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The Gearboat Chronicles

Wallowa River steelhead

Here’s the good news – in the form of a photo with the sun shining on a heckuva nice steelhead caught on the Wallowa River a few days ago.

The other good news for steelheaders is that fish are coming up the channel and when Winding Waters fishing guide Tom Farnum stopped in to visit the Big Canyon hatchery in Minam Canyon a few days back, they had reports of hundreds of fish coming up the ladder.

Visibility could be better and the steelhead aren’t exactly throwing themselves at the nearest hook to drift their way. But that’s steelheading, eh. And it can turn on at any time. The weather report for this week has the precipitation slacking off and we’ll be out there on the Wallowa River for when it does turn on. Call and book your trip with Tom if you want to get in on this. He’s got it down to knowing exactly which rock to run your nymph by.

I’ve also been hearing more talk about float trips once this spring turns into summer. Drop Paul a line to see about dates for a Hells Canyon float, a vacation on the lower Salmon or drifting the roadless stretch on the Grande Ronde.

But for now, it’s officially spring and here’s your proof with baby cows seen on my drive down to the Imnaha early last week.

So cute. As opposed to this next image of a cow all grown up and stomping around in the river. I just…come on.

Years ago I worked for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, snorkeling in streams out here in Wallowa County to do fish counts. When the water went from clear to muddy you could lift your head out of the water and find yourself staring at a cow. Banks trampled. Gravel in the stream silted over. This concludes my complaining about cows in streams. Back to the fishing report.

Water in the lower Imnaha looked OK Monday afternoon when I got down there. Still greenish. Then it browned up overnight and I spent my time Tuesday cleaning sticks off the bottom one snag at a time.

No steelhead to show for my Imnaha mission, but I can still honestly say it was worth the trip. Just nice to get down amongst that rimrock every now and again. And I did get to behold this rather unorthodox tenting setup.

“Maybe cross the poles the other way…or that metal thing with 2x4s goes on the outside…

Uh, I’m not exactly sure what to make of this. My guess is that whatever that is inside this nylon mess was put there as ballast while the campers were away. Standing next to it was a perfectly fine dome tent, intact and undisturbed. But this thing here, it looks like a crime scene.