Fishing in Central Oregon

Canadian still-water fly fishermen set to present seminar in Sunriver

By Mark Morical / The Bulletin / @MarkMorical

Two gurus of lake fishing are coming to Central Oregon to share their wide-ranging knowledge with eager anglers.

Canadians Phil Rowley and Brian Chan will present a two-day seminar on lake fly-fishing Feb. 9-10 in Sunriver.

Doug Vakoc of Sunriver Anglers fishing club says he spent two years planning the seminar, which is co-hosted by the Central Oregon Flyfishers and the Sunriver Anglers.

“Looks like turnout is going to be good,” Vakoc said. “I'm really looking forward to it. Getting the two of them together is going to be great. We feel very fortunate to get them both down here at the same time.”

Rowley, 50 and of Sherwood Park, Alberta, is a writer, fishing guide and television host who is perhaps best known for his 2000 best-selling book “Fly Patterns for Stillwaters.”

Chan, 59 and of Kamloops, British Columbia, was a fisheries biologist for 35 years in Kamloops, which is often referred to as the stillwater-fishing capital of the world. Chan has since become a fly-fishing author, video producer, lecturer and angling guide.

Chan, who has fished Crane Prairie Reservoir and Davis Lake in Central Oregon, says local lakes are comparable to the 800-some lakes near Kamloops, located in the southern interior of British Columbia about 220 miles northeast of Vancouver.

“The lakes are very similar in water chemistry, vegetation, and bug hatches,” Chan said. “It's the same hatches that we've got (in Kamloops).”

Rainbow trout in the lakes near Kamloops, he says, can grow to as big as 10 to 15 pounds.

In the seminar, Rowley and Chan will cover such topics as lake biology/entomology, fishing chironomids, floating-line tactics, knots, tips for catching trophy trout, sinking-line tactics, fly-tying, and damsel/leech techniques.

“We're just trying to teach people how to fly-fish lakes, and different equipment and tactics they can use,” Rowley explained. “And understanding the food sources that trout feed on in lakes.”

Rowley started fishing when he was 6 years old and living in England. He emigrated to Canada with his family when he was 7 and grew up on Vancouver Island, fishing in the Pacific Ocean.

Before beginning his work on “Fly Patterns for Stillwaters,” Rowley was a commercial fly-tier. He has since authored two other books and is currently one of the hosts of the educational television show “The New Fly Fisher.” He also handles marketing and communications for Trout Unlimited Canada.

When he is not on the water, Rowley travels North America performing at outdoor shows, speaking to fly clubs and conducting fly-fishing schools. He also offers instructional stillwater guiding on the lakes located a short distance from his Edmonton-area home.

Rowley says the keys to fishing are patience and an appreciation for the environment.

“In some instances the fish are just a bonus — it's all about where they live,” Rowley said. “The places I've had the good fortune to go chase them, it kind of puts man in perspective, that we're just here for a short time. Nature just keeps rolling on.”

Rowley's love of fly-fishing has led him across North America pursuing trout, salmon, char, pike, walleye and numerous other species on the fly. He says some of his favorite lake-fishing spots include the “unbelievable trout fishing” in southwest Manitoba, as well as West Yellowstone, Mont.

Chan, whose father was an avid saltwater salmon fisherman, says he was “imprinted at a young age for fishing.” He received a degree in fisheries management and launched his long career as a biologist.

The lakes in the Kamloops area, on which Chan is an expert, are world-renowned for trophy rainbow trout.

“There's a hundred lakes you can drive to within an hour of town, nutrient-rich water, and diversity of fishing opportunities from family lakes to trophy waters,” Chan said of Kamloops.

While the trout lakes around Kamloops are his favorite fishing waters, Chan is often found wading rivers for trout and steelhead or making forays to the Northwest Territories and the Yukon River for big lake trout and pike. He also frequently travels to the tropics to fish the saltwater flats in Belize and Cuba for any fish that will bite a fly.

But both Chan and Rowley know that the West holds some of the best stillwater fly-fishing opportunities, from Central Oregon to Canada.

“Western North America is blessed with just an unbelievable amount of places to go and chase fish,” Rowley said. “You can close your eyes, spin yourself around and point.”

Still-water fishing in Western waters

What: A two-day seminar on lake fly-fishing with Canadian experts Phil Rowley and Brian Chan, presented by the Sunriver Anglers and the Central Oregon Flyfishers.

When: Feb. 9-10, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

Where: Sunriver Homeowners Aquatic and Recreation Center

Cost: Ranges from $75 to $95.

Contact: Doug@Vakoc.com or 541-598-2048.