Jeff’s Fishing Update 9/21/2020

I was hopeful to write this update over the weekend with the news that the Metolius was opening below Bridge 99. But so far, that announcement by the USFS has not happened.
The Level 1 and Level 2 evacuation notices are now lifted for the Metolius corridor and that is excellent news. But the closures remain in place, so once all the managing entities can agree it is safe to be on the river below Allingham Bridge, those Forest closures will be lifted and we will be back on the river we love so much. We should have another week to 10 days of strong green drakes if we get it open this week.

Last Friday, Oregon got some much needed rain. In Central Oregon that cleared the air. What a difference it made. The skies over the weekend were glorious, like so many days are in Central Oregon this time of year.
Last week the air around Sisters (and for the majority of the state) was choked with smoke.
It looks like we have gone beyond that and will see mostly clear skies and low smoke levels now. A little more precipitation is on the forecast models for Thursday. Otherwise, just nice fall days with sunshine ahead.
The main point of this is the smoke is so much better, if not gone depending on the breeze.

There are many good options for fishing now, so don’t be discouraged. The Lower Deschutes, the Middle Deschutes, Fall River, Crooked River, East Lake, Paulina Lake, Hosmer Lake, Crane Prairie, Cultus and Little Cultus, Elk Lake, 3 Creeks Lake and the Upper Deschutes between Little Lava and CP (for another week).
So let’s run through those and get a sense of the fishing to be had in the near future:

The Lower Deschutes. Trout action is good from WS to Trout Creek and there are Steelhead all the way up from the mouth. The most steelhead at this time are still found below Mack’s Canyon but there have been confirmed catches in the Maupin stretches and up in the Warm Springs to TC run. That is great news!
For trout, Euro Nymphing has been fantastic.
There a lot of October Caddis hatching now. Stonefly nymphs, small caddis (tan #14-16, black #18-20) PMD and BWO’s are important.
Most of the steelhead I’ve heard caught by friend have been on nymphs, but plenty of fish have also been taken on the swing which of course is the ultimate way to get a steelhead!

The Middle Deschutes is another good option from just upstream of Bend all the way down to Lake Billy Chinook. The PMD hatch is coming to an end but the Blue Wing Olives are taking up that slack. In most areas you’ll find a good caddis hatch too. Euro Nymphing is our #1 way to fish this entire stretch for sure, but indicator fishing or dry/dropper rigs are going to be good too. Lately we’ve found a Frenchie, Soft Hackle PT and a Cream 2 Bit Hooker to be the top nymphs. In the evening a Sparkle Pupa or other tan colored Caddis Pupa is a smart choice. I always say my favorite dry fly on the Middle river is a Renegade. A lot of that dates back to the 80’s when I first learned the river, but backed up by the fact that was also Harry Teel’s favorite dry too. For those of you who don’t know that name, Harry was the founder of the shop here in 1986. He was a dry fly legend.

It will close for the season on Sept 30th, but there is a week left to hit the Upper Deschutes above Crane Prairie.
2 things about that fishery; there is really good nymph water between Road 40 and Deschutes Bridge and some interesting fishing in the Blue Hole ponds below Little Lava where some nice brook trout and whitefish congregate together and are best accessed by hiking in through the forest with a float tube and circling over the fish in and out of the river current that flows through the pond. I always liked an egg and copper john for that.

The Metolius is is only open from Allingham up river to the the Riverside CG area (near the headwaters). I fished it yesterday and had great success on a Clark’s Stone when using the dry fly rod, and with a Black Perdigon on my Euro rod.
Saw a lot of PMD’s hatching and found some fish eating them, but a well drifted Clark’s never stopped working for me, so I never changed it.
We are hopeful for the rest of the river to open soon and promise to keep you updated here as soon as we hear.
We’ve had a couple of people tell us they were going to try to sneak down below the closure. That’s dumb. Don’t. Plus, most of the road blacks are also manned with USFS employees and they are serious about keeping people safe. If you respect authority and the law, don’t be entitled and think that doesn’t mean you.

The Crooked has been awesome with PMD’s and the start of the fall BWO hatches. Lot’s of good dry fly action and great nymph fishing either Euro or with a light NZ Yarn Indicator.
The Cut Wing Extended Body PMD and Klinkhammer emerger have been our go to flies. Purple Haze is usually pretty darn good too!
Perdigons, Jigs, Zebra Midges, Frenchie, 2 Bit, Skinny Nelson and WD40 are the normal go to nymphs for us.

The Fall River has been a great option too, with good hatches of PMD, BWO, Caddis (Oct #10, Tan #16, Grey #18, Olive #16), Midges and Terrestrials (Ants #12-18, Beetles #12-18, Hoppers #8-10 and even a Yellowjacket patterns can be good).
Nymphs are working really well in most areas, trending towards small nymphs with a quick sink rate. Zebra’s, 2 Bits, WD 40’s, Jigs, Perdigons, Frenchies.
Fall is my favorite time to fish the Fall River, and from now until Thanksgiving is some of the finest days we have on that little spring creek.

Crane Prairie is quite good on most areas of the lake, including the Deschutes entry side, the Quinn Channel, Rock Creek at the point and Cultus Channel areas are worth fishing and will be for the next 5 weeks until it closes. Leeches and Chironomids are always top of mind, but don’t forget water boatman and daphnia this time of year.

Hosmer Lake was pretty good last week for me and it was nice to see a lot of fish had returned to the Channel, including tons of nice brookies that for the most part ignored all we cast to them. Dirty dogs! Despite the snubbing from the Brookies the Cutthroat made up for it. And my client hooked a huge Rainbow on a Black Callibaetis during the 2 to 4 pm hatch we encountered a few days ago.
Scuds, Red Chironomids, Callibaetis Nymphs, Waterboatman, Zebra Midges, Leeches and a few other secrets (I can be bribed) to use.
Don’t forget in the fall that water boatman fly, so a floating boatman can be an important pattern on any given day for the foreseeable future.
Here is a fly we don’t sell but you can tie that has worked very nicely on many occasions at Hosmer and other lakes. It is a fly I first picked up for our trip to the lakes in Tasmania about 4 years ago. Dry Fly Hook #14-18, Black 6/0 Thread, Coq de Leon or Wood Duck tail, Black Dry Fly Dubbing for the body and Black Hackle. No wing. Super easy and has been killer in the fall for me the last few years at Hosmer and Crane.

Paulina Lake has been so fun for me, fishing the edges with Beetles and Red Tarantula’s and Balanced leeches and Red 2 Bit Hookers. No one is there and the fishing is maybe the best of all the lake except Crane on a good day. Currently this is my favorite lake.

East Lake is good too, but not as good as Paulina right now. Sounding like a broken record here, but use Beetles….They are good.
Purple Haze, Olive Haze, Light Cahill, #18 Pmd Extended Body (to match the light colored Callibaetis now).
Brad and Eric from the shop were there over the weekend and caught fish on Balanced leeches and Vampire Leeches, Beetles and small mayflies.
This can be a good time of year for chironomids about 12 to 16 feet deep over a mixed mud and weed bottom. Also, try water boatman now, and streamers that look like chubs.

Three Creek Lake is holding up and is definitely worth while from 11 to 5 each day. Other than midges hatching there is very little hatch wise now. That said, you may catch plenty of fish on dries using terrestrials, small adams, griffith’s gnats, purple haze, floating boatman….
Under the indicator with zebra midges, black chironomids, olive chironomids, balanced leeches, prince nymphs.
on a sinking line try wooly buggers, vampire leech, red chironomid, prince.
Start looking for Brook Trout to be schooling up pre-spawn and near the creek entrances.

For off the “main trail” spots, I am going back to Cultus Lake tomorrow and will report more on that, but I expect to work the edges with dries and leeches and stop in the deeper shore line pockets with the anchors down and use chironomids. The last time we were there we smacked them with Red Tarantulas and Red Chubby’s on top and Chromies under the indicator.
Little Cultus for Pontoon Boats and Float Tubes is an excellent choice for fall fishing and few crowds.
Elk Lake is a sleeper, and going mid week will avoid a lot of the crowds. That North and NE shore can be great for Brookies and now is a good time to hit that.
I’d love to walk in to Todd Lake with a float tube right now. Brook Trout must be very active pre-spawn and I’d guess aggressive on a hot head leech.

To finish, I want to rally the troops a bit.
Yes, Oregon has taken a huge hit and what happened the last 2 weeks is like nothing in modern times for Oregonians.
We are in shock. We are sad. We know people that have lost everything, or we know of places that were sacred to us that are scarred for many years to come. But I remain firm in the notion that fishing is healing. It has power that soothes our souls and our minds.
The communities around Central Oregon need you back. This includes us here in Sisters, it includes our friends at Fly & Field in Bend, Confluence, Bend Fly Shop, the Hook in Sunriver, Fin and Fire in Redmond and others. It includes the places you’ll grab food for the day, and the places you’ll rest your head on a pillow at night.
What happened in Labor Day and the consequences of business since then was what I feared was going to happen back in March when Covid hit us, and there were so many uncertainties we thought tourism would die completely. But it didn’t because you didn’t let it. You fished. And you supported the tourism industry that is so very important to Oregon.
All of us need you back. And I think you want to be back because you know what it does for you.
See you on the water.


One thought on “Jeff’s Fishing Update 9/21/2020

  1. Great update Jeff! Appreciated the shout out to Harry. I acquired my love of flyfishing in Central Oregon in The 80s. Although living 1400 miles away the past 20 years, always manage to get out there at least once a year to fish my favorite spots. Thank you for your weekly reports which allow us to live vicariously through you each week. Keep the faith.

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