Aspen Ridge Ranch | Fly fishing | Southern Oregon | Upper Williamson River
Sunday, Feb 17, 2019
2005 Fishing Reports
Report by Timothy Buckley - Vancouver, WA
Varying in intensity throughout the day the hatch was certainly on! Looking down a section of river before the next bend one can see the numerous rings of rising trout. Rising might be an understatement as the fish strike with an uncommon aggression. Mornings before the sun is on the water and afternoon shaded areas through evening tended to offer the best fishing (as the trout are weary of the osprey and other birds of prey) although the moment a cloud passes over the sun the ravenous fish would rapidly pound the flies again. The fish really do seem to stay and rise repetitively in one spot, rising on average between 10 to 20 seconds each time. You try to match the timing and keep casting to a spot 12" to 6" dead ahead and hope your fly gets selected from the many on the surface.
You would have to keep constantly vigilant to set the hook immediately, but once hooked, hang on for some reel screaming fun and astounding aerial acrobatics reminiscent of a Cirque Du Soleil performance. Fortunately for us Saturday morning was overcast until early afternoon so the morning fishing opportunity was extended. We took a leisurely lunch break and tied some more flies to better emulate the naturals, and then hit the water as the afternoon shadows hit the stream. I ended up catching 10 all on the exact same fly before loosing it (which I learned to tie in the CSF fly-tying class this winter). Saturday evening I stumbled onto the sweet spot and landed 7 big red bands in a row within 20 minutes time, all while standing in the exact same place.
The meals they cook for the guests are delectable, and conversations around the campfires were very entertaining as Dawn and Bob have some amazing stories they shared with us. The remoteness and high altitude make for an astounding clear night sky, and shooting stars and satellites entertained us as they passed the arm of the Milky Way overhead. In addition to the distant howls of coyote, we even had the pleasure of hearing some Native American traditional ceremonial chanting, emanating from their fishing encampment somewhere up river.
2004 Fishing Reports
Report by George Pitcher - Portland, OR
Fished Aspen Ridge Ranch with my dad on the afternoon and evening of
June 26. Large numbers of black drakes were in the air and on the water
intermittently throughout the day. I had takes on my first two casts of
the day, right at the bridge near the mess hall. We started by working
our way down the entire length of the property, fishing to rising fish
as we came to them. The weather was sunny with a high around 80, and
the rising fish were mostly right up against the bank during the
afternoon hours. We never had to walk far to find rising fish.
Fly selection wasn't particularly important. We took fish on assorted
mayfly patterns including green drakes, Adams, and cripples. As to
presentation, it often took a drag free drift within six inches of where
the fish was rising. They wouldn't move far from their lies to take a
fly. There were times where a cast eight inches off the bank wouldn't
take a fish, but a cast two inches off the bank would.
We each caught 15-20 fish for the day, ranging from 10-16 inches.
There were a good number in the 14-15 inch range. The most significant
rise of the day happened at around 6:30 and lasted for 45 minutes. The
larger fish started rising away from the banks for the first time of the
day. The trick during this time was picking out the larger fish from
amongst the multiple rises. You could see during the evening rise that
there is an amazing population of fish for a river that is only 20 feet
wide and not very deep.
Report by Mo Tidemanis - San Clemente, CA
My wife and I arrived, and were immeidaitely awestruck by the natural
beauty of the ranch property. My wife Jann is an artisit and was inspried
to paint a couple of oil paintings of the property. I started fishing early
in the day (about 1pm) before the peak of the hatch. I was able to land a
couple of fine Upper Williamson River redband rainbows in the first half
hour of fishing. I used a 9' 5 weight fly rod with 5x (4lb.) flourocarbon
tippet for this delicate exclusively dry fly fishing. The black drake flies
(about size 14-16) that Dawn provided me with worked great. I plan to tie
some myself for next year. They are simply a black foam body with a bit of
elk or deer hairfeathered out at the hook eye to imitate wings.
By about 2:30, I was so relaxed (and the hatch had slowed) that I
took a brief nap in the meadow. I waited for the afternoon sun to start to
cast tree shadows over the stream. As this started to happen, the fishing
litrerally exploded. From Dawn's advice, I learned to watch the rise
patterns of the fish beore selecting the ones to pursue. The big splashy
takes were the smaller fish, and the very subtle almost imperceptable rises
were the bigger fish. Over the next few hours until I knocked off at
8:30pm, I was able to land over 20 fine rainbows on dry flies, averaging
14"-16". A couple of particularly challenging fish turned out to be
redsides over 20" in length. These fish required delicate casts and fly
presentations, with no room for sloppy casts. The takes were subtle, and
often required me to dead drift the fly within an inch or two of the cut
banks. The bigger fish were generally under or near a cut bank, waiting for
black drakes to pass by.
Too quickly the day came to an end. As we visited with Dawn and drove
into the fading sunset, we began planning to reserve our dates for next
Report by David Farris - Portland, OR
The spinners were in the air in waves, apparently surging with some invisible weather variation or maybe sunspots. My son found an eddy with an island of dead spinners the size of Delaware. He threw in some sticks and sent clumps of bugs back into the current. Big fish hit these like sharks. We had the most consitent action when the parade of dying bugs on the water thinned out a bit. Though stealth and presentation were paramount, the unspooked trout were gorging and weren't picky about our flies. Got takes on an ant, an Adams, and even a bushy caddis emerger. We landed a bunch of 12-14 inch redbands and a 15-inch brookie. Had on one absolute pig, but on his second shivering jump he graciously handed back my fly. I know where he lives, though.
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1:30 PM -- Hatch is huge. See flycam. Fish are feeding in direct sunlight, which they usually don't do. It'll be a feeding frenzy this afternoon when the shadows get on the river. But getting them to take your fly among the millions - that's the trick! Probably best the last hour before dark when it cools off and the flies diminish.
Finally got a day over 60 degrees with sunshine and the hatch is going off big-time. Fish are rising everywhere you look.
Cool and partly cloudy weather today. Black drakes swarmed during brief sunbreaks, when the temperature would approach 60 degrees. Fish gorged during these swarms and continued to rise to the sparser flies in between.
Cold, showery weather meant few flies. Fish were still feeding on just about anything that drifted by. No fishermen today but the fishing would have been good between showers.
Cool, windy weather slowed down the hatch but the fishing was still good. Two fishermen came down from Bend and had a great day. Full report coming soon.
No fishermen here today except the two hosts. Cooler weather meant a moderate number of flies, hungry fish, and easy fishing in the early afternoon. Caught two 15-17 inch redbands in 10 minutes and called it good.
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Report by Bob Woodward -
Journalist from Bend, OR
Minutes after setting foot on the ranch property, I began to experience one of the rarest afternoons and evenings of fishing I've ever had. A bug-filled experience, to say the least.
From late afternoon until dusk, the air around this section of the upper Williamson is filled with millions -- that's right, millions -- of black drake mayflies. I've seen clouds of mosquitoes in Alaska and small swarms of salmon flies on the Henry's Fork of the Snake River, but they pale by comparison with the black drakes' onslaught.
So many black drakes choke the river's feeding lanes that you'd think the fish would all be stuffed and very picky about what they'll eat.
But fish were fooled, by luck, I'm sure -- and what fish they turned out to be. No 10-pounders of dreams, but plenty of distinctive Upper Williamson redband trout varying in length from 12 to 25-plus inches, with ample girths and a penchant for big jumps and powerful runs.
(From Bob Woodward's article, "Bugs by the Gazillions", The Source Weekly, Bend, OR) Read full article.
05/30 - 05/31
Report by Dave Caplan -
The opportunity to fish the beautiful stretch of the upper Williamson
that runs through the meadow of Aspen Ridge Ranch should not be missed.
Reminding me of the gorgeous meadow areas of Yellowstone, the upper
Williamson in late May/June has an incomparable hatch of Black Drakes
that brings up every Redband trout in the area.
Sunday night followed a
cold spell that put down the hatch for a few days. The trout were
hungry and looking up, and the fishing was easy with #10 black-bodied
parachute adams and comparaduns. A nice 17" Redband provided the finish
to a wonderful evening.
Monday morning as the temperatures began to rise, the drakes began to
mass. At first the fishing was pretty easy, but as the clouds of mayfly
spinners began to fall to the river's surface, the odds of a trout
finding my fly among the millions of spinners on the water became very
small! The hatch was the most intense I've seen anywhere, lasting at
least 8 hrs. At times I could barely see the other side of the river
through the blizzard of drakes, and the feeling of standing in the
midst of such an insect orgy is indescribable. As the hatch tapered off
a bit, and the shadows began to fall on the river, the fishing became a
little easier, but still challenging and fun, demanding well-timed and
highly accurate casts to fish rising within inches of the opposite
bank. The final fish of the day was a very fat and healthy 18" Redband
that I had watched rise for hours. It took a #10 spinner on 5x tippet,
and provided a very satisfying ending to a most incredible day.
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