President’s Message – October 2020

jhillas suttle lake

President Hillas with his lovely wife at Suttle Lake


Welcome to the first full month of fall!  I spent a weekend in Central Oregon visiting my in-laws in Sisters.  It was a short trip to celebrate family birthdays so I didn’t bother to pack my fly rod but we enjoyed some (relatively) clear weather despite lingering wildfire smoke.  The vine maples have turned a reddish orange so our drive over Mt. Hood and our hike around Suttle Lake offered some nice foliage.

I managed to get in one fishing trip in the waning days of September.  My friend Ed Sale, who is a member of the Oregon Fishing Club, invited me to join him for a day trip to Hartland Lake in Washington.  The lake is relatively small – about 15 acres – and sits at about 2,000 feet elevation about 10 miles north of Lyle, Washington so it is an easy round trip from Portland. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout and has an emerging smallmouth bass and panfish population.  We fished from pontoon boats and enjoyed a beautiful early fall day with sunny skies and light breezes.

We started fishing around 10:30 a.m. after rigging up a pair of rods – a 5 weight for dry flies and a 6 weight for subsurface (although I discovered that I had managed to bring my floating line instead of the intermediate sinking line that I had carefully set out the night before).  The lake is supposed to be about 17 feet at the deepest end by the impoundment but levels have dropped over the summer and the shallower sections had weeded up a lot.  I managed to find some open water and started off well with a pair of 15” rainbow and three smallmouth bass that collectively added up to just over a foot according to my landing net.  All were taken on a black woolly bugger with crystal flash on the strip.  After I got to deeper water by the dam I decided to try a different tactic and hung a red ice cream cone chironomid under an indicator.  That proved successful at least initially.  Within 20 minutes I had landed four more rainbow between 14” and 16” inches, although they seemed a bit lean and pale compared with other ‘bows caught this summer.  Regardless, the quick start had me excited about the prospect of a good day of both fishing and catching, but alas, the bite turned off, and I did not touch another fish after 11:45 a.m.   Fortunately Ed brought some cold beer in a small cooler on his boat, so it was still an afternoon well spent.

I’m happy to report that your volunteer club boards will be meeting this month by video to discuss several strategies for our club both during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.  As you know, 2021 is the 60th anniversary of the Flyfishers’ Club, so we will be exploring ways to commemorate this significant milestone next year.  We also will be discussing a virtual auction next May to continue raising funds for worthy conservation efforts and continuing to work on monthly programs.  A big thanks to our volunteer board members for continuing to devote their time, creativity, and energy to ensuring the ongoing vitality of our club.

I hope you all remain safe and healthy and that you have a chance to chase some steelhead, find coastal cutthroat, or fool some trout on your river or lake of choice.

Tight lines,