Our good pal David Vázquez has spent some time lately fly fishing Oregon’s small streams and wrote up this post for the blog.
Our local small creeks can provide some wonderful fishing for wild rainbows and cutthroats this time of year. Fishing small creeks isn’t necessarily about catching big fish–although large fish are often present. Instead, I like to fish small creeks–and this place in particular–because they force you to slow down. Many of them are pretty rugged, so you have to do a fair amount of boulder hopping to find fishy lies. But even better is the fact that you’re not likely to see another angler all day. So there’s no rush or fuss. It’s simple fishing–just a light rod and a single box of dries.
This particular stream is one of my favorite places in the world. Not only is it gorgeous, but it has a very unique character–plunge pools, fast pockets, and crystal clear water. It’s not as blue as the Mac, nor as productive as other small creeks, but it’s a special place to me. It was the first place I ever fished in Oregon. I’ve never caught anything huge there, but it’s a wonderful place to spend an afternoon casting dry flies on my three weight.
I pulled up to my favorite hole at about 1:30 pm. It’s a fairly popular stream among the college set, so you will often find swimmers and sunbathers this time of year. I decided that I would stop if there were no cars at the turnout. Lucky for me, no one was there. This particular hole is a deep plunge pool that has high rocky banks along it–kind of like a mini-gorge. So, I didn’t even wader up. I just tied on a royal PMX and went down to the hole. After a few casts the dry didn’t produce, so I switched to an olive bugger. On the first cast a 10-inch cutthroat just annihilated it. Uncharacteristically, this little cuttie took to the air about five times. In fact, I didn’t think it was a cutthroat until I got it to hand. Pretty cool way to start the day.
After that, I drove upstream a bit. I found a nice, semi-shaded bouldery run and spent the next three hours fishing a 1/4 mile stretch. There were fish everywhere they should have been: behind rocks, along foam lines, in back eddies, and in the seams. Everywhere. Usually a cast to a good spot would produce. After about six fish, my PMX came unwound. So I switched to a Royal Wulff. That worked too.
Most of the fish were in the 6-8 inch class, but I did take a few “slabs” of about 10 inches. They were a mix of beautifully colored resident cutts, silvery fluvial cutts, and rainbows. It was probably 70 percent bows. This guy was perhaps the prettiest cutt I’ve ever caught.
The fish of the day was a 12-inch bow that came out of a long, bouldery run. I had previously worked it downstream, but made a long upstream cast from the bottom of the pool. The take was one of those slow rolls, where a fish casually swims up to your fly and very subtly sucks it under. For such a small fish, this guy put up quite a fight. He actually took line a couple of times and generally gave me a fit on the three weight. He flipped off when I got him to hand, so no picture was in the offing.
I also caught a nice little rainbow of about 10 inches. He didn’t fight like the others, but when I got him to hand I figured out why. He had a semi-digested sculpin that was about 4 inches long sticking out of his craw. How he even got my fly in his mouth (or why) is a total mystery. I helped him out by disgorging his oversized meal, and he was on his way. Suicidal fish can be fun.
I probably took 30-40 fish in about four hours of fishing–typical for some of the creeks in our area. The best part was that they were all on dries. If you’re interested in slowing down and trying something different, get out your map, a copy of the regs, and some attractor dries and hit one of our local creeks. There are a ton of them from Detroit Lake to Cottage Grove.