Guided fishing on the Grande Ronde River, Wallowa River and Wallowa Lake.

A winter Belize Bonefish trip to remember.

Recently, my wife and I headed south to Ambergris Caye, Belize. This was our third trip in 5 years and this time, we decided to take our friends Grant and Heidi Jackson from Down and Across Media ( As always, San Pedro was busy a great time and we made it a point to visit some of our favorite spots. And naturally, we found our way to the flats.

Fishing from the beach was actually somewhat productive for bones. Grant and I did pretty well in and around our resort area. Sight fishing, of course, was the name of the game. On day four, Grant and I went out with Belize Fly. This year, we focused our efforts on the gulf side of the island, up north-almost to Mexico. The north winds made sight fishing the flats on the lagoon (west) side of the island all but impossible.

Our guide pushed us pretty hard. Admittedly, we probably messed up telling him our fly fishing history. Bad move, but it made for great entertainment and a few moments of humility.

As our day progressed, we had plenty of shots at Bonefish and Permit. Both Grant and I did fairly well, hooking over 10 Bonefish and putting most to hand. I had the opportunity to chase a couple of Tarpon around, eventually hooking one and watching him snap my 12lb Bonefish leader like it wasn't even there. No, we did not have Tarpon equipment with us. Yes, we still had to try. Whoops.

Overall though, I was very impressed with our guide and my new gear; the new Sage Salt HD 890-4 and a Nautilus NV-G8/9. A great flats combination that I truly think would be pretty hard to beat. The Salt HD was incredibly impressive  and lived up to it's praise for speed with longer shots, punching through tough wind. The NV/G, well, it's ridiculous how powerful and smooth that reel is. The best I've ever seen.

As the week moved along, we continued to do alright from the beach. I bought my wife (Montana) a half day with one of our favorite San Pedro guys, Eloy Gonzalez from Gonzalez Adventures. Montana was nice enough to let me throw a few shots at some Tarpon early in the morning. I was ready this time with 60lb leader. But, no dice this time.

I sat back and watched the rest of the day as Montana then proceeded to crush it in the flats. It was basically non stop bonefish shots. She hooked something that we never saw and she couldn't get stopped without breaking off. All in all, it was a great day and an amazing trip. Good food, good weather, good fishing and good friends.

Shortly after returning, Grant and I took a December two night trip down the Wild and Scenic section of the Grande Ronde. We brought a tipi tent from Montana Canvas. A wood stove, with lots of firewood kept us pretty comfortable in the temps that ranged from the low teens to the low 20's. I couldn't help but laugh on the final morning when I walked down to the raft and found her completely covered without about an eight of an inch of ice. What a difference a week makes when it comes to fishing trips!

If you'd like to discuss a fly fishing trip to Belize, send me an email or give me a call.

Paul Pagano


The author with a Bonefish on Ambergris Caye, Belize.


I've frequently fished for trout with a spey rod, just not a dedicated trout spey rod. Recently, I acquired the Sage One Trout Spey 3110-4. At eleven feet long, this light three weight is a very impressive piece of gear. Paired with a 275 grain Rio Skagit Max Short shooting head and Rio Slickshooter 25 pound running line, you'll quickly find that you can cast this setup as far as your bigger 6 and 7 weight steelhead rods. These rods are able to easily cast intermediate tips, all the way to a section of T-8, if needed. After that, jumping up in rod weight and speed would certainly be a good idea for the larger tips. 

I've been really impressed with how accurate and light these rods are. Every grab is a blast and your 16" bows or small mouth bass will keep you guessing until you get a good look at them.

So why grab a dedicated trout spey rod? Simply put, it keeps you in the double hand game all year, outside of the steelhead and salmon seasons. I believe it will also make you a better caster, for the obvious reason of having a spey rod with you all year, but also in a sense that it makes you focus more on your mechanics. Essentially, with the shorter shooting heads, it forces the caster to focus on anchor placement and keeping that anchor all the way through the rod load, effectively using all of the rod (as designed). It really forces a caster to stay inside the "phone booth" when setting up the cast.

To get started, go to your local fly shop and pick up a few of these to see what you like. Most of the larger manufactures are (and have been for a while) producing a line of trout spey rods. Sage, Winston and Thomas and Thomas (just to name a few) all make excellent trout spey rods that won't disappoint. If you're on a tighter budget, Redington's Hydrogen is an excellent option to get started with. As a guideline, go with a reel two sizes up to achieve good rod balance.

So do some research and feel free to contact Fly Side Angling for any questions about getting started. See you on the river.


Paul Pagano

Paul Pagano with a Sage One Trout Spey 3110-4. Photo courtesy of Grant Jackson.

Paul Pagano with a Sage One Trout Spey 3110-4. Photo courtesy of Grant Jackson.

Now booking fall 2017 steelhead day trips on the Grande Ronde River. Summer 2017 trout and bass trips still available.

The fall steelhead run is not too far off and now is a good time to start planning a trip to the Grande Ronde River. Fly Side Angling is currently booking trips from September to late November, 2017. Trout fishing can be excellent during the early fall, as well.

You'll appreciate the remoteness of the canyon, as the Grande Ronde River is about an hour north of Joseph and Enterprise, the Wallowa Valley's main towns. The river is about the same distance south of the Lewiston/Clarkston area. On top of excellent fishing opportunities, the scenery in the region during the fall can be down right hard to beat. As to approaching the water, swinging flies and nymphing as we float to the next swinging run is how we approach steelhead in the fall (or whatever your preference is for the day). This is a great time to perfect your spey casting and single handed casting techniques, working closely with our guides.

Additionally, Fly Side has summer availability for trout and bass. This year's water conditions will allow us to safely fish, late into into the summer. Things will start really heating up as the flows continue to drop. We expect that July and August will both be great months to be on the water and we look forward to an excellent summer for trout and bass. Day trips to the Grande Ronde River and Wallowa River are an excellent option this time of year.

Give Fly Side Angling a call (541-398-0180) or inquire by email ( about availability this summer and fall. For steelhead multi-day trips in the fall (float, fish and camp trips), contact Winding Waters River Expeditions (, a partner with Fly Side Angling. Thanks for visiting and we hope to see you on the water soon.

Paul Pagano

Grande Ronde River steelhead, photo by Devin Olsen

Good luck to our friend and fellow guide, Devin Olsen, as he moves back to Utah.

I met Devin Olsen in early 2015 on the Wallowa River. I learned that he had just taken a job with the Nez Perce Tribe as a Fisheries Biologist (working alongside my wife, Montana) and was brand new to the county. We agreed to stay in touch and soon planned a trip to one of our local rivers. 

Soon, we were on the water. We did well on that outing (I won't bring up that we had to MacGyver one of his Euro-Nymphing leaders out of a tree-across the river), hooking close to double digit numbers of steelhead and landing six, with three each. Devin explained Fly Fishing Team USA and Euro-Nymphing, as I inquired, for the better part of an hour while driving to and from the river. 

A while later, I hooked and landed my first Euro-Nymphed steelhead on the Grande Ronde with Devin, after we switched fly rods for a bit. From there, a lot of the crew started employing the technique when applicable and I'm glad to have added that tool to the tool box. However, we still haven't given up our strike indicators and I gladly produce excessively obese versions of these for fun when fishing with Devin, trying to solicit a reaction. I usually get, "It even says bobber on the package!'' Often this is followed by some kind of hair band high note coming from D's direction as well. Don't get him going (no seriously, get him going, its hilarious). 

And away from the river, fly tying nights were usually eventful and we all learned quite a bit from Devin about Euro-Nymphing patterns . While most of us were busy partaking in the Speyburn (or something terribly worse), Devin was focused on the task at hand, even during bro time. It became apparent to me that Devin's focus in all things fly fishing certainly, over time, had elevated his skill level above most other top tier anglers. His individual bronze finish (and silver team finish) in the the 2015 World Fly Fishing Championship in Bosnia is evidence of such focus and discipline.

Recently, Devin announced that he will be moving his family back to Utah, in order to grow his business ( and continue to help his wife pursue her career goals. I know I speak for the rest of the group when I say that Devin will be truly missed around here. Arguably one of the best anglers on the planet, Devin has taught me to push myself further as a fly angler, guide and student of the river. On top of all of that, he's been a good friend.

So take care D and good luck with your new endeavor. Although we're sad to lose you around here, we're all happy for you and your family. It's been great being on the water with you these past few seasons. Come back and see us soon, we'll always have a spot at the table and on the rafts. 

Oh and if you could do me a favor and maybe take an intesive turkey carving class before the next Thanksgiving Day, I'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks bud. 

Paul Pagano

Goodbye to steelhead for a while. Hello trout.

The 2016/2017 steelhead return to the Grande Ronde watershed was slated to be one of those years with below average return. Biologists predicated that the returns of two salt fish would be greater than the one salt fish, because a large amount of one salt fish were killed in adverse ocean conditions.

The fish we saw this year were large and they fought hard. The smaller one salts were still around, just not in great quantity. I guess every now and again we have to have a not so stellar, but still somewhat productive year.

The Grande Ronde steelhead return does run in cycles and I've watched it go from fantastic to fair fishing. I still can't say that I've seen a "bad" year, because the fish have been here every year since I started spending the fall in Troy in 2009 and in good numbers. I would rather reserve the word "bad" to describe water conditions, when applicable.

The fish we did find this year were in pods. 15 steelhead were swung up in less than two days in a stretch of river no more than a few miles long on the Grande Ronde. And in saying that, we found the dry sections in between.  So again, even the lower number years aren't "bad" and can be a lot of fun.

As the spring moves along, the steelhead get a break and the trout become more active. Devin Olsen and I were fishing the Wallowa (now open year round) on May 2nd and found plenty of March Browns hatching, along with some sporadic Caddis. The fishing was great and we had plenty of success both nymphing and swinging (stayed tuned for an instructional fly tying post on what is becoming a favorite fly of mine to swing for trout).

So as we put the big rods away and transition for trout, I'm confident this year will be awesome. We have a lot of snow which should keep the rivers in good shape and the temperatures in the safe range, through August. Give FSA a call to discuss a trip with us on what is shaping up to be a great trout year.

-Paul Pagano