Good saturday to everyone, it is remarkable that this is the last saturday of August, and the last of meteorological summer. Fall seems to be in the air a bit already, although today and tomorrow look quite summer like, the days have been in the 70’s mostly and we’ve had more than one frost overnight lately.
I noticed at Black Butte today when I was teaching that some of the aspen trees have some golden leaves. I love this time of year, and after this hot summer Fall is coming as an extraordinarily welcomed season this year.
I am curious, do you think of seasons from the meteorological perspective or do you recognize the change of seasons on the Solstices and Equinox’s? I am a weather guy, so I love both, but I think in Central Oregon fall is September, October and November. Spring is March, April and May. And June is just simply a crapshoot as an offset or long tenticle of winter that somehow makes it into half of what is supposed to be early summer, but often terrorizes us with something we want to put behind us.
There is no reason to put anything behind us at the moment, as it is pretty much perfect here in the Sisters Country right now.
Warm Days, Cool Nights, Good Fishing. Healthy Water Conditions and Happy Fish.
Let’s talk about it:
I was able to spend 2 afternoons this week on the Metolius, and heard from several of the guys at the shop about their good days too. Both Gavin and I saw (on separate days) a few Green Drakes hatching. The big ones, not Flav’s. Look, this is early, but it is a great indication the hatch is just days to week away from being full blown. Be ready for Drakes in sizes 8/10, 12’s and also Flav’s in #14. All are very important from now through September, but the Flav’s usually quit first, leaving the bigger drakes out all the way through the 9th month and often into October a bit too.
PMD’s in #16
BWO in #18-22
Mahogany Duns #16 (I saw some yesterday and rose a nice fish on a Purple Haze trying to match the hatch, although I love a Quill Gordon and a fly called an Upright Rusty Spinner that is a wringer to match Mahogany Duns)
Caddis are always important on the Metolius but arguably this time of year they become more important and can provide lessons to us stubborn folk (like me) who WANT the fish to be feeding on something we had in our head. Gee, I said to myself yesterday as I saw some PMD’s and a few Mahogany Duns and witnessed several splashy rises I mostly associate with “drake takes”. I worked a run over with all the above, just refusing to accept that at 3 in the afternoon the fish were eating caddis. I (wrongly) think of caddis as an evening event. And I wrongly assumed the fish were not on the 2 or 3 species of caddis floating and bouncing on the river surface. Finally I switched to a CDC Caddis (Tan) and got a couple of trout right away. I talked to my friend Damon and he had similar fishing upriver from where Tina and were but his fly was an Olive X Caddis.
A few days back it was clearly evident by shear numbers of yellow micro caddis that is what the fish were on in the hole I was fishing. A little Iris Caddis was just the trick for those fish on that day in that moment, but I know there will be many moments for that fly in the coming days and weeks.
Here is it late August and we have already seen a few early October Caddis hatching.
It is a very caddis-y time on the river, and you’ll want to match them with adults, pupa and soft hackles.
The Little Olive Stones are coming on strong. #16 mostly. Do you tie? Try a #16 short shank dry fly hook and dub some olive Natures Spirit Dubbing on for the body and use 4 brown (gray is ok too) CDC feathers for the swept back wing, and use the butts of the CDC feathers coming off the sides right behind the eye of the hook for legs and to stabilize the fly. These “legs” also help you get powder on the fly to keep it floating well. It’s a patterns I have been using for 20 years on the Metolius with good success.
I have not tried any Bull Trout fishing lately, but our shop manager Brad says it is good and chastised me for only bringing dry flies to the river yesterday.
For nearly 25 years I never fished anything but dry flies on the Metolius until I discovered Euro Nymphing 10+ years ago. September is a great month to leave the nymphs behind and dry fly fish for sure. But that isn’t for everyone!
Lower Deschutes is a good news and bad news report this week. Let’s get the bad out of the way and say ODFW has made a difficult decision to close the river from the Mouth of the Columbia up to Sherars Falls. That means a lot of our favorite steelhead runs are closed for the month of September with a probable re-opening day on October 1, 2021. The reason is the steelhead run is so poor this year they want to protect the fish that make it to the river. I will stay non-political, non-judgmental on some of the other decisions down the river, but will say it is my opinion that gill nets sure ought to be banned in the Columbia for this same reason, and we all work for a comeback solution together. So, don’t plan on any steelhead fishing in September in the lower river, and check your reasons for wanting to go in the waters that are still open if the run is so bad they are doing unprecedented actions to protect what makes it up river.
The good news is the trout fishing is outstanding, including Warm Springs to Trout Creek and Trout Creek to Maupin where Steve, Ben and Adam just wrapped up another multi-day camp float with great food and great fishing.
Lot’s of Caddis action on the D now, from little Western Weedy Water Sedges ( a small black micro caddis that hatches heavily on the Deschutes) to the standards like Tan and Olive/Grey #14-18 caddis. Pupa and Adults, plus spent egg layers in the eddies are good. Be sure to check out our Partridge Caddis with the Hot Pink Parachute Post for the Deschutes. Your granny can see that even through the cataracts.
Nymph action is good through the morning and most of the afternoon.
The Crooked is in great shape and fishing well with PMD and BWO hatches in the Afternoon, with some good action coming on Hoppers and Renegades at the surface. Our best action is on Euro/Tightline techniques and with small Perdigons, Split Case PMD’s and 2 Bit’s. Our guide Mary Ann is dialed on the crooked and used a lot of drop shot techniques with her euro rods with stunning success.
The Fall River is fishing just fine too, although the end of summer crowds have been heavy, the fish are feeding well and dry fly action has recently increased with the end of the heat. For Dries, PMD #16 (go wild on emergers and cripples for these picky fish), BWO #18-20, Mahogany Duns (#16) Olive Caddis (#16-18- Henryville and CDC Henry’s Fork Caddis are great but don’t poo-poo an Olive Elk Hair for some reason FR trout like it a lot). Also, ants, beetles, hippie stompers and hoppers in the grassy bank areas. Twitch that hopper to get the fish to want to eat it. Nymphing is good in the ledges. Streamers continue be a go to for our guide Danny who is in fact one of the better streamer anglers I know.
The McKenzie is going off still. You really need to float it and so hiring a guide is a darn good bet so you can fish too.
Euro Nymphs, Soft Hackles, Mega Prince and a myriad of hatches from Stones, Caddis and May’s that will bring fish to the top throughout much of the day, particularly after the suns has been up and warms the water after morning lows. Steve, Troy, Ben, Adam and Tonn are all working the McKenzie and we can find you a spot in September if you want to try it.
I started taking my Drift Boat with the 8hp Yamaha to East Lake this week since the boat launches are becoming difficult to use with a longer and heavier boat. No problem getting the small boat in though and the fishing is so worth it. Morning nymphing with a Red 2 Bit, Callibaetis Feather Duster and a Baetis Split Case under an indicator in about 12-15 of water was great. Do expect to weed through a lot of Kokanee with nymphs. Sometimes 2 at a time.
About noon to 3’ish the Callibaetis action rolls, and from what I can see over several days on the water there are callibaetis along every bank line where weed beds are near by. You have to be adaptive to the stage the fish want today. It is not about what worked yesterday. Grab some emergers that sit flat, and emergers that sit curved half sunk in the film. 2 fly choices: Harrops Captive Dun and an Almost Dun. Sparkle Duns and Comparaduns were good for us this week. One day an Olive Haze had us keeping the net busy. Big fish. 12′ 5x leaders are good. Bring a net and plan on losing some fish in the weed beds. It is awesome.
Paulina Lake is good. Beetles along the edges, mixed with Hoppers and Red Tarantulas. Look for Callibaetis in the morning before the wind comes up, but that is getting harder to do now that the morning is so much colder. A few days ago we still got a bunch of fish up to the top on an emerger in the wind, even thought the hatch was not very prevalent, I just had faith that a loch style approach with the sea anchor/drogue working down wind with a CDC merger was going to bring fish up over and around shallow weed beds.
Nymphing under an indicator was good, with moments of glory. Throat pump samples showed a lot of #18 olive chironomids and some small scuds. That said, we did best on #14 red pupa and #16 brown with a flashy anti static bag rib.
I am experimenting with a new approach to nymphing pupa’s on windy days when the I know the indicator is moving the fly a lot more than it should be moving. I have been using the Airflo 3 foot anchor tip, and building my leader the length of the depth found on my sounder less a foot. I cast no more than 25 feet and the fast sink “anchor” tip hangs below the thick floating section and I do the slowest hand twist. Takes are hard and there is no doubt it is a better windy day tactic than an indicator for chironomids. I don’t mind my balanced leech dancing down there more, but that is not how chironomids behave. It is fun learning new things.
Crane Prairie was a humbling lesson that ended up rewarding. I had my fiend and client Skip in the boat this week. We got there to not many boats on the water, and fished the flat out from the resort but back towards the channel. One boat out of 4 we could see was doing really well. It appeared he had a camo intermediate line and was stripping something. But he was nailing them. Another boat came in between him and I , and that fella had an indicator rig and he was nailing them. More boats showed up, and damnit they were all catching fish and we were not. We finally did, but we were the last boat of about 12 I was keeping an eye on to even hook a fish, let alone net one. I don’t know why. It is fishing. But Skip and I finally did put a few combos together that worked well for us. A Maroon Leech with a black tail (no bead) on a Camo Line. And a Spectrum Brown Jig Leech with a lot of flash in the tail under an indicator with a hand twist retrieve. The 1st guy I talk about above hollered something about a Pheasant Tail to some guys in a nearby boat, but none of the PT’s we tried did the trick. So, that’s fishing and that’s my story about getting my ass kicked.
Skip and I had the best day though, and the fact that he came alone for this trip and let me fish beside him was a treat, and our conversations about global and social issues made for a really good day with a super good dude.
I have not been to Hosmer or heard anything so I got nothing this week. I am supposed to go Tuesday so I’ll update when I can. I don’t like to bullshit my way through something I am currently unsure of.
3 Creeks is usually where I wrap it up on fishing, and it continues to produce very nicely. Callibaeits have been covering the water in the afternoons. Black Caddis are still prevalent. It is a great float tube and pontoon lake and worth the 3 miles of washboard to get there. Some friends went to Little 3 Creeks this week with tubes and caught some dandy Brookies!
See you on the water, and thank you for all of your support!