tab on the upper right.
March 24, 2015 Wallowa River Steelhead fishing report
Fishing has remained good this past week. Yesterday I was able to guide fisherman who came all the way from Pennsylvania and not only got him into his first fish on the west side of the US, but multiple steelhead! Can't beat that for your first fish in the West! Most productive fly patterns this past week have been a Salvation Nymph and Devin's Pink Fanatic. Both patterns of course available for purchase at the Minam Store. As always, pictures to go along with the fishing report are seen on our Facebook page.
March 16, 2015
The river has risen from this weekend's rain but unfortunately did not raise our snowpack levels. Steelhead fishing has been fair to good this past month and the rising water levels should send fresh steelhead up the river. Although the river came up quite a bit, water clarity is good and the fishing conditions are very good.
For whitewater boaters, start thinking about doing float trips a little earlier than normal. Our snowpack was at 50% of normal before the weekend rain, but we are now down to 40%. Some boaters are already taking advantage of the great weather and flows. Don't be afraid to get out there in March, April, and May this year. The canyon is full of good views and bird and wildlife viewing is excellent this time of year.
January 26, 2015 Wallowa River Steelhead Fishing Report
Well it has been a warm January. Too warm, but the river has been in great shape and steelhead fishing has been reasonably good. I fished for 2 hours within walking distance of Minam this afternoon and hooked the first steelhead directly behind room #6 and the second steelhead directly behind room #8. Landed one steelhead about an hour later. So for my 2 hours on the water I was able to play 3 steelhead and land 1. You decide if that is good enough fishing for you to get on the river. Tight Lines!
November 21, 2014 Wallowa River Report
The Wallowa River looks great today, best it has been in several weeks.
November 20, 2014 Grande Ronde and Wallowa River Report
Conditions were not great on the Wallowa the past 2 weeks with single digit temperatures at night, but the Wallowa was looking better yesterday and today . . . until an ice dam broke upriver somewhere on the Minam River. The Wallowa almost instantly rose several feet and was choked with logs and ice for several hours this afternoon. As I write this the logs have quit coming down, but there is still a lot of ice coming down the Minam River.
The Wallowa River downstream of Minam is not fishable today. Upstream of Minam looks great. Take a look at the photos on our facebook page especially the one showing the confluence with the Wallowa River on the left and the Minam River on the right. If you float the river realize there will be NEW WOOD in the river. So be careful and don't float unless you have hiked down to Red Rock to check for log jams or have called us here at Minam and received a report that Red Rock is clear. Conditions on the Wallowa are looking favorable right now UPSTREAM of Minam.
November 12, 2014 Grande Ronde Steelhead Fishing Report
Steelhead fishing has been consistently good since the beginning of October on our 5 day floats on the upper roadless section of the Grande Ronde and Wallowa Rivers. Some days have fished better than others, but it has been a consistently good fall steelhead season with fantastic weather. Temperatures dropped into the single digits last night here at Minam and while the Wallowa River upstream of Minam is still slush free, the Minam River is running with slush ice this morning and ice is forming on river left of the Wallowa at Minam. Steelhead are being caught on the Wallowa river upstream and downstream of Minam, but start thinking about winter steelhead tactics as the water temperatures drop.
October 14, 2024 Grande Ronde Steelhead Fishing Report
Have you ever had a day of fishing on the water that you wished you had taken a picture of each fish caught just so you could count the number of fish? And then also to have the pictures as proof so people didn't think you were lying? Well that is how I felt about our entire last trip down the river. Sure I took a few pictures, but I would probably be called a liar if I tried to tell you how many fish were caught, so I will just say that fishing was EXCELLENT in the roadless section on our last trip.
Lots of reports of steelhead being caught in the Troy area and some big ones as well. If you are not catching steelhead this year, it may be time to hire a guide and get some on the water instruction. Swing by Minam to stock up on leaders, tippet, flies, new fly rods, etc. Some of our 5 day guided and supported trips are full, but a few of them have slots available. Call the store 541-437-1111 to check availability.
Before I end, lets discuss when & why people decide to chase steelhead a little more. Some fishermen wait until the bulk of the run is in the river before they ever attempt to catch a steelhead. Others, like myself, prefer to catch steelhead early in the season. Why? I can only surmise that fishermen wait until late in the year because they think that more fish in the river necessarily means a higher likelihood of catching a steelhead. They are forgetting some very important factors that relate to angler success.
#1 The later in the season you wait, the more fisherman you will be competing with for prime steelhead runs. If you are fishing marginal or poor steelhead water, your success rate will be marginal to poor! Let me repeat that, if you are fishing marginal to poor steelhead water, your success rate will be marginal to poor! Sometimes I have to tell people 3 or more times to get something to sink in, so hopefully two times will suffice for today.
#2 Fish are cold blooded meaning their metabolism and activity decreases as the water temperatures drop. Granted, we don’t want hot water as that would kill steelhead. Water temperatures are optimum September, October, and the first half of November. Steelhead are more aggressive and WAY, WAY better fighters when caught in ideal water conditions. They can still be aggressive and great fighters the second half of October through the first half of November, but the hottest steelhead I catch every year are before everyone else is even out trying to catch steelhead! So lesson #2 is, you don’t have to have large numbers of steelhead in the river to have good angler success when river conditions are optimum.
Combining #1 and #2 together = you don’t need large numbers of steelhead in the river if you have access to the best water under the good conditions we experience early in the season. So while we are landing 2-4 steelhead a day at the end of September and early October in the roadless section of the Grande Ronde, I get calls from people worried about the steelhead fishing because 3 buddies or 3 buddies of a buddy fished for 3 days 80 miles downstream at the mouth of the Grande Ronde without catching a steelhead. I don’t know what to tell them.
They were either wearing hunter’s orange and scared away all the fish, were fishing poor water because of competition for good runs from other fisherman or lack of knowledge of where to fish, or they don’t know how to present a fly to steelhead in a way that will catch them consistently.
There is a 3rd factor that I haven’t talked about and that is LOCAL KNOWLEDGE. Knowing how to present a fly well and read steelhead water efficiently will certainly increase angler success, but often the difference between catching a few fish and no fish, or lots of fish and a few fish is the intimate knowledge gained only from fishing a section of water year after year, week after week through the season.
I often chuckle quietly to myself when other fisherman are beating themselves up, fighting for a little casting room in poor water on easy to access sections of river where granted there are lots of fish, but there are also lots of fisherman. And here is my plug for why I think we can do a better job at getting people into fish. We have a 40 mile roadless canyon with great water that is difficult to access which drastically cuts down on the number of fisherman. We typically have ideal river conditions September through the first half of November. And we fish this section more than anyone else giving us the final edge with the LOCAL KNOWLEDGE no one else has. Happy and successful steelhead fishing to everyone this fall!
October 7, 2014 Grande Ronde Steelhead Fishing Report
We ran another 5 day trip last week. First day was overcast and rained off and on but the Wallowa River fished the best it has so far this fall. Rain continued overnight and bumped the river from the high 500 cfs range to the low 800 cfs range overnight. The Grande Ronde was off color for a day and a half and the fishing slowed slightly the 2nd and 3rd day although multiple nice fish were caught each day, just not as many as trips for the previous month. Day 4 the river was clear once again and fishing was back into good shape. Day 5 was a stellar day with excellent trout fishing and 4 steelhead landed. Not a bad way to end a 5 day trout trip!
Steelhead are moving up into the roadless section in earnest now. A report from another fisherman who did a quick 3 day trip down the roadless section reported multiple steelhead played and one landed. Another group who floated the river to deer hunt ended up catching some steelhead as well. Things are heating up and steelhead season is here.
Steelhead run numbers are beginning to finalize so lets take a step back and see what is in store for the next month and half. Steelhead have begun to be caught consistently in the roadless section between Minam and Troy. This years steelhead run is the biggest since the huge 2010-2011 run. We really had a good year fishing last fall but this year will surpass last years in two ways: number one we already have 3,000 more steelhead headed to the Wallowa in this years run over last years. Number two last years run was 83% 1 year salt and only 17% 2 year salt. This year we have 47% 1 year salt and 53% 2 year salt. If you can't see what that means, we have lot more steelhead in the river this year and a lot more big ones!
If you have fished for steelhead in the past and had inconsistent results, it may be a good year to look at doing a guided trip on the roadless section of the Grande Ronde and learning how to catch steelhead more consistently. Run numbers look very good for an above average year. We are catching steelhead in the roadless section now and the weather can't be beat. Our steelhead trips are all about catching steelhead, but they are also about a great overall experience. We don't like fishing next to roads or in heavily pressured water and that is why we guide the roadless section between Minam and Powwatka Bridge for a 39 mile roadless experience. Below are a few pictures from our last trip. Some dates are full, but we still have some openings.
September 27, 2014 Grande Ronde Steelhead and Wallowa Fishing Report
I ran a shorter 3 day trip this week and the fishing remains very good to excellent. One thing that has become apparent to me is that many people don't realize that the roadless section of the Grande Ronde is a better fishery than the Wallowa River. Many people don't seem to know how to fish it (flies, methods, and tactics), but we consistently catch more and bigger fish on the roadless section of the Grande Ronde than the Wallowa. Add to that it is in a beautiful roadless canyon and clients are consistently telling me after their trips that our trips are as good or better than anything they have done. Another common theme I am hearing from clients is why wait until steelhead season to catch a few fish per day, when you can catch lots of big, fat hard fighting rainbows every day with many of them steelhead sized and some steelhead thrown in the mix? Seems like a no-brainer to me, but I will let you decide.
Now to the latest steelhead run report from Jeff Yanke, district fish biologist. Last weeks numbers for Wallowa bound steelhead was nearly 3,000 more fish than the same time last year (13,105 counted as of 9/22/14 compared to 10,334 counted last year 9/23/14). Last year's fishing was good, with an extra 3,000 or so fish coming up the Grande Ronde this year it can only be an even better year.
September 21, 2014 Wallowa and Grande Ronde Trout and Steelhead Fishing Report
Another 5 day trip in the books this past week and fishing for big, fat, hard fighting native rainbows continues to be very, very good. Is there any other place you can consistently catch 16"-23" resident rainbows consistently each day? Since the Dalai Lama fly had been working so well the past few weeks we kept it simple on this trip and used Dalai Lama's almost the entire time. Why fix what isn't broken?
October Caddis continue to get thicker each week, but stick to fishing big streamers focused heavily on the heads of runs to catch the big boys! Steelhead report this week from Jeff Yanke, district fish biologist, again looks good. As stated in our last river report, there are going to be several thousand more steelhead in this year's run than last year's good run. Steelhead have been part of each week's catch in the roadless section, so it is only going to get better from here.
Bull trout have begun to show up in the roadless section. They spawn in late summer in tributary rivers before moving out to larger river systems to over winter, but most are coming out of the Wenaha. You will undoubtedly catch a few while targeting big rainbows and steelhead, so please treat them well, keep them in the water, and safely release them with minimal stress. That should go for wild rainbows and wild steelhead as well. You may only keep fin-clipped trout and steelhead in the roadless section, so do your best to minimize mortality on the wild fish by keeping them in the water, and releasing them quickly. As always you can find our river report backed up with pictures on our facebook page here. For you non facebook users, one of these days I will get this website switched around so the river reports page is more like a blog enabling us to post lots of pictures. But until then, they are on facebook.
September 13, 2014 Grande Ronde Fishing Report and Steelhead Forecast
We recieved the latest news from Jeff Yanke, District Fish Biologist, this past week about our upcoming steelhead season. We had a good run of steelhead last year, but this years run which is now 85-90% counted is already larger than last years total run. There have been reports of fisherman catching a few steelhead on the highway section of the Wallowa upstream of Minam already, hatchery steelhead have been detected passing the PIT tag array near Minam, and a client landed a steelhead 2 days ago on the roadless section of the Grande Ronde. We had very good success catching steelhead last fall, but this year is shaping up to be an even better steelhead season.
Now to the Grande Ronde fishing report. I am just off the river from a 4 day guided trip down the roadless section and the fishing continues to be in the good to excellent range for fat, hard fighting resident rainbows 16"-20" with one steelhead also adding to the catch. We lost several very large fish that may or may not have been steelhead as well. We primarily stuck to fishing one fly setups on this trip and all I can say is Dali Lama, Dali Lama, Dali Lama, Sculpzilla, Sculpzilla, and Sculpzilla. Fish them well in the correct places and you will be rewarded.
The Grande Ronde is low, but normal for this time of year. It is running around 600 cfs. We ran 16 foot gear boats and 14' foot fishing rafts. If you read the water well and are willing to get out here and there to give the raft a shove, you will be rewarded with excellent fishing and practically no one on the river (we were the only people this past week). Temperatures were very cool with a little frost showing up some mornings so be sure to pack some warm clothes for evenings and mornings at camp. The fire ban has been lifted on Forest Service lands, so take your fire pan and enjoy. Some of our fall guided fishing trips are full, but others still have room. So give us a call if you are thinking about either a fully guided or supported trip down the river. As always you can read the river report with pictures to go along on our facebook page here.
September 7, 2014 Grande Ronde River Fishing Report & Wallowa River Fishing Report
The fall trout season has begun. October Caddis are hatching on a regular basis and becoming thicker in the roadless section of the Grande Ronde (this is top secret, but October Caddis were hatching 2 weeks ago on the roadless section of the Grande Ronde). Cool nights has turned the bite on and after a 2 1/2 day float I would rate the dry fly action on the roadless section of the Wallowa and Grande Ronde from fair to good (with increased catch when you add a nymph dropper) and the streamer and nymph fishing was good to excellent. If you want to get into the biggest fish (20+ inches) tie on something that will satisfy a big appetite (think Dali Lama, Sculpzilla, Pat's Rubber Legs, stonefly patterns, etc.).
Super Chernobyls/Chubby Chernobyls were the dry fly of choice with a wide array of nymphs droppers working well (Princess Nymph, DC Hot Prince, regular Prince Nymph, rubber leg Prince Nymph, Copper Johns, smaller sizes of Pat's Rubber Legs, etc.). Fishing this setup will bring you good action for small to medium size rainbows and is a lot of fun through bouldery, pocket water sections. To catch the biggest fish work streamers and stonefly nymphs at the head of good runs beginning right in the whitewater. You can catch nice fish (12" to 24") with a streamer nymph combo and a lot of them when fished in the right parts of the river. The last day of the float I decided to tie on a two streamer combo and I had a Dali Lama trailing a Sculpzilla. If you want to see a feeding frenzy, TRY THIS METHOD! That was some of the most enjoyable fishing I have had for a while. Fishing two streamers makes other fish think that one fish is chasing another fish. This triggers a very competitive reaction and you get to see multiple fish swarm to annihilate your streamers! The greatest part about this is that trout no longer examine your fly. Since another fish is chasing your streamer (both the chaser and the chasee are your flies in this situation) by de facto your fly is food that the trout will fight for. All I can say is FEEDING FRENZY! Do I need to say more?
With more fish in the 15" to 20"+ range per day than I can count on my fingers, I have to call the streamer/nymph fishing excellent. Some people wait until the cold of winter to try and chase big fish (steelhead) with flies. But why wait when you can catch 20"+ fish on a daily basis with warm days? Are the 20" plus trout we catch in the roadless section early steelhead? Huge resident rainbows? Who cares . . . If you would like to debate for yourself whether we are catching early steelhead or huge resident rainbows, check out a picture here and let me know what you think, early steelhead or huge resident rainbow?
August 26, 2014 Wallowa and Grande Ronde River Cleanup Report
We finished our 3 day Summer River Cleanup trip last Wednesday. We ran a 3 day trip in the spring as well but it has been such a busy year that I haven't had time to go through the photos until now. I have to say, all in all I am very impressed with how you fellow rafters take care of our river. We have found fewer and fewer circles of rock and garbage rings (some people call them fire rings) each year. The reality is that the river only stays clean if you personally take responsibility for the camp you are staying at whether you made a mess there or not. We have asked you to break apart fire rings, throwing the rocks back into the river, and pick up any garbage you find . . . and your efforts are making an impact. This summer's river cleanup trip was the cleanest we have found the river yet. I want to encourage all boaters to be LAZY when it comes to fires. It is a lot of work hauling rocks up from the river, please be lazy and use a firepan and clean up after yourself when you are done. It is much easier to use a firepan than lugging heavy rocks up from the river. And I don't have to go to the work of lugging the heavy rocks back to the river after you build the fire ring. Besides, if you are building fire rings, you will lose this battle. I float the river much more often than you and your fire ring will be dismantled by me or another conscientious boater.
The only other note of concern I found was the occasional poop paper. Yes, toilet paper in camp from people defecating right close to where they eat and sleep. I understand modern plumbing has got us used to this idea, but be aware you are vastly increasing your chance of foodborn illness when you leave human waste at or near camp. Flies love feces and after landing on your feces they will come visit your food. So if you crap in camp, you WILL be eating your own Sh*#. Not really a pleasant idea so please use portable toilets or walk a short 1/4 mile up out of the river bottom and fertilize the hillside. Be sure to bury if you decide to walk the 1/4 mile outside the river corridor. No one wants to see that you have been there. You are not an animal marking your territory!
I want to give a big thanks to our Spring cleanup crew: Jeff Northam, Ted Northam, Kris Kerr, Caden Kerr, Nanette Winkelman, & Nancy Mcleod. Also a big thanks to our Summer cleanup crew: Mark Lewis and my 3 older boys Kolby, Mason, and Brenden. And remember "Only you can keep the river clean!" Now imagine a bear saying that to you who is not named Smoky the Bear, but something like Squeaky Clean the Bear or Pristine Wilderness Bear or I Hate Dirty Camps Bear. You get the idea though. Do your part!
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August 25, 2014 Wallowa and Grande Ronde River Fishing Report
The Wallowa River continues to fish good and with the summer rains we have been getting, it is still floatable. I spent a great afternoon yesterday guiding 3 clients from the raft and we had continuous action with dry/dropper setups. Best top flies yesterday continued to be Rubber Leg Stimulators in a size 8, Super Chernobyl's in a size 10, and Medallion Hopper's in a size 6. Best droppers for the day were DC Hot Prince in size 14, Rubber Leg Prince Nymph in size 12, and a black Pat's Rubber Legs in size 10. Everyone saw good action above and below with these patterns and some very heavy fish hooked on the droppers.
On the Grande Ronde the big news is that the river is flowing at a nice and VERY floatable 890 CFS! HOORAH for rain in the summer! What does that mean? Nice water temps for trout fishing and good flows for floating still. If you can get away, there is never a bad time to get down the river especially with the rare good summer flows we are experiencing this year.
If you enjoy the river reports but want to see pictures along with them, check out our facebook page here.
August 17, 2014 Wallowa River Fishing Report
Floated today with a client from about 10:30 until 2:30. One of our fly fisherman was about 8 years of age and on his first day flyfishing on a river. I normally would start out with nymphs and streamers mid day, but there is no better way to learn how to fly fish than watching trout anihilate a high floating dry fly so we tied on a Medallion Hopper. This is a great new pattern we carry that has a red parachute on top so you can actually spot it floating in all that Wallowa River foam. We had good action with the hopper pattern then after decorating a rock and bush with this pattern we switched over to a rubber leg stimulator which seems to fish well year round on the Wallowa. Fishing was again good with the rubber leg stimulator but we decorated a few more bushes and switched up patterns again. This time we tied on a Super Chernobyl and WOW! the fishing was hot. The client in the front of the boat commented that it was like fishing out of Farmer John's well stocked trout pound! So although we fished midday when it was hot and sunny out and the fishing wasn't supposed to be that good on top, I am going to have to rate today's fishing as excellent.
A note on tactics again: long dead drifts for dry flies WONT catch you the most fish. We were all taught to try and get long natural dead drifts when we first began flyfishing but you often get more strikes, skating, swimming, or otherwise giving your fly action. Now you don't want to just let it drag out of holding lies fast, that is also not a good tactic. A good way to give your dry fly action is by casting downstream and using a method similar to high sticking. Let your fly drift downstream 4-5 feet (distance will vary according to the water) then lift your rod tip so your fly stalls out and begins to skate slowly across stream. This is especially effective in front of boulders. Let your fly get 4-6 inches from the front of a boulder and then slowly lift your rod tip up to stall your fly out just in front of the rock. Then set the hook when the fish tries to annihilate your fly. Smile, take a picture and go get another one.
We just stocked up on flies, leaders, lines, tippet, waders, wading boots, fly boxes, wading staffs, fly rods etc. Come check out the new inventory. We got close to 200 dozen new flies in so come take a look at some of the new (and old) patterns that are working great.
August 6, 2014 Wallowa River Fishing Report
Good and strange news tonight. We thought the Grande Ronde river had dropped really fast and was now below 600 cfs at the Troy gauge, but they apparently recalibrated the guage last week, reworked the flow charts, and we are in reality still close to 800 cfs which in my book is still decent floating.
I hadn't been out fishing for the last week so I put the last hour and a half of light to good use tonight and fished upstream of the motel. I started out with 2 dry flies: large rubber legged stimulator for first fly and smaller olive elk hair caddis for second fly. Action was not red hot to start, but I began to get fish to rise. I ended up landing about 6 small to medium trout in an hour of fishing and having a good 15-20 bumps, hits, splashes at my flies. I used my last 30 minutes of light to switch to a Sculpzilla with a Pat's Rubber Legs nypmh trailer. First fish was an 18" hog on a black Pat's Rubber Legs that made countless jumps out of the water before coming to the bank. This was one of those football shaped pigs that you can't get your hand around. Next to the bank was a respectable 12 incher on the Sculpzilla. Multiple other hard hits downstream until finally a slow take, heavy fish on, zzzzzzzzzz of the real screaming and a 20" plus behemoth exploded out of the water and then kept on running until coming off so I am not sure if it took the Sculpzilla or the Pat's Rubber Legs. You be the judge on whether you want to call the fishing poor, fair, good, or excellent but I was a happy and content fisherman as I walked back to the motel with just a little light left.
So the surface action isn't dead but remember sometimes you have to think out of the box to catch more fish. Fishing two flies will almost always catch you more fish. Also don't let yourself fall into the old routine of simply casting, drifting, casting, drifting. Change up your presentations. Try to make casts that keep your fly line off to the side, presenting your fly only to the fish. A big game changer can be giving your dry fly (or streamer or nymph) action. One of my favorite things to do is to skate my dry flies across the current and then dance them upstream. Using two flies here helps since your last fly acts as an anchor and your upper fly is left to dance and bob up and down looking like a natural caddis or stonefly dipping into the water laying eggs. Fly patterns don't have to be exotic, time proven flies are always good bets just fish them well. Put your fly where fish are holding or feeding. Your fly can't catch fish in the air so don't waste valuable time false casting or getting stuck in bushes. The fish are in the water and keep your fly in the zone as long as possible. Longer drifts often means more fish. VARY your presentation! Have fun and remember fishing is really just a great excuse to get outside and enjoy being in the canyon.
July 28, 2014 Wallowa River Fishing Report
A group of 3 fly fisherman fished the Wallowa hard yesterday in pontoon boats. They reported good fishing with Prince Nymphs and Hair's Ear Nymphs fished below an indicator or dry fly. Surface action was limited until late in the evening.
I just got off the river from a float that started at 3:30 and ended after 8:00. Dry fly fishing for the first few miles was very productive with a size 10 or 12 orange stimulator. Other sizes, colors, and patterns didn't fish as well. Most fish coming to dries tonight were on the smaller side (6"-10"). We landed on excellent rainbow on a Dali Lama streamer. The rest of the evening action slowed down with only a few more fish coming to flies. Today's fishing was the opposite of common wisdom for mid summer fishing. Typically better fishing is found in the mornings or evenings when it gets hot, but today the opposite was true. What that means is you should probably just go fishing and not worry about the latest fishing report! If you wait for a report that says the fishing is hot, you have missed the hot fishing and the fishing will have slowed down. If you hear a report of slow fishing, it might be a good time to hit the water since the fishing will probably have improved by the time you get to the river! Caddis are hatching heavily at night (swarming me at the computer as they come through the riverside window) so get out and have some fun whether you catch a lot of fish or just a few.
July 25, 2014 Grande Ronde River Report
Another rafting season is winding down to an end . . . or is it? Although most people have finished floating the Grande Ronde for the season there is still plenty of rafting opportunities. The river is currently just under 1,000 cfs which is still pretty good floating. As the water levels drop below 700 cfs it is a great time to take an inflatable kayak or packraft down the Grande Ronde for a lightweight multi-day trip. Or pack light and take a raft. I personally have taken full sized rafts down as low as 500 cfs with little problem if you remember to pack light, under-inflate the tubes, and keep your boat in the deepest channel. Low water trips are great for wildlife viewing and the river is finally at a great temperature for swimming. For the fisherman, low water trips make it much easier to find and target trout as they become concentrated in the well oxygenated riffles and heads of runs and pools.
If you aren't into a low water trip, now is a great time to do a 5 day trip on the lower Salmon River starting at Pine Bar or Hammer Creek. We are hauling rental rafts to both of these put-in locations weekly and the lower Salmon River remains boatable all summer. Call to reserve your boat today. Please check our prices against the competition renting boats on the lower Salmon and you will see that you are getting a bargain when you rent our rafts. Be sure to also pay attention to what kind of rafts you are renting. We rent Maravia rafts which are some of the best boats in the industry. Many companies charge you more for inferior rafts and equipment. Get on the river sooner rather than later. Give us a call at 541-437-1111
April 3, 2014 Wallowa and Grande Ronde River Report
The river has dropped, cleared, and is in excellent shape for fishing, floating, or just getting out to enjoy the great spring weather. Flowers have begun blooming in the canyons, get out there while the sun is shining.
March 29, 2014 Wallowa River Fishing Report & Grande Ronde River Report
After a week of excellent fishing conditions heavy rains yesterday and last night brought the river up to 11,000 cfs at the time of this report. It is still climbing but is supposed to peak tonight. Fishing conditions are poor but anyone looking to get a whitewater trip in, floating conditions are excellent. Funny sidenote, just as I was writing that it is poor fishing conditions I saw someone land a steelhead through the window from the desk I am writing this at! I will still say that fishing conditions are not great, but the 3 gentlemen fishing outside just proved you can still catch a steelhead if you put in the effort. The river is supposed to peak tonight so look for conditions to begin improving Sunday or Monday.
March 21, 2014 Wallowa River Report
The river is in excellent condition right now. If you want to get some steelhead fishing in before the end of the season, NOW IS THE TIME! Don't forget to stop by and visit us if you need to stock up on flies, leaders, tippets, fly rods, reels, fly lines, waders, boots, etc.
On another note we will be offering a 3 day Swiftwater Rescue Course here at Minam. Please visit our Swiftwater Rescue Page for additional information.
March 11, 2014 Grande Ronde and Wallowa River Report
Nothing but blue skies at Minam today after what has seemed like several weeks of rain. It has been tough to get any steelhead fishing in this spring with the heavy rains, snow melt, and high water. The Grande Ronde gauge at Troy peaked yesterday close to 25,000 cfs! Yikes. There has been some flooding in the Troy area and the road upstream of Boggan's Oasis was under water, the road between Troy and Powwatka Bridge was under water, and I had a report this morning that the road over Wildcat is washed out. Access to Troy can be found going through Enterprise, Flora, and down the Redmond Grade. Access is still open to Powwatka Bridge via the Powwatka Ridge Road.
We have absolutely gorgeous weather in the forecast for the next seven days so get outside and enjoy it. The Wallowa is still high and dirty this morning, but started dropping and clearing. Give it a few days to clear up and then get your steelhead rod and get to Minam. For the boaters out there, this is a great week to do a float trip down the roadless section, absolutely beautiful out right now. Anyone that just needs to get away from cell phone service and mellow out to the sounds of the river and birds come on down to the Minam Motel. We are open and waiting. Any way you do it, get out and enjoy the great weather while it is here.
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November 2, 2013 Grande Ronde Steelhead Report
It rained yesterday bumping flows slightly and it is going to rain more today. If you have been waiting for perfect timing to head down the river, your time is up. Get out there now. Get in on the last preplanned trip of the season November 7-10. Give us a call for the supported or fully guided option at 541-437-1111 or check out the details on the guided trips page of our website.
October 26, 2013 Grande Ronde Steelhead Fishing Report
Just off the river from a 5 day trip and the steelhead fishing was good from Minam to Troy. Not red hot, but not terrribly slow either. Day 1 tally was 9 steelhead landed between 3 anglers on the Wallowa River between Minam and Rondowa. The next 4 days were slightly fewer fish, but each person landed 1-3 steelhead per day for the rest of the trip. Beautiful weather was the norm and great food each day at camp. Best fly of the week again proved to be a Dali Lama catching at least 90% of the steelhead in our group. Stock up on Dali Lama's before you head down the river. We have a few slots open for our multi day guided trips so don't hesitate to call or shoot us an email. Here is a picture of one of our succesful clients from this past week.
October 20, 2013 Grande Ronde Steelhead Fishing Report
Just off the river from a 3 day trip and the fishing over the past few days was just so-so. If you put in your time fishing you can find 1-3 steelhead per day right now in the roadless section between Minam and Troy. Water temps were down the past few days but the weather forecast for the coming week is extremely nice and should bump up water temperatures which will hopefully increase the catch rate. I will be on the river for the next five days and will have another update when I return.
I have adjusted some of our trip dates for guided & supported trips so take a look at the guided trips page for available dates. We have three options available: Option 1 fully guided trips where I row you down the river showing you the best slots and runs to catch steelhead in, we show up to a fully set camp with dinner cooking, and then head out the next morning while our guides clean up camp and move it down river. This option maximizes fishing time. Option 2 is a supported trip where you row your own boat down the river and and we take care of all the camp and food so you can spend all your time fishing. Option 3 is for those that want guided on the river during the day, but would like to take care of their own camp and food. I will be on the river most days, but call the store number (541-437-1111) and talk to my wife Lottie to book your trip.
October 14, 2013 Grande Ronde Steelhead Fishing Report
It is a beautiful time to be on the river with fall colors in full swing. Our group landed hatchery steelhead from Rondowa down to Grossman Creek in the roadless section this past weekend along with some wild fish on our float between Minam and Powwatka bridge. Streamers such as Sculpzilla's and Dali Lamas continued to catch fish along with flashback stones, flashback Pat's Rubber Legs, and hot bead Prince Nymphs. Egg patterns will begin to produce more fish as the water temperatures drop.
On our return to Minam we had reports of fisherman catching a few hatchery steelhead at the Minam State Park as well so steelhead are getting distributed well upstream now. We also heard good fishing reports from Boggan's all the way up to Troy. The time is now to get out there while the weather is good. We have a few slots open for our guided trips if you have waited until the last minute give me a call (541-437-1111). We have three options for you, fully guided trips where everything is taken care of, supported trips where you row your own boat and we take care of camp and food, and for those of you that like to take care of your own camping needs, we can guide you down the river during the day showing how and where to catch steelhead and then you can take care of your own gear and food once to camp. We have short 2 & 3 day trips for those that can't get away very long all the way up to 5 day trips for those that want to fish as many of the good runs as possible in our 40 mile long roadless stretch.
October 7, 2013 Grande Ronde Steelhead Fishing Report
We have reports of steelhead being caught between Boggan's and Troy this past weekend. Steelhead are also between Minam and Troy. On Sunday I hooked 3 steelhead and landed one in our roadless section. Picture here on our facebook page. River conditions are ideal right now with the gauge reading 1,010 cfs. You can not ask for better steelhead conditions than we have right now. Weather is looking moderate for this coming week. Wenaha bull trout are apparently done spawning as many of them have migrated out to the Grande Ronde and were hard to keep off the line on Sunday. Bull trout are an endangered species so please remember to handle them gently and avoid removing them from the water as much as possible when you release them. Stop by the store to fill up your fly boxes, leaders, and tippets. We now have Redington, TFO, and Echo fly rods, single hand, switch, and spey rods. We are also stocking a good selection of reels from the affordable but very good quality Echo Ion reels, to higher end reels from Lamson.
Now a note on river etiquette for the roadless section. We have nearly 40 miles with no roads between Minam and Powwatka bridge and it is a beautiful, scenic place. The BLM and Forest Service try to manage it in a way that preserves those qualities. One way of doing that is by having rules that require people to pack out human waste and their ashes from fires. That means packing a fire pan and using it. NO FIRE RINGS! Fire rings are magnets for garbage and people never clean their garbage out of them. Since the BLM has no funds to run river cleanup trips anymore, we have volunteered to clean the campsites twice a year. We have already done our spring cleanup trip and I have been in the process of going through all the campsites again this fall. What this means is that I go through all 90 campsites looking for garbage, picking up stray garbage along the riverbanks, and dismantling all fire rings and cleaning up the ash. The previous cleanup trips have seen a few fire rings, but this fall fire rings have been cropping up at an alarming rate. I no more than break up a fire ring one weekend to find a new one the next. Don't be lazy. It is not hard to take a fire pan and use it. Building fire rings is more work for you and more work for me when I have to dismantle them. If you must have the nostalgic feel of a fire surrounded by rock, build it in your back yard and enjoy it there rather than building it in my back yard. If you need a fire pan to use, we have plenty and can either sell you an inexpensive one or rent you one for cheap. In the end, be responsible for yourself and don't expect others to clean up after you. Leave the canyon unspoiled and unlittered for those that follow.
October 2, 2013 Grande Ronde River Report
The river peaked Monday night at 2,000 cfs. It has now cleared up and the flow curve is beginning to flatten out at 1,300 cfs. Conditions are looking very good. I will get a trip report up at the beginning of next week after a 3 day float.
September 30, 2013 Grande Ronde Steelhead Report & Grande Ronde River Report
I have good news and more good news, first the first good news: It has rained and rained and rained with a few more days of rain in the forecast. The bulk of the rain is over now although the river is still rising. Give the river a couple days, but I would expect good conditions by Friday if the current weather forecast holds. This means two things, easy floating and good steelhead fishing! Steelhead that have been in a holding pattern should no longer have any reason to wait to make a move upstream. The river is off-color today with about a foot of visibility last time I checked this evening, but get your gear ready for good fishing conditions by the weekend.
As steelhead fisherman we always wait for rain in the fall to get steelhead up into our rivers. With the rain we have had a steelhead fisherman's best guess would be that steelhead were moving in good numbers now which brings us to our second piece of good news: district fish bioligist Jeff Yanke sent out this week's steelhead update today and fish are indeed moving in larger numbers now with the new rains and lower water temperatures. Total run number for eastern Oregon steelhead are now estimated at 14,320 compared to 10,872 last year. Each week has seen a few more "stragglers" bump up the run numbers, but don't look for that number to change drastically at this point.
Get to the river now for the start of the steelhead season! We are getting more inventory in the Minam Store each week and now have a full selection of fly lines, leaders, tippets, flies, waders, boots, and fly rods. Stop in to check out our growing stock.
No matter what your desires are for steelhead fishing we have something for you: want to have a fully catered fly fishing trip down the unpressured roadless section of the Grande Ronde and be shown where the steelhead like to hang out? Check out our guided trips page and book a trip before it is too late. Do you have the know-how to float and fish the Grande Ronde, but no boat? Check out our raft rental packages. If you have the skills to float and fish the Grande Ronde but want to spend all of your daylight hours fishing check out our supported trips run in conjunction with our guided trips. If you simply want to get out there and do it all yourself, well stop in to pick up some flies, leaders, and tippets, sign up for your shuttle and be on your way down the river. If you don't have enough time to float the roadless canyon for several days, book a room at the Minam Motel and go catch steelhead in our back yard.
September 23, 2013 Grande Ronde River Fishing Report and newest Steelhead Forecast
I recieved the latest steelhead report from district fish biologist Jeff Yanke this morning and overall numbers for the total eastern Oregon run (Grande Ronde & Imnaha steelhead) have not changed too much from last week as predicted, we are now at an estimated run of 13,693 steelhead over Bonneville dam up a few hundred fish from last weeks estimate. The main highlight from this weeks report is that almost 1,400 Grande Ronde steelhead have passed Lower Granite Dam this past week and are headed home. Will you be here to welcome them back with a well presented fly?
We are continuing to get rain and more rain is in the forecast this week again so everyone do a combination rain/steelhead dance to keep the rain coming (at reasonable levels) to keep pushing steelhead up the river. Plan your trips now, trip dates are filling up so give me a call or shoot me an email to book your guided or supported trip.
Fishing has been hot this past weekend for very large resident rainbows (over 20" so legally steelhead). Read a full trip report and check out the pictures on my blog here. I will try to post a fresh trip report each week through the steelhead season.
September 19, 2013 Updated Grande Ronde Steelhead Forecast & Grande Ronde Fishing Report
It is starting to feel like steelhead season here at Minam. Good rains this past week bumped flows again. Cool temperatures and several days of rain in the forecast should translate into ideal conditions to send steelhead up the river sooner rather than later. Get out your waders, check them over for leaks, dust off the rod and check your fly boxes because it is about time to put them into action catching steelhead. We still have room for some of our guided trips so don't hesitate to call or email. If you have your own boat and are comfortable fishing the Grande Ronde by yourself consider a supported trip where we take care of all the gear, camp, and food so you get to spend all of the daylight hours fishing. If you don't have a group that wants to go, you can join one of our preplanned trips either as a fully guided guest or as a supported guest. Now to the latest steelhead forecast . . .
The updated numbers from district fish biologist Jeff Yanke shows are eastern Oregon steelhead run estimated at 13,452 over Bonneville dam so far with the majority of the run complete. It is likely that the number will go up some with stragglers still coming over Bonneville dam, but probably not in huge numbers at this point in the season. Just to give you a comparison last years run was 10,872 for the entire year. So we are definitely looking up from last year. I am also very happy with the rain and weather we are getting right now compared to last years dry summer and fall. I will be on the river the next 3 days and will provide an updated river report next week. For now, please enjoy a trip report and pictures from a Minam to Troy float two weeks ago.
September 8, 2013 Grande Ronde Fishing Report and Steelhead Forecast
We received much needed rain last week bringing the Grande Ronde River up from the 500 cfs range to a peak around 800 cfs on Sunday. Floating on the Grande Ronde this past weekend was certainly better than at 500 cfs, but good water reading skills, good rowing, and a light load makes getting down the river easier. The dry fly fishing was slow, but fishing with streamers and nymphs was decent but not red hot by any means. With the size of many of the resident rainbows up around 20", I can be a little patient for them. For those that would prefer to catch lots of fish on dry flies the October Caddis hatch has begun on the Grande Ronde River and the dry fly action should heat up soon. The Wallowa River continues to fish very good for those wanting day trips with excellent access.
Now to the issue of Grande Ronde Steelhead! I received excellent news from Jeff Yanke, Wallowa district fish biologist. PIT tagged steelhead detected at Columbia River dams as of August 30th are already up to 11,585 steelhead with the run estimated to be only 50-75% complete. That is great news considering last years run to northeast Oregon waters was only 10,872 steelhead total for the entire year! You can do the math, but we are looking at a great season whether the run is 50% counted or 75% counted. Now, add in the fact that we have been receiving summer rains with an excellent rain last week and we should be shaping up for a great steelhead season. If you have been on the fence about a guided trip check out the dates now on our guided trips page while there is still room. Check out our raft rental page if you want to do a trip on your own, or schedule some vacation to stay at the Minam Motel this fall and winter when you will be able to catch steelhead right behind the motel.
August 14, 2013
It has been a busy spring for us at Minam. I first began a computer upgrade at home this winter which required a lot of time and before I was able to get the computer back up and running, an opportunity came along to buy the Minam Motel directly across the river from where we had been leasing the past two years. As you can see by the frequency of my river reports, I was not able to get the appropriate software re-installed on my computer for quite sometime. We are in the process of re-building the website with our new beginning at the Minam Motel, so come back and visit often. Until the new website is up and running please stay current on river reports and fishing reports by liking our facebook page here and subscribing to my blog here by putting your email address into the subscribe box in the upper right hand corner.
November 4, 2012 Grande Ronde Steelhead Report
After a good snow on the Wallowa and several days of heavy rain the river peaked at 4,000 cfs last Monday. The river has been dropping and clearing since. Fishing conditions had been tough with the fishing slow and the weather all over the place. After a week of tough conditions the steelhead on the Grande Ronde have begun to bite again. I just came off the river after a 4 day guided trip and each group I talked to whether they were gear guys or fly guys reported tough conditions since Monday . . . that is until today. Everyone I talked to today began catching fish after a week long hiatus. Conditions are finally good now. We have had a nice jump in flows, the river got high and dirty but is now dropping and clearing up. The floating is easier and the fishing better. Although the weather has been fantastic on the river over the past few days, go prepared for cold and wet weather. Take adequate rain gear and warm clothes because it is bound to get cold at night soon. If you have been waiting to do a trip don't wait any longer, call the store (541-437-1111) to arrange your raft rental or shuttle. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about a guided trip where you can have top of the line camping gear provided, flyrods that can cover the Grande Ronde, flies that catch fish provided, and a heated tent to sleep in at the end of the day.
October 22, 2012 Grande Ronde Steelhead Report
Flows are beginning to hold steady above 800 cfs which makes the rafting much easier and should be sending steelhead up the river in droves! Well, we will hope for the fish in droves part. Temperatures are dropping at night. Be prepared for cold weather on the river. Full trip report from last weekends float and pictures here.
October 15, 2012 Grande Ronde Steelhead Report
Just off the river from a weekend float and although the river was running in the low 600 cfs range when I left, the rain over the weekend made the rafting much easier. As of today the river peeked a little over 1,000 cfs. The fishing was a little slow over the weekend and I only landed a few steelhead over this past weekend's float. There is nothing for certain when it comes to steelhead fishing, but the jump in flows has the potential to really turn the fishing on this coming week. You have to be on the river to experience the good days of fishing so call the store (541-437-1111) to arrange your shuttle, rent a fishing frame raft, or book a guided trip. We are entering the prime fall steelhead season so plan now and don't miss out. The BLM has also lifted the fire ban, so don't forget your fire pan when you head down the river and please be sure to leave the campsites clean (pack out your ash and all waste) and have a great time on the river!
September 23, 2012 Grande Ronde Steelhead Report
With the river running at 550 cfs at the Troy guage, Lottie and I headed down the river to catch a few early steelhead this past weekend. First off, low water trips are not for everyone. Below 750 cfs the Grande Ronde is difficult due to the many exposed rocks and shallow gravel bars. You can make it down the river in a raft by packing light so your raft rides higher in the water and leaving the tubes and floor of the raft slightly underinflated. Underinflating the floor makes it easier for it to push up and slide over rocks near the surface. There will be spots that are simply too shallow and you have to get out and walk your raft through the shallow gravel bars.
Steelhead are in the river, we hooked 5 steelhead between Sheep Creek and Powwatka bridge. For full trip report and pictures click here.
If you are thinking about a guided trip, now is the time to get it planned. We can customize your trip from all inclusive trips where you simply show up and we take care of everything or if you like to do more of the camping/cooking chores yourself and simply need an experienced guide to lead you down in low water and show you the best spots and tactics to catch steelhead on a fly, we can do that too. Send me an email email@example.com for inquiries.
August 20, 2012 Grande Ronde and Wallowa River
The Grande Ronde as of this writing is running at 660 cfs at the Troy guage and the general whitewater season is over. With the majority of rafters done for the season we made a 3 day family trip this past weekend. Float time for the 39 miles between Minam and Powwatka bridge was around 16 hours behind the oars. The Wallowa was relatively skinny and we had to get out of the rafts to push them over shallow gravel bars and barely submerged rocks quite a few times between Minam and Sheep Creek Rapids (about 12 miles downstream from Minam). The floating was substantially easier from there downstream but excellent water reading skills and rowing is needed to identify the deepest channels and avoid the many rocks that are just below the surface, but high enough to hang a raft up. Low water trips are a lot more work behind the oars and are recommended only to those who are willing to pack light to keep their raft floating high and those willing to walk their rafts through a lot of shallows.
The benefits of a low water trip is having a river canyon nearly to yourselves. A bald eagle or golden eagle was almost constantly in sight as we floated and we spotted 7 black bears riverside as we floated by. Our boys fished from the rafts and they did quite well landing lots of rainbows on stimulators or a nymph dropper fly (copper johns, prince nymphs, etc.). Most fish were 12" or less, but Brenden fought a hog that ran 16"-20". This large fish exploded out of the river multiple times before finally breaking off after a hard fought battle.
If you can pack like a backpacker, an inflatable kayak makes an excellent choice for a river trip this time of year. If you pack like a backpacker, a light raft is a good option as well.
We are now booking guided fall steelhead trips. Call the store (541-437-1111) or email Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org for pricing and best trip dates. Some steelhead will show up as early as late September with a fair number of fish being found by mid October. As November aproaches more fish will be found each day, but nights are getting shorter and the weather colder. By early November nights can get downright cold so plan your fishing trips according to your own personal balance between fish numbers and tolerance for cold.
July 19, 2012 Grande Ronde and Wallowa River
We have recieved several good rain showers over the past week that have continued to bump flows up. Conditions could not get much better for a float right now, the flows are still holding out and the weather is great. The flows won't hold out much longer so get a trip in now before it is too late.
July 12, 2012 Grande Ronde and Wallowa River
The flows have been holding out better than we had hoped given the slow start to our snowpack this past winter. Now it looks like the Grande Ronde may stay above 1,000cfs through the end of July. Many boaters find 800-1,000 cfs to be the bottom of end of what they like to float. Below 800 cfs the first ten miles requires plenty of rock dodging until you get to Rondowa and get more water from the Grande Ronde. The good news is you have 2 weeks left to get in that easy floating raft trip if you haven't gotten one in already.
Here are some brief trip reports and pictures of some Grande Ronde trips from last summer and fall.
May 2012 Grande Ronde River
River flows have been great this past month with the river not getting too high and we have seen lots of sunshine and warm days.
March 2012: Packrafting and Kayaking Joseph Creek Trip Report
Click Here for trip report
4/13/2012 through 4/15/2012 Wallowa & Grande Ronde River Report
We took our kids on a 3 day raft trip to enjoy the end of the steelhead season and the beginning of the rafting season. Flows were right around 7,000 cfs and it was easy sailing from Minam to Powwatka Bridge. Easy floating flows will continue into July. I put the kids to work on the last ten miles and had them row us out to Powwatka Bridge. The sun was shining and Saturday it felt plain hot at 76 degrees. Wildlife viewing was good. The action began with an Osprey dropping out of the sky and catching a fish right in front of us. Good weather on Sunday was accompanied by more osprey sightings, bald eagles, two mountain goats on a bluff just above the river, as well as the usual elk, deer, and bighorn sheep.
3/8/2012 Wallowa & Grande Ronde Steelhead Report
Conditions on the river are good right now. If you haven't been out on the water, get out there. I took our kids rafting/camping/fishing a few weekends back and we enjoyed having the river to ourselves between Rondowa and Powwatka bridge. For a full trip report click here.
3/4/2012 NRS packrafts on the Wenaha River
If you like to hike in hard to reach places and float out, stay tuned for more information about our new NRS packrafts. For a first trip report click here.
2/20/2012 Wallowa & Grande Ronde Steelhead Report
We have recieved a report of good steelhead fishing from a group of five fly fisherman who came off the water today. They did a 4 day float from Minam to Powwatka bridge and reported playing 23 steelhead and landing 19.
2/1/2012 Wallowa & Grande Ronde Rivers
With better weather a freind and I decided to run down the Wallowa yesterday to check things out. We took a couple of inflatable kayaks, paddled to Rondowa, and then hoofed it out to Palmer Junction. The Wallowa river was running pretty clean and most of the fisherman we saw on the way either had a steelhead on the bank or had one on the line as we passed. We had a late start and with a hike out at the end, we only had time to fish one run. Two fish on the line but none landed for the one spot we fished. The Grande Ronde was a bit brown but will probably clear some as the flows drop. There are a lot of steelhead in the river and for those prepared for winter camping there is plenty of opportunity. For a more detailed trip report click here.
11/16/2011 Grande Ronde Steelhead
Winter is coming and there has been almost no one floating between Minam and Troy over the past week. Fish are there in decent numbers now, but if you plan a trip this late in the year be prepared for winter camping. I hiked down yesterday and the fishing was decent. Up until last week steelhead were not showing a preference for any particular fly style or pattern, but with the cold water temperatures a Simple Egg dead drifted is about as effective as anything. Around this time each year the steelhead begin to show a preference for egg patterns. You don't need anything fancy, a glo-bug or simple egg will work great. You simply need to get your fly in front of the fish. Here is a link to a picture of one of the fish I caught yesterday on the Simple Egg.
11/2/2011 Grande Ronde Steelhead
Weather is turning colder but the fish are bighting. I just got off the river after a four day float. Nearly everywhere I stopped to fish there were steelhead willing to come to a fly including one spot that had five steelhead willing to come to the fly. Fishing was good all the way through, so there seems to be plenty of fish in the river. River was flowing right around 800 cfs and floating is still fairly easy if you pay attention. Temperatures are getting down right cold at night so be sure to bring proper equipment for overnight stays on the river.
10/23/2011 Grande Ronde Steelhead
What a beautiful time of year to be on the river. All kinds of red and yellow colors are beginning to appear in the canyon and steelhead are getter more abundant each week. The river is running at 848 cfs at the Troy guage today and still pretty easy to float. If the rower pays attention you can make it through without getting hung up anywhere. I spent Saturday and Sunday floating and fishing the 39 mile roadless stretch between Minam and Powwatka bridge and the steelhead fishing is picking up. Two days is not enough to get in a lot of fishing but I was able to land two steelhead and lose a few more. Everyone I talked to on the river seemed to be catching something although not big numbers from any one group. I spotted steelhead resting in several tailouts as I floated by on the raft. We are now getting into the prime fall season for our roadless section of water from Minam to Powwatka bridge.
10/17/2011 Grande Ronde Steelhead
I took our 3 boys for a quick overnight trip this past weekend. The river was up around 970 cfs which made for relatively easy floating. I did not get much time to search for steelhead because I was rowing, but the boys were quite succesful fishing large Stimulators and Hedge Hog (large stonelfy/october caddis fly pattern). The boys had several 16" plus trout on and even landed a few of the bigger ones. I did manage to land a few nice rainbows caught on streamers. We talked to a group of three who had just come off the river and they had caught some steelhead. Each day should bring more steelhead up the river. For those who like to look at pictures, here are some from this year.
9/29/2011 Grande Ronde Steelhead
Lottie and I floated from Minam to Powwatka bridge this past weekend. The flow was down to 600 cfs. We took a 13 foot raft and the floating wasn't too bad, but had to get out here and there to go over shallow gravel bars. Time was limited so we did not have as much time to fish as I would have liked, but found a couple of steelhead below Sheep Creek that were willing to take a fly. Rainbow fishing was decent where we stopped and fished and October Caddis numbers are increasing. I skated a dry fly while Lottie rowed and was kept entertained by the rainbows. There are some big native rainbows in the Grande Ronde. Most often I caught them on a streamer out of deeper runs.
The weather forecast is calling for rain of 1-2 inches next week which should push fish up the river and push a raft down the river much better. If the rain comes, fishing and floating should improve significantly.
9/20/2011 Grande Ronde Steelhead
I took our three boys fly fishing on the Grande Ronde last weekend and they did quite well catching 8"-16" rainbows on copper johns and rabbit hair/marabou streamers. I caught a wild steelhead on an olive woolly bugger at Rondowa. It was certainly an early fish, but it was fresh and full of fight blowing up out of the water multiple times, taking me into my backing and where there is one there is usually another.
We have multiple 13' & 14' rafts setup with fishing frames for those that want to fish as another rows down the river, stopping to work the best spots over more methodically. As October approaches more and more steelhead will show up in our section of the Ronde between Minam and Powwatka bridge. Call the store number to get more information or to book a raft so you can enjoy fishing for steelhead in an unpressured setting with plenty of elbow room.
8/25/2011 Grande Ronde and Wallowa River
Lottie just got off the river after a 3 day trip with some of her family. The Troy guage was reading 700 cfs. At this flow expect to spend 15 hours or more behind the oars to make make the 39 miles from Minam to Powwatka bridge. There are very few people floating the river now due to the low flows. If you decide to take a raft try to pack light (2 people per raft recommended) and realize you will have to get out to push the rafts off/over gravel bars.
As we enter the slow summer season we will not have someone at the Minam Store everyday so please call ahead if you need a shuttle or want to arrange a kayak or raft rental.
7/20/2011 Grande Ronde and Wallowa River
Grande Ronde is running a little over 3,000 cfs at the Troy guage and is at a great flow for enjoyable floating and good fishing finally. Good easy floating should continue on into August this year so book a raft now before they are all gone.
For Fisherman we have fishing frame setups for day use on the Wallowa or overnight use on the Grande Ronde. The Joseph Fly Shoppe in Joseph Oregon has a great selection of flies and provides a nice fishing report on area rivers that is usually updated weekly to keep you up on the latest hot flies. Winding Waters out of Joseph offers daily or multi-day guided fishing trips for those who want a guide service.
7/18/2011 Kayaking the Wenaha River Trip Report
Click Here for trip report
7/8/2011 Grande Ronde and Wallowa River
The Grande Ronde is running at 6,080 cfs at the Troy guage today. The flow predictions were showing one last big blowout of water, but we have only seen a slow steady decrease in flows. Water and weather conditions have been great for floating. The Wallowa is still running a bit brown for those who like to fish. Good news is that the snowpack this year should make for good floating conditions well into August.
6/26/2011 Rafting Grande Ronde from Elgin to Palmer Junction Trip Report
6/19/2011 Kayaking Joseph Creek Trip Report
5/31/2011 Grande Ronde and Wallowa River
The Grande Ronde is running at 9,800 cfs at the Troy guage today. The BLM removed the wood that was blocking the middle of the Wallowa River at Rondowa.
Although the weather forecasts have shown cloudy and rainy weather, it has been mostly sunny weather with a short rain in the evenings. Many people were out enjoying the river river for the Memorial day weekend.
5/20/2011 Grande Ronde and Wallowa River
The Grande Ronde is running about 12,000 cfs at the Troy guage today. We had a group of 4 rafts with beginner rafters come off the river today. They had no real problems running the river at these higher flows and took advantage of two days of nearly complete sunshine. More sunshine is in the forecast mixed with the cloudy days.
The group did however report some new wood in the Wallowa at Rondowa. The old bridge pilings (not the railroad bridge) has collected wood mid river. The wood is clearly visible and the river is slower at this point so there is no problem navigating river right or left to avoid the wood.
4/11/2011 Kayaking the Powder River trip report
3/27/2011 Grande Ronde River
River flows still reading around 5,000 cfs at the Troy gauge. Clarity dropped some on the Wallowa River but steelhead fishing continues to be good. Grande Ronde is dirty and mostly unfishable.
3/20/2011 Grande Ronde River
Spring run off is beginning and the area rivers are starting to rise. With the flows at 5,000 cfs it takes roughly 7 hours to float from the store to Powwatka bridge.
Wallowa was still pretty clear but the Grande Ronde was dirty. Fisherman are catching steelhead on the Wallowa.