If your calendar didn’t remind you, the glorious stretch of sunny weather last month confirmed that it is indeed springtime in Oregon, and that means it is time for our auction. Auction chair Janet Arenz has spent untold hours arranging this year’s event and deserves a big round of applause and more for her efforts. Because of the pandemic, we are holding this year’s auction online, and it will run for a full week from May 17 through May 23.
This year, the Keith Hansen Memorial Paddle Raise will benefit a consortium of conservation groups working to restore the North Umpqua River after the devastating Archie Creek wildfire last summer. This unique collaboration is focusing on wild fish conservation, restoration, and recovery in the North Umpqua Basin and includes Native Fish Society, The Conservation Angler, The North Umpqua Foundation, and The Steamboaters. Please be sure to sign up early so you can donate online to the virtual paddle raise and bid on all the great trips, gear, and other goodies that Janet has wrangled from our generous donors.
After the auction, your volunteer club and foundation boards will meet to recap our first online auction experience and continue our work to bring quality programs to club members whether they be online or in person.
My personal fishing report includes checking off two items from my 2021 fishing “to do” list: Euro nymphing and sea run cutthroat trout.
Early in April, I took a full day class on Euro nymphing on the Deschutes and managed to land quite a few fish during the “homework” sessions despite howling winds. The class was put on by Evan Unti and Ben Stephenson of Deschutes Angler in Maupin and was extremely worthwhile. We started in the shop at 8 a.m. with a brief tutorial on the strategy and tactics of Euro nymphing – basically a 15 minute version of Evan’s Zoom presentation to the club in March – then proceeded to build our own Euro nymph leader based on Evan’s specs. After that, we piled into the rigs with Evan and Ben and headed upstream to Nena where we got some streamside casting lessons. Did I mention it was windy? After thrashing the water and trying to avoid leader tangles (it’s about 6 feet of 6X tippet) we floated to a run that could accommodate all of us and let us practice what we learned with some actual fishing. The wind was blowing at 20-30 mph which made things VERY challenging but each of the five attendees caught fish despite less than ideal conditions. Evan and Ben served up a great hot lunch and we spent a few more hours on the water before heading back to the shop. If you haven’t tried this technique, I highly recommend the one day classes at Deschutes Angler. They also offer overnight Euro nymph float trips to help create some muscle memory with a new skill set.
My other bucket list item was catching sea run cutthroats on a fly. I had found plenty of them as incidental bycatch while searching for steelhead on the Oregon coastal rivers, but the big two hand Spey rods didn’t really showcase the fish and I had never intentionally targeted with with appropriate gear before.
My wife Lisa had planned a long weekend trip for us on Bainbridge Island recently and contacted Emerald Waters Anglers in West Seattle to sign me up for a belated birthday gift outing. Emerald Waters offers half-day wading trips for cutts on Puget Sound. I met my guide Matt at 7:30 a.m. at Bayshore Preserve near Shelton, WA and got the rundown. Recommended gear is a 6-weight (mainly for the wind) with either floating or intermediate sinking lines. Baitfish were in abundance so I went with a floating line and a surface fly of the guide’s design that he told me to strip vigorously like a popper. We waded out into the shallows (much easier than the Deschutes!) and began looking for rises or baitfish activity. I’ve never been bonefishing but I could begin to imagine it based on my brief experience of sight fishing across a vast expanse of shallow water. The action was decidedly slow for the first hour, then we began to find fish. Sea run cutthroat are not particularly big, but boy do they hit the fly hard. They are scrappy and determined fish – sort of a cross between smallmouth bass for acrobatics when hooked, and Deschutes redbands for fighting above their weight class. I managed to land four in my half day outing and am looking forward to going after them again.
I hope everyone is doing well and getting some fishing time in this spring. See you (virtually) at the auction in two weeks!