Happy 4th of July Weekend everyone. Half of 2021 is behind us.
It seems we made it through the worst of the Heat Dome, with some unbelievable high temps across our region we were certainly concerned for some of our fisheries and protecting our cherished trout. The forecast shows the worst is over and in this report I will confirm all the good and safe places there are to fish now, and where I think it will be for the week coming up.
This past week I postponed all of my guide days on the lakes for days later in the season. For one reason, I was scared if we were going to Catch & Release, that we’d end up killing a bunch of the fish anyway. And I was concerned about human health, and having people sitting in a hot aluminum boat for hours on end, and just baking in a relentless sun. No one needs a case of heat exhaustion (or worse).
During my week away from the water I found a lot of other productive things to do around work and the house, and get to spend a lot of time with my new puppy Drake. On Monday I recorded a Podcast with Tim Harden of the Venturing Angler, where we dove in and talked about my take on the overall fisheries we have here in Central Oregon. Check it out.
I am going to start this weeks report at 6500 feet. Three Creek Lake was our savior this week. Tina and I and the dogs went up there Monday and Tuesday evening to escape the heat. Both times, the temperature was precisely 16 degrees less than what it was in town (3120 feet). So that was gift! The fishing is outstanding in the afternoon and evening with a callibaetis spinner fall dancing above the water from about 3 to 5, some emerging slightly before, during and after the spinners and finishing the evening with excellent hatches of small #16 Black Caddis.
Nice to run into so many good fly anglers like Tim and Kelly, Chester and Heather and Fred, all taking advantage of the fishing and comfort.
Do you have a Midge Tip? If you’re going to 3 Creeks or any of the lakes it is a definite advantage. Tim and Kelly were having really good success on theirs with non beaded PT’s. I was in the camp of sticking with the dry fly, and ended up catching almost all of my fish on an X-Caddis.
Other flies that are important will include Damsel Nymphs, Balanced Leeches, Ants, Callibaetis nymphs/emergers/duns/spinners and chironomids.
Moving down the basin, the other special place for us is the Metolius, where we are staying for 5 days through the 4th holiday with friends.
Golden Stones are hatching in the upper river. PMD and Caddis are throughout the system. BWO’s were hatching nicely last evening about 8 PM. Oddly there was no/to very little (expected) rusty spinner fall last evening. An oddity to see that this time of year, but as a reminder my Facebook page showed me a “memory” from 4 years ago where we were with the same friends fishing the expectant evening hatches and guess what? Facebook reminded me that the same darn thing happened 4 years ago. Cycles. Anytime now, maybe tonight, there will be good evening fishing on Caddis and Rusty Spinners! I can say that about 6 PM there is a good PMD hatch for about an hour and it is bring fish up.
Without the better dry fly action we’d expect it is a wise choice to do some nymph fishing. Caddis Pupa, Split Case PMD, Micro Mayfly, Soft Hackle PT, Rainbow Warrior and 2 Bit’s are my top picks for indicator techniques. Jigs and Perdigons for Euro Nymphing.
Our Guide Team was out and about on all of the rivers this week and they reported especially good fishing on the Fall River. Euro Nymphing and Dry Fly action were both good. PMD hatches, mixed with Yellow Sally’s, Midges and some Caddis were all on the menu. Small Streamers, Ant, Beetles and occasionally some attractor dry stuff will round out what you need for the small spring creek.
Crooked River is running a bit higher at 299 cfs today and has been a touch higher all week. This is good for cold water delivery and for the fish! Hatches have been slower in the heat, delayed mostly toward evening. Look for your best fish to come on nymphs like a split case PMD, Micro Mayfly, 2 Bit, Skinny Nelson, Perdigon, Zebra Midge, Scud, Rainbow Warrior, Midge Winkler, and Kryptonite Caddis.
Here’s a fun tip. This time of year there are a lot of small grass hoppers around. A small hopper is a great fly fished alone or a dry dropper combo. One patterns I really like for a small hopper is not an actual hopper but plays double duty for one. It is the Larimer’s Yellow Sally. Such a cool fly for all the rivers here, but one I would definitely have for the Crooked now. Don’t forget your Renegades, Purple Haze, Upright Rusty Spinners and Yellow Sparkle Duns for when the fish are looking up.
The Lower Deschutes is continuing to see excellent Caddis emergences and that means good fishing on pupa and adult flies. PMD’s and PED’s are mostly hatching in the shade of the evening but are often overshadowed with the caddis.
The Warm Springs to Trout Creek drift has been good.
Today, the Trout Creek ramp is under an advisory closure due to a grass fire. SO UNTIL the fire moves through, or is put out or redirected, the float trip option is not advised to Trout Creek, and below from TC to Harpham.
BLM informed us this morning that the fire burned through the South Jct Campground and that camp ground is temporarily closed until safety assessments are conducted.
Mecca is still open, and I’d guess all of this will be through in a just a few days as these fires burn through quickly with little lasting effects. We just don’t like it when the riparian alders get torched. But grass fires happen down there all the time and we recover quickly from them.
There should be good access in the Maupin to Locked Gate stretch.
An important note for those with Steelhead on the brain. I know a lot of us get excited about the 1st of July as we see the 1st fish passing the Columbia River dams. We have dreams of just a few of those fish making a turn up the Deschutes. And they will. BUT, the water is too warm to go fishing below Sherars Falls. ODFW has put Hoot Owl Restrictions on that part of the Lower 100 miles of the Lower Deschutes. Please consult the ODFW website for up to date info on the closures. It was implemented on 7/1/21 and will likely be in place for a few weeks. This essentially means from a management perspective morning fishing only. For more conservation orientated anglers, they will choose to wait it out for cooler days ahead and forgo fishing for steelhead until it is safe 24/7
The Middle Deschutes is getting a bit safer for the fish. Mornings from dawn to noon are the best time to hit it. Also in some sections from 7 pm to dark is OK. PMD, PED, Caddis and Euro Nymphing.
The Upper Deschutes in the Headwaters section from Little Lava down to the Road 40 bridge and below to Crane is good. Water should be pumping up a little. I have not talked to anyone that was there this past week to confirm that, but I’d expect good flows and good water temperatures. Look for some Golden Stones, PMD’s, Caddis and don’t for the Ants. Nymph action is great.
Heading up the Volcano we have one lake I’d give a bit more time on, and another lake that is ready to go.
East Lake is very warm for getting the stamp of approval of being a good/safe place for C&R fishing. If you are going to fish at East, go dawn to about 10 or 11 am for your best bet, and 7 pm to dark as another time to focus. Mid day that water is getting up to 70-71 and you especially want to avoid the bank lines, the cliffs and rocky shores because that riparian zone is a heater. Look for cooler water in the deep. Wind Drift a type 3 or 5 out in 35 feet with a leech and a flashback PT or callibaetis nymph. Fish a Chironomid deep in 16 to 19 feet under an indicator.
Paulina Lake with the deep cold water reserves and less shallow shoals held up much better than East did during the baking heat. All of my reports from friends that were there indicated water temps from 62 to 66-67. Good to go.
Damsels have become active now. Adults and Nymphs. Fishing the drop offs with type 3 lines is great. The Red Beaded Scott’s Damsel is a top fly. Soft Hackles stripped on the full sink line was good this week too. My personal favorite is to work the drop off zones with an indicator and a Red Two Bit on the point and a Tan Two Bit on the dropper. I call that the 50 cent 🙂
It is a great combo. If the fish are eating softly, I prefer to use a Loon Yarn or NZ Wool indicator. The Watermelon Balanced Leech is also a favorite along the drop off’s and also over any weed beds. Red Tarantulas and Beetles are worth the efforts too. Look for some callibaetis hatches near the group camp and summer home flats.
I am personally not going to Crane Prairie or Hosmer for another week. Too warm in my opinion.
I know a lot of anglers will go to Crane and get down deep in the channels. I just don’t think that is of the best fishing ethics at this time of 74 degree surface temps and heavy algae growth.
Not that any one wants to go fish Lava Lake now, but I mentioned to some of you via private message about Lava lake and that I’d fill in details when I heard back from the local ODFW fish biologist. Here is the report I got from him:
We have a bunch of nets in there for chub removal and are catching some larger rainbows. I am confident that there was a fish die-off in the lake during ice-over. It was not a complete fish kill but most must have perished. The two-year algae bloom and low water is most likely causing the lake’s Dissolved Oxygen to decrease during iceover to levels that are not good for fish. The exploding chub population is taking a toll on the zooplankton which eat decaying algae. The lake is sick and will need some good winter snowpacks to fix.
We reduced the numbers of fingerlings by ½ and found some extra legals to stock to maintain some sort of fishery. I expect more of the same this winter if the algae bloom continues and another year of low water. Maybe the reduction of stocked fish and chub removal will help to eliminate a winter kill but if that lake turns over during a summer wind storm, it could be trouble.
A lot going on up there..
In short, we need some big snows next winter.
Well, that’s it for this week.
Keep staying cool, be cool and fish in cool places. We appreciate you!