Happy saturday everyone. I hope you are all staying safe and finding some time on the water.
I had 2 days on the lake guiding, and 2 days on the Metolius fishing by myself this week. Interesting, and full of discovery and a dose of hard reality mixed in for me and my clients. Fishing isn’t always easy that’s for sure. But a game well played is all we can ask for.
As usual, we will start locally on the Metolius just down the road from the shop here in Sisters.
Like I mentioned, I was lucky to fish it 2 days this week, one day was magical and the next was fun, but frustrating… SO MANY refusals on Dries. It happens, even with 19-20 foot leaders, 6x tippet and all of my favorite cripples, emergers and duns. Fish coming up to look, poke their noses at the fly, but not commit to eating. Or they turn up, and just as fast they turn away, not liking what they see. Finally, a Purple Comparadun and Yellow Knock Down Dun did work, but the list of what they wouldn’t take would take too long to type. Plus, that list would include flies that’ll likely work tomorrow or the next. It’s part of the challenge.
This week, I had my best success Euro Nymphing catching a number of fish on Black (w/red tag) perdigons. Other jigs and perdigons worked but the black/red was the hot fly for me.
Some fish came up to a Clark’s Stone too. That’s always fun in July, August and September with Golden Stone hatches going on. This will be getting better and better with the warmer july and august days surely on the horizon.
For most the river you’ll find PMD (#16) and BWO (#18-20) and caddis hatches (olive #16-18, tan #16-20) to be important.
Bull Trout fishing this week was fair. I really think the wind and barometer changes had all the fish in a sort of disarray in a lot of places, and from what I heard from my Bull Trout crew was it was tougher this week. That said, there should be a lot of BT migrating up from the Lake so it is on a trend of improving for several months starting now.
The Crooked is in good shape at about 240 cfs, a nice even summer flow and generally pretty steady fishing on small mayfly and midge nymphs. We’ve been seeing the best action from about Mile Post 14 or 15 up to the Bowman Dam. As the afternoon shadows hit the water look for rising fish to PMD, BWO, Mahogany Duns and small Caddis. In the evening hours a Purple Comparadun and Rusty Spinner is working well on top. It’s amazing how few people are fishing the evening.
Fall River is great. Lot’s of nice fish in all stretches and they have been looking up to PMD’s, Yellow Sally’s, Ants, Olive Elk Hair Caddis and Red Tarantula’s. In fact, that Tarantula is a great indicator with a sunken ant trailed behind it.
Crippled PMD’s are the ticket during the hatch. Rusty Spinners will hit the water at dusk.
Our guides have been smacking fish on Euro Nymphing techniques and perdigons.
Remember there is no access to the Fish Hatchery during the Covid pandemic, so the headwaters down to the private property above the hatchery and the Deschutes up to LaPine State Park through the Falls and Tubes section is all fishable.
The Lower Deschutes was great this week overall, with continuing caddis hatches mixed with both PMD and Pale Evening Dun hatches.
If you know where to look you could really fish dry flies all day on the Lower D, but you’ll increase your catch if you nymph effectively throughout the afternoon and plan on better dry fly action in the evening.
Sparkle Pupa, Fox’s Poopah, Kryptonite Caddis and Plan C have been super for us during the afternoon hours as Caddis Pupa are in the drift. Small Stonefly Nymphs as well as Mayfly nymphs (Micro May and 2 Bit Hookers) and Zebra Midges have all been very effective.
The Middle Deschutes is another good option and is holding up well with good flows, and good evening dry fly fishing. PMD, PED, BWO, Caddis and attractors are good. Look for good access all through the Middle D from just above Bend around the Bill Healey Bridge near Old Mill all the way down to Lake Billy Chinook. There must be 100 access opportunities in all those miles of river, go find one and enjoy.
The McKenzie was awesome all week. Nymphing has been crushing it, but certainly fun dry fly action going on too. Our guides have been getting a lot of fish on a Chubby, but PMD’s, Elk Hair, Parachute Adams, Purple Haze are good. Heavy Jig Nymphs drifted along the boat have produced some days for the history books recently.
A week or two ago I made the suggestion in my weekly report to go seek other waters. It was met with a lot of encouraging emails and responses. Thank you!
Some of you ventured over to Prineville Reservoir and whacked Bass and Crappie. Some of you went to lakes totally off the radar of most fly shops, guides and anglers, even local ones!
I just had a report from Cultus Lake. Yep. And it was great. I love hearing this. I look forward to exploring more myself and hearing more from our friends out there about places we can go to spread ourselves out a little.
I am noticing that the crowds at East and Crane have slowed up compared to early season. I don’t generally fish weekends on the lakes so I am talking mid week from my own perspective, but it is nice to have some breathing room on the water and a place to park the truck and trailer in the morning.
Here are some suggestions for lakes to try that aren’t on the “normal” list: Cultus, Little Cultus, Elk, Todd, Devils (I have tubed that a few times and it is kind of magical even though it is all stocked rainbows). Close to Sisters I want to go try Big Lake as a water ski buddy told me he’s seen great mayfly hatches and fish rising well to them in the little coves that are all around the lake. I like evenings on Clear Lake. I want to try the Smallmouth on a summer evening or morning at Suttle. I’d also love to know how Smallmouth got to Suttle in the first place. Did they migrate from Lake Billy? Were they illegally stocked like at Crane and Davis with the Largemouth? From a bird? Hmmm. Anyway, I will go fish for them soon and let you know.
I went up to East Lake Tuesday and the lake was fogged over, it was 39 degrees and blowing hard enough the chop was turning to white caps at 8:30 AM. I looked at my clients and asked them if they could go on Friday instead. I had the day off my guide schedule and they were 2 retired local guys and it worked for all of us. Yesterday was glorious weather, but how was the fishing?
SO…I found East to be challenging and interesting this week. A hard match. A challenging game. But fun.
On Thursday we found some good morning chironomid action on the Hump. Yesterday, in the same area no chironomid bite at all. But did find fish feeding aggressively coming to the top chasing “something” (????). While we never figured it out we did end up getting a really good rainbow on a Callibaetis nymph stripped with an intermediate line.
On Wednesday we witnessed what was basically a zero Callibaetis hatch day, to Friday where we saw Callibaetis begin a better hatch at about 1:30 catching several carefully directing the weed lines with dries (mostly a comparadun and a cool little emerger I have been experimenting with in 2020). We also found some fish on beetles during the afternoon.
One disappointing fact of the matter at East this season is an over abundance of small (7-9″) Kokanee. And Chubs. If you are indicator fishing or wind drifting they will both be an annoyance.
Speaking of wind drifting, I have yet to catch a decent trout on a wind drift at East Lake in 2020. Not on a Hover, not on an intermediate, not on a Type 3. Not on all of my favorite Callibaetis Nymphs or leeches, or damsels. Nada. Zip. That is weird as hell. Somedays it is partly due to the kokanee getting in the way. Tap tap tap. Tap tap tap. Damn you tiny kokanee.
Don’t give up on the hatch. Be patient, look around, poke the shorelines and the edges of the floating weed beds. AND, a second wave of Callibaetis (2nd Brood) will be out in August and early September.
I haven’t been to Crane Prairie in about 12 days. I miss it but have heard it’s been pretty good in the Deschutes, Quinn and Cultus Channels on Balanced Leeches. I am super stoked to be headed there Thursday with my old college fishing buddy Chester Allen.
My reports have been consistent with the balanced leech from nearly everyone I have talked to this week about CP. The one thing is how different the color of the leech can be from day to day. If I could spreadsheet the colors I’d say that olive, then black, then red and brown would be the order of what’s been best in terms of color on the leech.
Damsel nymphs are super important too and never count out chironomids in the Channels all summer at Crane.
We’ve had a few guide trips on Hosmer lately and one of the shop guys went up for the evening session the other night. They have all said there is good Callibaetis hatches in the evening, and good damsel action in the afternoon. Tons of Adult damsels on the water and the fish will smack those blue dry flies with reckless abandon a lot of days.
Besides damsels and Callibaetis, Ants, Beetles, Leeches, Red Chironomids and Zebra Midges are going to round out your fly selection up there.
Lot’s of paddle boards and kayaks pleasure boating in the afternoon so get there early and beat that rush or go at dinner and fish until dark. If you fish to dark, the Caenis mayfly hatch and spinner fall will be on the water in the lower lake at dusk. Bring your 7x fluorocarbon tippet and some trico imitations to match this puzzle.
Finally we will head to 3 Creek Lake where we can report an (over) abundance of tourists and some really good fishing. I will tell you if you can avoid weekends, do. If you can get up early in the morning or fish dinner to dark you will be better off. The callibaetis hatch is best from about 1 to 4 or 5, and again as the sun goes off the water in the evening. Fish will also be rising to emerging midges (check out the emerging midge we sell from Phil Rowley) and Black X Caddis.
Fishing ants along the shorelines is good.
Leeches, Damsels, Chironomids are all good.
For 30 summers I have been teaching a casting lesson at Black Butte Ranch. For years it was always on a tuesday night from 7 to dark, until last season when I decided with the Rec Center we should change the time to Saturday morning. It is glorious to go out there on a saturday morning and this morning was no exception. I will say that today was the 1st day in my life I taught a class wearing a face mask. A reality we face for a while to come yet.
What struck me as so important as I watched a father with his birthday girl daughter (13!) come take my class along with another woman visiting from Portland was how important it is to learn and practice the art of casting.
The 13 year old birthday girl was dream student. She aced her plane, her arc and her timing and tempo. her loops were rhythmic and nearly perfect time after time. She may end up being my best student of 2020, but I cant define that yet. I told her the world champion fly caster was a young woman about her age, and told her to look up Maxine McCormick on Google and You Tube. Maxine is the teenage casting phenom who has beat the best casters (mostly middle aged men) in the world on at least 2 continents. Read the New York Times article titled the Mozart of Fly Casting and check out You Tube to see her magic.
I see a lot of casters and varying abilities in my job as a fly shop owner, a guide and as a casting instructor.
I know as a guide and as an angler that a good presentation starts with a consistently good cast. That doesn’t usually mean a long cast, but it means a good loop, thrown accurately and landed in way to introduce just the right amount of slack in to the line to achieve a great drift and in the case of a dry fly, a good drag free float.
I see too many people that never practice or never took a lesson from a qualified casting instructor.
A guide can get you to a fish and work so hard to put the right fly, leader and tippet on. But if the client can’t cast well, the hard days get tougher and tougher in a hurry.
What are you doing tonight? Can you take 20 minutes in the back yard or in the park down the street and go practice getting a small piece of yarn or a fly without a hook into a hula hoop from 20 to 50 feet away?
Casting is an art and some I admire greatly in people who are either naturals or people that work hard to become better.
Cast well my friends.