A good friend, Dave, suggested we fly-fish on the Clackamas River for he had fished it before and found it to be productive. We decided to fish in the evening midweek. It was early June 2019.
That afternoon, we left Hillsboro and followed Highway 26 through Portland and to Estacada. I slept most of the way as we drove.
We came to Dave's special fishing spot, where there was a boat ramp along the river. He immediately began setting up our rods. He attached a large and small bead head nymph to each leader. Each nymph had a large brass head and would sink quickly when cast into the swiftly running river.
We entered the water, and Dave waded to a spot upstream and began to cast. It wasn't long before he hooked into a 13-inch trout. He showed me the trout and then threw it back.
I casted for a long time and became discouraged because I was not getting any strikes. I inspected my nymphs and found that they were all tangled. Unable to untangle them, I cut them out and put on a dry mosquito fly.
I sat on the boat ramp for a while. It was about 8 o'clock. As it turned to dusk, fish started striking the surface. This enlivened me, and I got in the water and started casting again.
Over the next half an hour, I got about 20 strikes and hooked two whitefish. They were on the small side so I threw them back.
We fished until 9 o'clock. I was getting hungry and wanted to feast on steak tips and rice pilaf. Dave did not have enough money for a fancy restaurant, so we went to a convenience store and bought sandwiches and potato chips.
On the ride back to Hillsboro, we talked a lot about fishing, and we both agreed that we would go back and fish that spot again.
Thrust back into the hustle and bustle of life, we both forgot about fishing for a while but finally reconnected in early July and went back to our fishing spot on the Clackamas.
We headed out at 4 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon and headed for Estacada via driving through Portland. This time, I did not sleep but took part in a conversation about fishing.
We drove for over an hour before reaching our fishing spot at the boat ramp. We parked and Dave started working on the fishing rods. He tied two bead head nymphs onto his leader and a dry mosquito on mine. We put on our waders, waded into the river and started casting. Dave worked his way upstream like before, and it was very productive.
I stayed at the boat ramp and cast from there. In an hour of casting, I got no strikes. I sat down on the boat ramp and waited until it began to get dark and the fish started surfacing.
As the sun was setting, the fish began hitting the surface, just like the time before.
The two of us cast from the boat ramp. As before, all of the surface activity died out after about a half an hour, and it was getting dark, so we packed up and left.
The total take for the day was four large trout and two whitefish. We threw all of them back so that they could be cared for by Mother Nature.
We hit a good restaurant on the way home, and Dave had a hamburger and I ate a reuben sandwich. That was a great way to cap off a good day of fishing.
On the way home, we both agreed that the fishing spot on the Clackamas is worth returning to. The Clackamas River is a great spot for all anglers.
William Stride is a volunteer naturalist at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve in Hillsboro and an avid outdoorsman. Opinions are his own.
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