I’ll start this weeks fishing report with a plea to help protect trout as we are in a bit of a prolonged heat wave. Today is a good day to discuss water temperatures and what is safe for our trout. Overall, we are so lucky to have so much cold water in our rivers and some lakes. Yet, some places are reaching day time water temperatures that worry me for trout.
Places that are safe temperatures pretty much all the time: The Metolius and Fall River because they are Spring Creeks and stay cold. They are great for the fish on these super warm days. The Mckenzie always stays cold in the summer in the Upper and Middle runs. Cold snow melt coming out of the Mountains is the savior for the McKenzie. The Crooked River and Lower Deschutes are cold tailwaters with the water coming from a deep reservoir above the dam and staying cold near that source of water.
The higher lakes, like East, Paulina and 3 Creeks, and Clear Lake at the headwaters of the McKenzie are cold, or cold enough to be good for the fish we love.
So what is too warm? For me, when the water temperatures are under 68 I am feeling good about Catch & Release. If it goes above 68, I get nervous, and above 70 I feel it is our responsibility to stop fishing for trout when it gets too warm. Bass and Bluegill thrive in water in the 70’s.
Some states actually change their regulations during the heat of the summer in what is referred to as a “Hoot Owl” regulation. This means fishing opens at dawn and closes just after noon once the hot sun starts warming the surface water. Oregon has done this on the Lower Deschutes below mack’s canyon to the mouth to protect steelhead but has been reluctant to do so for trout waters.
So, let’s start with the Metolius and take a tour from top to bottom. I’ve written a lot of fishing reports on the Metolius over the years and I rarely (or have never mentioned) Grasshoppers. In the Upper River Grasshoppers have been working pretty well along with Golden Stones, PMD’s, Caddis, and Ant’s. Euro Nymphing in the Upper stretches from the Riverside CG to Gorge CG is quite productive.
The Middle River from the Canyon to Bridge 99 is ok in the afternoon from about 2 to 5, with PMD’s and Yellow Sally’s. Look for a few Mahogany Duns mixed in some days. The best fishing is in the evening from about 7 to dark. BWO’s usually start the action, then caddis and rusty spinners at dusk. Some evenings you can see PMD’s hatching late too. Be ready for it.
Below Bridge 99 you’ll see all the above hatches and more golden stones and even a few salmon flies.
Bull Trout are coming up river from the lake now in greater numbers. These fish will be running up the (no fishing) tributaries soon to spawn, and once done with that will be hungry and in the Metolius waiting for the fall run of Kokanee. What the heck, a fall run of Kokanee? That’s like seeing the stores have Halloween candy out already. Is fall that close? It’ll be here before we know it, but plenty of summer left for sure.
Fall River is pretty lovely on these hot days. I think it is too cold to wet wade, even on a day in the mid-90’s. But dipping in that freezing cold water with shorts on under your waders and you wont last an hour in the water before coming out to warm up.
How’s the fishing? Its ok to pretty good. I’d recommend going early in the morning or going the last couple of hours before dark to avoid the bigger crowds. If that isn’t in the cards, and hitting the river mid-day is, you will find good fishing then too.
Euro Nymphing is best. PMD’s, Olive Caddis, BWO’s, Yellow Sally’s, Ant’s, Beetles, small Hopper’s and Rusty Spinners are going to be your various dry fly options from morning to dark.
Crooked River is picking up with good summer days of nymphing either Euro style or with a NZ Yarn Indicator. Fish are on small mayfly nymphs, zebra midges, scuds and jigs.
As soon as the afternoon shadows hit the water you’ll see fish move to these shadows and feed on top. PMD and Mahogany Duns will be your 2 biggest hatches.
The Lower Deschutes at the mouth is getting the first decent steelhead return in a while. I have talked to a few guys that have been down there and that have picked up steely’s on a swung fly.
Closer to us, the Warm Springs to Trout Creek drift is good. On these hot afternoons it is slower during the day, but mornings and evenings up to dark are great. Caddis, Pale Evening Duns and PMD’s are all hatching well.
Middle Deschutes is about the same as the Lower (no steelhead of course) with PED’s, PMD’s, BWO’s, Caddis and yellow sally’s. There are some places I would throw hoppers along banks too. Euro Nymping is the bomb late morning and early afternoons with the best dry fly action in the evening.
The McKenzie is still rocking. Dry Droppers and Euro Nymphs are catching a lot of fish on that beautiful river. Our guides are running down there below McKenzie Bridge nearly every day.
I drove over the Road 40 Bridge a few times over the last 10 days or so and was pleased to see the Upper Deschutes in such good condition and not that many people parked at the bridge or up river along Century Drive. It can be very fun on the Upper Deschutes this time of year with attractor dries, little nymphs and terrestrials.
From Wickiup to Bend the fishing is a little slow now. Water is warmer I’d guess as Wickiup is so low and the draw down is drawing from a warm pool.
As you reach the Bend area, there is some good evening dry fly spots tucked in here and there. It’s Purple Haze water, but you’ll see PED’s and Caddis on most days with Rusty Spinners finishing off the day.
Since the last report, I again guided at Crane, Paulina and East and found fishing to be spotty at all places.
East Lake is ok. I had a customer who fishes there a lot tell me yesterday he rose a lot of fish on the East shore with small Chubbies and Beetles. When I was there on Friday we did our best also on beetles. Got some on foam ants and one on a hopper too. It’s certainly terrestrial time. Damsels action along the shore line is good. If you boat, (I need to take my own advice), bring the boat to shore and get out and wade the edges so you can strip the nymphs in the natural direction migrating damsels are headed. They come up on shore to emerge, so boaters stripping nymphs from the shoreline going out is an immediate disadvantage.
I’d say we are definitely in-between the early summer and late summer Callibaetis hatches (broods). I’d guess that 2nd brood will be coming on strong in a couple of weeks as the early summer hatch was late this season. I can’t wait. I was looking back at old photos and see that mid August to mid September has often been incredible for Callibaetis fishing at East.
This time of year a really small zebra midge in either olive or red is pretty great under an indicator out in about 16 to 18 feet of water over the mud or light weed bed. Other chironomids may be great too, and it can change daily as to size and color. But I always try the little stuff in mid summer. As we move to to August, Red #14 on the bottom is tops based on my notes and memory. Will August 2020 be the same?
Crane Prairie has gotten to a water temp that concerns me. I took water temps that went to 74 at the surface and only to about 67 at the bottom. Morning fishing is safest for the fish. Balanced Leech (black has been my best color), Damsel nymphs and Chironomids are all working and fishing is good. I just worry about the fish fighting so hard when the water temps hit 70+.
Paulina Lake is fair to good. Small nymphs on the shoreline fishing the drop offs, and olive balanced leeches on the shoals have been best. Yesterday we ended a guid trip fishing olive chironomids (based on a throat pump sample taken from a fish that ate a size 18 red zebra midge at 16 feet). There were some flying ants around and fish were looking up, but they shied away from our dry fly offerings for the most part. One of the best parts about Paulina is no one is there fly fishing compared to all the other lakes. I love the solitude.
Hosmer Lake is good. Lots of damsel action with nymphs and dries. Some callibaetis too, especially in the evening. Look for Traveling Sedge after 6 PM and Caenis mayflies at dusk (they look just like Trico’s). Be well prepared for paddle boarders and kayakers to come in hordes.
Three Creek Lake is still good and from a few reports there seems to be less fishing pressure. Plenty of hikers and people splashing about, but not so many anglers on the water. Callibaetis hatch is good! Black Caddis in the evening and possible morning hatches too. Damsels are good. A friend was recently there and ran into Chirono-Bob (a local) and said Bob was anchored in his float tube fishing Chironomids under and indicator and doing better than anyone on the lake by a long shot. I love that!
I was in the shop today and will be back tomorrow if you are in Sisters and want to stop in and say hello. One thing about spending a summer in a boat is I really miss seeing the diverse group of fly shop friends I was so used to seeing. But guiding in the summer has its advantages too. Being in a boat on a mountain lake feels a million miles from reality which is not a bad thing at all.
Be well my friends. You guys are the best.