Here we are, May 21st and it’s been a weird start to the fishing season since April. Mostly due to snow up in the lakes and wind and cold weather down on the rivers. Is that about to change?
For a while it looks like and that is why I think this is going to be the most exciting week of fishing SO FAR in 2022.
I am going to start on the Lower Deschutes, because as many of you have heard the salmonflies are there, but hunkered deep in the riparian grasses to insulate themselves against the cold wind.
Looking at the 10 day forecast (which most people from Oregon know is only good for 4 to 5 days typically) the temperatures those big bugs want to warm up and fly is starting today. This week could be absolutely perfect conditions for the hatch.
Our guide team has reported great nymph fishing (especially euro nymphing, but also some long line indicator fishing too) on caddis pupa, perdigons and brown mayfly nymphs (2 Bit, Split Case, Micro May and Soft Hackle PT). We are also seeing PMD’s coming in better numbers now, some Pale Evening Duns and with warmer weather and the calendar knocking at the door of June, the really good summer caddis are ever so close to exploding on to the scene.
I rate the Lower Deschutes very high for the next 9 to 12 weeks for sure.
On the Metolius we are seeing increasing numbers of Green Drakes and PMD’s. With the warm days coming back I also foresee a better emergence of caddis and warm enough evenings when an angler (like you or me for example) would want to fish until dark and see if the fish were sipping rusty spinners at dusk. Sometimes when it’s cold and windy, those rusty spinners come back to lay eggs mid-day and can be overshadowed by other hatches or they go unnoticed by the fish because the “fall” is so spread out instead of the condensed timing of it all at dusk when the fish really get keyed on them. We love the Harrops CDC Parachute Rusty Spinner and my own Sunset Spinner which I developed fishing the evening spinner falls on the Metolius several years back.
For dry fly windows we are looking at noon to 5 for Drakes and PMD’s with some possibilities of caddis and BWO’s in there too. From 6 to Dusk Caddis, Rusty Spinners and BWO’s are most likely.
SUNDAY 5/22/22 The UPPER RIVER from the headwaters to the Allingham Bridge opens for the season. AWESOME RIGHT?! See you up there. I’ll be euro nymphing for sure.
The Crooked River is seeing some fluctuating water levels, but maybe they’ve settled on 245 cfs for the foreseeable future to meet irrigation needs. That is a normal summer flow. Water is murkier than normal but Crooked River Redbands always seem fine with that. The Mother’s Day Caddis hatch is the main thing going now. The Dry Fly Adult can be hard to match, possibly because on many days there are too many naturals to compete against? Soft hackle have been great, and pupa patterns have been really productive too. For dries, X Caddis, Elk Hair, Henryville, Corn Fed and CDC Caddis are all worth putting in the box #16/Olive mostly. Sometimes a Black Elk Hair Caddis in #16 is the ticket during this hatch.
Micro May’s, 2 Bits, Skinny Nelson, Perdigons, Zebra Midges, Psycho Prince and Scuds are also great flies on the Crooked now and almost anytime for the next 5 months.
Fall River is fishing quite good, look for hatches of PMD, Caddis, Midges, BWO and Green Drakes now. Ants are a favorite of mine out there too. Beetles are great.
Fishing is good all over the river so spread out and find some space. It gets busy from 10 or 11 AM to 3 or 4 PM pretty much every day. Try going at dawn, or go for the evening to mitigate that a bit.
Nymph opportunities are endless when you find the fish. A single nymph (usually mayfly or midge with tungsten beads) on 6 1/2X or 7X is going to do the trick. I often opt for the single nymphs there over the dropper rig for 2 reasons: in flows like the Fall, one nymphs penetrates best and without a 2nd nymph there is no micro drag on the 1st nymph. #2, so often we end up fishing in the logs or close to them anyway, and one nymph fishes more accurately than 2. Plus, when you lose the fly in the log, it is certainly less painful when it’s just one at a time.
When we had Tom Jarman here from the Australian Fly Fishing Team in 2018, he is a master of flow and he taught me, and showed me the difference a single nymph can make in getting a perfect drift in linear flows like what we see often in rivers like the Fall. Think about the lava ledges and how that created micro eddies and currents that can suck one fly a different direction. Of course some of that can be countered with heavier beads, or swinging Euro Streamers. But for pin point casting to specific trout, try the single nymph.
The Middle Deschutes is fishing well from Bend to Lake Billy Chinook on Salmonflies, Golden Stones, Caddis, PMD and Pale Evening Duns. This should be a very good week ahead to be there for the last of the big bugs.
The McKenzie River is running quite high, although around Blue River I see it is back down to around 6000 cfs. Our guide Steve said it was 12,000 cfs earlier this week and chose to not drift it. Smart Move. That basin has 222% of snowpack today. It is going to be high for a while, but we will keep an eye on conditions and hopefully be able to fish there soon. My guess is June is going to be tough on the Mckenzie and Santiam for us? Time will tell. And we will tell you when the time is right. As of today, I have no real report to share due to high water and no guides being over there.
Crane Prairie. Hmmmmm. I described it to a friend as 2 degrees better than dog crap on the rug a few days ago. I personally think it sucks right now.
I also think that when the millions of tiny midges are hatching, that every year the fishing is very slow during this period. I’m going to give it until June and go back. Last year in May I found it to be slow (but this bad) and a marked improvement in June. Will this year be the same? I hope so.
Last June balanced leeches, chironomids, damsel nymphs and the best callibaetis hatches I’d seen at Crane since the 80’s gave us some really special days of fishing up until that god-forsaken heat dome settled over us on about June 27th last year. Please mother nature don’t let that happen again. Like ever! Anyway, I see a good near future at CP, it just isn’t good right now.
North and South Twin are good bets for tubers, pontoons and row boats. North has some big boys stocked that like Olive Balanced Leeches. South is great for kicking around the edges and dragging a leech and flashback PT, stripping damsels or fishing balanced leeches and chironomids under an indicator. Nice small lakes that are a good place to catch some easier access, easier fishing and fun. And the restaurant at South Twin has a good burger by the way.
East Lake is still iced over as of yesterday.
In fact, the high winds from earlier in the week pushed the ice back to the east side of the lake covering what I reported as open water on Monday when I did my scouting report from the lakes. Last evening when I went to check it out the ice was thin, and full of puddles and holes. One day of a warm breeze and it will be gone.
Boat ramps and campgrounds are likely 2 or 3 weeks away from melting enough to use. This gives a lot of opportunity to the tubers and shore anglers coming up maybe as early as Monday or Tuesday.
I will be back up there Monday and will report what I see Monday evening.
I ran my 1st guide trip at Paulina yesterday. It was an interesting day. The camp grounds and boat launches at Paulina Lake CG and Little Crater CG are snowed in. So I launched at the resort ($5 launch fee) and found water temps to be 39 to 49, averaging LOW 40’s. That worried me a bit, but the bite was good on intermediate lines and small leeches. There were a number of reddish brown #16 chironomids hatching, we stuck with stripping leeches instead of indicator fishing yesterday but I bet a red ice cream cone would have been good in 6 to 10 feet of water.
I don’t report on Davis Lake much because I don’t fish it much. I do know ODFW will be shocking Bass for removal May 23rd for the week.
I understand that many of you will be excited to go to Three Creeks Lake. It’s a long ways off. So much snow. Maybe hiking in in about 3 weeks. I’d bet the boat ramp and driving all the way up are going to be close to July this season. A massive warm up could change that, but the long term forecast for June in the region is cooler and wetter than average.
Enjoy the week, get out and fish and see you soon.