Fishing update 7/24/2021

Good morning.

I realized most of my adult life that days, weeks and months always seem to fly by. The older I get, the faster it goes. But do you remember when you were a kid and it seemed like things like summer vacation, or days leading up to Christmas lasted so long?

I don’t know why, but this July seems more like I am in 7th grade again.

I suspect it is partly because my July schedule was so scheduled, and then so rescheduled. A lot of days plans were changed because of the heat. Or maybe I am anticipating my vacation week in early August when I get to fly to San Diego with my good friend Joe and watch a couple of Padres baseball games and go on a guided trip with Mission Bay Fly Fisher’s and try to catch my 1st Corbina. I am really excited for that for sure.

But here at home, right now and right here, there is a lot to be excited about, and a lot to be thankful for.
So, to start we are lucky so far with how clear and smoke free our skies have been. We are lucky the only fire near Sisters was quickly fought to keep us safe. We are lucky to have places like the Metolius in our back yard and so many other wonderful places nearby.

But with a summer of heat domes, I think it is very important to recognize the places we should rest until it cools off, and I will address this in the report.

The Metolius

The Metolius continues to be our bread and butter, with cold spring water providing sanctuary for every creature in and around the river. What a gift.

Hatches remain the same as last weeks discussion. Golden Stones are primarily an upper river hatch still. They will spread out on the middle and lower river later in August as per usual. Norm Woods and Clarks Stones are the best!
PMD hatches are so important from the Nymph stages, through emergence, cripples, duns and finally rusty spinners at dusk.

  • Brown Micro Mayfly,
  • Split Case PMD,
  • KD Dun,
  • Half Down Dun,
  • Knock Down Dun,
  • Sparkle Dun,
  • Film Critic,
  • Comparaduns and either my Sunset Spinner or Rene Harrops CDC Biot Body spinner

are the flies you’ll need for this important summer hatch.

BWO’s are coming on near the hatchery pools and eddies about 5–7PM on a lot days. Again, a lot of the same flies from the nymph stage to the spinner stage should be important. My favorite three flies for the BWO hatch are a Film Critic, a KD Dun and a Purple Comparadun.

Caddis are coming off better and better, with an expected surge in more caddis in August coming too. X-Caddis, CDC Caddis, and Iris Caddis win the Metolius game mostly. Tans and Olive in #16-18 mostly, but keep an eye open for some really small “micro caddis” coming on in a charcoal or black body in the evening. #18-20.

Pink Lady and Ameletus are mayflies to keep an eye on. Look at last weeks report for more info on those two hatches and pick up some flies to match them, especially coming in to August.

Yellow Sally’s have been important. They range from a Size 12 to an 18, but I would say a 14 or 16 is the sweet spot for matching the hatch. Don’t be shy to trim hackle tight to the shank to create a low floater. SO many times I see yellow sally’s they are really struggling in the film and barely noticeable unless you get your face down at the waters edge to look.

Lake Runner Bull Trout have certainly arrived in the lower and middle river. Big fish require big rods and big flies. We’ve got some awesome Bull Trout rods from Echo and Redington for under $300 bucks. We just hate seeing people overplaying these big guys on a 6 weight.

The Crooked River

The Crooked River remains a good place to fish as flows are stable for now and fishing is good. PMD and Mahogany Duns, X Caddis, Corn Fed Caddis, Purple Haze, small Hoppers, Ants, and a whole lotta’ nymphs are your best bets. Zebra Midges, Scuds, 2 Bit’s, Micro Mayfly, and Perdigons.

The Lower Deschutes

The Lower Deschutes has a split story. Since we are talking about 100 miles of river from the Dam, going all the way down through Maupin and to the Columbia River, I am going to tell 2 stories. A good one and a bad one. A trout story and a steelhead story.

Warm Springs to Trout Creek

I will start closer to home, in the trout waters from Warm Springs to Trout Creek. It is a good place to fish. Great caddis hatches again, good to very good hatches of PMD and Pale Evening Duns, a resurgence (perhaps) of dainty Craneflies and just a lot going on both under the surface with nymphs, streamers, and soft hackles and on top with dry flies.

The River really warms up once it passes Maupin and by time it gets below Sherars Falls down to Macks Canyon and the Mouth. The last six days the temperature reading at Moody Rapids gage just up from the confluence with the Columbia has the river mostly hovering in the 69-70 degree range and going up to nearly 75 degrees. So, if you were hoping to get some early steelheading in on the lower river, please wait. Also, so far, the steelhead counts going over Bonneville are very much below average, I am sure due to the heat.

I know people who’ve said they are going to take the year off from Steelhead this year to give the fish a break. Perhaps that is a good idea, but a cool down and a wet fall could be a game changing event and let’s revisit that later. For now and likely the next two weeks, give the steelhead fishing a pass.

The Middle Deschutes

The Middle Deschutes is a good bet early in the AM to about lunch time and the last 90 minutes before dark.
PMD, PED, Caddis, Yellow Sally, awesome action on Euro Nymphs and don’t forget to spice it up with a streamer in some of the pools and throw a Purple Chubby or Stimulator at them as an attractor.

The Upper Deschutes

I fished the Upper Deschutes with my friend Damon a couple of days ago, and talk about a reason to get a Euro Nymph rod. Sorry Damon if you’re reading this, but the ratio was about 25:1 favoring the nymph on a tight line compared to dry dropper, streamers and dries. When you have control over the nymphs like you get on a euro set up it can be a game changer.

The McKenzie

The McKenzie is fishing really well for us. Most of the good fish are coming to the nymph fished tight line, but dry-droppers are taking fish in the riffles and just a good hatch of yellow mayflies, a mix of stones and caddis have been making opportunities for dry fly fishing on most days. The Upper and Middle River to about Leaburg is seeing good water temperatures but lowering flows. I’ve heard the lower river towards Springfield is getting warm with sluggish activity.

Fall River

Fall River is good. All the same there with some good hatches of PMD, Yellow Sally, Caddis, some BWO’s and don’t forget your terrestrials (ants-hoppers-beetles). Nymph fishing is great. Bet you can guess how I would recommend that approach. (ESN).

Streamer action is fun. Try a little sinking Airflo Poly Leader to keep your streamer down better. We got in some killer pine squirrel leeches in Natural, Black and Orange. So good for this kind of fishing.

The Upper North Santiam

The Upper North Santiam is a really good place to go now. Cold and Clear water and good action mostly nymphing. Around Marion Forks to the Pamelia Creek area is the place to be. It does run right beside the highway but hardly anyone fished there.

Crane Prairie

Sadly, I went to Crane Prairie on Tuesday with my friend Phil. When we launched at Rock Creek at 8:30AM the water temps were already 72. By time we left at 1 they were almost 78.

I use a fish hawk water temperature thermometer and it reads water temps at 5 for increments. Meaning, if I was in 13 feet of water the reading I got was at the surface, down 5 and down 10. So, I don’t know exactly what the bottom temp was but the lowest recording I got from a 10 foot reading was 69. We took readings in Rock Creek Channel, Quinn Channel in a few places and Cultus Channel in a few places. All the same surface temps in the mid-70’s and mostly the same bottom temps in the high-60’s to low-70’s.

I would give Crane a serious rest now if you want to see healthy fish there later. Algae bloom is still fairly thick too.

Hosmer Lake

Hosmer is another place this week please don’t fish with the heat coming on strong for another wave. I believe resting it for another week or two and see how the weather is is a good investment for the future of those fine fish in that gorgeous lake.

East, Paulina, and Three Creek Lake

East and Paulina and Three Creek are all 6300 to 6500 feet and worth fishing, especially morning and evening.
Red and Olive Chironomids under an indicator, brown balanced leeches, a Hot Orange Bead Olive Wooly Bugger were all things we caught fish with at Paulina yesterday.

East is seeing a decent to good callibaetis hatch.

We saw fish working a light a callibaetis hatch at Paulina yesterday too. Last year in August we saw the best callibaetis hatches at Paulina all year, so I am hopeful that will repeat in 2021 too.

Three Creek is getting really good mayfly hatches mixed with midges and black caddis.

Beetles, Hoppers and Ants should be in your box for all the lakes.

East Lake is producing a lot of kokanee on nymphs. For a lot of people that can be a lot of fun. Dangling a nymph on a type 7 or 8 is going to find you better/bigger trout and hopefully less 10″ kokanee.

Thanks for reading and we hope to see you on the water or in the fly shop soon.


One thought on “Fishing update 7/24/2021

  1. Jeff – thanks for the thorough report on Crane Prairie. Based on your report, I cancelled an outing to Crane (McKenzie Fly Fishers group outing). I suspected poor conditions, but you confirmed then and gave me the data to pull the plug. What a crappy year! Let’s hope it is not a sign of more to come.

    John O’Connor

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