it is looking more like a proper December, with the forecast showing some days with rain drops and snow flakes instead of nearly 70 degrees like we had just a few days ago.
I say bring it on! It’s good for the fishing this time of year. BWO’s that hatch in the winter months are a lot more likely to really get going on a gray day than a bluebird day. Tina and I went to the Metolius a few days ago on one of the really warm days, and we got all watered up, walked to a favorite eddy for the hatch and never saw a bug. No bugs = no fish. Jeez. Thats the game.
The Metolius is certainly a river of a 100 yards. My friend Chester and I were talking about that a few days ago, about how you can see a good hatch come off on one part of the river, and a hundred yards away there may be nothing of the sort happening. I don’t think there are many rivers as mysterious as the Metolius. Do you?
So, let’s jump into what is happening on the Metolius, and what you should expect this 12th month of 2021.
With the weather change, I sincerely believe we will see better mayfly hatches in the afternoon. Look for Blue Wing Olives #20-22 sometime between noon and 2. You may very well see some yellow Cinygmula mayflies #16-18 mixed in with the afternoon emergence of the olives.
October Caddis and their smaller cousin the Silver Stripe Sedge will be important all of December and throughout the winter into about May. If you tie, be sure to tie orange pupa patterns both with heavy tungsten beads and lighter beads (or no beads) to fish when the late afternoon emergence is likely to occur.
There is a mix of small stoneflies, both what look like late Olive Stones we see so prolifically in the fall and some early black stones that really get going on snowy days in January and February. A no hackle elk hair caddis or CDC or Hemingway caddis can be great to match these in #16-18. A Float & Fool is also a neat fly for searching the surface when small stones are out and about.
On any given day on the Metolius, no matter the season I hope, if not expect to see some fish rise. So that opener where I talked about Tina and I not seeing it “happen” was not only a bummer, it was surprise.
What we should have done is brought more gear. We should have brought nymphing rigs, or Bull Trout gear. But we were so hopeful for the hatch, and both of getting over bad colds, we just had the energy for the 4 weight and the dry fly cast. Next time!
Nymph fishing opportunities are abundant each and every day on the Met. Flies that always seem to produce include Golden Stones #6-12, Red Copper John #12-20, CDC Guide Hares Ear #16-18, Blue Perdigon #16, Two Bit Hooker #16-18, Micro Mayfly #18, Green, Red, Orange Perdigons #12-18, October Caddis #6-12, Eggs #14-18 and Tan Caddis Pupa #12-16.
Some of the nymphing is going to be best on a tight line/euro nymph technique, and in some areas setting up with an indicator is still very cool. While we love euro nymphing at FFP, never forget how important the indicator can be.
Bull Trout fishing is good in December and January. The colder the days get, I would give an overly general piece of advice and say that a nymph under an indicator is likely more of a Bull Trout getter than a streamer. Nymph of choice? A Red Chironomid with a White Bead is hard to beat. I have no idea why, but it works.
Streamer fishing currently is very much advised. Big stuff. Nasty all black conehead streamers or black/blue/purple have been great. White is always a color to take for a swim when the Bulls are hungry. Bring your 8 weight.
ANOTHER REMINDER THAT THE METOLIUS IS CLOSED FROM ALLINGHAM BRIDGE TO THE HEADWATERS UNTIL MAY 22nd. Don’t be fishing closed water and if you see someone fishing closed water, kindly remind them it is closed to protect spawning grounds. It takes a village to protect spawning areas. It shouldn’t, but it does.
The Fall River is fishing well, and that is the beauty of spring creeks for year round action. Brad was there yesterday and did well on Euro Streamers. Jigs and Perdigons, Eggs, 2 Bits, Zebra Midges (especially the ones with 2 tungsten beads) are great nymphs now. Look for hatches of BWO #20, Midges (black #22-24), tannish cinnamon caddis #14 and any time now look out for little black stones #16-18
As of now there is zero snow on the banks and the entire river has great access.
Let’s hope for snow soon and your adventurous ability to navigate it to get to some gorgeous winter fishing conditions that the Fall is famous for in December, January and February.
The Crooked is fishing pretty well. To me, expectations are seeing low water, water slightly off color due to the low water up in the reservoir and the churn of silt that is coming out of the dam. Water temps are not super cold yet, as they can be in December and January. We will keep on that and let you know if the river starts to ice up, but now its a go for sure.
Fish seem to be keyed nicely on whitefish eggs, zebra midges, thread midges and small perdigons.
While I intend to fish there tomorrow, it has been a while since I was on the Crooked last, and no one I’ve spoken to in the last month has said they’ve seen any fish rising to anything of substance. Plan on it being a nymph show.
Look for euro opportunities and be prepared for using a NZ Wool indicator 3 to 5 feet above the nymph(s).
A friend of mine who shall remain un named to protect his identity, realized after he got home he missed fish because his indicator was too far up his leader. That distance is very important, and what the indicator is made of make a huge difference too. I am 100% telling you the NZ Wool indicator is so much better for this type of fishing than any other indicator, that you are probably missing fish if you aren’t using this style of indy.
The Lower Deschutes is good from Warm Springs to Trout Creek and Nena to Wapinitia. Stonefly Nymphs, Green Rock Worms, Hares Ears, Copper Johns, Perdigons, Jigs and Blue Prince are favorite winter nymphs.
Swinging a sculpin or leech is a good way to get trout now too.
Please respect the closure of the Warm Springs Tribal Waters. It’ll open again on April 22nd.
I am hearing fairly slow fishing coming from the Middle Deschutes. Water is pretty high as the canals are empty and the river is getting cold. Is it over? No, it’s never over. But there are reasons to go someplace else just as there are reasons to go there. The #1 reason to go to the Middle, compared to the above mentioned places you are WAY more likely to have the place to yourself than any of the other local rivers. Euro Nymphing and streamer fishing are the way to go.
With the weather coming in and snow in the forecast I think South Twin is done until spring.
Haystack is still an option for the lake folks. Balanced Leeches are going to be your best bet.
Suttle Lake is an option too. I had an interesting tip from a guy from ODFW. Snails. He kept one of the browns and it was full of snails. A fluke? Hard to know, but those browns in the fall air Suttle are darn hard to catch and yet ever so enticing as they roll and cruise the gorgeous waters of the lake near Link Creek.
I look forward to another update near Christmas. Until then, Happy Holidays, happy last day on Hanukkah, Merry Christmas…. All of it!
However you celebrate and however you send your greetings, do it with love, and enjoy one of the greatest times of the year with family and friends close to you. I will be doing that for sure.