Make Tracks to the Little Known Fly Fishing Waters Around
When Keith Liggett teaches fly-fishing for the Skamania County
Parks and Recreation, he uses the grassy expanse of the County
Fairgrounds in Stevenson for teaching the basic cast. At the
end of that first evening tossing a line, he gathers the class
and walks them across the street to Rock Creek, which runs
through the city of Stevenson adjacent to the Fair Grounds.
He points out the white water around the rocks and boulders
in the creek. He explains how trout lie behind the rocks in
eddies, the still water. How they feed at the eddy line where
they can dart out and back with minimum exposure.
Tossing a short line into the Creek, he shows where to set
the fly drifting to make the most “bug like” presentation
to the fool the fish. In short order, each of the class hooks
and lands a fish. The bend of a fly rod with a fish irresistibly
hooks the students on the sport of fly fishing. More than
hooking the fish, the fish each hook a neophyte fisherman.
The simple fact a fly-fishing class taught in within the
City of Stevenson finishes with the students catching fish
their first night, tells the tale of flyfishing around Stevenson.
Lots of fish. People are still learning. It’s not crowded.
The City of Stevenson is the County Seat of Skamania County.
A native word, “Skamania” means “Land of
Swift Running Waters”, an appropriate name for this
forested land rising from the Great Cascades of the Columbia
River to the heights of Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens. And
true to the root of the word Skamania, around Stevenson, in
ponds, in rivers and creeks, lie vast and diverse opportunities
to pursue fly fishing.
For the first time in almost a decade, this year the famed
Wind River will be open for summer steelhead. This season
will be catch and release, artificial lures only, but landing
one of these silver bullets stands out in every fisherman’s
journal. Prized as both a brood stock and as a sport catch,
the Wind River summer steelhead remains a classic Northwest
On the Washougal River, just west of Stevenson, the river
hosts runs of both steelhead and salmon. There are resident
trout. With a road running the length of the river, respect
private property, but enjoy the challenge of the toss. Some
river sections are characterized by pool drops. Other sections
run broad, shallow, even flowing over a cobble bottom with
boulders creating perfect holding waters.
North of Stevenson, in the north county, the Sispus and the
Lewis Rivers offer fine fishing for trout. A little more difficult
to access, the rivers reward those hardy enough to either
hike or make the commitment to float the more remote sections.
Spanning millions of acres, the Gifford Pinchot National
Forest ( the GP) is dotted with lakes, most with motor restrictions,
but perfect for canoes or small rowboats. Each holds a resident
population of trout waiting for the casual drop of a fly.
A wiggle and a hit away from a good time waits for the fly
fisherman up in the “GP”.
And then there is Stevenson’s own Rock Creek. Besides
being fine teaching water, Rock Creek holds medium native
trout to its headwaters. On weekends, fishermen are infrequent.
On weekdays, they are non-existent. Rock Creek is trout water
in the truest sense. Trout and pretty much only trout.
While the near-by Deschutes River garners the bulk of the
local fishing verbiage and attention, the waters around Stevenson
quietly flow into the Columbia, an un-tapped high quality
fishery waiting to be found.
Make tracks to Stevenson for un-trammeled water waiting
for a fly.
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