Happy New Year friends.
These last few weeks have seen some crazy weather. Big snowstorms, mostly in the mountains but also down in town blanketed the area with deep snow. This week on the SNOTEL Data website, through the USDA, we show our snow pack at 113% in the Deschutes and Crooked River Basins. The McKenzie Basin fares even better at 179% of normal snowpack. Should this trend continue we are going to be in better shape come mid summer and fall of 2022 than we have been in several years. I know a lot of us will be happy to see the lakes and reservoirs higher for access and cooler water. Keep the snow dances going please.
All of that said, the weeks of bad weather we have recently lived with, there were some good days on the rivers if you braved the wet and the cold conditions. Yesterday and today I heard several good reports from our 2 local spring creeks. Our guide Troy was having a bus-man’s holiday on the Fall River yesterday and said it was great. Today our guide Tonn was on the Metolius exploring his favorite waters to fish on a day off, and had some good catches while nymphing. He mentioned a good BWO hatch but wasn’t set up for dries today.
Our longtime customer “Rudy” was out using his brand new Euro Nymph set up and had a wonderful morning catching fish today.
And the best news is the weather is breaking a bit for at least a few days. Sunday looks especially nice to be out, but tomorrow and Monday look good. It looks like next week never gets very cold, and might have some showers of either snow or rain depending on the day, and should prove to be a great week to get out on the water again.
Don’t forget to get your new fishing license. You can do so on the ODFW App or website, or feel free to stop in the shop and we can help you get it renewed.
So, starting on the Metolius here is what you should expect. Bull Trout fishing has been good on big streamers. Swinging on a sink tip or using a heavier fly and use a floating line. A lot of success is coming on streamers fished under an indicator. With this method you can keep the flies just off the bottom reducing snags if set up correctly, but also it allows the fly to work around the logs and ledges where some of the bull trout lurk waiting to do their predator thing!
Bull Trout will also eat Red Ice Cream Cones, Chartreuse Mops, Squirmies and Leeches. All of these we’d recommend using under an indicator.
Hatches you’ll see will mostly be Blue Wing Olives #18-22, but October Caddis #8-10, Silver Stripe Sedges #10, Snow Sedges #12-14, a few smaller Bracycentrus Caddis #14-16, and Black Winter Stones (#14-16).
All of this does not equal never ending dry fly fishing.
I know, I’m sad too.
But it does give you more to think about when approaching the river from bottom to top. Any of these might work as a dry, but in fairness the caddis are going to be better matched as Pupa.
Sometimes the Little Black Stones will be prolific enough to get the fish looking up for them. Especially around the Allingham to Gorge Stretch.
Hatches are going to happen between noon and 3 in January for the most part.
Nymph fishing is good all day, especially from about 9 am to 4 pm.
Euro Nymphing techniques have been our most consistent method lately. Walts Worms, Olive Perdigons, Jig Copper Johns and Tungsten Eggs have been great. Zebra Midges, Sparkle Pupa, Realistic Pupa and Blue Psycho Prince are great droppers.
Never forget to add Golden Stone Nymphs and October Caddis Pupa to the Winter Nymph Box for the Met.
Access is pretty good despite the snow. A lot of snow has melted in the last 3 days helping access. I have heard 4X4 trucks are making it past the hatchery through the unplowed maintenance area. Be careful and be prepared with a plan to get unstuck if you think you are going to try that. I’m not recommending it, but I know some people have made it today.
Plenty of access in the open fishing areas from Allingham to Wizard Falls Hatchery that you won’t have to worry about being stuck.
Fall River is fishing well too, but do expect a lot more snow in the south county area. Access to the Hatchery is good. The Campground and Headwaters will take a little more work, both parking and trudging through the snow to and around the river. I do not think you can get to the Tubes/Falls at this time.
BWO’s, Midges and Little Black Stones are the main hatches, so again think bottom to top. Midge nymphs, emergers and dries, BWO nymphs, emergers and dries, and those little black stones will be on the surface primarily.
Leeches have been working very well on the Fall River. Besides leeches, try some other small streamers including small sculpins and euro streamers.
Euro Nymphs are the way to approach the nymph game there. Perdigons, Walt’s Worms, Zebra Midges and Eggs are favorites.
Crooked is kind of slow. Is it worth a try? Sure. It was pretty iced up but that has subsided. Do you know how to do a drop shot nymph rig? Look it up. When the water is cold, low and slow is a great way to present the fly. Our guide Mary Ann is really good at this and uses the technique all year on the Crooked.
Zebra Midges, Thread Midges, Midge Winklers, Copper John, Skinny Nelson, Micro Mayfly, Scuds.
I’ll tell you every once in a while in the winter a larger Prince Nymph (#12’ish) can be the fly that takes a slow day to a decent one.
One other thing, look for rising trout to midge pupa and midge adults farther down from the dam, like around mile post 12 late afternoon.
The Middle Deschutes is not good at this time. Its just running too cold and the trout are off the bite.
Often in Mid to Late February things start to pop a bit with the Little Black Stones.
Give it some time.
The Maupin area of the Lower Deschutes is running a little off color and high this week during the rapid snow melt. It is getting colder tonight and that ought to clear it up quickly. Upstream of Maupin around Harpham, Nena, Locked Gate can offer good fishing in January, and better in February. Keep it in mind and bring your Euro Rod and fish it well.
I had a VERY interesting exchange with a customer and reader of these reports I wanted to share, because what he said blew my mind. He was fishing Olive Matuka Streamers in the eddies down there, and catching fish. I love that and appreciate so much how this blog is about sharing and learning. And, I really want to try that Matuka now.
We had a really nice Zoom presentation yesterday on the Metolius given exclusively to the readers on this blog as a thank you to their friendship, and their sharing of knowledge.
Next thursday at 4 PM I’m doing another Zoom on fishing the lakes. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll share the zoom link for you to be with us. It’s free. Hope you can make it.
I am still hopeful to teach some tying classes but have not yet found enough people to start a beginning class. Let me know if you want a beginning class. 5 weeks. $15 per session. I will teach you some really good flies, you’ll build skills week to week to tie more and more patterns and we will all have fun!
Thanks everyone. See you soon. Get your 2022 Fishing License.