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The Gearboat Chronicles

Heavy Metal Forecast

Early season. Father and son, new to fly fishing, land four steelhead on their first day. True story. Check Snopes if you want. Cam Scott was there as a witness, also the guide. This just went down on the the Grande Ronde and it’s a cheery sign of things to come this fall.


Steelhead numbers returning to their Wallowa home country are downright pleasing to look at this year. There’s a gang of fish following their homing beacons and we’re getting enough rain to kick their travel plans up a gear. Winding Waters is launching two camp support expeditions down the Minam to Wildcat Bridge section this week and if you’re not one of the folks on those trips, you need to sit down and have a long talk with yourself. Be honest. Really open up about how you feel. Then give us a call to get your own trip down that roadless steelhead highway.

Thinking more of a day trip? OK. That’s cool. Remember guide Cam Scott from a couple paragraphs ago? Click this to go see him over at Flyfish Journal.

James Nash is also tearing it up on the guided steelhead safari front. He’s fresh back from an African safari so you may get to see his new zebra skin waders.

We got in a run down the lower Grande Ronde recently with a pack of amigos. Paul ‘Winding Waters’ Arentsen, Jeff ‘Doodle Dandy’ Yanke, Justin ‘Can’t Keep Up With Them’ Jones, plus Skyscraper John and ‘I Can’t Think Of a Nickname For Her Right Now’ Audrey – who, I believe, either caught the most steelhead during the trip or tied with Ol’ Skyscraper.

It was so warm down there wet wading and swim breaks were happening in October. The deuce? Tip from me to you: putting on fleece pants inside your waders just because it’s chilly-ish in the morning is not always a good idea. Legs sweat. Sometimes a lot. It’s a fact.

Here’s Paul applying the spey rod on a sunny day. Over on the right in this photo is a black lump on a rock which is really a river otter. (You’ve got to click to enlarge these . . . I have angered the internet somehow and can not get these dingdang photos to be bigger. I’m sorry, internet. Whatever it was, I’m so sorry.)


Here’s a closer view of Mr. Otter for a better look at a dark lump.


The Narrows were not boring. No surprise. Here’s some scouting shots and a panorama taken by Doodle Dandy.





I’m pasting below an email from Mr. Yanke, regarding a proposal out there to whack all clipped steelhead in specific downstream waters of our Washington neighbors. Take a gander at all this, mull this over and chip in your two cents by the comment links provided. My initial reaction was: Ummmmm . . . huh? I do put stock in wild stocks, but, jeez, Washington. Buy Oregon fisher-people a drink first. Here’s links to info and commenting venues.

Good morning everyone,

I wanted to share with you WDFW’s regulation proposal for the Grande Ronde River that would make retention of hatchery steelhead mandatory in the majority of WA waters.

The WDFW commission will consider this proposal as part of the “Columbia Basin Stream Strategy” at the upcoming December 12-13 meeting.  In summary:

  • ·         The catch-and-release water downstream from the Asotin county bridge upstream of Heller Bar would shift to allowing harvest of up to three steelhead per day.
  • ·         The Grande Ronde River upstream from the Asotin County bridge to the Oregon Stateline would require mandatory retention of all hatchery steelhead, no catch-and-release.  Daily limits of three hatchery fish would still apply.

While this regulation change would be specific to Washington waters, it does have the potential to effect Oregon fisheries and steelhead programs too.  Please take some time to consider the benefits and implications of this rule change, and share your perspectives with the WDFW commission.  Here’s how:

You can find more information on this proposal (as part of the Columbia River Stream Strategy) here:

1.       Navigate to:  http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/2015-2016/recommend.php

2.       Click on Proposal #5:  Columbia Basin Stream Strategy (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/2015-2016/proposal.php?id=8)

3.       Information on the general proposal can be found here.  To see specific proposals for the Grande Ronde, scroll down to the REGION 1 proposals for Asotin, Columbia, Garfield, Walla Walla, and Whitman counties

4.       A .pdf of the proposed rules will come up (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/2015-2016/5_Region1StreamStrategyTableSouth.pdf)

5.       One thing to note:  Mandatory retention is not explicitly listed under the Grande Ronde River regulations.  You can find the rule on the bottom of Page 6 (Snake River Tributaries – not specifically listed).

The original public comment period ended October 16th, but are extended (at this time) through November 13th and possibly longer.  You can provide your comments on this proposal here:

(http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/2015-2016/proposal.php?id=8) – Scroll to the bottom of the page to fill out the online comment form.

Please pass this along to anyone that may be interested in this proposal.  If you have any questions, or would like to share your thoughts with us directly, please call the Enterprise ODFW office at 541.426.3279.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and comments on this proposal,

Jeff Yanke

Wallowa District Fish Biologist

Enterprise, OR