Saturday, May 23, 2009

TVTU unleashes mighty effort to restore Necanicum River and its tributaries

Behold Thompson Creek--one of the first tributaries of the Necanicum where TVTU has focused their muscle to restore and improve riparian habitat as part of a much larger effort to make things more hospitable for wild salmon and trout.

If you haven't heard, a couple of years ago the Tualatin Valley Chapter adopted the Necanicum River as its "home water" restoration project, working with partners such as the North Coast Land Conservancy, ODFW, and the US Fish & Wildlife Service--as well as some very interested local private landowners. Many thousands of dollars and man hours will go into this ongoing project over the coming years, and our chapter will continue to enlist volunteers to help throughout the coming summer and fall on a number of weekend project work days.

Much of the work so far has involved clearing invasive, non-native vegetation and replacing culverts, but we're also going to be reclaiming stream bed, enhancing spawning and rearing habitat, and monitoring water temperatures and fish counts. It's definitely not all battle with blackberry brambles and knotweed.

But there is something deeply satisfying about ridding the land of this pox, as evidenced here by Emily Nuchols, a staffer from Save Our Wild Salmon.
And here's a pile of what TU's Western Regional Director, Alan Moore, calls wood porn--the stuff that will soon add instream structure and refuge for happier fish.
This is at the Neitzel farm. Mrs Neitzel (86) still lives here, and is thrilled about this project. And here's more wood, and a wider view of the Neitzel field, the site of the upcoming BIG 23-acre off-channel wetland complex restoration headed by Doug Ray.

Alan Moore further commented: "TU is now an official partner in this project, which is set to break ground this summer. Most of the large wood staged at the site (much of which was contributed by TU) will be placed in the restored historic channel once it is completed. From this wood pile to roughly the treeline you see in the background (that's the mainstem Necanicum) is where the historic meander used to be before it was cleared and filled for farming. While the channel will be watered all year by groundwater percolating up from below, also creating a gentle flow toward the river, the wetland will also connect to the mainstem during higher flows allowing passage of juveniles who overwinter in the wetland, getting fat and happy from the nutrients provided by the wood and native veg, and hiding from predators amongst all the cover."

Already our efforts are paying off. If you look closely at the photo below of previous wetland restoration done by Doug Ray on Thompson Creek, you can see clear, cold water, healthy aquatic vegetation and a half dozen juvenile coho. That's what it's all about.

TVTU 2009 Outing Schedule

Here's the complete 2009 schedule of TVTU/CRTU outings for 2009 still to come. You may be smart to mark these dates on your calendar.

June 26-28
Timothy Lake Outing

July 10-12
Crooked River Outing

August 20-23
East Lake Outing

September 13
Laurance Lake Outing

September 23-30
Fall River Outing

October 2-4
Metolius River (State Project)

October 23-25
Crooked River Outing

Super Fly bedazzles fish at Rock Creek Reservoir Outing

Is it really a club outing when it's an outing of one? CRTU outing chair Jeff Horton must have been asking himself exactly this while occasionally kicking back to dock from the far (fishy) side of the lake to see if anyone else had shown up. I had bailed on this outing earlier in the day when I was the only TVTU-er at the Big Red's rendezvous at 7am on Sunday morning. I sat there for 20 minutes waiting and wondering how much I really wanted to drive alone to join the armada of weekend anglers chasing those planters on that aesthetically challenged fish hatchery dumping grounds. I was torn, but decided I'd rather spend a rare, beautiful, sunny spring day with my wife and dogs. So, more fish for Jeff. He says he landed 20-plus on the pattern seen here in his hand that he and his pal Al call the Ana Special (for the Ana River and Ana Reservoir). He describes it thusly: "It's really just a bastardized soft-hackle with a silver bead and antron trailing shuck. Hen hackle instead of partridge makes it fairly indestructible." Maybe he'll swap one with us at the upcoming Timothy Lake Outing. Then again, considering how we all left him on his own, maybe not. I'm hoping some fishing will help any lingering bad feelings pass. See you all at Timothy.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Snow Closure on 48 Reroutes Access to Rock Creek Reservoir

The Hood River Ranger Station reports there is 4 feet of snow in places on 48 above 3000 feet, so instead of taking Hwy 26 over Mt. Hood, reroute your trip to Rock Creek Reservoir via I-84 to The Dalles, then take Hwy 197 south to Tygh Valley, then follow 48 west to the lake. This may actually be a faster route, anyway--although slightly longer.

Rock Creek Outing carpool rendezvous changed to Big Red's Restaurant

Anyone wishing to carpool with us over to Rock Creek Reservoir for the fabulous chapter outing on Sunday should meet at Big Red's, located near Sylvan off Hwy 26 at 5515 SW Canyon Court. We'll be there at 7am (parked in the street out front, actually), NOT at River City Fly Shop. Plan to navigate accordingly.
Hope to see you there or at the lake.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rock Creek Reservoir Outing, May 17

Here's the sun coming up over Rock Creek Reservoir. We probably won't get there early enough to see this, seeing as our group will rendezvous this coming Sunday morning at 7am in the River City Fly Shop parking lot; from where we can carpool past Mt. Hood and down into Tygh Valley to this 88-acre reservoir loaded annually with large hatchery brooders. There are already reports of fish caught over ten pounds.

I fished Rock Creek Reservoir once years ago early in the season and found high, cold water and several 12-15 inch rainbows. There are also bass in this lake. Maybe it will be warm enough to turn some of them on. If you go for that sort of thing.

Here's a link to some helpful info on Rock Creek courtesy of our good friends at the Fly Fishing Shop in Welches:

Here's what Rock Creek Reservoir looks like without such dramatic lighting. (This shot looks like lower water found later in summer.)

And here's a map from Hwy 26 that shows where to find the place in case you want to drive up on your own ahead of us and get first shot at the hatchery behemoths.

The weekend weather is supposed to be nice on Sunday. Why not enjoy it getting towed around by net-stretching brutes? Hope to see you there. Tight lines.

Monday, May 11, 2009

TVTU May 13 Meeting Program: Fishing for Sea-Run Browns in Tierra del Fuego

Holy crap, Alex, that's a big fish! Did you have to go on disability after you lifted it for this picture?

Attention fellow TU-ers: We have a meeting this Wednesday and Alex Barkume, smiling proudly here, will continue his report of the Three Amigos' adventures in Chile and Argentina with photos and film of fishing for these beast fish that know almost no fear of humans. Also included will be additional commentary from Mike Gentry and Andy Andrews, who can attest to how many fly rods were broken by their fishing party.

As always, doors upstairs at the Lucky Lab open at 6:30 for social drinking, with the meeting formally starting at 7pm. This program is free and open to the public. See you there.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

South Twin Outing: The weather was changeable, as was the fishing

Spring time high lakes fishing is often a crapshoot. The barometer can drop in an instant and take the fishing with it.

The weather report for our weekend at South Twin Lake was not encouraging. Cold, rain, and wind gusts up to 30 mph. Why the hell would anyone sign up for that kind of misery? Paul Ellis and I asked each other several times on our way over the pass that Saturday morning. For myself, I think it was the hope for big browns across the way at Wickiup. That and the fact that one only gets so many early-season days to fish, and I had a weekend pass from the wife. I dressed for the worst.

Driving from Portland down I-5 to Hwy 58, over the Willamette Pass to the Crescent Cutoff, to Cascade Lakes Hwy, to S. Century Drive to South Twin took only three and a half hours. We pulled into camp and were greeted by Paul Vitello. He gave us the lowdown on who all was there and where the fish were found. According to his fish finder, they were sitting down 20 feet or so. No big fish had been landed yet, but lightning had nearly struck twice for Vito, as he almost had his rod yanked into the lake by a vicious strike while rowing along the south shore. Alas, no hook up. And no great argument for us to forsake Wickiup for the few hatchery fish found so far at South Twin.

As promised there was cold and rain and wind, but not nearly as much wind as we feared. And the rain was just few drops here and there at first. Once Paul and I got into Wickiup and kicked our tubes up into the north end where the Deschutes comes in, we found a few browns running 12-14 inches, and one very chunky rainbow that was all of 20 inches. The fishing was slow, but there was just enough action to keep it interesting. Unfortunately, after over four hours in the water our frozen hands no longer wanted strip that wet line. When we got back to camp we compared notes with everyone else and found that we had the better fishing.

Here's a shot of Paul working Wickiup's Deschutes Channel.

Despite the absence of Andy and the Road Kill Grill, the nine of us put together a pretty decent group smorgasboard. We shared drinks and stories around the raging campfire provided by the downed tree bucked up by the Hollenbecks.

Then the rain came. All night we could hear it pounding the tent fly. Or so we thought. When I poked my head out the tent at 6am, instead of rain I found falling snow. I hunkered back into my sleeping bag to rest up for what I expected would be a frenzied camp-breaking retreat at the first break in the weather.

Here's the view out the front of our tent at 9am.

Three hours later we emerged, ate breakfast and assessed the situation. Ron and Carson donned their gear and headed for the lake. I wished them well. Here's a photo of them set to launch, with Ron extending to me the traditional angler's salute; and another of them on their way to cold futility.

While I didn't have much hope for fishing success, as breakfast settled in and Paul and I broke camp, not only did the weather seem to be fining up, but with everyone else bugging out, the lake seemed very pristine and inviting to me, and the thought of spending a couple hours dragging a line seemed more than reasonable. I know Paul was still thinking about how cold and useless his hands got the day before--when the weather was better. Yet somehow I gently persuaded him to go for it. Maybe it was the offer to let him use my Type V sinking line to get him down that 20 feet or so where the bigger fish were supposed to be.

I hit the water with my Type II and counted it down for a minute and slowly worked an olive seal bugger in 10 inch pulls. I wasn't in the water five minutes before I met Ron and Carson on their luckless way back in. Moments after they relayed their sad report I hooked up and landed the first of 13 9-12 inch hatchery rainbows that slammed that bugger in the 150 minutes it took me to circle the lake. Paul did the same, I think. We found fish further from the edge than what we expected. There were some places where we found more fish congregated, but we never hooked anything big.

Fishing aside, the wildlife viewing was excellent. I saw bald eagles, ospreys, a plunging kingfisher, many ducks, a spectacular wading white heron, and even two otters working their way around the lake in the opposite direction I was heading. We even heard the haunting call of loons.

The weather was interesting, too. While we were on the water we got alternate bursts of rain, sun, hail, and even a little wind. I took this photo of Paul with some blue sky in the background to show all you guys who abandoned the effort early what you missed.

Paul and I agreed, all in all, it was a pretty good time on the lake. We were glad that we gave South Twin a shot. But I couldn't help thinking about the bigger browns we probably missed out on over at Wickiup. D'oh!