We spent the first 4 days of our trip on the Clearwater and fishing was tough, but with the help of our friend Tom and Billy's pioneering of new runs we were able to go 1 for 2. The 1 was about average size (for the Grand Ronde), 5-6 pounds. A fish is a fish however, and I was happy to land it. It ate a black G.P. tied on a size 1 hook. The fish that got away was larger and it a purple G.P. tied on a size 6 double hook.
One note on the fish that got away: I borrowed a rod from The Red Shed Fly Shop, well actually it was from Tracy who is a local guide and lives by the shop. The rod was a 15' 7/8 weight Loomis Greaseliner, I tried it with a Hardy Mach II 8wt line (I think it was an 8), I threw the line on my new Speyco Symmetry reel and took it to the river. BR and I fished a run we pioneered and as I was testing how far the rod could cast, I hooked a nice fish, which fought like crap, but it was a fish. I was really happy with how the setup preformed, in short it rocked.
The clear water is such a special river. Near it mouth it has that same type of desert feel that I get on the Deschutes, but as you head up stream the arid environment gives way to evergreens as the elevation increases. BR and I van-camped each night and stayed in the area between Cherry Lane and Peck, we ended up finding a great camp that was well hidden from the road, and a great spot for a tent, should we ever use one.The flows on the Clearwater fluctuated greatly when we started fishing the river was flowing around 3500cfs and by the afternoon of the second full day it was nearly 8000cfs, and the change took place in only a couple hours. It was the fluctuating flows that ultimately led to us leaving the Clearwater and heading for the Grande Ronde.
The Grande Ronde was as fun and beautiful as I remembered it from last year. We were only there for a very short time, only an afeternoon and a morning, not enough time. We got sevral grabs on the Ronde, I had several pulls that took the whole loop and even gave a yank, but we never got even fight a fish. That's how it goes sometimes.
From the Ronde we headed for the Snake River above Asotin, WA and below the mouth of the Grande Ronde at Hellar's Bar. We fish one run on the Snake on our way up the river, then I fished Black Rock on the ronde while BR hit Hellar's bar. It was a cloudy day so we were able to fish all afetrnoon, which was good as it was our last day. Neither BR or I got any grabs so we headed back down the Snake. BR pulled off at the fist major tailout below Hellars bar, BR took the low end and I went in about 200yds above him, I was still fishing my 11' 8wt from the Ronde, which is a tiny little stick for the Snake which is probably the biggest Steelhead river there is to fish, until we pioneer the Columbia. Any way I ended up getting a steelhead that was about 6 lbs, maybe, a hatchery fish, but still cool.
We were now starting to lose light and barely had time to hit another run, we hit two. The first was a nice but non-descript run. The second run was one we had fished on an evening two years earlier, in early October of 2006, on that night BR took a nice wild steelhead in the tail out above the run. Br knew the tailout looked right that night and I put my faith into the riffle below, that night in 2006 BR was right. One this night in 2008 it was the riffle that paid out. On about my second cast I hooked a nice steelhead on a #5 Purple Green-Butt, and after some drama with tangled line, I was able to fight out and land(just about) the fish. BR fish a waker on the tail out and boiled two fish, but no hook ups.
And that was it, we drove to spokane from there, trip over.