Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Guide Mike Duffy Shares Insights on Life, Steelhead and the Pursuit of Happiness

Mike Duffy in his element...

When I first came to Oregon, I was surprised to find that the majority of the population did not fish.  Furthermore, I discovered that of those folks that enjoyed fishing, only a small percentage chose to fish with a fly.  But what was most disturbing to me, was learning that most fly anglers here, forgo the opportunity to target Steelhead via fly fishing methods.  I have heard, “I’ll bust out my gear rod when I’m Steelhead fishing,” over and over again. What is it about these mythical creatures that breeds fear, or thoughts of being unattainable in our weary hearts?  Could it be that the task demands an elevated level of practice, understanding and perseverance?  That is certainly understandable.  People like to see immediate results for their actions.

Is it that folks have too many other things going on in their lives that there seems to be little time for standing in a river?  Sure, there are only so many hours in the day, and we all need to choose our battles.

The wonderful thing about the world we live in is that we all have different thoughts, points of view and yes, we all have different interests.  It is our personal diversity that lends itself to a robust world; full of dreams and actions that splinter like a web and that are held together by the places that we intersect.

If I was to describe myself- my path, I might explain that I yearn to experience the beauty of place, the inhabitants and explore the possibilities that the web offers.  With a keen eye, and an open heart I follow a journey that encourages an understanding of the way things are.  And from this understanding, stems a passion and an ability to perform, albeit under challenging conditions, to find a connection and a satisfaction that resembles some form of accomplishment. 

I must confess, more than any other road, my path ends at the river.  You see, results for any of our actions, often go overlooked.  Hearing the gurgle of cool river flow over a slick, mossy ledge, or noticing the swirling eddy line that presses just firmly enough against your leg is a result.  I am fishing.  I am on the journey, and surely when the firm steel jaws crimp down on my swung fly, the ultimate goal will be achieved.  However, the true beauty lies along the path we take.  Noticing, learning, understanding, practicing…

One day on the Deschutes River, I stood like a speck under a canopy of blue, wading into a gorgeous run that cut and continued through the green walls of the sage-painted canyon.  A snake slithered past in the grassy shallows with the tail of a Sculpin waving from its jowls.  I stood to watch her jaw unhinge as she slowly worked her lunch down the hatch.  The head of a trout broke a few yards out on the seam line, leaving bubbles in its wake.  After glancing down the pool, I stepped out, and began my presentation.  A soft breeze brushed my hair as I worked out more line.  I fell into the zone, whereupon there was no more separation between myself, and my surroundings.  Experience told me, that the fish should be holding along the faster edge of the seam, especially at these water temperatures.  After a few funky casts, I corrected my motion and witnessed an astonishing loop of line blaze out over the current.  The line came tight and pulled across the flow with a tension that could be felt in my bones.  Step by step, my line probed the likely holds, and it trolled the depths with an anticipation that could be shattered at any moment.  And so it went, tailoring my casts and presentations to the subtle current differences, when I noticed a pair of eyes on me.  Up above, the face of a praying mantis curled under the brim of my hat to say hello.  Her head twisted to and fro as she wiped her eyes with her little green elbows.  She looked through me and she evidently decided to join me on my journey this day.  Together we fished on down the run and I wondered if she could feel the connection that I felt so fortunate to be a part of.

The grab did not come that day.  But on the day following, my rod was nearly ripped from my hand, as a Steelhead, no smaller than 15 lbs tore at my fly and in seconds, she managed to turn my world upside down.  Three years of ocean living had left her in remarkable health, size and a beauty bordering on exquisite.  In that moment, the pieces all came together and it is during these times, when I feel most alive.  But I can say that in my life, it is the placing of those pieces that is most important to me.

So we’ve all heard that saying, “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”  Well I suppose that is true.  But what is the big interest in “easy?”  What magnitude of reward are we granted if the pieces come already put together?  For those anglers that are on the fence about fly fishing for Steelhead, I can tell you from experience, that there is no greater reward than hooking a Sea Run Rainbow on a swung fly. 

How about the saying: “When in Rome.”  People, we are surrounded by these magical creatures!  Oregon and the legendary Columbia River Tributaries are laden with Steelhead.  Our coastal streams run with chrome blood!

OK, ok now for the big one:  “I can’t really afford it.”  After years of living on Ramen Noodles, hunks of bread, and cheap beer, I know the financial thing all too well.  There is little doubt that there is some upfront cost involved, but there is a logical way to go about it...  You're paying for an education while on vacation.  Without investing in all the gear, grab a loved one or a buddy, and take a guide trip.  Besides walking away a better angler, you'll spend the day in a beautiful place pursuing a beautiful animal.  I would consider it a privilege to join you during your initial steps into this world of endless opportunity. 

Presently, area rivers are ripe with winter Steelhead and as May creeps in, we can expect the arrival of our fabled summer Steelhead run.  Give us a call or drop us a note any time.  We would be happy to answer any questions that you might have concerning this amazing journey of discovery.

-Mike Duffy is a guide for Larimer Outfitters.  He Guides the Clackamas, the Hood, and the Deschutes Rivers.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I Wanna Go Back to Andros South

Image: Cam Miller

It's raining again...  Can't wait for Andros South 2012.  Bonefish, sunshine, cold beer and great food, what's not to like?


Monday, April 25, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fishing Skaters for Summer Steelhead on the Deschutes River

In less than 70 days we will be casting to summer steelhead on the Deschutes River with skating dry flies.  Its the second most fun you can have standing up.


Joe Ringo

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Clackamas River Fly Fishing Report

Finally... Sunshine in the Northwest!  Don't mind telling you it feels damn good.  Spring steelhead fishing is ramping up on the Clackamas River.  Water temperatures are finally creeping into the high forties and the fishing is starting to pick up. We're still finding late winter steelhead and the early summers are just showing up.  We should continue to have good fishing through May, give us a shout if you want to get on the water.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Beauty Of Fly Tying

Beauty is… Tying intricate flies, which match the various insects that are available to wild Deschutes River trout.  Beauty is… Fooling a wild trout into taking your artificial fly pattern as if it were a natural insect.  Beauty is… Understanding the complex underwater world of wild trout and making a connection to it with fly rod in hand.

There are four major groups of insects available to trout: Mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies and midges.  These four food groups make up a Deschutes River Trout’s daily diet.  There are many other aquatic insects available like crane flies and aquatic moths, but these are of lesser importance.  All of the insects in these major groups also come in various sizes and shapes, and have different behaviors.  This makes your efforts as an angler and fly tier even more challenging.  As an example, the mayfly group is divided into four sub categories; swimmers, crawlers, clingers, and burrowers. Within each subgroup, there are distinct times of development that the insects go through.  For example caddisflies have four distinctive stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.  With stoneflies having just three: egg, larva and adult.  Even this doesn't address other stages we can imitate during the insects life, such as egg laying and spent adults.

As you can see the challenge is there, especially if you also happen to be a fly tier with a streak of obsessive-compulsive behavior.

Getting a trout to take your artificial creation at one of these various stages of the insect’s life on a consistent basis is beautiful and magical.  It’s a feeling of joy and accomplishment.  It becomes a passion for many reasons, but one very important reason is that trout, wild trout at least, are genetically programmed for survival... They are not stupid.

Several years ago, I was tying some trout patterns at Maupin City Park when a gentleman walked up and sat down to watch me tie.  We talked about fishing, bugs and the river.  At one point he asked why I tied only two tails on a mayfly pattern, when most flies he had seen were tied with many fibers in the tail.  I answered, “Because this is a baetis mayfly and baetis only have two tails.”  He skeptically replied, “Do you think they can count?”

While trout can’t count, they are incredibly perceptive.  Consequently, they are not easy to fool, and if you are fly tying junkie it matters to you. -At least it matters to me.  Creating life-like bugs is a passion of mine.  For me, it’s the beauty and mystery of the sport.  It’s the essence of fly fishing for trout.


Joe Ringo   

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How To Rob A Bank… Part Five –Presentation For Deschutes Trout.

Presentation is everything on the Deschutes.
More times than not, Deschutes trout are not super picky eaters.  It’s way more important to focus on the water you fish and how you fish it. 

When we're guiding the river, we look for behavior patterns in the fish.  we're constantly climbing up high banks looking for active trout.  Often times we’ll need to watch the water for a while to see what the fish are doing.  If we're fishing deep bank water and see fish eating nymphs two to four feet under the surface, we’ll find fish on similar bank water eating at the same depth.   Realize the behavior of the fish is not static!  Things can change by the minute out there and you need to recognize and adapt to these changes.  Observation is critical for success on the Deschutes.  If you just go out and fish everything that looks good, you’ll spend a lot of time fishing water with no fish.  Look for patterns.  Once you find the pattern, focus on it until the trout change their behavior.

We can’t stress how important good presentation is on the Deschutes.  The first mistake most anglers make is to start fishing without thinking about their presentation. 

The Deschutes is a big, pushy river with lots of complex current edges.  Unlike many rivers, these current edges move around as the river surges.  The fish follow these currents.  Fishing in these conditions can be extremely challenging. If your fly line lands in a surge at the wrong time, your whole rig will get sucked under and drag past the fish.  Any big fish in the area will be spooked and the game is over. 

It’s extremely helpful to watch the water for a few minutes before you make your first cast.  A friend of mine calls it, “getting in tune with the river.”  Look for the rhythm of the surges…  The river breathes.  This is especially true in bank water.  You’ll notice there are times the current will surge and everything will be churning around like a washing machine.  This is not the time to cast.  Keep watching and you’ll see these small windows where the current will smooth out and a foam line will form.  This is your opportunity to take a shot.  The best anglers can anticipate these windows and present their fly just as everything settles down.  More times than not, a short cast with only five to fifteen feet of fly line is out the rod tip is the best way to attack these tough situations.   Just remember, the more complex the water is, the shorter your cast should be.  

This concludes our series on "How To Rob A Bank".  Next time you're on the Deschutes, remember to look for good bank water and you'll definitely find the fish.  If you'd like to learn more about fishing the Deschutes, consider hiring one of our guides to show you the ropes.

Good Luck!
-Larimer Outfitters Staff

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Clackamas River Fly Fishing Report

Rich Kornbroth finding the love...
After a long winter of unstable water flows, we finally have good flows in the 13 to 14 foot level on the Clackamas River.  Late winter steelhead are still showing up with a few early summer steelhead in the mix as well.  


Deschutes River Steelhead

We finally broke 80!  No its not our golf score.  Its only 79 days until we will be casting skaters to wild Deschutes River steelhead!


Skaters develop!

Joe Ringo

Ride 'Em Cowboy

I'm debating starting a new blog inspired by Moldy Chum... Look for the launch of Moldy Shark in the upcoming months.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Guide Tip –Flies for Early Summer Steelhead

As spring arrives on our rivers, so do the first summer steelhead on the Sandy and Clackamas Rivers.  The steelhead fishing in April and May can be outstanding on both of these rivers.  The water temperatures are rising making fresh fish extremely aggressive.  Plus, the rivers are un-crowded.  With new leaves on the trees and the smell of spring in the air, it’s a great time to be on the water.  Here our three favorite flies and the colors we love for chasing chrome bright spring steelhead…

Hickman's Fish Taco... Delicious

Hickman’s Fish Taco –Red, Pink or Purple
A great un-weighted fly for sink-tip fishing… It’s easy to cast and the fish love it.  The red or pink version fishes well in clear water with bright conditions.  Fish the purple one on darker days or if the water has some stain.

Larimer's Loop Leech -A spring favorite

Larimer’s Loop Leech –Purple Egg Sucking, Black and Blue or Pink
Spring fish love the Purple Egg Sucking version.  The Black and Blue dressing fishes well on dark days or with stained water.  Try the pink one on brighter days.

Red & Black Reverse Marabou -Clear water killer

Larimer’s Reverse Marabou –Black & Red, Orange, Purple & Red or Purple
This fly isn’t available commercially (It will be this summer) however, fly tiers can find tying instructions for the Reverse Marabou on our website.  The Red & Black is the “go to fly” in clear water and bright conditions.  If the water is stained from run-off but the sky is bright, role the orange flavor.  The Purple and Purple and Red fish great in moderate stain under any light condition.

How To Rob A Bank, Part Four –The Foam Is Home

The Foam is Home

There’s an old saying in trout fishing; “The foam is home”.  On just about any big river, you will see foam lines.  Oregon’s Deschutes River is no exception. 

The foam is created from the breakdown of biomass in the river.  During a hatch on the Deschutes, all of the bugs –both dead and alive, end up in the foam lines creating the ultimate gravy train for hungry trout.   While you’ll see distinct foam lines along deep bank water, you’ll also find huge foam mattes in the back eddies.  These foam mattes are like going to Denny’s for the trout… It’s a smorgasbord of bugs!

Outside of funneling food to the trout, foam creates overhead cover as well.  -It’s the perfect scenario for wild trout.  Plus, foam will camouflage your cast as it lands in the zone.  Next time you’re fishing the Deschutes for trout, focus on the foam lines and good things will happen.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spring Steelhead on the Clackamas

April showers bring Clackamas River chrome.
Al Taylor and Lou Lanwermeyer recently travelled from the midwest to chase Oregon steel with Larimer Outfitters guide Jeff Hickman.  Despite recent rains trying to foil their plans, they did finally find reward on the Clackamas River.  Thanks for making the journey guys!


Fishing Skaters for Deschutes Steelhead

Larimer's "Fighting Gravity"


Only 81days until we will be casting skaters to Deschutes River summer steelhead.  We specialize in catching steelhead on skating dry flies. You can imagine how exciting it is to see these magnificent fish attack your skater!

Love to see ya here in Maupin.

Skaters Purify!

Joe Ringo

Saturday, April 9, 2011

5 Reasons To Fish The Deschutes Stonefly Hatch

Dinner is served...
Every May, the famous golden stonefly hatch happens on the Deschutes River.  You can see the craziness in the eyes of other anglers on the water or wondering around town at night.  When you hit it right, you'll feel like a trout fishing God.  Here's five reasons to chase the hatch this season...

1.  Stoneflies make trout stupid... Stupid trout make us feel like better anglers than we probably are.

2.  Pictures of trout with big shit hanging out of their mouth is way cool.

3.  You don't need your magnifiers to see the damn things.

4.  Fishing 3X tippet is way more fun than 6X tippet.

5.  If we ate the same portion respectively, it would be like swallowing a poodle whole.

-Tom Larimer

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How To Rob A Bank… Part Three –Dressing For Success.

Think "Pack Animal Brown" when stalking Deschutes Trout

A few years ago I was guiding a couple of trout anglers on the Deschutes River in the Maupin area on a perfect spring day.  As we floated by a choice piece of bank water we could see the snouts of many big fish chowing on mayflies like a cocaine addict snorting blow.  “We’re going to rope ‘em” I thought to myself. 

I quietly parked my drift boat below the fish and got into position.  The foam lines were alive with happy fish and all was well.  Just about then I heard a car stop just up river from us.  I rather large man got out and promptly put on his ten gallon -bright white cowboy hat.  As he walked down the road towards us -in plain view of the fish, I watched every trout on the bank drop deeper in the water column and stop feeding…  The show was over and we never made a cast.

The belly of an Osprey is bright white, and the wild trout of the Deschutes are very aware that they are Mr. Ospreys favorite dish on the menu.  Not to mention big cowboy hats are silly.

A word to the wise when stalking big fish in “bank water”…  Wear natural toned clothing that blends into the environment.  Avoid bright colors, especially white.  Companies like Simms make a wide range of comfortable fishing clothing that will ensure you stay concealed.  Trust me, it’s the difference between zero and hero.

-Larimer Outfitters Staff

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Perfect Storm

Ann Tattam finds late winter bliss.  Image: Mike Duffy
Every once in a while the stars align in winter steelheading and you're rewarded for all the tough days you spent faithfully swinging your fly through the void.  It takes conviction, the right conditions and yes, a little luck.  When it does happen, there's no other high like it in fly fishing.

Anne Tattam found this magnificent wild buck yesterday while fishing with Larimer Outfitters guide Mike Duffy.  Our hats are off to her... Nicely done.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Deschutes River Fly Fishing Report for Maupin

Recent rains and snowmelt have brought the Deschutes River water levels way up.  At the moment, the river is high but the visibility is not as bad as it could be.  If you head out to do a little Deschutes River trout fishing, look for soft water along the edges and in back eddies.  Try fishing San Jaun worms with a large bead head dropper like a Copper John, Prince Nymphs and Larimer’s Copper Back Stone.

Good Luck!

How To Rob a Bank... Part Two -Approaching Deschutes Trout

Part 2

Okay, boys and girls…  Now that you’ve identified good bank water for Deschutes trout, it’s time to head down to the water.  Approaching good bank water takes some consideration.  It’s usually good because it’s steep and difficult to access.  Why do you think trout like to live there? First, always think safety. You definitely won’t catch any trout if you fall and break yourself or your rod. Loose stones on riprap boulders are dangerous.  Grass, either wet or dry can be very slippery despite having cleats on your wading boots.  Furthermore, blackberry bushes can tear holes in your waders as well your arms or legs.  The Deschutes has a healthy population of poison oak. This dreaded plant is always to be avoided especially if wet wading or fishing naked, as some of us occasionally do.  Loose gravel on hard packed dirt is like marbles on hardwood floors.  Take your time and scope out your path.  It pays to have a game plan.

You must take some care when heading down your chosen path, you don’t want to kick rocks, sticks or an old rotting flip flop into your water.  Creeping along and keeping a low profile is always a good idea.  Remember, these fish make a living by survival. 

You would be surprised how many times I have spotted a rising fish, carefully started down the bank with an eye on my target only to see another trout that was hidden from my view from above by a clump of grass or other structure. Now I get shots at two fish.  If I had stomped down carelessly I would have spooked this second player.

Generally, trout will be facing into the current.  We should obviously approach from behind our targeted fish, from a downstream position if possible.  We rarely fish bank water from above the fish but there are a few spots where it’s your only option.  This presentation takes ultimate stealth.  Be mindful of back eddies…  The current runs opposite of the main river.  Consequently, the fish will be facing downriver.  Watching the direction of foam lines is the key to success.  If our trout are cruising an area we need to be even more cautious.  If there is minimum foam, no shade, or little broken surface water the trout will be extremely wary. Cruising trout can be facing any direction at any time.  While this doesn’t happen often on the Deschutes, every once in a while you’ll see it in back eddies.  More times than not, this behavior will be seen in the winter months when low water temps will pull fish into calmer water.  In the heat of the summer you won’t find many “cruising” trout because they will be drawn to faster water with more oxygen.

Getting yourself in to a good position to cast is important but don’t forget stealth.  The next article on “How to rob a bank” will cover how to dress for success. Be careful, be stealthy and have fun!

-Larimer Outfitters Staff

Clackamas & Sandy Steelhead Report

Guide Jeff Hickman & client Jim Greenleaf find spring steel.

April showers bring...  Big spring steelhead on the Clackamas and Sandy rivers.  Unfortunately, today April showers are blowing out the river.  The NOAA Advanced Hyrologic Prediction is showing the rivers coming into shape by Thursday.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Andros South Bonefish -Final Thoughts

Image: Cam Miller

Back in Oregon and all I can think about is bonefish and the Bahamas.  It’s forty some degrees and raining here in Hood River… I’m missing the hell out of it!

My recent trip to Andros South Lodge was the most relaxing fishing adventure I’ve ever taken.  After most fishing trips, I feel like someone just flogged me with a 2X4! The program at Andros South is totally dialed in… I can’t say enough about the staff, the lodge, the guides and the fishing.  I’ve already started talking with the lodge about hosting a trip next winter…  I can’t wait to get back!

Shoot me an email or give me a call at (541) 490-9446 if you’re interested a break from winter and the opportunity to chase huge bonefish with me next year.

A special thanks to the wonderful folks I shared the week with in the outdoor blogging community...

Rebecca Garlock -The Outdooress
Michael Gracie -Micheal Gracie
Kyle Perkins -Compleat Thought
Eric Rathbun -Moldy Chum
Bjorn Stomsness -Bonefish on the Brain
Cam Miller -River Shadow


Friday, April 1, 2011

Bahamas Bonefish -The Final Day

I just got off the flats on our final day of chasing bonefish at Andros South Lodge, and it was everything saltwater fishing is supposed to be...  Moments of total glory and ego checks alike.  I cast at the biggest permit I've ever seen and my guide Charlie couldn't stop taking about it, the fish was huge.

Although the permit took one look at my tiny Gotcha and laughed at me, the bonefish were more than willing to play.  Over-all, today was epic.  My fishing partner Rebecca Garlock and I both agreed it was the perfect way to end an amazing week of flats fishing.  I'm already counting the days until I return to this unbelievable fishery and the hospitality of the Andros South staff.

-Tom Larimer