Wallowa & Grande Ronde River Reports
September 21, 2014 Wallowa and Grande Ronde Trout and Steelhead Fishing Report
Another 5 day trip in the books this past week and fishing for big, fat, hard fighting native rainbows continues to be very, very good. Is there any other place you can consistently catch 16"-23" resident rainbows consistently each day? Since the Dalai Lama fly had been working so well the past few weeks we kept it simple on this trip and used Dalai Lama's almost the entire time. Why fix what isn't broken?
October Caddis continue to get thicker each week, but stick to fishing big streamers focused heavily on the heads of runs to catch the big boys! Steelhead report this week from Jeff Yanke, district fish biologist, again looks good. As stated in our last river report, there are going to be several thousand more steelhead in this year's run than last year's good run. Steelhead have been part of each week's catch in the roadless section, so it is only going to get better from here.
Bull trout have begun to show up in the roadless section. They spawn in late summer in tributary rivers before moving out to larger river systems to over winter, but most are coming out of the Wenaha. You will undoubtedly catch a few while targeting big rainbows and steelhead, so please treat them well, keep them in the water, and safely release them with minimal stress. That should go for wild rainbows and wild steelhead as well. You may only keep fin-clipped trout and steelhead in the roadless section, so do your best to minimize mortality on the wild fish by keeping them in the water, and releasing them quickly. As always you can find our river report backed up with pictures on our facebook page here. For you non facebook users, one of these days I will get this website switched around so the river reports page is more like a blog enabling us to post lots of pictures. But until then, they are on facebook.
September 13, 2014 Grande Ronde Fishing Report and Steelhead Forecast
We recieved the latest news from Jeff Yanke, District Fish Biologist, this past week about our upcoming steelhead season. We had a good run of steelhead last year, but this years run which is now 85-90% counted is already larger than last years total run. There have been reports of fisherman catching a few steelhead on the highway section of the Wallowa upstream of Minam already, hatchery steelhead have been detected passing the PIT tag array near Minam, and a client landed a steelhead 2 days ago on the roadless section of the Grande Ronde. We had very good success catching steelhead last fall, but this year is shaping up to be an even better steelhead season.
Now to the Grande Ronde fishing report. I am just off the river from a 4 day guided trip down the roadless section and the fishing continues to be in the good to excellent range for fat, hard fighting resident rainbows 16"-20" with one steelhead also adding to the catch. We lost several very large fish that may or may not have been steelhead as well. We primarily stuck to fishing one fly setups on this trip and all I can say is Dali Lama, Dali Lama, Dali Lama, Sculpzilla, Sculpzilla, and Sculpzilla. Fish them well in the correct places and you will be rewarded.
The Grande Ronde is low, but normal for this time of year. It is running around 600 cfs. We ran 16 foot gear boats and 14' foot fishing rafts. If you read the water well and are willing to get out here and there to give the raft a shove, you will be rewarded with excellent fishing and practically no one on the river (we were the only people this past week). Temperatures were very cool with a little frost showing up some mornings so be sure to pack some warm clothes for evenings and mornings at camp. The fire ban has been lifted on Forest Service lands, so take your fire pan and enjoy. Some of our fall guided fishing trips are full, but others still have room. So give us a call if you are thinking about either a fully guided or supported trip down the river. As always you can read the river report with pictures to go along on our facebook page here.
September 7, 2014 Grande Ronde River Fishing Report & Wallowa River Fishing Report
The fall trout season has begun. October Caddis are hatching on a regular basis and becoming thicker in the roadless section of the Grande Ronde (this is top secret, but October Caddis were hatching 2 weeks ago on the roadless section of the Grande Ronde). Cool nights has turned the bite on and after a 2 1/2 day float I would rate the dry fly action on the roadless section of the Wallowa and Grande Ronde from fair to good (with increased catch when you add a nymph dropper) and the streamer and nymph fishing was good to excellent. If you want to get into the biggest fish (20+ inches) tie on something that will satisfy a big appetite (think Dali Lama, Sculpzilla, Pat's Rubber Legs, stonefly patterns, etc.).
Super Chernobyls/Chubby Chernobyls were the dry fly of choice with a wide array of nymphs droppers working well (Princess Nymph, DC Hot Prince, regular Prince Nymph, rubber leg Prince Nymph, Copper Johns, smaller sizes of Pat's Rubber Legs, etc.). Fishing this setup will bring you good action for small to medium size rainbows and is a lot of fun through bouldery, pocket water sections. To catch the biggest fish work streamers and stonefly nymphs at the head of good runs beginning right in the whitewater. You can catch nice fish (12" to 24") with a streamer nymph combo and a lot of them when fished in the right parts of the river. The last day of the float I decided to tie on a two streamer combo and I had a Dali Lama trailing a Sculpzilla. If you want to see a feeding frenzy, TRY THIS METHOD! That was some of the most enjoyable fishing I have had for a while. Fishing two streamers makes other fish think that one fish is chasing another fish. This triggers a very competitive reaction and you get to see multiple fish swarm to annihilate your streamers! The greatest part about this is that trout no longer examine your fly. Since another fish is chasing your streamer (both the chaser and the chasee are your flies in this situation) by de facto your fly is food that the trout will fight for. All I can say is FEEDING FRENZY! Do I need to say more?
With more fish in the 15" to 20"+ range per day than I can count on my fingers, I have to call the streamer/nymph fishing excellent. Some people wait until the cold of winter to try and chase big fish (steelhead) with flies. But why wait when you can catch 20"+ fish on a daily basis with warm days? Are the 20" plus trout we catch in the roadless section early steelhead? Huge resident rainbows? Who cares . . . If you would like to debate for yourself whether we are catching early steelhead or huge resident rainbows, check out a picture here and let me know what you think, early steelhead or huge resident rainbow?
August 26, 2014 Wallowa and Grande Ronde River Cleanup Report
We finished our 3 day Summer River Cleanup trip last Wednesday. We ran a 3 day trip in the spring as well but it has been such a busy year that I haven't had time to go through the photos until now. I have to say, all in all I am very impressed with how you fellow rafters take care of our river. We have found fewer and fewer circles of rock and garbage rings (some people call them fire rings) each year. The reality is that the river only stays clean if you personally take responsibility for the camp you are staying at whether you made a mess there or not. We have asked you to break apart fire rings, throwing the rocks back into the river, and pick up any garbage you find . . . and your efforts are making an impact. This summer's river cleanup trip was the cleanest we have found the river yet. I want to encourage all boaters to be LAZY when it comes to fires. It is a lot of work hauling rocks up from the river, please be lazy and use a firepan and clean up after yourself when you are done. It is much easier to use a firepan than lugging heavy rocks up from the river. And I don't have to go to the work of lugging the heavy rocks back to the river after you build the fire ring. Besides, if you are building fire rings, you will lose this battle. I float the river much more often than you and your fire ring will be dismantled by me or another conscientious boater.
The only other note of concern I found was the occasional poop paper. Yes, toilet paper in camp from people defecating right close to where they eat and sleep. I understand modern plumbing has got us used to this idea, but be aware you are vastly increasing your chance of foodborn illness when you leave human waste at or near camp. Flies love feces and after landing on your feces they will come visit your food. So if you crap in camp, you WILL be eating your own Sh*#. Not really a pleasant idea so please use portable toilets or walk a short 1/4 mile up out of the river bottom and fertilize the hillside. Be sure to bury if you decide to walk the 1/4 mile outside the river corridor. No one wants to see that you have been there. You are not an animal marking your territory!
I want to give a big thanks to our Spring cleanup crew: Jeff Northam, Ted Northam, Kris Kerr, Caden Kerr, Nanette Winkelman, & Nancy Mcleod. Also a big thanks to our Summer cleanup crew: Mark Lewis and my 3 older boys Kolby, Mason, and Brenden. And remember "Only you can keep the river clean!" Now imagine a bear saying that to you who is not named Smoky the Bear, but something like Squeaky Clean the Bear or Pristine Wilderness Bear or I Hate Dirty Camps Bear. You get the idea though. Do your part!
If you enjoy the river reports but want to see pictures along with them, check out our facebook page here.
August 25, 2014 Wallowa and Grande Ronde River Fishing Report
The Wallowa River continues to fish good and with the summer rains we have been getting, it is still floatable. I spent a great afternoon yesterday guiding 3 clients from the raft and we had continuous action with dry/dropper setups. Best top flies yesterday continued to be Rubber Leg Stimulators in a size 8, Super Chernobyl's in a size 10, and Medallion Hopper's in a size 6. Best droppers for the day were DC Hot Prince in size 14, Rubber Leg Prince Nymph in size 12, and a black Pat's Rubber Legs in size 10. Everyone saw good action above and below with these patterns and some very heavy fish hooked on the droppers.
On the Grande Ronde the big news is that the river is flowing at a nice and VERY floatable 890 CFS! HOORAH for rain in the summer! What does that mean? Nice water temps for trout fishing and good flows for floating still. If you can get away, there is never a bad time to get down the river especially with the rare good summer flows we are experiencing this year.
If you enjoy the river reports but want to see pictures along with them, check out our facebook page here.
August 17, 2014 Wallowa River Fishing Report
Floated today with a client from about 10:30 until 2:30. One of our fly fisherman was about 8 years of age and on his first day flyfishing on a river. I normally would start out with nymphs and streamers mid day, but there is no better way to learn how to fly fish than watching trout anihilate a high floating dry fly so we tied on a Medallion Hopper. This is a great new pattern we carry that has a red parachute on top so you can actually spot it floating in all that Wallowa River foam. We had good action with the hopper pattern then after decorating a rock and bush with this pattern we switched over to a rubber leg stimulator which seems to fish well year round on the Wallowa. Fishing was again good with the rubber leg stimulator but we decorated a few more bushes and switched up patterns again. This time we tied on a Super Chernobyl and WOW! the fishing was hot. The client in the front of the boat commented that it was like fishing out of Farmer John's well stocked trout pound! So although we fished midday when it was hot and sunny out and the fishing wasn't supposed to be that good on top, I am going to have to rate today's fishing as excellent.
A note on tactics again: long dead drifts for dry flies WONT catch you the most fish. We were all taught to try and get long natural dead drifts when we first began flyfishing but you often get more strikes, skating, swimming, or otherwise giving your fly action. Now you don't want to just let it drag out of holding lies fast, that is also not a good tactic. A good way to give your dry fly action is by casting downstream and using a method similar to high sticking. Let your fly drift downstream 4-5 feet (distance will vary according to the water) then lift your rod tip so your fly stalls out and begins to skate slowly across stream. This is especially effective in front of boulders. Let your fly get 4-6 inches from the front of a boulder and then slowly lift your rod tip up to stall your fly out just in front of the rock. Then set the hook when the fish tries to annihilate your fly. Smile, take a picture and go get another one.
We just stocked up on flies, leaders, lines, tippet, waders, wading boots, fly boxes, wading staffs, fly rods etc. Come check out the new inventory. We got close to 200 dozen new flies in so come take a look at some of the new (and old) patterns that are working great.
August 6, 2014 Wallowa River Fishing Report
Good and strange news tonight. We thought the Grande Ronde river had dropped really fast and was now below 600 cfs at the Troy gauge, but they apparently recalibrated the guage last week, reworked the flow charts, and we are in reality still close to 800 cfs which in my book is still decent floating.
I hadn't been out fishing for the last week so I put the last hour and a half of light to good use tonight and fished upstream of the motel. I started out with 2 dry flies: large rubber legged stimulator for first fly and smaller olive elk hair caddis for second fly. Action was not red hot to start, but I began to get fish to rise. I ended up landing about 6 small to medium trout in an hour of fishing and having a good 15-20 bumps, hits, splashes at my flies. I used my last 30 minutes of light to switch to a Sculpzilla with a Pat's Rubber Legs nypmh trailer. First fish was an 18" hog on a black Pat's Rubber Legs that made countless jumps out of the water before coming to the bank. This was one of those football shaped pigs that you can't get your hand around. Next to the bank was a respectable 12 incher on the Sculpzilla. Multiple other hard hits downstream until finally a slow take, heavy fish on, zzzzzzzzzz of the real screaming and a 20" plus behemoth exploded out of the water and then kept on running until coming off so I am not sure if it took the Sculpzilla or the Pat's Rubber Legs. You be the judge on whether you want to call the fishing poor, fair, good, or excellent but I was a happy and content fisherman as I walked back to the motel with just a little light left.
So the surface action isn't dead but remember sometimes you have to think out of the box to catch more fish. Fishing two flies will almost always catch you more fish. Also don't let yourself fall into the old routine of simply casting, drifting, casting, drifting. Change up your presentations. Try to make casts that keep your fly line off to the side, presenting your fly only to the fish. A big game changer can be giving your dry fly (or streamer or nymph) action. One of my favorite things to do is to skate my dry flies across the current and then dance them upstream. Using two flies here helps since your last fly acts as an anchor and your upper fly is left to dance and bob up and down looking like a natural caddis or stonefly dipping into the water laying eggs. Fly patterns don't have to be exotic, time proven flies are always good bets just fish them well. Put your fly where fish are holding or feeding. Your fly can't catch fish in the air so don't waste valuable time false casting or getting stuck in bushes. The fish are in the water and keep your fly in the zone as long as possible. Longer drifts often means more fish. VARY your presentation! Have fun and remember fishing is really just a great excuse to get outside and enjoy being in the canyon.
July 28, 2014 Wallowa River Fishing Report
A group of 3 fly fisherman fished the Wallowa hard yesterday in pontoon boats. They reported good fishing with Prince Nymphs and Hair's Ear Nymphs fished below an indicator or dry fly. Surface action was limited until late in the evening.
I just got off the river from a float that started at 3:30 and ended after 8:00. Dry fly fishing for the first few miles was very productive with a size 10 or 12 orange stimulator. Other sizes, colors, and patterns didn't fish as well. Most fish coming to dries tonight were on the smaller side (6"-10"). We landed on excellent rainbow on a Dali Lama streamer. The rest of the evening action slowed down with only a few more fish coming to flies. Today's fishing was the opposite of common wisdom for mid summer fishing. Typically better fishing is found in the mornings or evenings when it gets hot, but today the opposite was true. What that means is you should probably just go fishing and not worry about the latest fishing report! If you wait for a report that says the fishing is hot, you have missed the hot fishing and the fishing will have slowed down. If you hear a report of slow fishing, it might be a good time to hit the water since the fishing will probably have improved by the time you get to the river! Caddis are hatching heavily at night (swarming me at the computer as they come through the riverside window) so get out and have some fun whether you catch a lot of fish or just a few.
July 25, 2014 Grande Ronde River Report
Another rafting season is winding down to an end . . . or is it? Although most people have finished floating the Grande Ronde for the season there is still plenty of rafting opportunities. The river is currently just under 1,000 cfs which is still pretty good floating. As the water levels drop below 700 cfs it is a great time to take an inflatable kayak or packraft down the Grande Ronde for a lightweight multi-day trip. Or pack light and take a raft. I personally have taken full sized rafts down as low as 500 cfs with little problem if you remember to pack light, under-inflate the tubes, and keep your boat in the deepest channel. Low water trips are great for wildlife viewing and the river is finally at a great temperature for swimming. For the fisherman, low water trips make it much easier to find and target trout as they become concentrated in the well oxygenated riffles and heads of runs and pools.
If you aren't into a low water trip, now is a great time to do a 5 day trip on the lower Salmon River starting at Pine Bar or Hammer Creek. We are hauling rental rafts to both of these put-in locations weekly and the lower Salmon River remains boatable all summer. Call to reserve your boat today. Please check our prices against the competition renting boats on the lower Salmon and you will see that you are getting a bargain when you rent our rafts. Be sure to also pay attention to what kind of rafts you are renting. We rent Maravia rafts which are some of the best boats in the industry. Many companies charge you more for inferior rafts and equipment. Get on the river sooner rather than later. Give us a call at 541-437-1111
April 3, 2014 Wallowa and Grande Ronde River Report
The river has dropped, cleared, and is in excellent shape for fishing, floating, or just getting out to enjoy the great spring weather. Flowers have begun blooming in the canyons, get out there while the sun is shining.
March 29, 2014 Wallowa River Fishing Report & Grande Ronde River Report
After a week of excellent fishing conditions heavy rains yesterday and last night brought the river up to 11,000 cfs at the time of this report. It is still climbing but is supposed to peak tonight. Fishing conditions are poor but anyone looking to get a whitewater trip in, floating conditions are excellent. Funny sidenote, just as I was writing that it is poor fishing conditions I saw someone land a steelhead through the window from the desk I am writing this at! I will still say that fishing conditions are not great, but the 3 gentlemen fishing outside just proved you can still catch a steelhead if you put in the effort. The river is supposed to peak tonight so look for conditions to begin improving Sunday or Monday.
March 21, 2014 Wallowa River Report
The river is in excellent condition right now. If you want to get some steelhead fishing in before the end of the season, NOW IS THE TIME! Don't forget to stop by and visit us if you need to stock up on flies, leaders, tippets, fly rods, reels, fly lines, waders, boots, etc.
On another note we will be offering a 3 day Swiftwater Rescue Course here at Minam. Please visit our Swiftwater Rescue Page for additional information.
March 11, 2014 Grande Ronde and Wallowa River Report
Nothing but blue skies at Minam today after what has seemed like several weeks of rain. It has been tough to get any steelhead fishing in this spring with the heavy rains, snow melt, and high water. The Grande Ronde gauge at Troy peaked yesterday close to 25,000 cfs! Yikes. There has been some flooding in the Troy area and the road upstream of Boggan's Oasis was under water, the road between Troy and Powwatka Bridge was under water, and I had a report this morning that the road over Wildcat is washed out. Access to Troy can be found going through Enterprise, Flora, and down the Redmond Grade. Access is still open to Powwatka Bridge via the Powwatka Ridge Road.
We have absolutely gorgeous weather in the forecast for the next seven days so get outside and enjoy it. The Wallowa is still high and dirty this morning, but started dropping and clearing. Give it a few days to clear up and then get your steelhead rod and get to Minam. For the boaters out there, this is a great week to do a float trip down the roadless section, absolutely beautiful out right now. Anyone that just needs to get away from cell phone service and mellow out to the sounds of the river and birds come on down to the Minam Motel. We are open and waiting. Any way you do it, get out and enjoy the great weather while it is here.
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November 2, 2013 Grande Ronde Steelhead Report
It rained yesterday bumping flows slightly and it is going to rain more today. If you have been waiting for perfect timing to head down the river, your time is up. Get out there now. Get in on the last preplanned trip of the season November 7-10. Give us a call for the supported or fully guided option at 541-437-1111 or check out the details on the guided trips page of our website. Here are a few shots from last weeks trip.
October 26, 2013 Grande Ronde Steelhead Fishing Report
Just off the river from a 5 day trip and the steelhead fishing was good from Minam to Troy. Not red hot, but not terrribly slow either. Day 1 tally was 9 steelhead landed between 3 anglers on the Wallowa River between Minam and Rondowa. The next 4 days were slightly fewer fish, but each person landed 1-3 steelhead per day for the rest of the trip. Beautiful weather was the norm and great food each day at camp. Best fly of the week again proved to be a Dali Lama catching at least 90% of the steelhead in our group. Stock up on Dali Lama's before you head down the river. We have a few slots open for our multi day guided trips so don't hesitate to call or shoot us an email. Here is a picture of one of our succesful clients from this past week.
October 20, 2013 Grande Ronde Steelhead Fishing Report
Just off the river from a 3 day trip and the fishing over the past few days was just so-so. If you put in your time fishing you can find 1-3 steelhead per day right now in the roadless section between Minam and Troy. Water temps were down the past few days but the weather forecast for the coming week is extremely nice and should bump up water temperatures which will hopefully increase the catch rate. I will be on the river for the next five days and will have another update when I return.
I have adjusted some of our trip dates for guided & supported trips so take a look at the guided trips page for available dates. We have three options available: Option 1 fully guided trips where I row you down the river showing you the best slots and runs to catch steelhead in, we show up to a fully set camp with dinner cooking, and then head out the next morning while our guides clean up camp and move it down river. This option maximizes fishing time. Option 2 is a supported trip where you row your own boat down the river and and we take care of all the camp and food so you can spend all your time fishing. Option 3 is for those that want guided on the river during the day, but would like to take care of their own camp and food. I will be on the river most days, but call the store number (541-437-1111) and talk to my wife Lottie to book your trip.
October 14, 2013 Grande Ronde Steelhead Fishing Report
It is a beautiful time to be on the river with fall colors in full swing. Our group landed hatchery steelhead from Rondowa down to Grossman Creek in the roadless section this past weekend along with some wild fish on our float between Minam and Powwatka bridge. Streamers such as Sculpzilla's and Dali Lamas continued to catch fish along with flashback stones, flashback Pat's Rubber Legs, and hot bead Prince Nymphs. Egg patterns will begin to produce more fish as the water temperatures drop.
On our return to Minam we had reports of fisherman catching a few hatchery steelhead at the Minam State Park as well so steelhead are getting distributed well upstream now. We also heard good fishing reports from Boggan's all the way up to Troy. The time is now to get out there while the weather is good. We have a few slots open for our guided trips if you have waited until the last minute give me a call (541-437-1111). We have three options for you, fully guided trips where everything is taken care of, supported trips where you row your own boat and we take care of camp and food, and for those of you that like to take care of your own camping needs, we can guide you down the river during the day showing how and where to catch steelhead and then you can take care of your own gear and food once to camp. We have short 2 & 3 day trips for those that can't get away very long all the way up to 5 day trips for those that want to fish as many of the good runs as possible in our 40 mile long roadless stretch.
October 7, 2013 Grande Ronde Steelhead Fishing Report
We have reports of steelhead being caught between Boggan's and Troy this past weekend. Steelhead are also between Minam and Troy. On Sunday I hooked 3 steelhead and landed one in our roadless section. Picture here on our facebook page. River conditions are ideal right now with the gauge reading 1,010 cfs. You can not ask for better steelhead conditions than we have right now. Weather is looking moderate for this coming week. Wenaha bull trout are apparently done spawning as many of them have migrated out to the Grande Ronde and were hard to keep off the line on Sunday. Bull trout are an endangered species so please remember to handle them gently and avoid removing them from the water as much as possible when you release them. Stop by the store to fill up your fly boxes, leaders, and tippets. We now have Redington, TFO, and Echo fly rods, single hand, switch, and spey rods. We are also stocking a good selection of reels from the affordable but very good quality Echo Ion reels, to higher end reels from Lamson.
Now a note on river etiquette for the roadless section. We have nearly 40 miles with no roads between Minam and Powwatka bridge and it is a beautiful, scenic place. The BLM and Forest Service try to manage it in a way that preserves those qualities. One way of doing that is by having rules that require people to pack out human waste and their ashes from fires. That means packing a fire pan and using it. NO FIRE RINGS! Fire rings are magnets for garbage and people never clean their garbage out of them. Since the BLM has no funds to run river cleanup trips anymore, we have volunteered to clean the campsites twice a year. We have already done our spring cleanup trip and I have been in the process of going through all the campsites again this fall. What this means is that I go through all 90 campsites looking for garbage, picking up stray garbage along the riverbanks, and dismantling all fire rings and cleaning up the ash. The previous cleanup trips have seen a few fire rings, but this fall fire rings have been cropping up at an alarming rate. I no more than break up a fire ring one weekend to find a new one the next. Don't be lazy. It is not hard to take a fire pan and use it. Building fire rings is more work for you and more work for me when I have to dismantle them. If you must have the nostalgic feel of a fire surrounded by rock, build it in your back yard and enjoy it there rather than building it in my back yard. If you need a fire pan to use, we have plenty and can either sell you an inexpensive one or rent you one for cheap. In the end, be responsible for yourself and don't expect others to clean up after you. Leave the canyon unspoiled and unlittered for those that follow.
October 2, 2013 Grande Ronde River Report
The river peaked Monday night at 2,000 cfs. It has now cleared up and the flow curve is beginning to flatten out at 1,300 cfs. Conditions are looking very good. I will get a trip report up at the beginning of next week after a 3 day float.
September 30, 2013 Grande Ronde Steelhead Report & Grande Ronde River Report
I have good news and more good news, first the first good news: It has rained and rained and rained with a few more days of rain in the forecast. The bulk of the rain is over now although the river is still rising. Give the river a couple days, but I would expect good conditions by Friday if the current weather forecast holds. This means two things, easy floating and good steelhead fishing! Steelhead that have been in a holding pattern should no longer have any reason to wait to make a move upstream. The river is off-color today with about a foot of visibility last time I checked this evening, but get your gear ready for good fishing conditions by the weekend.
As steelhead fisherman we always wait for rain in the fall to get steelhead up into our rivers. With the rain we have had a steelhead fisherman's best guess would be that steelhead were moving in good numbers now which brings us to our second piece of good news: district fish bioligist Jeff Yanke sent out this week's steelhead update today and fish are indeed moving in larger numbers now with the new rains and lower water temperatures. Total run number for eastern Oregon steelhead are now estimated at 14,320 compared to 10,872 last year. Each week has seen a few more "stragglers" bump up the run numbers, but don't look for that number to change drastically at this point.
Get to the river now for the start of the steelhead season! We are getting more inventory in the Minam Store each week and now have a full selection of fly lines, leaders, tippets, flies, waders, boots, and fly rods. Stop in to check out our growing stock.
No matter what your desires are for steelhead fishing we have something for you: want to have a fully catered fly fishing trip down the unpressured roadless section of the Grande Ronde and be shown where the steelhead like to hang out? Check out our guided trips page and book a trip before it is too late. Do you have the know-how to float and fish the Grande Ronde, but no boat? Check out our raft rental packages. If you have the skills to float and fish the Grande Ronde but want to spend all of your daylight hours fishing check out our supported trips run in conjunction with our guided trips. If you simply want to get out there and do it all yourself, well stop in to pick up some flies, leaders, and tippets, sign up for your shuttle and be on your way down the river. If you don't have enough time to float the roadless canyon for several days, book a room at the Minam Motel and go catch steelhead in our back yard.
September 23, 2013 Grande Ronde River Fishing Report and newest Steelhead Forecast
I recieved the latest steelhead report from district fish biologist Jeff Yanke this morning and overall numbers for the total eastern Oregon run (Grande Ronde & Imnaha steelhead) have not changed too much from last week as predicted, we are now at an estimated run of 13,693 steelhead over Bonneville dam up a few hundred fish from last weeks estimate. The main highlight from this weeks report is that almost 1,400 Grande Ronde steelhead have passed Lower Granite Dam this past week and are headed home. Will you be here to welcome them back with a well presented fly?
We are continuing to get rain and more rain is in the forecast this week again so everyone do a combination rain/steelhead dance to keep the rain coming (at reasonable levels) to keep pushing steelhead up the river. Plan your trips now, trip dates are filling up so give me a call or shoot me an email to book your guided or supported trip.
Fishing has been hot this past weekend for very large resident rainbows (over 20" so legally steelhead). Read a full trip report and check out the pictures on my blog here. I will try to post a fresh trip report each week through the steelhead season.
September 19, 2013 Updated Grande Ronde Steelhead Forecast & Grande Ronde Fishing Report
It is starting to feel like steelhead season here at Minam. Good rains this past week bumped flows again. Cool temperatures and several days of rain in the forecast should translate into ideal conditions to send steelhead up the river sooner rather than later. Get out your waders, check them over for leaks, dust off the rod and check your fly boxes because it is about time to put them into action catching steelhead. We still have room for some of our guided trips so don't hesitate to call or email. If you have your own boat and are comfortable fishing the Grande Ronde by yourself consider a supported trip where we take care of all the gear, camp, and food so you get to spend all of the daylight hours fishing. If you don't have a group that wants to go, you can join one of our preplanned trips either as a fully guided guest or as a supported guest. Now to the latest steelhead forecast . . .
The updated numbers from district fish biologist Jeff Yanke shows are eastern Oregon steelhead run estimated at 13,452 over Bonneville dam so far with the majority of the run complete. It is likely that the number will go up some with stragglers still coming over Bonneville dam, but probably not in huge numbers at this point in the season. Just to give you a comparison last years run was 10,872 for the entire year. So we are definitely looking up from last year. I am also very happy with the rain and weather we are getting right now compared to last years dry summer and fall. I will be on the river the next 3 days and will provide an updated river report next week. For now, please enjoy a trip report and pictures from a Minam to Troy float two weeks ago.
September 8, 2013 Grande Ronde Fishing Report and Steelhead Forecast
We received much needed rain last week bringing the Grande Ronde River up from the 500 cfs range to a peak around 800 cfs on Sunday. Floating on the Grande Ronde this past weekend was certainly better than at 500 cfs, but good water reading skills, good rowing, and a light load makes getting down the river easier. The dry fly fishing was slow, but fishing with streamers and nymphs was decent but not red hot by any means. With the size of many of the resident rainbows up around 20", I can be a little patient for them. For those that would prefer to catch lots of fish on dry flies the October Caddis hatch has begun on the Grande Ronde River and the dry fly action should heat up soon. The Wallowa River continues to fish very good for those wanting day trips with excellent access.
Now to the issue of Grande Ronde Steelhead! I received excellent news from Jeff Yanke, Wallowa district fish biologist. PIT tagged steelhead detected at Columbia River dams as of August 30th are already up to 11,585 steelhead with the run estimated to be only 50-75% complete. That is great news considering last years run to northeast Oregon waters was only 10,872 steelhead total for the entire year! You can do the math, but we are looking at a great season whether the run is 50% counted or 75% counted. Now, add in the fact that we have been receiving summer rains with an excellent rain last week and we should be shaping up for a great steelhead season. If you have been on the fence about a guided trip check out the dates now on our guided trips page while there is still room. Check out our raft rental page if you want to do a trip on your own, or schedule some vacation to stay at the Minam Motel this fall and winter when you will be able to catch steelhead right behind the motel.
August 14, 2013
It has been a busy spring for us at Minam. I first began a computer upgrade at home this winter which required a lot of time and before I was able to get the computer back up and running, an opportunity came along to buy the Minam Motel directly across the river from where we had been leasing the past two years. As you can see by the frequency of my river reports, I was not able to get the appropriate software re-installed on my computer for quite sometime. We are in the process of re-building the website with our new beginning at the Minam Motel, so come back and visit often. Until the new website is up and running please stay current on river reports and fishing reports by liking our facebook page here and subscribing to my blog here by putting your email address into the subscribe box in the upper right hand corner.
November 4, 2012 Grande Ronde Steelhead Report
After a good snow on the Wallowa and several days of heavy rain the river peaked at 4,000 cfs last Monday. The river has been dropping and clearing since. Fishing conditions had been tough with the fishing slow and the weather all over the place. After a week of tough conditions the steelhead on the Grande Ronde have begun to bite again. I just came off the river after a 4 day guided trip and each group I talked to whether they were gear guys or fly guys reported tough conditions since Monday . . . that is until today. Everyone I talked to today began catching fish after a week long hiatus. Conditions are finally good now. We have had a nice jump in flows, the river got high and dirty but is now dropping and clearing up. The floating is easier and the fishing better. Although the weather has been fantastic on the river over the past few days, go prepared for cold and wet weather. Take adequate rain gear and warm clothes because it is bound to get cold at night soon. If you have been waiting to do a trip don't wait any longer, call the store (541-437-1111) to arrange your raft rental or shuttle. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about a guided trip where you can have top of the line camping gear provided, flyrods that can cover the Grande Ronde, flies that catch fish provided, and a heated tent to sleep in at the end of the day.
October 22, 2012 Grande Ronde Steelhead Report
Flows are beginning to hold steady above 800 cfs which makes the rafting much easier and should be sending steelhead up the river in droves! Well, we will hope for the fish in droves part. Temperatures are dropping at night. Be prepared for cold weather on the river. Full trip report from last weekends float and pictures here.
October 15, 2012 Grande Ronde Steelhead Report
Just off the river from a weekend float and although the river was running in the low 600 cfs range when I left, the rain over the weekend made the rafting much easier. As of today the river peeked a little over 1,000 cfs. The fishing was a little slow over the weekend and I only landed a few steelhead over this past weekend's float. There is nothing for certain when it comes to steelhead fishing, but the jump in flows has the potential to really turn the fishing on this coming week. You have to be on the river to experience the good days of fishing so call the store (541-437-1111) to arrange your shuttle, rent a fishing frame raft, or book a guided trip. We are entering the prime fall steelhead season so plan now and don't miss out. The BLM has also lifted the fire ban, so don't forget your fire pan when you head down the river and please be sure to leave the campsites clean (pack out your ash and all waste) and have a great time on the river!
September 23, 2012 Grande Ronde Steelhead Report
With the river running at 550 cfs at the Troy guage, Lottie and I headed down the river to catch a few early steelhead this past weekend. First off, low water trips are not for everyone. Below 750 cfs the Grande Ronde is difficult due to the many exposed rocks and shallow gravel bars. You can make it down the river in a raft by packing light so your raft rides higher in the water and leaving the tubes and floor of the raft slightly underinflated. Underinflating the floor makes it easier for it to push up and slide over rocks near the surface. There will be spots that are simply too shallow and you have to get out and walk your raft through the shallow gravel bars.
Steelhead are in the river, we hooked 5 steelhead between Sheep Creek and Powwatka bridge. For full trip report and pictures click here.
If you are thinking about a guided trip, now is the time to get it planned. We can customize your trip from all inclusive trips where you simply show up and we take care of everything or if you like to do more of the camping/cooking chores yourself and simply need an experienced guide to lead you down in low water and show you the best spots and tactics to catch steelhead on a fly, we can do that too. Send me an email email@example.com for inquiries.
August 20, 2012 Grande Ronde and Wallowa River
The Grande Ronde as of this writing is running at 660 cfs at the Troy guage and the general whitewater season is over. With the majority of rafters done for the season we made a 3 day family trip this past weekend. Float time for the 39 miles between Minam and Powwatka bridge was around 16 hours behind the oars. The Wallowa was relatively skinny and we had to get out of the rafts to push them over shallow gravel bars and barely submerged rocks quite a few times between Minam and Sheep Creek Rapids (about 12 miles downstream from Minam). The floating was substantially easier from there downstream but excellent water reading skills and rowing is needed to identify the deepest channels and avoid the many rocks that are just below the surface, but high enough to hang a raft up. Low water trips are a lot more work behind the oars and are recommended only to those who are willing to pack light to keep their raft floating high and those willing to walk their rafts through a lot of shallows.
The benefits of a low water trip is having a river canyon nearly to yourselves. A bald eagle or golden eagle was almost constantly in sight as we floated and we spotted 7 black bears riverside as we floated by. Our boys fished from the rafts and they did quite well landing lots of rainbows on stimulators or a nymph dropper fly (copper johns, prince nymphs, etc.). Most fish were 12" or less, but Brenden fought a hog that ran 16"-20". This large fish exploded out of the river multiple times before finally breaking off after a hard fought battle.
If you can pack like a backpacker, an inflatable kayak makes an excellent choice for a river trip this time of year. If you pack like a backpacker, a light raft is a good option as well.
We are now booking guided fall steelhead trips. Call the store (541-437-1111) or email Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org for pricing and best trip dates. Some steelhead will show up as early as late September with a fair number of fish being found by mid October. As November aproaches more fish will be found each day, but nights are getting shorter and the weather colder. By early November nights can get downright cold so plan your fishing trips according to your own personal balance between fish numbers and tolerance for cold.
July 19, 2012 Grande Ronde and Wallowa River
We have recieved several good rain showers over the past week that have continued to bump flows up. Conditions could not get much better for a float right now, the flows are still holding out and the weather is great. The flows won't hold out much longer so get a trip in now before it is too late.
July 12, 2012 Grande Ronde and Wallowa River
The flows have been holding out better than we had hoped given the slow start to our snowpack this past winter. Now it looks like the Grande Ronde may stay above 1,000cfs through the end of July. Many boaters find 800-1,000 cfs to be the bottom of end of what they like to float. Below 800 cfs the first ten miles requires plenty of rock dodging until you get to Rondowa and get more water from the Grande Ronde. The good news is you have 2 weeks left to get in that easy floating raft trip if you haven't gotten one in already.
Here are some brief trip reports and pictures of some Grande Ronde trips from last summer and fall.
May 2012 Grande Ronde River
River flows have been great this past month with the river not getting too high and we have seen lots of sunshine and warm days.
March 2012: Packrafting and Kayaking Joseph Creek Trip Report
Click Here for trip report
4/13/2012 through 4/15/2012 Wallowa & Grande Ronde River Report
We took our kids on a 3 day raft trip to enjoy the end of the steelhead season and the beginning of the rafting season. Flows were right around 7,000 cfs and it was easy sailing from Minam to Powwatka Bridge. Easy floating flows will continue into July. I put the kids to work on the last ten miles and had them row us out to Powwatka Bridge. The sun was shining and Saturday it felt plain hot at 76 degrees. Wildlife viewing was good. The action began with an Osprey dropping out of the sky and catching a fish right in front of us. Good weather on Sunday was accompanied by more osprey sightings, bald eagles, two mountain goats on a bluff just above the river, as well as the usual elk, deer, and bighorn sheep.
3/8/2012 Wallowa & Grande Ronde Steelhead Report
Conditions on the river are good right now. If you haven't been out on the water, get out there. I took our kids rafting/camping/fishing a few weekends back and we enjoyed having the river to ourselves between Rondowa and Powwatka bridge. For a full trip report click here.
3/4/2012 NRS packrafts on the Wenaha River
If you like to hike in hard to reach places and float out, stay tuned for more information about our new NRS packrafts. For a first trip report click here.
2/20/2012 Wallowa & Grande Ronde Steelhead Report
We have recieved a report of good steelhead fishing from a group of five fly fisherman who came off the water today. They did a 4 day float from Minam to Powwatka bridge and reported playing 23 steelhead and landing 19.
2/1/2012 Wallowa & Grande Ronde Rivers
With better weather a freind and I decided to run down the Wallowa yesterday to check things out. We took a couple of inflatable kayaks, paddled to Rondowa, and then hoofed it out to Palmer Junction. The Wallowa river was running pretty clean and most of the fisherman we saw on the way either had a steelhead on the bank or had one on the line as we passed. We had a late start and with a hike out at the end, we only had time to fish one run. Two fish on the line but none landed for the one spot we fished. The Grande Ronde was a bit brown but will probably clear some as the flows drop. There are a lot of steelhead in the river and for those prepared for winter camping there is plenty of opportunity. For a more detailed trip report click here.
11/16/2011 Grande Ronde Steelhead
Winter is coming and there has been almost no one floating between Minam and Troy over the past week. Fish are there in decent numbers now, but if you plan a trip this late in the year be prepared for winter camping. I hiked down yesterday and the fishing was decent. Up until last week steelhead were not showing a preference for any particular fly style or pattern, but with the cold water temperatures a Simple Egg dead drifted is about as effective as anything. Around this time each year the steelhead begin to show a preference for egg patterns. You don't need anything fancy, a glo-bug or simple egg will work great. You simply need to get your fly in front of the fish. Here is a link to a picture of one of the fish I caught yesterday on the Simple Egg.
11/2/2011 Grande Ronde Steelhead
Weather is turning colder but the fish are bighting. I just got off the river after a four day float. Nearly everywhere I stopped to fish there were steelhead willing to come to a fly including one spot that had five steelhead willing to come to the fly. Fishing was good all the way through, so there seems to be plenty of fish in the river. River was flowing right around 800 cfs and floating is still fairly easy if you pay attention. Temperatures are getting down right cold at night so be sure to bring proper equipment for overnight stays on the river.
10/23/2011 Grande Ronde Steelhead
What a beautiful time of year to be on the river. All kinds of red and yellow colors are beginning to appear in the canyon and steelhead are getter more abundant each week. The river is running at 848 cfs at the Troy guage today and still pretty easy to float. If the rower pays attention you can make it through without getting hung up anywhere. I spent Saturday and Sunday floating and fishing the 39 mile roadless stretch between Minam and Powwatka bridge and the steelhead fishing is picking up. Two days is not enough to get in a lot of fishing but I was able to land two steelhead and lose a few more. Everyone I talked to on the river seemed to be catching something although not big numbers from any one group. I spotted steelhead resting in several tailouts as I floated by on the raft. We are now getting into the prime fall season for our roadless section of water from Minam to Powwatka bridge.
10/17/2011 Grande Ronde Steelhead
I took our 3 boys for a quick overnight trip this past weekend. The river was up around 970 cfs which made for relatively easy floating. I did not get much time to search for steelhead because I was rowing, but the boys were quite succesful fishing large Stimulators and Hedge Hog (large stonelfy/october caddis fly pattern). The boys had several 16" plus trout on and even landed a few of the bigger ones. I did manage to land a few nice rainbows caught on streamers. We talked to a group of three who had just come off the river and they had caught some steelhead. Each day should bring more steelhead up the river. For those who like to look at pictures, here are some from this year.
9/29/2011 Grande Ronde Steelhead
Lottie and I floated from Minam to Powwatka bridge this past weekend. The flow was down to 600 cfs. We took a 13 foot raft and the floating wasn't too bad, but had to get out here and there to go over shallow gravel bars. Time was limited so we did not have as much time to fish as I would have liked, but found a couple of steelhead below Sheep Creek that were willing to take a fly. Rainbow fishing was decent where we stopped and fished and October Caddis numbers are increasing. I skated a dry fly while Lottie rowed and was kept entertained by the rainbows. There are some big native rainbows in the Grande Ronde. Most often I caught them on a streamer out of deeper runs.
The weather forecast is calling for rain of 1-2 inches next week which should push fish up the river and push a raft down the river much better. If the rain comes, fishing and floating should improve significantly.
9/20/2011 Grande Ronde Steelhead
I took our three boys fly fishing on the Grande Ronde last weekend and they did quite well catching 8"-16" rainbows on copper johns and rabbit hair/marabou streamers. I caught a wild steelhead on an olive woolly bugger at Rondowa. It was certainly an early fish, but it was fresh and full of fight blowing up out of the water multiple times, taking me into my backing and where there is one there is usually another.
We have multiple 13' & 14' rafts setup with fishing frames for those that want to fish as another rows down the river, stopping to work the best spots over more methodically. As October approaches more and more steelhead will show up in our section of the Ronde between Minam and Powwatka bridge. Call the store number to get more information or to book a raft so you can enjoy fishing for steelhead in an unpressured setting with plenty of elbow room.
8/25/2011 Grande Ronde and Wallowa River
Lottie just got off the river after a 3 day trip with some of her family. The Troy guage was reading 700 cfs. At this flow expect to spend 15 hours or more behind the oars to make make the 39 miles from Minam to Powwatka bridge. There are very few people floating the river now due to the low flows. If you decide to take a raft try to pack light (2 people per raft recommended) and realize you will have to get out to push the rafts off/over gravel bars.
As we enter the slow summer season we will not have someone at the Minam Store everyday so please call ahead if you need a shuttle or want to arrange a kayak or raft rental.
7/20/2011 Grande Ronde and Wallowa River
Grande Ronde is running a little over 3,000 cfs at the Troy guage and is at a great flow for enjoyable floating and good fishing finally. Good easy floating should continue on into August this year so book a raft now before they are all gone.
For Fisherman we have fishing frame setups for day use on the Wallowa or overnight use on the Grande Ronde. The Joseph Fly Shoppe in Joseph Oregon has a great selection of flies and provides a nice fishing report on area rivers that is usually updated weekly to keep you up on the latest hot flies. Winding Waters out of Joseph offers daily or multi-day guided fishing trips for those who want a guide service.
7/18/2011 Kayaking the Wenaha River Trip Report
Click Here for trip report
7/8/2011 Grande Ronde and Wallowa River
The Grande Ronde is running at 6,080 cfs at the Troy guage today. The flow predictions were showing one last big blowout of water, but we have only seen a slow steady decrease in flows. Water and weather conditions have been great for floating. The Wallowa is still running a bit brown for those who like to fish. Good news is that the snowpack this year should make for good floating conditions well into August.
6/26/2011 Rafting Grande Ronde from Elgin to Palmer Junction Trip Report
6/19/2011 Kayaking Joseph Creek Trip Report
5/31/2011 Grande Ronde and Wallowa River
The Grande Ronde is running at 9,800 cfs at the Troy guage today. The BLM removed the wood that was blocking the middle of the Wallowa River at Rondowa.
Although the weather forecasts have shown cloudy and rainy weather, it has been mostly sunny weather with a short rain in the evenings. Many people were out enjoying the river river for the Memorial day weekend.
5/20/2011 Grande Ronde and Wallowa River
The Grande Ronde is running about 12,000 cfs at the Troy guage today. We had a group of 4 rafts with beginner rafters come off the river today. They had no real problems running the river at these higher flows and took advantage of two days of nearly complete sunshine. More sunshine is in the forecast mixed with the cloudy days.
The group did however report some new wood in the Wallowa at Rondowa. The old bridge pilings (not the railroad bridge) has collected wood mid river. The wood is clearly visible and the river is slower at this point so there is no problem navigating river right or left to avoid the wood.
4/11/2011 Kayaking the Powder River trip report
3/27/2011 Grande Ronde River
River flows still reading around 5,000 cfs at the Troy gauge. Clarity dropped some on the Wallowa River but steelhead fishing continues to be good. Grande Ronde is dirty and mostly unfishable.
3/20/2011 Grande Ronde River
Spring run off is beginning and the area rivers are starting to rise. With the flows at 5,000 cfs it takes roughly 7 hours to float from the store to Powwatka bridge.
Wallowa was still pretty clear but the Grande Ronde was dirty. Fisherman are catching steelhead on the Wallowa.