After a totally perfect Central Oregon weekend, it looks like we are going into a hot week around the Pacific NW, including here in Central Oregon. The heat is forecast to last all week, but hopefully subside next weekend.
So where can someone go to find good water? Remember, once water temps get above 68, its not good practice to fish for trout if you plan to release them. Here are places we believe will hold up great:
High Elevation Lakes like Paulina and 3 Creeks (and others/read below) ought to be just fine, if not great to fish this week.
Here are places to think about and plan to find cool fishing conditions:
There are plenty of Mountain Lakes and streams that get little attention, but are up there waiting to be found. Some of these places you can drive to, but many of them you’ll hike to. Of course, cold Spring Creeks like the Metolius and Fall Rivers and Tailwaters like the Lower Deschutes, certainly look good for this week. On the tailwaters, head to the upper reaches near the source of the cold spillway for the safest water temps and most active fishing. And finally, mountain rivers & streams that are still getting cold snow melt flows from high up in the drainages (McKenzie and Upper North Santiam come to mind, but there are others to fish for sure).
So don’t let the heat stop you from fishing. Go early. I know my guide own trips this week are going an hour and a half to 2 hours earlier for a start time to beat the heat. Water temps recover overnight in almost any waterway, so the morning is a great time to be there even if the previous day was hot.
Another good idea is to fish later in the day when the sun goes down and creates shade on the water. A lot of wonderful things happen on hot days in the evening, including some great caddis fishing in many cases.
Beat the hot days by Wet Wading most places. I personally still can’t wet wade the Metolius because the cold water there makes my bones hurt. But most other places are nice for a pair of Neoprene Socks and your normal Wading Boots paired with shorts (or light pants) instead of waders. It’s like a right of summer to go out on the water like that this time of year. We also have a good selection of Patagonia and Korkers Neoprene Socks to make your wet wading trips awesome.
As you can see, a hot day need not stop a smart and prepared angler from still enjoying some safe and responsible fishing this week.
Always running super cold,v and always very fishable, the Metolius River is a top choice now. Starting with a Bull Trout Report, suddenly there seem to be a lot of extra Bull’s in the river. My guess is many of the lake run fish have arrived before they spawn in the tributaries next month. (Remember, except for Lake Creek, none of the Metolius tributaries are open for fishing to protect spawning Bull Trout habitat year round). Large streamers (black, all white, gold/silver, black/purple) are picking up fish now.
Hatches are good some days and not great other days. On any given day you should see Golden Stones (8-10) Yellow Sally (16-18) PMD (16-18) BWO (20-22) Caddis (Olive 16-18, Tan 16-18)
In any given late July week, sometimes there is a lull in dry fly action, so this is a normal part of the cycle on the Metolius, and you could go tomorrow and have the best dry fly day of your life in the spot you picked too. We usually see a big improvement on this aspect of fishing there by Mid-August BTW.
Running heavy beaded nymphs on a Euro rig is producing a lot of good fishing. It is also not uncommon to catch Bull Trout this way, as well as Whitefish and Redband Trout.
The Fall River is also a good cold water fishery, and has been fishing well this past week. Be sure to poke around from the head waters through the camp ground and fish the logs with heavy nymphs and streamers, try the Horse Shoe Bend area, the Hatchery and of course the Falls. Look for a hatch of PMD’s, Olive Caddis and Yellow Sally’s with Rusty Spinners in the evening.
Euro Nymphing techniques are the strongest you’ll find. Besides perdigons and jigs (all tungsten beads) try eggs, zebra midges and split case PMD’s.
Hoppers, Ants and Beetles are always worth a shot on the Fall River July through early October.
On the McKenzie float, our guides are doing well. I heard from a couple of them they are going to go earlier this week and get off the river earlier to beat the afternoon sun. We’ve been hitting Forest Glen to Silver Creek for the most part. Walts Worms, Possie Buggers, Mega Prince, Perdigons, Soft Hackles are all good under the surface. On top, Corn Fed Caddis, Stimulators, Chubby’s, Parachute Adams and Lt Cahill, Elk Hair Caddis are all good. I know a bunch of the FFP guides went to play on the lower reaches to run Martin Rapid and fish down there. Fishing was ok but not as good as up river but they had a great couple of days playing in the rapids.
The Crooked River is holding steady at 184 cfs. Fishing is good, like a normal summer even though the pending low water is likely less than a month away now.
PMD’s are the dominate hatch, with Mahogany Duns and some small Baetis mixing in. Caddis are important and around much of the time, especially evenings.
Small Perdigons, Zebra Midges, Scuds, Micro Mayfly and Skinny Nelson are always favorites.
Speaking of low water and saving the Crooked from a 10 cfs future, my friend Chester and I went last thursday to a meeting at Crooked River Elementary School. The speaker panel was a crook section of Irrigation District Management, Oregon Water Resources and The Deschutes River Conservancy.
The meeting left me with many more questions than answers, and I am working on that now, relying on my friends at Water Watch for some info before I say much more.
BUT, I know we need to form a coalition for the Crooked. We need to band together and do anything we can to make sure the Crooked doesn’t run even ONE DAY at 10 cfs.
Here is one thing I am going to put out to my friends who read this report. Can someone tell me what running 25 cfs for 7 days on the Crooked River ado ton acre foot of storage in the reservoir above? I have 2 reasons to want to know that number we will talk about later.
The Lower Deschutes from Warm Springs to Trout Creek is good. Below Trout Creek I don’t have much to report, except I did see one of the jet boat guides (Sam Sickles) at the mouth post on Facebook they were catching some trout on nymphs way down there. He also pointed out Walleye and Smallmouth Bass and neither species is a good thing to see in the Lower Deschutes and I think all of know that damn selective control tower at Round Butte Dam has allowed the lower river below Macks Canyon especially to warm up enough that it is inviting these Columbia River ODFW (invasives) to come up the Deschutes.
No matter where you are, over the lower 100 miles of what we call the Lower Deschutes from Warm Springs to the Columbia River, Mid Day Heat will be likely slowing the trout bite down, so mornings and evenings should be the focus for the most part.
Sometimes, a shady back eddy will collect enough mid day food that trout will poke their noses up for some good “tip & sip” action, even mid day. But you have to be in the right place at the right time to experience that little gift for sure.
Hot weather can spur on the caddis like crazy, so be prepared with pupa and adult and egg laying options, mostly tan, brown and olive in a 14-16-18
Pale Evening Duns towards evening are a key July hatch and one to keep an eye on from about 7 pm to 8 pm, with good possibilities of PMD’s mixing in too. You may see PMD’s and Caddis hatches in the morning as well. I’ve seen Rusty Spinner on the Deschutes morning, afternoon and at dusk. On a lot of rivers they are at dusk. But the Deschutes is special after all and always full of mystery.
Euro Nymphs are your best bet on most days now. Shop guys Mattias, Drew and Griffin smoked ’em on heavy bead 4.0 to 5.0 mm perdigons a few days ago. All of them said it was the best day of fishing they’ve ever had on the Lower D.
For our Trout Spey friends we recommend Swinging leeches, sculpins and crayfish, probably on a sink tip to get down and to slow it down.
Are you ready for some important news? Good News even….
THE GOOD NEWS is the Steelhead Run on the Columbia is above the 10 year average and ODFW made the announcement that the Lower Deschutes Steelhead fishing will indeed OPEN on August 15th. We are excited for a later summer/fall/early winter of getting the spey rods out and swinging for steelhead again in 2022. After missing 2021 I know a few of our guides at FFP who are going to be really happy to give the steelhead experience to some of their favorite clients again this fall.
Here are a list of places to go find cold streams this week. The Headwaters of the Deschutes. The Upper McKenzie (tough access and wading but dedicated anglers will find it because it is there). The Upper North Santiam above Pamelia Creek, although Pamelia Creek to Whitewater Creek and maybe even below to Idanha could be just as good, although much bigger water. Tumalo Creek up by Skyliners and through Shevlin Park. Whychus Creek from Sisters up to Whychus Falls. The South Fork of the Mckenzie below Cougar. Both sides of the drainages on the Aufderheide Hwy, the Mckenzie going into Cougar Reservoir and the Upper Willamette on the other side of that little crest headed toward Oakridge on the road from Mckenzie Bridge past Cougar Reservoir.
All of these have game in the summer at any time, and now would be a great time to explore some if you haven’t tried them before. I’ve been wanting to fish the little creek coming out of the 3 Creeks Lake drainage, especially down in the meadows where it bends through the high grassy banks and has some depth and undercuts. I bet there are a bunch of small brookies in those pools that would assault an ant or an Adams.
On all of these waters think about simple fly selections like Ants, Renegades, small Stimulators, and Parachute Adams. Nothing fancy on most of these streams. Go light. I like my fiberglass 3 and 4 weight rods here, or I go Tenkara fishing in places like these.
My friend Tay was camped at Crane Prairie all last week and came home yesterday. He said the morning balanced leech bite was really pretty strong. That is the best report from CP I’ve had all 2022. After the hot week I hope to get there soon and find out more, but for me, I will let it rest this week.
Watch water temps at East Lake this week. If they hit 69 or above, quit for the day. Beetle action around the shorelines has been very good. Try ants and hoppers too.
The Callibaetis hatch is good. For the most part, fish want to eat during the hatch, but you might find the best dry callibaetis action in the evening right now.
Have you tried a deep dangle? Type 7 or 8 sinking line with 2 or 3 nymphs spread 2 or 3 feet apart. Chironomids and Callibaetis nymphs work best as this mimics their movement as naturals. On my deep dangle lines I put a spot of hot orange uv glue at 10’/20’/30′ and simply take into account the length of my leader to get to the depth I find fish in deep water. Summer days create a thermocline and fish will be right above it. A fish finder is a big help, but even w/o it, you can go in 25 to 45 feet of water and drop everything straight below the boat. Let it hang for an extended period but eventually give it a slow hand twist back towards the surface. Takes are strong. It is a fun way to find fish on hot summer days.
Also, deeper weed beds like we’d find on East and Paulina can be good with type 5 and 7 sinking lines with a Booby, Dragon Fly Nymph, Damsel Nymph, Scud and Diawl Back Nymph getting down in the cooler water way below the surface. I’d also add to that Rowley’s Balances Minnows in Chub colors on both lakes, although I also like to fish that fly under an indicator.
I was supposed to be a Paulina Lake right now, but my customer needed to reschedule because of a bug. I was excited to be back and planned on a lot of type 5 stripping with Orange headed damsels and buggers, Scuds, and Flahsback PT’s. I also was really excited to whack the banks with a Pink Hopper and Beetle combo. But all this will wait until tomorrow when I can go. Paulina has by far the best cold water storage of the Central Oregon lakes, with all that deep water, all it takes is the wind to blow and keep it circulating and overall, water temps seldom get to the unsafe range. But even here, watch the temps this week.
I know I’ll be indicator fishing the ledges with scuds, 2 bit’s, zebra midges and balanced leeches this week too.
Watch water temps at Hosmer this week. The Lower lake will surely warm to near or above 70f. The Upper lake will be cooler and likely safe to keep fishing. Callibaetis and Damsels are primary hatches. Look for Traveling Sedges possibly in the afternoon, but likely in the evening to dusk and Caenis Mayfly(#22 trico is the match with 6x or 7x needed to fool the fish) in the evening just as darkness comes to the lake. Definitely need both Damsel Adult and nymphs now.
3 Creeks Lake will be a winner this week for sure. But keep in mind there are many other mountain lakes like that around, so a map and some planning can find you lakes that may not have quite the pressure you’d find at this wonderful little spot. Any lake around or above 6000 feet, that has a snowmelt stream inlet is a winner. Todd Lake and Devils Lake for our Bend readers offer similar float tube/pontoon boat type fishing as 3 Creek Lake. I’m not trying to get anyone to not go to 3 Creeks as much as I’m offering ideas to broaden your lakes you might want to try this summer.
Last week at 3 Creeks it was a pleasure to run into JB as he was taking out. JB, The PT nymph under an indicator or stripped on a Camo Sink line is a good one! We’ve found other Callibaeits nymphs are great too. Balanced Leeches continue to be excellent, especially the hot orange bead with the black body and tail this season.
Hatches are mainly going to include Callibaetis, and make sure you are prepared with ALL STAGES including the nymphs, the emergers, duns and spinners. Small #16-18 Black Caddis typically dominate the evening rise and a Black X Caddis is our go to there.
I took the week off last week from guiding and from being on East or Paulina. It was planned way back in January when I did about 90% of my 2022 in a few days at the beginning of the year when I open my calendar. Last year (2021) my good friend Joe and I went to SD to watch the Padres play a series against the AZ D-Backs, and we were supposed to do a guide trip in Mission Bay but our guide was a flake. This year, we hoped to go to Seattle to watch the Mariners, and I hoped to go to the coast with Tina, but some staffing changes at the fly shop put me in the store instead.
It was okay, I enjoyed the time, and got to see a lot of great people I don’t see as often when I am in the boat all summer.
I made it to 3 Creeks a couple of late afternoons and to the Metolius a couple of evenings and it felt like good ol’ summer days for me. Before I got the Cascade Lakes permit, that was our jam, work all day and fish hard in the evening at 3 Creeks, Metolius and Middle D.
I hope to see all of you on the water or in the shop soon.
be well and catch some fish!