Fishing for town-run steelhead in fluctuating water

Last night Karl and I fished the town run from Island Park to Alton Baker on a rising river. The U.S. Army Corps has been raising and dropping the water levels to do some spillway repairs upriver, and the levels on the Middle Fork Willamette below Jasper can fluctuate between 6 inches and a foot.

Willamette River Gage

Despite water level weirdness, Karl and I swung string leeches in the likely holding water. At one point while we were on anchor, a rotten ivy-covered log the size of the drift boat floated down on us and threatened to sink us. Over by Roaring Rapids Pizza, I watched a thirty inch steelhead sip a pale evening dun. Then, on a run we’d already tried with the flies, we decided to back Karl’s plugs down, and as my plug floated on a spooling reel down river, a steelhead came up and smacked it.

The Town Run

We had a few hits on the string leeches along the bank where Trout Unlimited has been restoring native vegetation (a lucky spot), but no fish stuck.

Karl picked up a spey rod for the first time, pulled out some of the Skagit Line, asked me “so is this how you’re supposed to do this?” and roll casted his plug rod into the river. It didn’t even make a sound, as a loop of the short fat line literally flung it end over end out of the boat. It bobbed once and then sank for good into the Willamette. Karl is trying to figure out what the deeper meaning of that incident might be.

We spent the rest of the night debating the merits of the World Cup. I argued that I didn’t care how grueling and non-commercial the sport is, I can’t watch a game go scoreless for three hours. Then Karl directed me to a photo of Paraguay world cup soccer fan Larissa Riquelme and won the argument. The World Cup is interesting after all.

Paraguay WCup Soccer

The point of this post I guess is to tell you that yes, steelhead are in the river, and it is fluctuating due to dam repairs, be careful with your spey rods, and you’re a fool if you don’t love soccer.


This entry was posted in Middle Fork Willamette River fishing, Summer Steelhead. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Fishing for town-run steelhead in fluctuating water

  1. Now that’s cogent analysis. Fine work, sir.

  2. David Jensen says:

    Now there’s the right sized Thingamabobbers for any kind of fishing.

  3. Jay Nicholas says:

    Gentlemen: The makings of a world Class trip. Dry fly sipping steelhead. Floating plug steelhead. Rods cast into the water, where plug rods belong. And photographic genius that will draw more readership than any dull fly tying videos ever will. A tip of the Ball cap to you both.


  4. Rob R says:

    I want some soccer. Yum.

  5. Rob R says:

    fishing is so lame. we need to start playing soccer.

  6. Two dogs says:

    Y0u guys talk fishing and soccer…….I want to be the one that gets to answer the cell phone…….

  7. G Hatten says:

    Rick just “pocket-dialed” me… hmmmmm

  8. Rick Allen says:

    What are you say’n?

  9. Sean S. says:

    Uhh. What were you saying?

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