Category Archives: How To

Finding the sweet spot

small_holeYesterday I fished the Tolt briefly in the morning before an appointment.  I hit a few favorite runs and caught some fish but not the numbers I had on my last outing, probably due to the bright sun that has been scorching our landscape here.   Finally,  I was coming down a short stretch where the river has a few channels that come together.  I was swinging through and hooked a fish on the first swing just before the second channel comes in.   This spot was magic, I must have landed or hooked two dozen trout in this little triangle.   All the fish in the first channel seemed to have just stacked up in this area and you can kind of see why.  This little spot has a lot of oxygenated water coming in from the second channel, it is shaded, and it is just a tough deeper than the surrounding areas.

As this record summer continues to drop our streams the fish are just going to concentrate more in little sweet spots like this where they can get all their needs met.   Speaking of dropping, here are the current levels compared to normal:

  • Tolt:                120 cfs, 33% of normal
  • Middle Fork: 196 cfs, 18% of normal
  • South Fork:   53 cfs,  20% of normal
  • North Fork:   43 cfs,  12% of normal
  • Cedar:           418 cfs, 86% of normal

Hmmm, the Cedar and Tolt have reservoirs and are the only ones in decent shape but how long will the water last in those lakes?   The Middle Fork is getting so low you can wade across almost anywhere.  I’ve stopped fishing the North Fork entirely at this point and the South Fork will fall off my list soon.  I haven’t even gone into the Raging this year in my yard since it is barely moving at 9.9 cfs and is too warm to stress the small fish in there.

Lake tenkara

FullSizeRenderThe rivers are still a bit high and cold here in the PNW but the lakes have been HOT to say the least.  In the last few trips I’m averaging about 25-30 fish per hour on dry flies, it has been crazy. These are all baby steelhead that were stocked into the lakes last fall to clear out the hatcheries and these fish are aggressive and put up a pretty good fight, jumping repeatedly on the way in.   Today the sun came out, the weather was warm and I decided to head back to the lake but instead of packing my 4-weight I packed my Sato.


The big issue with lake tenkara is the length of your cast.  I’d been casting 30-40′ on average for these trout but I figured if I got out to a spot and sat still long enough that trout would begin rising around me or swimming around me and then I could cast to them.  I left my longer lines at home so only had a 13.5′ line with me which gave me about a 20-24′ range from my tube.  Patience paid off, I’d get to a spot I’d seen some fish, wait a bit and when the fish began to move again I’d cast.  I would just lightly twitch my kebari a few times and wham, fish on.   It was a blast and I got a few strange looks but was out fishing everyone close to me and I couldn’t even make a long cast.   I  got every fish either on top or just as the fly pulled under the surface so got to see every single strike.  Even got a few decent holdover fish that had some weight to them which was fun to deal with in a lake where they want to run deep but the Sato just bent over and protected the tippet.   What a blast.   Not only did a get a few dozen fish in an hour but technically I caught steelhead on tenkara today.



Lake Tenkara

1175486_10151709433067530_998173809_nOur annual family vacation is held in a lakeside house at the Wilson Ranch in Mazama where it is only steps to a small private lake that holds rainbow, brown and tiger trout.   I’ve fished this lake for the last decade with a western rod and this year I did pack a 4-weight but also packed my Amago for the lake and an Iwana for the small creeks in the vicinity.   I vowed to use tenkara and only pull out the western rod if I wasn’t catching fish.   I never had to pull out the western rod.

Continue reading