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Fishing Reports by Dax Messett

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This winter has been more challenging than usual for die hard Pacific Northwest steelheaders.  Every time the rivers dropped into shape, you had a quick window before another mega storm would hit.  If your timing was good, you had water you were able to stand in an enjoy the whole process and surrounding environment, maybe even swing up a chrome winter fish of a lifetime.  Or, you were in a wet tent, camper, motel or cabin drinking and playing cards waiting for the rivers to drop...which is still better than sitting in trafffic in my opinion.  The winter game isn't for everyone, thank goodness.  This upcoming week looks more of the same, Inquire about future availability for the Olympic Peninsula, we have a few more weeks here if the weather and fish are both going in the right direction.
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The unicorn we are all chasing in the winter
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Last week was superb...
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We just finished up another fantastic guide school.  Aaron, Rob, Dylan, and Drew was the dream team of students, who will all be guiding someday in the near future.  All venues fished excellent for us this week.

 

The Pit River is fishing excellent.  High stick nymphing is the most productive technique here until the caddis hatch is the evenings.  If you cover water and have good presentations, you will find plenty of fish.


The McCloud River has also been fishing excellent.  Dry dropper is my favorite rig here.  If they aren't eating on top, go to a high stick nymph rig and cover water.  Every evening on the Mac provides good dry fly fishing this time of year.  Stick it out!

 

Fall River has had some fun head hunting opportunities in the mornings for large fish eating calibaetis emergers and spinners.  Its a tough game to play, but more rewarding than just staring at a bobber and cleaning weeds off of it every cast.  Sinking line techniques are also working, pulling damsels and leaches.  Fishing has been shutting off by around 2pm, so good time for a break then go fish the hex in the evening.  It's been starting really late this year, at around 9:15 so don't pack it in too early.

 

Hat Creek has been fishing great in the mornings and evenings.  Excellent trico spinner fall from about 8 to 10.  Fantastic caddis hatch in the evenings with a smattering of mayflies to keep you busy.  Mid day has been slow here. 

 The upper Rogue has started to get steelhead trickling in.  I'm heading up there this weekend.  Mornings are the best time to swing one up this time of year up there.  I will be back to guide it for the month of November after the Grande Ronde in October.

Reports from the lower Klamath are good!  We start our spey camps down there August 1st and have one open spot left.  Contact me for details.

 

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Leslie releasing a Fall River beauty
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Small creek fishing has been excellent
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Aaron rigging for success on the Mac
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Leslie and Rob working on dry dropper guide techniques
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Dylan and Drew figuring out the best lie
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After the busy 4th of July weekend, the weather has cooled off a bit and everything is fishing pretty good in the Intermountain area, especially the hex hatch on Fall.  We have some prime available dates left in July before we kick off our steelhead season in August on the Klamath.  We still have a few spots open for Speycamp, please contact me with any questions.  
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The McCloud is one of the most beautiful rivers in the states
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Tony hooked up on the Mac
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Tony from SF anticipating the best hatch in the West
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A dog makes the hex hatch more fun!
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Hat Creek has been good mornings and evenings
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The weather has been very sporadic in June here in Nor Cal.  Mt. Shasta got a beautiful blanket of fresh snow a few nights ago.  It makes for beautiful sunsets on Fall River as you await the hex hatch.  Some of the windy and cooler nights this past week kept the hatch from happening, but overall its been a superb hex season despite the unseasonal weather.  The hatch is happening both above and below the confluence, which makes for a nice displacement of pressure.  Don't drop right below somebody when there is two hundred yards of open water above them.  Llights!  If you don't have proper lights on your boat, at least have headlamps and flashlights.  Better yet, Shasta Angler in Fall River has the proper lights for you, the game warden and other anglers don't care if your crappy rental boat isn't properly equipped with lights...its the operator's responsibility.

Hat Creek has been decent in the mornings and evenings, kinda tough during the day.  The warmer weather will help hatches.  The Mac has been the typical McCloud.  At times you wonder if there are any fish or insects in the place, then all of a sudden it turns on and you are hooking fish all over the place.  Afternoons have been better recently for me.  

 

I only have a few more days available for trout season.  Fishing should be great these next few weeks. 

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Our pet hex!
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Leslie on a remote Nor Cal freestone river
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Hiking around in the beautiful forest the Mac runs through
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The Mac!
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My favorite hatch of all time is on Fall River, 20 minutes of glory!
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Leslie and Alex Ferber casting dries on the Fall
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Leslie and I had a day off today and spent it fishing, of course.  Not much dry fly happening where we were today, but the streamer grab was excellent.  We also did very well on the dirty nymphs.  Fishing was best between 11 and 2 today.

I expect another epic hex hatch tonight, it has he best early season hex hatch I've seen in my 14 years on Fall River.  It's even been happening with the cooler evenings that we've been having.
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Leslie landing an epic Fall River rainbow
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The hex hatch has been going off!  My clients Dean and Clayton from Washington landed 4 very large fish last night on their first ever hex hatch.  Pressure is very low.  I've been out the last 10 nights, and the hatch happened on 8 of them, so it's pretty consistent.  During the day the Fall has been kinda moody.  There has been some great hatches on some days, nothing on others.  Sinking lines and nymphing are catching some fish when there are no bugs on top.  Pressure is extremely high on the upper river, mellow on the lower river.  If you are patient, you can headhunt for very large rising fish from 10 until about 2 and search for the moments.  My client Tom Donnely hooked and finally lost a truly gigantic fish, who ran him through his full spool of backing.  The battle did not end with the fish in the net, but it was an amazing fish and battle.

Hat Creek was good last week, but slowed down the last few days.  Powerhouse Riffle is crowded, shallow, and fishing good in the mornings for tricos and in the evenings for caddis.

The McCloud has been going off on some days, kinda tough on others.  The best fishing is In the evenings and whenever the fish are looking up for stones and mayflies.  Ask us about our camping options for the Mac.


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The epic Fall River hex hatch started early this year!  Book a trip if you want to get on it, it's been excellent this past week...
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Days off are nice on the OP...
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Thanks to Leslie for the help landing this unreal steelhead
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Had some amazing conditions these past few days on the Olympic Peninsula...I would really like to thank the crowds for finally not showing up...
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A few highlights from the last few weeks on the Olympic Peninsula...
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Finally a break from the endless rain this past week which led to some amazing conditions on the Olympic Peninsula.  Next season is already booking up, so contact me early if you want a spot for 2017.
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Rain continued to crush the PNW last week, but we have a break coming this week. The Olympic Peninsula has got 11 inches of rain since March 1st, so not much fishing has been going on. Like with all winter steelhead venues, we should have some amazing fishing when things drop into shape here pretty soon...

I just opened up my calendar for the OP for 2017. I was fully booked about 6 months out for 2016, so you might want to make your reservation soon. New regs go into effect next year, and it should be an amazing season. Like all winter steelhead venues, I give a full refund if we have to cancel a trip due to weather. Getting blown out is part of being a winter steelheader, so is being there at the right time and hooking a fish of a lifetime.
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We finally got a break from the rain this past week and had some epic moments swinging flies in the rainforest fed rivers of the Olympic Peninsula.  Pressure was extremely high, but we were able to find some solitude and hook some amazing chrome steelhead in this winter steelhead mecca.  New regulations that restrict certain types of angling methods will go into effect next year, so that will get rid of some of the pressure we are having now.  Book early for next year if you want in on this amazing place.  Rivers are on the rise right now, and will most likely be blown for a few days, but fresh chrome steelhead will be on their way...
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Mist on the river at daylight
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A perfect rainforest dime bright hen
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solitude swinging
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Leslie Ajari searching for the moment
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Swinging on a rainforest river
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This winter steelhead season has been pretty dramatic to say the least.  Since December I've been dealing with high water from Southern Oregon to the Olympic Peninsula.  Just when things start to really shape up for prime swinging conditions, another big storm pummels the Pacific Northwest.  Some epic fishing has been had between storms though, and it is good for future runs of steelhead, as they are able to make it safely upriver without getting pummeled every inch of the way.  When the rivers drop its going to be amazing.
 
Southern Oregon and Nor Cal coastal rivers are in good shape at the moment though, and they aren't supposed to get continued rain like up here.  Wish I was back down there at the moment!  
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Leslie Ajari hooked up on her first day on the OP
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Rare morning sunshine
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another perfect swing run on the Peninsula
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A rainforest chromer
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Heavy rain pounded the Southern Oregon Coastal rivers this past week, totally blowing out all of our winter steelhead rivers.  When they drop back into shape, fishing should be excellent!
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The Southern Oregon Coast finally got some much needed rain, but a little too much for fishing.  We need it though and its part of the whole game, so I can deal with my first blowout of the winter steelhead season.  The rivers on the Southern Oregon Coast are all totally blown, mega, as it continues to rain hard all day today.  Nor Cal is a better option for chasing chrome fish.  The Smith and Klamath are blown, but some of the coastal rivers to the South in Nor Cal are still fishable at the moment, as fresh chrome winter steelhead are starting to enter the systems.  Further inland, the Trinity got some much needed rain, and is in excellent condition.  
 
I might open up a few days next week if the rivers start to drop.  E mail me if you are interested in chasing the first winter fish of the season.  I have some availability left in January for the Oregon Coast, February on the Olympic Peninsula is already booked, and I only have a few days left in March and April.  Contact me if you want to chase truly chrome fish. 
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typical winter steelhead weather
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Brett with an insane fish from last January
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This chrome from the Lower Rogue is what we are after
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The catching of fish on the Trinity this past weekend was pretty slow. The few fish that are in the river aren't really spread out, despite the little bit of rain we got the last week. It rained again yesterday, so today into this week could be better. Pressure remains very high on the river, despite tough fishing. Getting a steelhead or two is a really good day right now, as it is on any steelhead river. And if given the option to go steelhead fishing, one should always take it!
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My 6 weeks in steelhead mecca British Columbia has finally come to an end.  I had another great group of guys for my few weeks of hosted trips.  Everyone caught bright chrome steelhead, coho and sockeye salmon on the swing.  Doug Rohn and I also experienced the most amazing dry fly steelhead day I have ever seen, raising over 20 fish on a remote part of a sacred steelhead river.  We stayed at two excellent lodges, Stan Dolls Wilderness Lodge and Brian Niska's Skeena Spey Lodge. I will return to both operations next year, as I think they are the absolute best of the Lower Skeena guide and accommodation options.  Contact me if you are interested, as there are limited spots during the prime weeks I have booked there.  
 
Heading to the Grande Ronde to start my mulit day float trips for Scott Odonnell's new Speywater Lodge.  We have some openings for both my floats and lodge days.  Contact me for details.  Also booking Trinity trips for November, and Southern Oregon winter steelhead trips for December and January.  My Olympic Peninsula days are filling up quick for February into April.  I now offer accommodation options for that include meals and can offer attractive guide and accommodation packages, which are extremely rare up in that part of the world.
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Doug with a chromer
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The home water of Skeena Spey Lodge
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Mike Bates
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Ted Jablonski was the top rod of the week
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Mega chrome jumping dry fly fish
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BC steelhead are epic
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Doug after releasing another skated up fish
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Skeena mornings are amazing
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Mike striking a perfect pose with a perfect fish
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classic admiration shot
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I've spent the last 10 days touring around the amazing Skeena System in British Columbia, where I have been hosting trips for the past 5 years.  I am expanding my hosting operation this year, and will be offering multiple location and trip options in the future to better suit time and financial concerns for the avid steelheader.  
 
The fishing has been fantastic since I've been here, with rainy steelhead days and cool temperatures.  This is a drastic change from the hot dry weather this summer I experienced in California, Washington, and Oregon.  The steelhead seem to like it too.  I've seen some amazing fish landed this week from 8 to 21 lbs, and saw some larger ones hooked and lost. This place is truly amazing.  
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Darcy Bacha with an insane specimen
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