The toughest part about the Wallowa River is access. We stayed up by Wallowa Lake outside of Joseph, and it was almost an hour’s drive to get to anywhere with bank access to the river. The best bank access is the 13 miles from the town of Wallowa to the confluence with the Minam River. There are numerous pullouts along the highway, as well as a couple parks with easy bank access. Upstream of Wallowa, all the way to the lake, the river runs through private land. There’s a couple hundred yards of access at the state park where it feeds into the lake, but not enough to keep this angler occupied for more than a few minutes. Although, in those few minutes, I did manage to pull three of these guys out of there:
Later that afternoon, I did make the drive downstream of Wallowa, and spent some time
fishing the bank access area. I’ve taken to carrying two rods these days, and this day I rigged up a 4 weight with a hare’s ear nymph and indicator, and also my ultralight with a 1/6 oz. light-brown Roostertail, which seems to catch trout in any stream better than any spinner in my arsenal.
Fishing in August, the trout tend to stick to the fast, better-oxygenated water, which is where I concentrated. I can’t say I landed any beasts, but both fly and lure enticed a few of them into my net. After boosting my confidence with the spinner, I drifted the nymph through the faster runs, with some success.
Looking for more water to explore, I hiked up both the east and west forks of the river.
One resource said the west fork has mainly rainbows, and the east fork has brookies. This may be true, but after hours of hiking, there are scant opportunities to get down to the banks. Six miles up the east fork, the river comes out of Aneroid Lake. A climb to get up to, but certainly worth the hike, even just for the views.
Aneroid Lake has plenty of brook trout. I didn’t find any of size, but they were still fun to catch.