2007 Redband Hunt

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by gigharborflyfisher, Jul 4, 2007.

  1. gigharborflyfisher Native Trout Hunter

    Posts: 741
    Gig Harbor, Wa, USA.
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    Warning: This may seem a little long winded but this was a huge trip and to completely tell about it I would have to write a heck of a lot more than this!!

    Pre Trip: I have been on a quest to catch, photograph and release every species and subspecies of salmonids in North America (and hopefully beyond). This trip was aimed at hunting down the remaining varieties of redbands that I had not caught. I began researching this trip earlier in the year by digging up scientific articles, fish and game reports and other websites indicating where I might find these fish.


    On the first day of the trip, we headed from my house in Washington to Hosmer Lake in central Oregon to try to catch some introduced landlocked Atlantic Salmon. It rained for about the first 4 ½ hours of driving to the lake and when we got there fishing was extremely slow, most likely due to the weather (cold and windy). I did see a couple of fish rise, but I didn’t see any caught and only had two hits the entire time that I was at the lake. Due the less than favorable fishing conditions, we elected to head on to the next spot to fish for the first redband of the trip.

    When I got up in the morning the thermometer in my car read 33ºF and I scouted out the tiny creek for some good sections to fish for redbands. The Fort Rock Basin Redband that I was targeting here are only found in two very small streams and my research had indicated that this one had the best population. The stream was very small, only about 3 to 4 feet across in most places, and the best spot that I found was a small pool formed by a culvert where the road crossed the creek. I managed to catch a handful of Fort Rock Basin Redbands out of this pool up to about 10” on a royal pmx and black copper john rig. There were actually so many fish in this pool that at one time I had two fish on at the same time.

    After catching the Fort Rock Basin Redband, we head down to a small stream in the Chewaucan basin. This was another tiny stream, but much smaller than the first one that I fished at only about 1 ½ feet wide on average. I couldn’t find any trout here, so we continued on to my backup stream. This stream was much larger and completely loaded with Chewaucan Basin Redbands, and I had no problem catching a good number of trout. Some of the fish in this stream were in the 15 – 18” range, but these bigger redbands seemed to be pretty good a throwing my fly and the best trout that I got was about 12”.

    The next spot that I wanted to hit was in the Klamath Basin for its namesake redbands. This creek turned out to be the most challenging small stream that I have ever fished, and that is saying something. The creek was slightly smaller than the first stream that I fished, but traveled through a tunnel of vegetation. I figure that most streams with travel through this type of environment for a little while, but will have some open stretches upstream with meadows or beaver ponds. I started to hike upstream to look for a more open stretch of water, but after I had traveled about a mile upstream I figure that I was out of luck. I decided to try my luck and dive into the vegetation tunnel. A found a spot where I just barely had room to stand up, dangle my royal pmx over a decent pocket and set the hook if need. One the first “cast” I rose a fish and couple of “casts” later I caught my first fish, which ended up being a stream resident bull trout of about 8”. Few more casts later I caught a Klamath Basin Redband, and upstream a ways I got another bull trout and another redband.

    The next morning we headed down to the slopes of Mount Shasta so that I could fish for McCloud River Redbands. The creek that I fished was a small crystal clear stream flowing through a beautiful stand of forest. The fishing here was very fast paced and the McCloud River Redbands which seemed to love my royal pmx averaged about 8”. I had planned to fish a couple of other streams in the area, but the signage and roads in the area where terrible so I couldn’t find them. Instead we called it quits on the area and decided to head down to Reno to stay the night and to go after Lahontan Cutthroat in the South Lake Tahoe area. What we hadn’t anticipated is that there was a forest fire burning at South Lake Tahoe so all that we got was a good night’s rest in Reno.

    After getting off to slow start to enjoy the swimming pool at our hotel in Reno, we made out way up to a small stream flowing into Goose Lake. It took us a little while to find the stream, but when we got there we found a great little creek flowing between low gradient meadow stretches and higher gradient forested sections. While the meadow sections were beautiful the fishing was much better in the pocket water stretches of the forested part of the creek. I didn’t take long to find any of the Goose Lake Redbands here, but the whole problem was keeping them on long enough to get a photo. I caught one nice on a size 18 copper john and a couple more on the royal pmx, which is by far my favorite attractor pattern.

    The next stream that I wanted in for Warner Lakes Redbands was located at above 7000 feet in the Warner Mountains. This stream was terribly invested with mosquitoes, and only about 1 ½ feet to 2 feet wide. I quickly caught several small Warner Lakes Redbands where the road crossed the stream that averaged about 5”. I fished for about a half an hour before I lost to much of the sun and the mosquitoes drove me completely crazy. Instead of camping here, we decided to drive through the night to the next spot.

    The final creek for the trip was located on the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge and was loaded with Catlow Valley Redbands. This creek was extremely small like the one in the Warner Mountains, but the fish here were a bit larger. The first nice pool that I fished produced a nice about 8” redband and I caught a number of smaller fish until the last pool that I fished where I caught a nice 12” deeply colored redband. On the way out of the Refuge we found a nice hot spring, and saw a number of antelope.

    All in all this trip was a great success, I didn’t manage to catch every species that I had planned on trying to catch but I did get all of the redbands that I targeted. The only redbands that I have left to catch are the Sheephaven Springs Redbands and the Eagle Lake Rainbows. One of the biggest successes of the trip was catching the two bull trout, which I have been trying to catch in Washington for almost three years now. The trip was about 2000 miles through Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada and cost about $50.00 in fishing licenses alone but I caught 7 new varieties of trout and 1 char making it a great trip!!

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    The route we took on the trip

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    Fort Rock Basin Redband

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    Chewaucan Basin Redband

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    Stream Resident Form Bull Trout

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    Klamath Basin Redband

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    McCloud River Redband

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    Goose Lake Redband

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    Warner Lakes Redband

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    Catlow Valley Redband

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    Hosmer Lake and Mount Bachelor in Oregon

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    Fort Rock Basin Redband Stream

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    The Klamath Basin Stream

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    Me fishing for Goose Lake Redbands

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    Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge
    Teenage Entomologist likes this.
  2. John Hicks Owner and operator of Sea Run Pursuits

    Posts: 2,126
    Olympia
    Ratings: +179 / 1
    That was a great report. How did you guys figure out your fly selections for all the different drainages?
  3. Jason Baker Member

    Posts: 776
    Ft. Mill, SC
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Um, let's see: I think I'll pack some pheasant tails and some of these pheasan tails and possibly some, um, let's see; pheasant tails????
  4. gigharborflyfisher Native Trout Hunter

    Posts: 741
    Gig Harbor, Wa, USA.
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    I just used a royal pmx dry and black copper john on all of the streams to see how well I could do with it. This set up has worked great for native trout for me and I have caught every type redband on it and just about all of the cutthroat subspecies on it.
  5. Steelie Mike Active Member

    Posts: 1,600
    Camas, WA
    Ratings: +24 / 0
    Looks like a great adventure and experience. I hope to see a collection of pics when you are done.
  6. JE Active Member

    Posts: 287
    Great NW
    Ratings: +50 / 0
    I am impressed with your approach in seeking out endemic species in their native streams. Pretty cool to target and find fish populations that have survived the onslaught of habitat degradation and non-native introductions. Sort of like taking a step back in geologic time. I'd take a 7" native redband in a tiny headwater creek over a 22" brown caught in an E. Washington lake or spring creek any day. Those are beautiful fish.
    -JE