Good Timing on the Grande Ronde

In late November Joe and I made a last minute decision to head to the Snake and Grande Ronde rivers for two days of fishing. We had originally intended to head into BC and fish the mighty Thompson River, but an outstanding Snake River fishing report from Garry Sandstrom, fly fishing manufacturer’s representative and former owner of the Morning Hatch Fly Shop, stirred our interest in heading east instead of north.

It was a warm week for late November in the very southeast corner of Washington. At 7:00 a.m. temperatures were 40-degrees with daytime highs around 55-degrees. We started out fishing the Snake River between Clarkston and the mouth of the Grande Ronde but quickly found ourselves driving up the Ronde in search of good-looking water that didn’t already have an angler in it.

On day one, after spending half the day fishing a couple holes on the Snake without success and without high confidence in the water we fished, we found some open water low on the Ronde that suited our quest for fishy water. I don’t think we were more than ten casts into the new spot when I had a vicious grab. As I yelled upstream to Joe that I just missed a fish, his line snapped tight on a missed fish as well! The adrenaline was pumping now.

Just a few minutes later we had our first fish hooked-up only to loose it just a few feet from the bank. The rest of the day would be similar with seven grabs, three fish hooked and brought to our feet, but not one officially landed. At least it was an active afternoon but everyone likes to get them to the beach.

The next morning we started on the same hole first thing in the morning. Immediately the action started off even better than before. The river gained a few inches in height over night and it was clear the fish were moving in. Fishing the same hole all day, we fished it from one side in the morning and then switched to the other side in the afternoon. We had around 15 fish to the fly that day, hooked around 10 of them, and landed six. What a fun day when you just luck out with perfect timing and the fish are there and active. We even experienced a “simultaneous double hook-up” when Joe and I both hooked fish at the exact same time. We even landed both those fish (which helped our not-so-great hooking and landing stats!).
Joe was fishing a Scott L2H 1258/4 12.5-foot 7-weight rod, Waterworks-Lamson Arx 3.5+ reel and an Airflo Rage floating line with small, marabou tube flies. I was throwing the Sage One 7136-4 13.5-foot 7-weight rod with a Waterworks-Lamson Arx 3.5+ reel, an Airflo Rage floating line and fishing the Halo as my primary fly.

I have a lot of great memories of trips to the Grande Ronde but I also have a lot of frustrating memories there. It has been a spotty river for me, either hot or cold. This trip will certainly go in the “hot” column!

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