Yep. Mentioned this last week and sure enough, the hatchery rainbow appeared in the Town Lake and Lake Hebo, close to my coastal range haunts last week. My son Jackson and I spent several afternoons in sun sharing water time, healthy snacks (ha ha) and catching some hatchery rainbow trout on nymphs.
Our first challenge was finding the fish, and that took about 45 minutes trying places where I had found them before. Eventually a school of fish showed themselves taking bugs on the surface and we moved to within casting range of the splashing.
Second challenge was finding a good technique. Size 12 & 14 Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ears in natural and black seemed good, and a new Chironomid tied at the Shop a month ago was a close second. We fished about 6 ft under the smallest Thingmabobber on day one, but the second day took a good nine feet of depth to get to the fish.
Trout definitely preferred to take a fly that we moved just an inch or so after sitting still for a few seconds, and we missed three or four fish for every trout we hooked.
Jackson and I fished two Echo rods. One was the E3 9 ft 4 wt and the other Echo’s new 5 wt Glass. The latter rod at 7 ft 10 inches was worlds different from the E3. Rod designers and world class casters like Tim Rajeff can talk and design all they want and I still don’t understand as much as I would like to. I rigged both rods with a 4 wt WF Airflo Elite fly line. Both rods cast the line well and the 4 wt Elite felt very comfortable on the 5 wt Glass rod. I have a hunch that the GLASS series may be just right for under-lining when we fish modern lines designed to load fast action graphite but want to test this further. Anyway, the WF4 Elite cast like a dream on the 5 wt GLASS.
No doubt, the Glass rod is a completely different animal than the E3. The Fast-action E3 has more power and is a superior rod for achieving a long reach. But gosh when a 9 or 10 inch trout was pulling on the end of the leader, the Glass 5 wt made it feel much larger than the E3 4 wt. The Glass allowed Jackson to cast a good 40 ft and I was throwing my clumsy bobber-clad leader a good 60 ft, plenty to cover the trout. Got to say, the softness of the Glass made me slow down on my cast, was easier for Jackson to feel in his learning mode, and made the trout seem a lot bigger than they were.
There were times when we got no tugs, times when we got two on at once, and plenty of interest casting to showing fish.
If you live anywhere in the McMinnville, Salem, Corvallis, Albany, or Lebanon area, these two lakes are pretty close, offer nice scenery, and have a lot of trout in them right now. Small boats and rafts or belly boats are handy, although both the Town Lake and Lake Hebo have bank and dock access for shore angling. Hebo has the best picnic facilities and nice benches too. Nothing but dock at the Town Lake.
Funny thing, I remember my friend Wayne Doughton steering his fly fishing customers to Lake Hebo back in the 1970s. I’m pretty sure they were planting hatchery cutthroat instead of rainbows back then. As the weeks go by, these fish will get larger, some are already in the 12 inch class now, and we saw families with 3 generations of folks stuffed into small boats catching fish on single eggs while we fished our flies.
And for folks in the Eugene and Southward areas, there are plenty of just as nice trout fishing opportunities around for the next several months. Many lakes have native cutthroat plus the hatchery trout, and some have only natives. This is not a fishery about which I know a heck of a lot, but I believe that many of these lakes offer spectacular fly fishing and some big wild trout for tight-lipped anglers who take the time to delve below the surface.
Best of luck and good weather to you all.
March 24, 2014