Fishing Update September 12, 2021

Good Sunday Morning, we have a lot to share and a lot to talk about this week, so let’s dive in and look at trends and conditions around Central Oregon and get you ready for your next day on the water.

I was lucky enough to fish the Metolius 3 days since the last report. I have to say, yesterday for me was much better than it was the 1st weekend of September. Last weekend we struggled to find drake feeders, finding a few in the canyon and none around the hatchery. I know Brad (FFP Shop Mgr and his brother Eric, FFP Chief of Security) had some very nice caddis fishing, and our good friend Carolina Phil was doing well on PMD’s. It goes to show how even a 100 yards difference in river location can change the outcome quite a bit. Add a good 15 miles of great fly fishing water to the mix and results can be all over the board. Like real estate, Location location location. And I guess adding a damn #20 flying ant to the dry fly box might help.
What we didn’t expect was a flying ant hatch. Tiny ants, about an 18 or 20, all over the place last saturday. I am still wondering if they were the culprit of the tough fishing Tina, Dove, Mike and I had near the hatchery which resulted in exactly zero fish for the 4 of us that afternoon. Skunked.
The next day was better with fish coming to drakes for us, and the same yesterday for me. So, the drake action is increasing.
Flav hatches were incredible in the rain on Friday I heard from my friend Chester. With rain back in the forecast this coming friday and saturday be sure to prepare for many of the mayfly hatches to pop even harder in wet conditions.
Our good friend John Kreft who has a cool blog/website called River Keeper Flies and is an institution on the Metolius (along with his wife Karen) published a piece this week on his blog that new research suggests the huge stoneflies we have been calling Willowflies for decades are probably being misnamed, and are actually a lesser known stone called a Cascade Stone. I can tell you, whether they are Cascade Stones or Willowflies, they were hatching heavily this week and should be around for several more days to a week.
Golden Stones are continuing to hatch, especially from Gorge CG up to the Headwaters, but look for them from day to day down to the Candle Creek area too.
A few Salmonflies are around, especially near the hatchery.
My point on these stoneflies is tuck 2 or 3 big dries for Salmonflies, some Clarks Stones for Goldens, and a Dark Chubby or Sofa Pillow in your pack for the next week or 10 days because you might get lucky and run into an area where they are on the menu.
And, don’t forget those little Olive Stones #16-18 over the next couple of weeks too. One of the most important stoneflies on the Metolius in my opinion, just due to sheer volume and length of hatch. Trout eat a lot of these.
There are a whole bunch of Caddis hatches going so be prepared with Iris, CDC, Hemingway, X and Cornfed’s for surface action and Pupa’s under the surface.
A good number of BWO’s, PMD’s and some Mahogany Duns too. Mahogany Duns will increase from Mid-September into October. We love a fly called an Upright Rusty Spinner to match Mahogany Duns. We also love Quill Gordons Grey Comparaduns and EP Sparkle Duns to match this hatch. BWO, PMD and Mahogany’s will be all over from Camp Sherman to Candle Creek and will be heavy on the trouts diet for quite a while into the fall.
Bull Trout fishing is good with Streamers and we highly recommend coming in to check out 2 patterns I had specially tied by Dreamcast in Roseburg. One is a huge conehead articulated all black with rubber legs, and the other is a black and purple articulated conehead that is one of my personal favorites for bull’s. With Steelhead season on the ropes down the Deschutes, Bull Trout swinging might be a good way to keep the spey game on point and enjoy some big tugs from some big char.
Finally, don’t set that Euro Nymphing rod aside, it is an incredible way to catch fish on the Metolius now and throughout the fall and upcoming winter months.

The Lower Deschutes from Warm Springs to Trout Creek is fishing well with a lot of caddis still. This time of year, Micro Caddis can be a game changer. Pupa and Adults in #18-20. That doesn’t mean #14-16 Tan, Grey and Olive caddis won’t be around and important, but make sure you’re not overlooking the little stuff. So many of you have drift boats and know this time of year that little black caddis (Little Western Weedy Water Sedges) will cover the side of your boat while your parked and out fishing.
October Caddis Pupa are definitely something to start fishing with now too.
Stonefly nymphs (Black and Golden) are awesome in the Fall.
Still some PMD’s around. Mahogany Duns will make a short but important appearance on the Lower D about now. BWO’s are out and about and will be more important in the coming days and weeks too.

The Middle Deschutes from Bend to Lake Billy Chinook encompasses many access points over many miles of stream. It is fishing well, especially on Euro Nymph techniques with some good dry fly action too. Purple Haze, X Caddis and Yellow Sparkle Duns are 3 dries to make sure you have for a visit to the Middle D.

The Upper Deschutes above Crane Prairie is open for about 2 more weeks and closes on September 30. Now is a great time to be up there. Brook Trout from the lake are preparing to spawn later this fall, whitefish, rainbows and currently even a run a kokanee make for some interesting fishing. Euro Nymph and Tightline Streamer techniques will be your best methods.

The Crooked River is fishing very good. Small PMD’s mixed with BWO’s are taking a lot of fish on the surface mid day. Nymphing is also incredible. Current water levels are good. We expect very low flows for winter and worry about that and potential for fish kill and habitat loss. I know agreements and laws are in place to keep flows up in the winter, and the reservoir has a Habitat Allocation to make sure the river isn’t so low in the winter. Will they be able to fulfill this promise for the fish? I sure hope so. I am on the board at Water Watch, and I know WW is asking for photos of the crooked now and moving forward to fall and winter to make sure river levels stay safe for fish. If any of you are willing to share photos with WW, I am happy to take get them from you and forward to the right people there.

Paulina Lake was good this week. One day was a lot of Grasshopper, Beetle and Red Tarantula action, and the other day was more indicator or sinking line stuff with nymphs and balanced leeches.
There are a good number of big Chironomids hatching, mostly tan colored but some reddish “buzzers” too. Using my throat pump on occasional fish shows some large pupa in the samples, but again, just like in the spring, a ton of tiny #20 (or smaller) dark olive pupa. Throat pump samples also showed a number of what I think are Honey Wasps. They are tan with dark stripes and about a #16.
One thing I am going to revisit today, the Airflo 3 foot anchor tip with 2 or 3 nymphs is a really good way to present chironomids (+ leeches and callibaetis nymphs….really anything you might fish under an indicator) and not rely on an indicator. Why? Well, sometimes in the wind the wave action on the bobber puts too much action on the flies. A couple of days ago, we had breeze, but not bad, but we just weren’t getting the bites fishing an indicator. So by switching to the 3 foot anchor tip and utilizing a very slow hand twist retrieve we started getting bites and getting fish. This is a line I know I am going to be using more and more, and I have to say it feels good to be active with a slow retrieve instead of staring at a bobber (which I love, but you know how it goes on a slow bite, that is tough after a while).

East Lake is still rocking. Might it be the best lake to fish right now? Probably. Callibaetis are waning, but this week should see the last of the best hatches of 2021. Beetles, Ants and Hoppers for the rest of September for sure. I can remember one hell of a great day guiding in October with beetles and even a day with snow falling and the fish still ate the beetles.
Chironomids are good in a 10 to 18 feet of water. Black #16, Red from #12 to #18, Olive #16-18, Chrome #16. Play around with the colors at different depths and times of day and different areas of the lake.
One thing about nymphs, you will end up catching chubs. Bonk them and feed them to the Gulls. ODFW wants them out and the only good chub is a dead chub on the lakes.

Hosmer Lake was good this week. There is hardly any hatch of callibaetis or caddis left, but a few of both around on warmer days. Damsels are still around. Water Boatman are increasingly important, as nymphs and at the surface.
Balanced Leeches, Callibaetis Nymphs, Zebra Midges, Ice Cream Cones and Scuds. Our friend and retired FFP Guide “commander” Tim texted me a photo a steelhead sized rainbow he caught on a scud under a NZ Wool Indicator this week.

Three Creeks Lake is a good bet for the week. Hatches are way slower so it’ll be more chironomids and leeches now. Certainly with the war days in the forecast we could see some callibaetis, and no doubt ants and beetles will work. It is getting quiet up there on weekdays in terms of crowds. Ahhhh.

Finally, I need to take a second to talk about boat ramp etiquette.
Under no circumstance is it ok to set up a boat while at the ramp. If you pull up to the ramp and begin setting up motors, batteries, oars, fish finders, and even rods and tackle, you are doing all of that in the wrong place. That needs to be done in a staging area, which are common at some ramps, but not all ramps. If an actual staging area isn’t available, the parking lot is a great place to get EVERYTHING ready so all you have to do is back in, launch, park and walk back to the ready boat and go.
Thursday morning, 2 guys at the ramp were attaching motors, gas cans, oars, fish finders, batteries and even setting up rods while blocking the left side ramp at Paulina. Myself and one other boat launched on the right side during that time, and thankfully it was a quiet day so it didn’t upset the ramp too much, other that it was not taking into account that they weren’t the only folks on the ramp. On a busy day with all the Kokanee boats, I don’t think those guys would have been cut any slack.
Coming back to the ramp at the end of the day, with a nasty lighting storm closing in fast, these fellas were right in the same spot, reversing the process that they did that morning, except now, more than one boat is wanting to quickly exit the lake and get the boat on the trailer safely. There is simply no excuse for blocking a boat ramp like that. Simply putting the boat on the trailer, and pulling forward to a parking spot would have created zero problems for other boaters.
I see this all the time, some more egregious, and some just a simple matter of not thinking of others around you. Please, please, please, think of other around you. Just because you pull up and there are no other boats looking ready to launch, people pull in quickly and some of us are super efficient at getting ready to go in a hurry.
8 times out of 10 I am going to say something, I am trying to be educational. I am not picking on you. Let’s work together and that starts by knowing the code of conduct at a boat ramp.

Here are 2 articles on Boat Ramp etiquette
https://www.discoverboating.com/resources/boat-ramp-etiquette and https://www.oregon.gov/osmb/boater-info/Pages/Courtesy-and-Etiquette.aspx

See you on the water!

Jeff

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