If you’re from Oregon and felt the full blast of fall weather hit us this weekend, and with essentially a month and half left of general trout season, it feels like it is speeding to an end.
In so many ways, that “end” never matters, because of all of the places that are open year round, and all of the places that continue to fish so well until the really cold winter weather hits us (usually in December).
Still, so many of us kind of mourn the end of the general trout season. So, there is so much fishing to do between now and halloween for the places that will close at the end of the general trout season.
For me, that’s a bunch of the lakes that I love so much. It’s also the Metolius above Allingham, which is just a wonderful place to fish in the fall.
We can look forward to quiet days on the Met for Bulls and for afternoon BWO hatches. We look forward to late season Trout spey swings, and nymphing on the Deschutes, brown trout hunts on Suttle Lake, float tubing South Twin, plus so much more….I hear the Steelhead run on the Rogue is crazy good. I hear Silver Salmon in the Columbia Basin is record setting. There is a lot of optimism to be had, and that goodness sits right next to the sadness that Wickiup is empty and Columbia Basin Steelhead runs are at record lows. We have to accept both. We have to fight for what needs help and we have to enjoy the bounties that spring up at odd times.
So, how are you planning to live your next angling days to the fullest?
The Metolius has not been as good this September as usual. I hate to say that, because September has always been a magical cornucopia of hatches and amazing fishing. Both seem a touch off. Not that the fishing is bad, it’s just fine. It is just not as red hot as I’ve seen in the 9th month over several years of caring about it.
Drakes and Flav’s are still a big deal. Flav’s, not as many, but Drakes march on and should remain important to early October. PMD’s and BWO’s and Mahogany Duns are all very important Fall hatches on the Metolius so make sure you’re stocked up on emergers, cripples, duns (and if you fish until dusk, spinners too).
Caddis will be back strong this week as temps go back to the high 70’s and even low 80’s. Pupa’s and Adults for several species of caddis hatches will be important. Iris, CDC, Cornfed and X Caddis in #14-18 Tan and Olive will cover most of the hatches you’ll this week. The Micro Caddis that were so prevalent before seem to be done for the summer. October Caddis are hatching more frequently and will be important from now until May.
We’ve now seen the 1st of the Kokanee run coming up river from Lake Billy Chinook. In the coming weeks there will be tens of thousands of this small salmon in the Metolius. Hmmm, I am thinking Egg Patterns for trout are going to be pretty effective and White or Black/White Streamers are going to attract a fair share of Bull Trout now.
Expect a mix of stoneflies for a while, with Golden Stones and Little Olives being 2 that the fish will be most likely to eat as Adults. Golden Stone Nymphs are a year round staple on the Metolius.
Lots of good fishing to be had on the Metolius, and who knows, maybe you’ll be there when the Magic Happens!
September 22, METOLIUS UPDATE:
Metolius River Fish Habitat Restoration Project to Begin
Large wood placement to occur this week
Camp Sherman, Ore— Beginning Thursday, the Deschutes National Forest will be adding large logs and downed trees into the Metolius River to restore fish habitat.
The work is part of an ongoing project that began in 2008 to restore large wood to the river to improve fish habitat. Nearly 1,000 trees have been placed in the river since that time. Monitoring of the previous placement of the large wood shows chinook salmon densities increasing in project sites by a factor of 300%.
Using heavy equipment, approximately 80 large logs and downed trees will be placed into the river at 20 different locations. While equipment is operating on site, short sections of the Metolius River Trails may be temporarily closed for 30 minutes at a time for public safety. Roads along the Metolius River in Camp Sherman may have up to 30-minute delays. Work is expected to continue weekdays through September 29, 2021.
Large logs and woody debris are an important habitat feature for bull trout, chinook salmon, redband trout and other salmonids. With this next phase of The Metolius River Large Wood Restoration Project, wood will be added to sites not previously restored to increase habitat for chinook salmon in the Metolius River. The same design measures will be used to protect boater safety, such as no placement of channel spanning logs.
The project leader for the Forest Service is Mike Riehle, Fish Biologist, 541-318-8389.
The McKenzie is fishing super well drifting from west of McKenzie Bridge all the way to Leaburg. Fish are looking up to dries and taking nymphs like crazy.
Euro Jigs and Heavy Perdigons are very good, Possie Buggers and Mega Prince, Caddis Pupa (including October Caddis) and Euro Leeches.
Small Stimulators, Small Chubby’s, Parachutes and Foam Body Elk Hair Caddis are good on top, and there have been a fair number of Green Drakes on some days.
The Lower Deschutes is fishing well on Nymphs and Streamers. Dry Fly action has been spotty but you need to keep an eye on the eddies and the shallow weed beds for risers during the afternoon, and with the warm days returning this week I would guess the evening rise to X Caddis and Purple Haze should be on point.
Perdigons, Euro Jigs, Copper Johns, Girdle Bugs and Caddis Pupa are all hot.
Small Streamers and Leeches on the Swing are working well and that take is electric!
The Middle Deschutes is fishing well upstream of Lake Billy Chinook and going all the way up to Bend. Euro Nymphing is very effective through there. Tight line streamer techniques and stripping streamers will be good too.
Hatches are transitioning from the last of the PMD’s and PED’s to the start of fall BWO’s and some decent Caddis hatches too.
The Upper Deschutes is open for 11 more days (not counting today). This is a good time to fish for larger Brook Trout in the area above Crane Prairie. Streamers, Eggs and various Nymphs are good options now.
The Fall River is good all through the sections from the Headwaters to the Camp Ground, the Horseshoe, Hatchery, Tubes and Falls. Nice afternoon mix of mayflies, with PMD, BWO and Mahogany Duns out most days and often overlapping each. Midges in some areas can be very important in emerging pupa and adult stages. Caddis. Ants, Beetles and Hoppers are likely to bring fish up. Nymphs and Streamers are very good. I like to carry a 3 weight dry fly rod, a 3 weight Euro Nymph rod and a streamer rod for a day on the Fall. It can be crowded mid day (11 to 4), but evening is quiet and early morning is another good option to avoid the crowds.
The Crooked River is fishing great, with a lot of good dry fly action on PMD’s and BWO’s mid day. Some midge and caddis action too, but the small PMD’s are king at the moment.
Scuds, Zebra’s, 2 Bits, Micro May’s, Skinny Nelson and Perdigons are all hot Nymphs.
Crane Prairie is fishing pretty well, and they seem to be holding/maintaining water levels at 60% so things look pretty good (sure, it would be nice to see 75%…but this damn drought).
Balanced Leeches are great. Water Boatman, Scuds and Dragonfly Nymphs will be good choices fished under an indicator or on slow sinking lines like a Hover or Intermediate.
Hosmer was really good this week for our guide team. I know Troy really did well there with the IWFF group of ladies. Scuds and Water Boatman are great now. Callibaetis Nymphs are good but don’t expect much for these mayflies to be hatching now until next spring. Leeches, Zebra Midges and Red 2 Bit’s are good.
Expect a lot of Indicator action, but for sure bring a Hover and an Intermediate Camo line too. Fish are spread out in the Upper and Lower Lakes and in the Channels.
East Lake is still a good bet but expect the ending of callibaetis hatches soon. But, be prepared for them too.
Beetles and Ants will continue to be good for dries, and keep an eye open for splashy takes that might indicate flying water boatman. This time of year chironomid fishing can become spotty but leeches and scuds can pick up that slack. Remember that launching most boats is now very difficult due to low water. Tubes & Pontoon Boats launch anywhere. Drift Boats @ Hot Springs. I heard they closed Cinder Hill which is a bummer if true.
Paulina Lake is good. I had great Beetle days last week and very good fishing on Balanced Leeches and Leeches fished on intermediate and Type 5 full sinking lines. The fish seemed to show a real preference to leeched that hat a fluorescent bead (both orange and hot pink worked well).
Scuds are showing up in a lot of throat pump samples.
Very few fish on Chironomids this week. But I don’t think that is over as I am seeing some good size “buzzers” emerging and leaving large empty shucks on the surface and have found good numbers of very small olive pupa in throat pump samples.
I am pretty certain 3 Creeks Lake got the 1st snow of the fall yesterday and overnight. No big deal, but a sign that the high lakes are going to be done sooner.
We give it a high recommendation, especially with warm days coming this week and lasting for a while.
Leeches and Scuds are going to be your best flies. Late season midge hatches might give you some surface action. Beetles and Ants are not done yet and should definitely give you dry fly action. A Red Hippie Stomper is a favorite Beetle for 3 Creeks and the Crow Beetle with the Peacock Body and Pink Indicator top.
Wade the edges or launch a tube or small boat. It is all good.
I am headed out to walk the dogs and clean up pine needles for the rest of the day. Hope to see a little NFL and tie some flies and get ready for several days on the water coming up with a lot of really good people in the boat this week and next.
Until next time, be well and fish hard.