SAO Pages

Friday, June 4, 2010

Red Rock Canyon Browns

As for most of us "Steelhead junkies", the warm months can seem to drag on forever, allowing that tingling sensation in our arms to deaden until we get back out in the fall. In order to keep our minds right, we have to fill that void with some sort of fix. Whether it is pounding early season Smallies or working on our finesse casting on a private trout stream somewhere, we all need something to get us through. During my last business trip to the "potato state," (that's Idaho for all you non-potato people), I was able to get such a fix. I took the weekend off and hopped over the border into eastern Oregon's best kept secret, which will remain anonymous to protect the innocent. It's an amazing tailwater encased by an extraordinary red rock canyon, that just happens to be full of mature brown trout. This trip was even better than the last time I was here, because I was able to spend it with my great friend Don Lane (an Idaho native) and long time friend and co-worker Jeremiah White.

This was Jeremiah's first time to this river and it would prove to be a true learning experience but not without some fantastic rewards. Don is a veteran of this fishery and admits that this is the toughest local water that he fishes. The browns in this river are truly amazing in every respect, from their brilliant markings to the way they fight...and of course we can't forget their sheer size. The average brown trout caught in this river averages 18" to 19", with fish being caught in the 22" to 24" range almost daily. However, catching these "bruisers" does not come without persistance and the ability to match the hatches exactly. These fish primarily feed just below the surface during most hatches, taking your midge or emerger pattern. Although if you are able to make it here during mid to late June you may take advantage of the giant stonefly hatch. These size 4 flies turn these beauties in to absolute beasts. Here are a few of the trophies we were able to land during this trip.

The markings on these fish are nothing shy of amazing.
Varying from "spotted leopards" like this one,
to red spots with iridescent blue cheeks.

SAO Guide, John Bowling was able to get this "toad"
during an incredible mid-day BWO hatch.

Jeremiah lands his first Oregon Brown Trout
at the end of a very long day of learning.

These fish are as wise as they are beautiful and they will certainly test even the most experienced angler at times. But hang in there and rewards will be yours in time. Looking back, I'm certain that you will find the investment of time to be well worth it!

Don draws first blood of the day, he did not
waste any time either. He hooked up on this
hen with his first cast of the morning.

Another shot of this "football" specimen.

Jeremiah with another beautiful leopard spotted Brown!

As mentioned before, this river can truly test your skills. If you are unable to match the hatches perfectly, you will spend the day perfecting your casting motion. These plus size fish are fickle and most often found feeding on the smallest hatches that are coming off at the time. I have learned that it's almost impossible to fish a fly that is too small! Size 20 to 24 midges are the most dominant fly in this arena, which proves that size truly does matter.

After another successful trip I am counting down the days to when I can make it back to this picturesque canyon and feed my need for monster Browns once again!

John Bowling
Fly Fishing Specialist
Steelhead Alley Outfitters

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