Opening Day “Crystal Ball” projections 4/22/22

I don’t actually have a Crystal Ball. Damnit.

Opening day for so many of us is kind of like Christmas. It’s a gift. A change of season. A day to begin a season with a lot to look forward to.

With the gift Mother Nature has given over the last two weeks, it is clear our season is shaping up to be a lot better, and likely a lot longer than I feared just two or three weeks ago.

We are almost to 100% snowpack.

I believe we will make it and go over the mark next week in the next storm cycle. We began 2022 at 135% of average, dropped to 61% and are at 98% today. Can we hit 110%?

I hope.

It is important to note, that not all waters open on Opening Day. Some places like the Upper Deschutes and Upper Metolius and many of the creeks (Whychus and Tumalo) are another month away from opening day on May 22nd. So, if you don’t have your ODFW Regulation Book, you can do a PDF version of it for your phone or come by the shop and we have a copy for you.

I know a lot of you are anxious for the lakes. We are too. Here is what I know so far.
Researching news, talking to locals, checking the Deschutes County and USFS sites and reading the Fly & Field Instagram page helped me this week get some solid info to our readers.

Fly & Field had a good report from two days ago that indicates the ramp by the resort at Crane Prairie is open but the dock will not yet be installed. They also said the west side ramps and camp grounds are not open due to downed trees and snow. Access is going to be from South Century Drive only. Not a chance for Road 40 yet. We appreciate Fly & Field shared this info and want to give them credit for that important info. Thank you Scott and team. F&F has a brand new shop in Sunriver, so if you’re on the way to the lakes and need something stop and grab some tackle and tell them thanks for the heads up.
For fishing Crane Prairie should be good tomorrow and over the weekend and for the long term. Tomorrow is going to be cool and breezy, but the weekend looks warmer and calmer. Regardless, it should be awesome on leeches, chironomids and damsel nymphs. Maybe waterboatman too…
Indicator grabs ought to be good with balanced leeches and chironomids. Bring a your hover and intermediate lines for stripping leeches and nymphs.

Some friends of mine were up at Wickiup (not fishing) before the storm cycle got rolling two weeks ago. The lake looked good up from the Gull Point Area. I’d guess that Deschutes Channel area ought to be good this week on all the same flies as mentioned for Crane, especially leeches. I love some of those coves on the way up towards Sheeps Bridge, and the Sheeps Bridge area itself. I’d guess the next two months are all we are really going to get at Wickiup in 2022, so make the most of the water we have now.
South Twin is fishing well on the edges with Damsel Nymphs and Leeches. Off the drop and in deeper water with Chironomids. If you have sonar, look for fish to be out in deeper water and dangle an ice cream cone or juju midge for them. On a type 7 full sink that is fun to do. I’ve not heard a peep from North Twin… anyone here know anything about access or how it’s fishing if it is indeed open?
I know we won’t be getting to Lava, Little Lava, Hosmer this weekend for sure. Also not to Paulina or East Lake or 3 Creeks Lake yet. Too much snow now. I saw on the local news East & Paulina were definitely still iced over.

I miss my pilot friend who moved to Florida and our spring flights over the lakes for this report. Those were popular. Any pilots out there reading this that want to go for a spin and take some aerial shots, let me know. People loved it.

The Lower Deschutes opens in full 4/22/22: that means Warm Springs to Trout Creek, South Jct, the Guardrail Hole! Trout Creek to Whitehorse for the three day trip. Stonefly Nymphs early season are mega important. Sculpins, Caddis Pupa, PMD Nymphs, BWO Nymphs, Euro Jigs, Perdigons , (check out our new) Crayfish Jig (!) and Hares Ears. I would guess based on what we did see in the open areas down below, march brown hatches mid afternoon will be good, mixed with BWO and likely PMD’s right off the bat at opener, or soon to follow in the coming days. Never overlook caddis pupa and adults on the Lower D. I will guess Salmonflies will be Mid May if this cold front sticks with us as forecast to the end of April. Time will tell, but those of you with may and early june guide trips, you should hit the big dries just fine.
Please remember to familiarize yourself with the rules for fishing on the Warm Springs Reservation. First off, you need a special Permit to do so, and that permit is giving you access Dry Creek Campground to Trout Creek Campground. Because you have a tribal side permit does not open up all waters on the tribal side. Just Dry Creek to Trout Creek which is about 6 miles of access.

Also, boaters need a Boaters Pass. Get that online on for any day you’ll float the river.

The Middle Deschutes is good with March Browns mostly. PMD’s are showing, and a lot of BWO’s are mixed in the afternoon hatch. Nymphing is very productive in the non-hatch times.

The Metolius is good. When I was there this week I saw some of the 1st PMD’s of the year hatch along with a few March Browns. BWO’s are the primary mayfly at this time. It seems like the bigger october caddis and silver stripe sedges are about done until fall. I’ve seen very few on my last couple of trips. I know Brad had a day he had a great afternoon caddis hatch (tan #16), so the smaller caddis that will dominate the summer hatch cycles are beginning now in their place. As expected.

Nymphing is the best bet by far over dries for the moment. Dries are good. Nymphs are better. Especially Euro Style. Drakes are still about a month away. usually Mid-May is the time we see an early smattering and by late May it is ON.

Bull Trout fishing is pretty good. My friend Anthony took his buddy out Wednesday (and stood me up for our rendezvous) and they found this bad boy. I had a big grab on a streamer that is about a foot long, but no fish to the net this time.

a fly angler holding a bull trout
A Bully

The Fall River got 1000 new fish on 4/11/22. Next stocking is around May 9th. Seems to be plenty of holdovers, along with the new fish and some wild trout. I know Troy has a wonderful guide day there yesterday with some clients from the mid-west. A mix of streamer eaters, euro nymphs, and dries. Hatches have been midges and baetis, march browns, grey caddis, and some early terrestrials (ants and beetles). It would be high on my list to fish now.

The McKenzie float trips for us are already going well. I can tell you with the heavy precipitation this week some of the tribes (like Gate Creek) blew out the McKenzie. So keep that in mind and watch river levels before you go. March Browns are key over there now. Nymphing is really productive.

The Crooked River is at a nice level running in the mid 100’s, (143cfs at the time of this writing). Fishing has improved a lot on both nymphs and dries. We’ve seen some really strong hatches of BWO’s lately.

You might like to listen to my podcast I do each month with my friend Michael on the Radical Songbook (man), and have a quick listen as he and I discuss a lot of what I just covered here.

Enjoy your opener, whether that means you’re on the water or dreaming of it from elsewhere. We look forward to continuing this report regularly all season long and keeping you informed the best we can along the way.


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