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Saturday, October 31, 2015

From Slow to Amazing - Deschutes Steelhead Experience at Its Best

Fishing had been slow all morning, that said two anglers had several opportunities but did not connect and the other two had 2 fish to hand.  Our final spot loomed ahead as we floated into our lunch run.  Gil had his two anglers spread out and my two joined them.  We were in a favorite spot, one that had delivered before.  A tough few days behind us and we were ready for a hot spot and holding hope that our last one would be it.  That is how it is being a steelhead fly fishing guide; you hope and hope.  Always expecting the best and keep coaching the best casts from your anglers; again hoping when the opportunity does happen-because it will- that they don't yank that fly out of the fish's mouth on the first light tap.

Victor was the first to yell out "FISH ON!" Gil and I immediately stopped our lunch prep- Gil grabbing a net and I grabbing the Nikon D7000.  We ran upriver to see Victor fast into a hot fish that wasn't budging.  This is always fun for me with the camera as I get the opportunity to see Gil at work and get those perspectives that I can't get when I am holding the net.  About ten photos into the battle I heard it from down below-"FISH ON!"  Matt who was just beyond view below bellowed.  I knew we had a few minutes before he would need the net so we focused on Victor's fish thinking it was soon coming to hand.  Not so.  It fought tirelessly and Matt belowed again.  I rushed down to Matt this time grabbing my rubberized net and wading in with Matt.  He had a huge smile on his face as the warm sun glinted off his doubled over spey rod.  Matt's fish was smaller than the one upriver with Gil and we landed them almost simultaneously.  It was then that we looked up to see another outfitter floating by.  Gil told him it had been like this all the way down river- he called b.s.. We did hook a total of 5 fish that lunch time and didn't burn lunch!

Cast, swing, step is an easy formula.  There is really not that much to it- but there is.  Minute details add up to more success or less.  Here is the simple formula we use for success:

  • Keep moving- steelhead are not hard to convince to bite- they are hard to find.  You have the job of finding them-this run, the next or the one after that.  Keep Moving! Make an effort to consistently move down river for each cast 5-6 feet.  
  • Swing for success- your swing is what catches fish.  Don't get caught up casting over and over...get the right cast and focus on your swing.  Visualize how the fly is moving.  How fast or slow is it bouncing in chop or dropping in slow water.  Manage your line for an even swing speed and catch more fish.
  • Don't fish a bad cast.  Multiple casts in one spot are a waste of time.  Unless you see a fish roll or have a steelhead tag your fly and it doesn't stick only make one cast in each spot.
  • Don't yank the fly away from the fish.  So often trout anglers get twitchy and upon feeling the first tug of a steelhead take they yank hard.  This simply pulls the fly away from the fish and it rarely ends well.  Steelhead takes are a variety from flat out ON with line peeling off to slow soft tugs that feel like a wet sock just floated onto your line.  Patience at this critical juncture is imperative.  Take a muscle relaxer and respond slowly!
For an amazing river experience connect with a crew who has been working the river for over 20 years.  Visit: 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tune-Up your Beat Up Cataract Oars

I've been using Cataract Oars for over 25 years and love the quality, durability and strength.  After many years of getting beat on rocks, trees and what ever else comes along in the life of a fishing guide (enter the memory of rattle snake in camp)...and these oars get used and abused.  Over time the smooth glossy finish wears off and annoying graphite splinters pepper the surface of the oars.  Here's what I do when that happens.

Lots of use wears the beautiful finish these oars have when new.

 I start with 100 grit sand paper and then switch to 150- 200 grit.

Wipe the oar with a towel between sanding.  I also use gloves to keep small splinters at bay.

Spray several coats of clear Polyurathane or Clear Satin Enamel, let it dry and wipe down with towel again.  Sand with 250 grit for any additional imperfections and reapply spray.

Good looking oar with no more splinters!

For awesome quality oars of another variety check out my friend Kenny Kiley's hand made oars and paddles:

Fall Salmon Fishing and Busted Rods

If there ever was a more feirce battle of dogged determination and deep throbbing- rod wrenching fun it is from the standoff between the fly angler and an angry fall salmon.  Fall chinook or the notorious Chum salmon both are known for their tackle testing brute power and are a blast to go after with the fly rod.

This season WTO guide Todd Rettmann is offering trips for catch & release chum salmon and trophy chinook fishing in the Tillamook area that is sure to test your tackle.  Come join Todd on Oregon's Tillamook area rivers.  Todd will be floating some of Oregon's best salmon rivers in a Clackacraft drift boat and can accomodate up to three anglers. Look for best dates from Nov 2-15.  

Most fishing is done with a #8 or #9 weight rod but a #10 weight is not too heavy.  Flies are often bright and flashy and expect to be using deep sinking sink tips or other tricks Todd has in the bag to get the fly deep where bright chinook and chums like to hang out.  

Guided trips consist of full day 8-9 hour float trip, flies and required tackle.  Two guests fee is $500 and three guests fee is $700.  

For available dates and to reserve your spot call 503-704-6449 or visit .  

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Fishing Tips for Fall

Fall is prime time for steelhead fishing and there is unfortuneatly only so much of it, these five tips can help you make the most of those precious fall moments.

Tip #1:  Fish all day.  The doggedly persistent angler finds best results this time of year by staying at it. Fishing all day is productive now as the sun angle is lower in the sky than during summer months.  Prime time of fish movement will still be morning and evening but don't sleep away the day; good action can be found in full sun this time of year.

Tip #2: Change up flies, often one pattern will produce when others don't.  By now steelhead of fall have been in our rivers for at least a month or possible 2 or 3 months.  These fish have seen a lot of offerings and may respond better to some flies than others.  Try using darker flies and smaller flies as the season progresses.  One great pattern that consistently produces in the fall is the Crandall's Devils Candy by Spirit River-

Tip #3:  Move through the run.  Keep moving to find steelhead.  These fish are often really not that hard to convince them to grab your fly but they are hard to find.  Summer steelhead are moving in from the ocean and often covering hundreds of miles to where they will spawn.  Are they in the peice of water you are on now?  Keep moving and find that aggressive fish.  It will let you know it is there!

Tip #4:  Don't be a jerk-that is, don't pull the fly away from the fish.  Later into the fall fish typically tap the fly and grab less aggressively as the season progresses and water gets colder.  Often the take consists of not just one "grab" but a series of soft tugs getting progressively harder.  Resist the temptation to "set the hook" aka -pull the fly away from the fish and you'll have more hookups!  Simply keep swinging the fly until you feel the heaviness of the fish solidly on the line and then put a bend in the rod tightening up on the fish.

Tip #5: Surface flies are the way to go until they are not...getting the swung fly bite on a swung surface fly is absolutely the best, however, when water temps start to dip in late fall consider getting your fly deeper.  Short sinktips like the MOW tips 5/5 and 7.5/2.5 tips are deadly also a 10' T-11 sink tip will get your fly where more reluctant fish can't resist.

Try these tips to up your success during the prime time of fall.  For more instruction and on water experiences visit:

Deschutes Steelhead - The Three Day Trip Last Minute Openings!

If you've ever wanted to see the best waters of the Deschutes River and swing a fly through one incredible steelhead run after the next- this may be your opportunity.  We have had a few last minute openings for October and November.  2015 Open Trip dates are:  Oct 15-17, one spot Oct 25-28 and one spot open Nov 13-15. Below are the details about the trip and how it works.  Let us know asap if you are interested in joining us for a trip of a lifetime.

For over 20 years, WaterTime Outfitter's guides have been offering and multi-day adventures for Deschutes River Steelhead. 

The World famous Deschutes River is second to none in steelhead fly fishing. This river is a gem in the high desert of central Oregon. Flowing north to the Columbia River the Deschutes River is home to one of the most robust summer and fall steelhead runs in the lower 48. Aggressive steelhead caught on swung fly are the hallmark of the Deschutes. This technique is thrilling and rewarding. Our permit covers the lower 100 miles of the Deschutes River for both drift boats and power boats. We fish different sections as these prized fish migrate upriver. Fishable numbers of steelhead are available from July through November. 

Guided Multi-day Camp/Float Trips for Steelhead 

Wake up in the morning with a cup of coffee and step into a prime steelhead run only feet away from camp. The thrill of the take from an aggressive steelhead can be only a cast away. Comfortable camps on the world famous Deschutes River get you into the action and away from the crowds. Our camps are designed to be home away from home with large 14’ x 14’ canvas tents that you can stand and walk around in. Comfortable cots and plush sleeping pads make your adventure a breeze. Our camp staff prepares our lodging in advance and often has hot cookies coming out of the oven as you arrive. Fish ‘til dark if you like a fully prepared meal will be awaiting you. Guided camp/float trips are based on two anglers per boat, with groups of 4 or 6 most common; more can be accommodated. 

What we provide: Our overnight guided drift boat float trips are win an experienced guide and oarsman (click here to see our guides). Expect patient personalize attention and intent focus on optimizing your time on the water. This trip also includes camp staff to float ahead and prepare camp. We provide dry bags for your use. Camp is fully supplied with tents, cots, and comfortable sleeping pads. We carry thousands of flies however we recommend you have a selection of favorites. Overnight trips we supply all your meals starting with BBQ shore lunch day one through lunch the last day, soft drinks, snacks and water. Rod, reel, lines are available when scheduled in advance. 

Three day float trip: $1200

Four day float trip:   $1600

Please call Rob Crandall or Gil Muhleman ASAP to save your spot for these open dates.

Rob 503-704-6449
Gil 541-419-7778