Greg Hatten who recently ran his drift boat down the Colorado, yes that’s the one with Lava Falls and giant rafts brings us this local report. You can see more about Greg’s journey down the Colorado here.
Father & son Rick and Mike Drake were in my boat last July at first light one morning with the intent of hooking up with a Steelhead on the fly on the “Town Run”. We fished hard and it was worth it – son Mike hooked, fought, and landed a nice fresh Steelhead hen just a few minutes before noon with the sun beating down from high in sky.
Tuesday this week, the father-son team hit the river again in search of a bright silver early-season fish. An “above average” Steelhead count was “countered” by “above average” river levels on both the Willamette and the McKenzie. Steelhead on a fly would be challenging – we started early in the day.
After an exhausting morning fighting the fast river flow, we had nothing to show for it – not even a curious trout with delusions of grandeur. At about 11 o’clock, Rick caught three trout on successive casts with a fly designed for bigger fish. At just before noon he made a cast and swung the fly close to river structure (next week, when the river drops a foot, this place will be too shallow fish and a week after that, too shallow to float). On this day however, it was the perfect cast to the perfect spot. Just as the fly was reaching the bottom of the swing it got “hammered” by an aggressive buck that was fresh from the Pacific and ready for a fight.
We got it all – a quick jump and a roll, several runs at the boat to make us think we’d lost it and then a couple of reel spinning sprints downstream that made us hold our breaths and hope the knots in our leader would hold.
Rich landed the fish just before “noon” about 12 months after his son landed his just a few miles down river. We fished both rivers til dark and got a few more grabs but no “sticks”. It’s gonna be a great year for Steelhead on both the Willamette and the McKenzie.