The Wallowa River is our "bread and butter" water. It begins as snow melt high in the Wallowa mountains and its flows through the upper and lower Wallowa valleys. From an incredible June golden-stone hatch, through October caddis madness, to solid winter and spring steelhead numbers this river does it all. The best part? The most productive water is all public access! Back down highway 82, approximately 30 miles (40 min) from Joseph is the stretch of water we lovingly call "The Canyon", and it is here where 18+ inch natives and 30+ fish days can be found stalking the boulder runs. In the canyon the river bank drops steeply and lends itself to great riffle and run fishing. Find a pull-out, start fishing.
New this year the Wallowa River is open for trout fishing "year-round!" This means no more hanging up your boots for the end of May to roll around. Also the Wallowa can be great fishing for larger than normal rainbows during the spring and early summer. Fishing will be best in the "structured" water with boulders - avoid the long shallow sections unless there is a slot or something near the bank. Try dead drifting stonefly, caddis, hare'sear, and prince nymph. We often use two flies (more like a Euro nymph set up ) with a smaller bead-head dropper such as a copper john, soft hackle, or phesant tail. Local fisherman and USA fly-fishing team member Devon Olson has written some great stuff about nymphing, and euro-nymphing in particularwhich you can check out on his blog The Tactical Fly Fisher.
Some of our favorite Wallowa River fly patterns:
Dries: Kaufman Stimulator sz. 8 -14 , Parachute Adams sz. 10- 16 , Purple Haze sz 10 -16, Foamulator sz. 6-12 , Caddis sz 8-16, Hoppers sz 6 - 12 , Yellow Sallies sz. 12 - 16
Nymphs: Princes sz. 6 - 14, Rubber Leg Squirrel sz. 8 - 14, Copper John sz. 12 - 18 , Lightning Bug sz. 14 - 18, Bead Head Hare's Ear sz 8 - 16, Wooly Bugger sz. 8 - 12, Kaufman Stone Nymph sz. 6 -12
Current Weather: Forecast
Wallowa River Reports:
7/21/18 Wait a minute. Have had a couple good reports of trout fishing on the Wallowa last two days. Need someone to take the the water temperature late afternoon. Perhaps our cool night time temps (upper forties) and reasonable daily highs (upper seventies/lower eighties are holding water temps for now. Will report when river temps near seventies. Best to fish early AM, late PM.
7/20/18: ALERT. The river has dropped about two feet since the last report. I would rate fishing during the day as poor. The deepest pools are mostly less than three feet deep - where do the fish go (?) - upstream, downstream, hide under trees and don't feed. Best fishing is early morning and late evening. Still plenty of caddis and mayfly hatches, and hoppers coming on. We will start having to monitor stream temps to see if the river is too warm - will stress the fish too much. Come in and we will try to send you to some mountain streams where you can target small bows and brook trout.
7/12/18: The Wallowa continues to drop and is at perfect levels for fishing AND careful wadding (it's a very slippery river - use cleats and a wadding staff). The trout success rate seems to depend partly on the skill of the flyfisher. Everyone seems to be catching the smaller fish (6" - 9"), some are catching a few more over 10", and the best are still finding some of the big boys (15"+). Try a dry fly (foam ?) with a sz 16 dropper. Lots of caddis (swarms at times), BWO and other mayflies, and, strangely, still some golden stones.
7/4/18: The Wallowa has dropped sharply the last few days. A flyfisher reported crossing the river a number of times in the canyon. He also had pictures of two thick fish in the 18" range - nymphing with a big stone and a size 16 dropper. He claims to have lost a trout over 20".
6/29/18: Speaking with a guide today, he said that the warm weather yesterday afternoon resulted in bugs everywhere: golden stones, caddis, BWO and other smaller mayflies. As the weather continues to warm this week expect good fishing. The surprise is that the river remains so high - too high to wade except along the bank. Expect it to drop soon, followed by great July fishing
6/27/18 Went fishing yesterday evening - it was slow and nobody was fishing. Water is as high as two weeks ago and the only wading is right along bank. Stone flies are gone, replaced with a good mid-afternoon dark brown sz 12 caddis hatch. The trout showed little interest in them. We caught a variety of small trout in the 6" - 11" range, but had to work for them even with dropper nymphs. A couple guides floating the river also reported slow fishing - none of the big fish we caught on salmon flies a couple weeks ago. Watch for a drop in cfs. We will try to report any improvements.
6/19/18: Another good afternoon on the water: four fish 14" - 18" on salmon flies plus 8" - 12" fish. Storm moved in and I didn't see salmon flies on the water/bushes. It seemed pretty slow after 4:30, but another angler said he did pretty good on a 14 prince to 6:30. Hope the river continues to drop and day temps warm to encourage more hatches. Could be a good weekend.
6/18/18: Wow - perhaps some of the best dry fly action for big fish (15" to 20" thick hogs) I have had on the Wallow in years. Not a lot of fish, but I was wading upstream along grass banks casting 15' upstream within 3' of the bank. I walked a fair distance between small holding pockets. You can double your catch by dropping a sz 16/14 15" under your big foam salmon fly pattern. No stinkin rattlesnakes or crowds needed for premier salmon fly fishing.
6/16/18: ALERT!!!!! Everyone that has driven by the Wallowa in the Canyon this past week has assured me that recent rains have left the river too high to fish. Until yesterday - a friend and excellent flyfisher from Bend, gave it a try. With salmon flies/golden stones plentiful, he tied on an orange crystal stimulator and ..... had a great evening of fishing. Being the Deschutes Salmon Fly expert he is, he cast upstream within 3 feet of the bank and dead drifted the fly back down stream. Besides catching a number of Wallowa "hogs," he caught a nice range of trout - 12" - 16" and 8" - 10". He commented on how feisty the fish were. He fished from about 5:00 to 7:00 in the evening. More rain is expected tomorrow, but .... PS I was just told that the above report was probably good timing in that the river had dropped and cleared after last weeks rains.
6/6/18: Yawn .... Sorry kids, we were a little late crawling out of our cave this spring. But, up to now, the Wallowa has been raging - pretty normal for this time of year. However, the mountain tributaries have dropped quickly the last few weeks. The high country trails are starting to open up to hikers.
A few fly fishers are starting to pick away at the banks of the Wallowa with nymphs. In a week (or better, two weeks) float fishing or fishing from the bank should pick-up. It will probably be July before you can wade across the river.
Salmon flies and Golden Stonesare moving quickly up the Grand Ronde and should hit the Wallowa before long. However, Wallowa trout seem to be slow to feed on them. All the same, a stimulator with a touch of orange is probably the number one dry fly year-round.
Still, the best way to trick a Wallowa trout is with a BH prince nymph, with a sz 16 dropper, below a strike indicator. Trout on the Wallowa can reach 20". This high water is a good time to find them. Consider using a sx 2-4 black bh woolly bugger with green crystal flash, or even a dali llama.