View Full Version : Oregon Bullys and possible chinooks

03-01-2009, 01:31 AM
Hey Everyone,

I will be headin out to Oregon to help a PhD student conduct her research on bull trout in eastern Oregon. Part of the research will be doing angling surveys (my kind of research). I would much rather cast my fly-rod rather than the ugly-sticks provided. My biggest rod is a 5wt TFO, any idea on what size rod would be recommended?

"Rivers and the inhabitants of the watery elements are made for wise men to contemplate and for fools to pass by without consideration." -Izaac Walton

03-01-2009, 11:24 AM
UTK, I made a trip to the same area a few years back on business in the Columbia River valley. I took a 5wt and had no problems. Although a bull trout can get up to 7-8 lbs, most I encountered in the streams were 2lbs or less.

03-01-2009, 07:11 PM
I'd call a few shops in the area and ask them for opinions. It's going to depend on the size of water. If its a decent size river, you're going to need something with more backbone than a 5wt.

In Montana it's illegal (without special permits) to target bulls due to them being an endangered species. If you get caught targeting bulls (rangers usually look for heavy streamers/buggers and sinking lines) you get a ticket. You don't even have to have a fish on you, just having your rod rigged for bulls can get you a ticket.

It's pretty cool that you get to fish for bulls.

03-02-2009, 03:16 PM
UTK, sounds like a great way to conduct a survey! As for the 5 wt you are bringing, it depends, as UofMontanaAlum mentioned. I grew up in Oregon, and the rivers can vary widely in size and character throughout the state. If you are surveying smaller streams in eastern Oregon, you might be okay, especially if the maximum size of the fish is several pounds. However, for larger streams and rivers, a 7 or 8 wt would be more in order (and if you are in a place where adult Chinooks are a possibility, you'll need at least an 8, if not a 9 or 10 wt).
I don't usually like to advertise Bull trout, because they are federally listed as threatened throughout their range, and in my opinion they are one of the most vulnerable and precious salmonids out there. However, there are a few watersheds in Oregon where catch-and-release fishing is allowed, one of the most well-known being the Metolius river in central Oregon (sometimes called the "worst-kept secret in the state", one of the loveliest and most challenging rivers in the country in my biased opinion, and home to one of the few thriving populations of Bull trout in the country, along with native Rainbows, whitefish and some wild Browns). Here, Bulls commonly reach sizes of 6-10+ lbs (really), and they are highly predatory, going after the rest of the fish in the system. Within any watershed where Bulls are found, they are often the dominant predatory fish, and can reach impressive sizes, even in smaller streams.
With all this in mind, if you are fortunate enough to be on a fairly good-sized stream where Bull trout fishing is allowed, first off, please treat each of these char with respect and care, they are a fragile and vulnerable species throughout most of their range, and secondly, bring a stout rod and some big streamers (5 or 6 inches long or longer is not too big) and fish deep with heavy tippets (Bulls are not leader-shy, and usually occupy the deepest runs in a stream, on the bottom, and primarily feed on nymphs and fish), and play the fish as quickly as you can to avoid exhausting it (a problem I have sometimes seen on the Metolius; Bull trout will dog and sulk at the bottom of deep runs, they are incredibly powerful fish, and the heavier rods used to muscle these fish to hand in less time can help avoid this).
This is probably more info than you wanted, and if it sounds a bit preachy, I apologize, but Bull trout hold a special place in my heart. If you cradle one of these native char in your hands, I think you'll understand. Let us know how the survey goes!


03-03-2009, 01:03 AM
I really appreciate it. Ya it is a great opportunity to cast for these amazing fish. We will not only be conducting angling surveys but a variety of sampling methods, mainly electro-fishing. The PhD student is Identifying the mechanisms by which environmental variables affect early life survival and determining the importance of dispersal rates and habitat factors on bull trout distribution will help managers prioritize recovery efforts and define the necessary scale of habitat protection. (Pretty important stuff)

Rob GRiggs
03-04-2009, 02:58 PM
uofmontana, You are right you cant fish for bull trout there. If you catch one you are supposed to release it. I am not for sure but I think that most of the bull trout in the U.S. came from Montana. I have also heard of bull trout getting up the 20lbs. Make sure that you know the laws there. If you want to fish for big bull trout go to B.K.

03-05-2009, 10:35 PM
oh by no means will I be breakin the law, angling surveys are a legitimate scientific fish sampling method. We have permits.:smile:

Rob GRiggs
03-06-2009, 10:56 AM
Sweet I hope you get into a BIG bull trout. I would still some how not to forget to bring my camera.:)