Happy Labor Day Weekend. I know a lot of you are hiding out for a few days, waiting for the Holiday to pass by, and some of you are reading this right now preparing for some immediate fishing, tying flies and organizing gear. I am hiding out in the back room of the shop right now, and in a few hours we are going to meet some friends late afternoon on the Metolius for Pork Chops on the BBQ and the evening hatch. I’m headed home to tie more micro iris caddis before I go to the river.
I’ve lived in Oregon since 1969 and I never remember a September that was so hot. I think it is uncharacteristically hot for this time of year. Fortunately the nights are becoming longer and cooler and the water temps are holding up through this final heat wave of the summer (we hope!). I am really hopeful to see some cooler weather coming. Wearing a flannel and a vest, or a hoody sounds perfect. I guess I am ready for fall! And Fall Fishing!!
While the weather hasn’t turned to fall just yet, the September hatches on the Metolius are really rocking now.
On any given day you will run into the following hatches:
Mayflies– Blue Wing Olive #18-20, PMD #16-18, Mahogany Dun #16, Flav #14, Green Drakes #8-12
Caddis- Tan #12-18, Micro Caddis Tannish Yellow #18-20, Grey #16, Olive #16-18, October Orange #8-10
Stoneflies– Goldenstone #8-12, Salmonfly #6-8, Willow Fly #4-6, Olive Stone #16-18, Yellow Sally #14-18
Ants #12-16, Beetles #12-16, Grasshoppers #10, Midges #20-24
By my count that’s 19(!!!) different dry fly opportunities. Who loves September?
Nymphing is also good, if you get tired of all the dry fly action. Golden Stone’s, Jigs, Perdigons, Micro Mayfly, 2 Bit Hookers, Rainbow Warrior, PT, Zebra Midge, Oct Caddis, Sparkle Pupa and Guides Choice Hares Ear.
And….Bull Trout fishing is great too. Big Streamer season is now.
The Lower Deschutes is good. We’ve confirmed the 1st steelhead catch in the Warm Springs to Trout Creek run this week. That is early, but very welcome and a sign of more to come.
The trout fishing is good, especially in the evening with Caddis, some PMD’s and PED’s and Rusty Spinners.
Afternoon nymph action is spotty, but sometimes spot on. I prefer Dry flies in the eddies to nymphing if possible. Be sneaky.
We understand the White River has blown out and is now running milky from glacial runoff. It is turning the Lower Deschutes off color all the way to the Columbia. Does that stop the steelheading there? Probably not, but it can slow it down. If you’re still planning to go, things we learned over the years when this happens and is persistent are sink tips can sometimes make a huge difference as it is possible to get below the murky water that may be in the upper column. We know the murkiness can also extend to the bottom, but maybe not as bad as what we see at the surface. Over the years our guides have also countered that glacial murk with big, flashy streamers.
For dedicated steelhead people, you’ll try anything. You can also start finding fish near Maupin and above to the Locked Gate area and be in perfect, clear flows. I think with all the shit 2020 has given us, it looks like we at least are going to have a good steelhead year on the Deschutes. If you want to book a guide trip in September, October or November we have some great steelhead guides (especially Steve Erickson and Troy Leedy) that have dates available.
On the Upper Deschutes there have been good reports from the area upstream of Crane Prairie to Little Lava Lake. Really good nymph action especially with Euro Nymphing techniques and some good PMD, BWO and Caddis hatches. Ants, Beetles and smaller Hoppers are taking fish too. A Hopper with a Rainbow Warrior or Red Copper John is a dynamite combination up there.
Don’t forget the Upper Deschutes at Sheeps Bridge down to the Gull Point on Wickiup (which is a river now, not a reservoir) is closed as of August 31st.
The area around Bend is good, especially for evening fishing. There are a lot of cool little “town runs” from the Inn of the 7th Mountain area to Tumalo.
Middle Deschutes is fun from Tumalo to Lake Billy Chinook. PMD hatches will be the main thing to look for, but PED’s, Caddis and some terrestrials are things to be prepared for. Excellent nymphing for sure. Don’t forget your Purple Haze and Renegades. They are 2 of my fav’s for the Middle D in the evening bite.
Fall River was good this week for our guide crew. They reported good Euro Nymphing and some decent dry fly action on PMD’s and Ants.
It is still closed at the hatchery and likely will be all fall and winter. There is nice access at the headwaters, camp ground, horseshoe bend and tubes/falls.
Expect it to be busiest from 10 am to 4 pm. If you want to beat the crowds a bit go early or late and stay to dark.
The Crooked River is good. There are good PMD hatches going and the fish will be eating nymphs (2 Bit Hooker, Micro Mayfly, Frenchie), emergers (Film Critic, Kinkhammer and Sparkle Dun), Duns (Cut Wing, Parachute) and Spinners (rusty and sunset spinner).
BWO, Midges and Caddis can be important hatches at times now too.
Scuds and Zebra Midges are always important.
We just heard it is busy out there this weekend. Next tuesday should be better for the river access.
The McKenzie is good for walk and wade fishing near the Deer Creek and Belknap areas. There are some Fall Drakes and Flav’s there, along with PMD’s, Caddis and some mixed stoneflies including Golden Stones.
It is also good euro nymphing.
Down in the area we drift below McKenzie Bridge it becomes more of a drift boat fishery and less of a wading access river due to the size of the river but also because of the private homes and cabins that are common along the river. We are killing it this summer on our guide trips there. Chubbies with a nymph dropper, Parachute Adams, Purple Haze, Elk Hair Caddis, Stimulators, Euro Jigs, Perdigons, Mega Prince, Posse Buggers and Sparkle Pupas.
East Lake was fun for me this week with a nice callibaetis hatch about noon to 2. The Callibaetis are ranging towards a size 18 (size 17 nails it and Tiemco makes a dry fly hook in a TMC 102Y #17) and we did best on the #18 Olive Haze. The hatch is very light colored, and a #18 PMD parachute or extended body is something you should defiantly be putting in your box for now.
Bettle and Ant fishing remains good.
Chironomids are good under an indicator in 12-15′. This week a #14 black chironomid was best. I’d run a 3 fly rig with a Red or Chrome chironomid on the point (bottom), Black Ice Cream or Zebra in the middle and a (no bead) Flashback PT or Red/Black Zebra on the top dropper tag. Spread the flies out 2-3 feet to maximize showing the fish flies at different depths. If you have a fish finder, there is a real possibility you can see what the depth the fish are cruising at. That can be a helpful tool, and it is just a starting point in a lot of cases.
Olive Balanced Leech is a great fly too. One of my clients this week caught a beauty on this. We rose the fish early in the day on a beetle and went back after a couple of hours to the same spot and tried the leech under an Airlock indicator and wham-O.
I think East is down a good 2 feet and might be up to 4 feet low by my eye. Some areas of the lake have some slimy algae hanging on the rocks that will begin to go away when it gets cold up there. Other areas have seriously dense weed bed growth. Despite that there are areas that are wonderfully clear and fishing well.
Paulina Lake is good. I am planning to fish it on 4 of my guide days this coming week. Lot’s of Beetle action along the shorelines, with 2 Bit Hookers, Chironomids, Scuds and Callibaetis Nymphs under an indicator all along the drop off’s and shoals.
I’ve been stripping streamers along the drop off zones and very hopeful Mr Big comes out one of these days. It is definitely the place to find a big brown as many of you know the state record brown was caught in Paulina not too many years ago.
Crane Prairie is good in the Quinn, Cultus and Deschutes Channels. Balanced Leeches (Black, Olive, Brown), Chironomids, PT’s, Water Boatman, Orange Scud, Zebra Midges, Red 2 Bit Hookers, Purple Chubby, Callibaetis (nymph, emerger, dun and spinner) and black caddis (especially pupa)
Hosmer Lake is one I think needs a rest. It’s Hot and the Fish are kegged up a bit in one small area and the floating crowd is intense during the heat wave.
Let’s give it a week or so to clear out and cool off.
Three Creeks Lake is holding up later in the season for summer type action than usual. Some years it is a bit of the doldrums late summer until fall weather hits, but callibaetis, caddis, ants, beetles, midges are all taking fish on top still and we love that.
Chironomids, Balanced Leeches and small Hares Ears under a strike indicator has been great. Also, stripping or trolling a Clear Intermediate sinking line with a black leech, trailed with a griffiths gnat or red ice cream cone is doing well.
OK, one last thing. This doesn’t apply to most of us because we have common sense and realize the affect of sound traveling across the water has. I’ve said this before and I am going to say it again: Music does not belong in the boat unless you are wearing headphones or ear buds.
If someone is blasting music from any type of speaker from their boat it is annoying and rude to others. I was on Paulina the other day and a young man was out on a paddle board with a portable speaker (that Bluetooth connected to his watch). At one time he was about a 1/4 mile away and I could hear every beat, and every lyric to the songs he was playing.
Paulina hasn’t been the only place I’ve seen this. At Crane Prairie recently a large group of people on paddle boards came from the Quinn ramp and just congregated in the middle of the fishing area between the buoys. At Hosmer, I see kayaks and paddle boards with speakers frequently.
And what really gets me are the other anglers, in boats (some even fellow guides with current guide tags) fishing on some of my favorite waters coming down the lake with music playing. Holy Hell people, I am going fishing today and didn’t sign up to hear to a concert, so let’s all get on board with remembering why we go to the water in the 1st place. It is to hear the water lapping the shoreline, or the sides of the boat. And to hear the wind in the trees or ridge lines that surround the lakes. Even to keep a sharpness during the hunt for our target, and to be able to focus on the sounds of trout rising. A single fish that may have been out of sight, but hearing it brings us back to the reality that the fish are there and that is why we go to the water.
Stay safe, be well and see you on peaceful waters.