Tuesday, December 20, 2011

North Fork Nehalem Nada

Saturday afternoon (12/10) Littlefisher and I headed out to some new water to chase the steel. The day was nice and overcast so I figured a late start wouldn't hurt too much.  Since the spot is popular I was also hoping that the Saturday morning crowd would have thinned by the time we arrived. We had until dark to fish so I figured the water would have had time to rest by evening. During the afternoon we could fish and scout for a prime spot or two to hit just before dark. 

Upon arrival, just a bit past noon, we met five other fishermen leaving, the plan was going great so far. The two who were packing up in the parking lot had been there since morning. They hadn't gotten any action but said a guy caught one on the platform. They wished us luck and Littlefisher and I gathered my gear and headed down to the hatchery. We stopped by the traps to see if anything was swimming around and only found empty pins, same with the fish lader. At the cleaning station we met the lucky guy from the platform. He had landed a nice hen every bit of 24" and prolly closer to 30. After congratulating his success we headed down to the platform for our first look at the river.

The water was low, and clear. I mean straight from your faucet clear. The last time I was at the hatchery was mid summer, and I couldn't tell if the water had been any lower then. There is a tail-out just below the platform that is legal for everyone. I expect under better conditions it would be a good spot, but I with the water so clear and low I could see every rock and pebble. The only spot I couldn't see was under an over-hanging tree on the far bank. That spot would be a decent hold but casting to it is difficult, with the tree branches drooping to about 4 feet above the water and over hanging the bank by 6 or 8 feet. Determined, I flicked a small dark spinner under the branches and worked what I could with no luck.

Moving down to the next spot we met the next fisher leaving. He had also been there since morning and hadn't seen anything. He did say one of the two guys who had permission to fish the private property below the hatchery had caught one earlier in the day. From the tail at the platform there is about a 20 yard run. At the end is a small pool under a large fir on the far bank. This pool feeds a 10 to 15 yard run with deeper water hugging the curve of the far bank. The run ends in a large pool that wraps around the rocks of umbrella falls.

Two gentlemen where fishing the large pool under the falls with bobber rigs, so I started at the small pool under the fir. Two casts in I got what might have been a head shake, but it could have been rock rub as well. Either way I tried for a set, if it was a head shake I was too late. If it was rocks I didn't snag, so I broke even I guess. I worked this water a couple more times then started down the run with my brass spinner. By the time I finished the clouds had thinned abit so I tied on a black spinner and worked the whole stretch again. No luck the second time either.

While I was working down the run, the gents with the bobber setups packed it up and left empty handed. Given the large pool I worked it over from head to foot with both spinners. I paid special attention to the area right below the falls where the water in the pool was broken up. I snagged briefly on a large tree limb in the lower section but got no bites. As I was finishing with the pool three younger gents showed up and Littlefisher and I headed for the water above the hatchery.

The the day was nearly done by the time Littlefisher and I had hiked to the other side of the hatchery and started working the water. In this area Soapstone Creek joins the NF and a long slick tailout runs from the confluence about 15 to 20 yards. It then runs through white water a ways down to the hatchery platform pool. I fished the confluence, the tailout, and the NF water above with the black spinner with no luck. I switched to a small silver plate and worked the same water again also with no luck. As we were packing up we saw the first fish of the day. It was a boot black nook and just barely clawed it's way through the white water and into the tailout. After letting us watch it for a few moments in a slack pool just to the side of the tailout it got spooked and lit-out for the deeper water. Well at least we got to see a fish.

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