I had a very nice week out on the water, trying new things, enjoying old favorites and visiting places I haven’t been in years.
I hope you got some time fishing in a favorite place too. This weeks report adds one place I’ve never reported on, takes a walk down memory lane and rubs shoulders with important conservation issues.
Here it goes:
It’s a great time of year on the Metolius, and each week for the next 6 to 8 weeks is building in to what I always thought was the best time of year on the river. There are so many hatches to match for good dry action throughout the day and evenings (have you noticed how early it get’s dark now?….dang it!) and then adding the Bull Trout element to the equation makes me want to cancel all my guide trips and just stay on the Met. I wish.
Right now your hatches will be, PMD’s #16-18, BWO’s #20-22, Yellow Caddis #18-20, Tan Caddis #14-16, Olive Caddis #16, Ameletus (mayfly that looks like a Flav = Olivey-brown body, tall wings, 2 tails and about a #14 but maybe slightly bigger), Golden Stones #8-12, plus isolated hatches of Salmonfly’s can be found on the Metolius this time of year and we are talking the big bugs that are #4-6-8 size.
Is there a major stonefly hatch going now on the Metolius? no, not really. But as the hatch moves around the river in a fragmented way because of water temperature differences around springs and with different tributaries contributing to water temperatures that make the bugs want to hatch, you may find fish in places that will be happy to eat a big dry fly over the next few weeks. Remember, the Metolius is one strange place! 😉
Grab your 8 weights and some big streamers for Bull Trout. It is a very good time to be fishing for these wonderful fish.
Of course Euro Nymphing is our choice for fishing for trout and whitefish under the surface during non hatch times.
The Lower Deschutes trout fishing from Warm Springs, Mecca, Dry Creek, Trout Creek areas has been good too, especially on Euro Nymphs with heavy beads for the point fly (4mm or bigger = drifting low and slow) , and there is still a good evening rise going for Caddis and some Mayflies up to dusk on most evenings. During the afternoon look for fish in the eddies rising to dries. These fish are tough to fool, but provide a ton of excitement just trying to fool them.
Iris Caddis #16-18, Fin Fetcher Caddis #16-18, Corn Fed Caddis #16, X Caddis #16-18, Purple Haze #14-18, PMD’s #16, BWO #20, Rusty Spinner #16-20, Spent Caddis #16-18, Midge Winkler #22 are useful in the eddies and shadows during the afternoon and in the juicy dry fly runs and around weed beds in the magic hour before dark.
Trout Spey with streamers and sculpins and crayfish imitations has also been good.
I saw on social media where some people have been catching steelhead at the mouth of the Deschutes. I think that is great. What I do not think was great was seeing WILD STEELHEAD being held out of the water for a photo. Jeez people, that is simply not cool to do to such an important fish and the future of the Deschutes River.
Keep. Them. Wet!
The Middle Deschutes is a good spot to fish from Bend to Lake Billy Chinook, especially for the evening rise to caddis, PMD and Pale Evening Dun.
The Upper Deschutes from Crane Prairie up to Little Lava is flowing strong and is a good pick for nymph fishing for whitefish and brook trout. Jigs and Perdigons and little Euro Streamers are awesome now.
Ants and Beetles are a great bet for dries, and look for caddis and pmd’s throughout the river and callibaetis in the Blue Pool area.
I have heard good reports on the Upper D from Wickiup down towards Sunriver. You’ll want to float it. Pound streamers off the banks and look for hatches of BWO, Trico’s (very early AM), PMD and Mahogany Duns. I doubt flows will be conducive for a good float for too much longer as Wickiup is dangerously close to going dry again this year, so the tap will be shut off soon.
Fall River is pumping out some nice fish mostly on heavy nymphs, eggs and streamers. Fish are found all over the river and the easy access spots will be crowded this time of year.
I grew up fishing the Fall River, it was not the 1st place I fly fished, but it is where I “learned” to fly fish. Once I had my drivers license I couldn’t stay away. I loved the days when ODFW stocked normal trout there, the ones that were not all considered trophy trout, and that would rise to dry fly hatches and provide endless fun and learning opportunities for me. I miss those days of driving way too fast out there listening to Van Halen, rigging up my JK Fisher 8 1/2′ 3 weight and perfecting my reach mends and drag free drifts. Sip, sip, sip. Those trout were the best. I skipped a lot of classes to be there, and best of all I generated some of the best relationships of my life because of fishing there. I guess the point of this nostalgic walk back to the 80’s is why the dry fly fishing is not what it used to be on the Fall? Certainly one answer is the decision by ODFW to stock the trophy fish instead of just nice catchable rainbows. I have to say, I am not a fan of their trophy fish myself.
Crooked River. Tick-Tock-Tick-Tock. When is is going to drop? It’s still running 175 cfs and is in fine shape. Will the BOR and Ochocco Irrigation and the State and Water Groups (like Water Watch) figure out a way to keep it at 50 cfs and not drop to 10? God I hope so. Please support Water Watch, it is an obscure little group that is truly working hard to protect every place wet in Oregon. Send them $20, or join. Go to there fundraiser dinner in Portland Sept 24th (i’ll be there) and let them know you appreciate the work they do in our basin here.
At 50, or at 175 cfs we will have a fishery. If it stays in the safe zone look for PMD’s #16-18, BWO’s #18-20, Mahogany Duns #16, Midges #20-24, Scuds #12-18 and a myriad of Euro Nymphs #14-18 to do the trick.
Would I go today? Yep. It is fishing just like normal now.
I got to spend the day as a guest in the boat with my friend and guide trip client Mike W on the Mckenzie yesterday. We went down the river with FFP guide extraordinaire Ben Kittell. WOW was it a fun day. Ben had us fishing a Euro Leech on the Point Fly and a Euro Jig on the dropper out of one side of the boat, and a big Chubby with a Euro Jig dropper on the other side of the boat. For most of the morning the leech and jig nymph rig was the hot ticket, but later in the day the fish did get keen on the big dry. We caught more than enough fish including both stocky rainbows, wild rainbows, wild cutthroat and whitefish. I was so hopeful to reel in a bull trout there to complete the mix but alas, it wasn’t to be. And happy birthday to Ben today. He still reminds of the kid I hired about 11 seasons ago when he moved out from Colorado.
Overall I would rate the lakes as way better this week than the last few. If you read last weeks blog, you could tell I was lamenting a bit on how inconsistent it was for a few weeks.
I had 2 days on Paulina that one day was awesome, and the other turned off after the morning bite, and a day at East that reminded me of the hatch days we saw in years past with long dry fly sessions and some nice fish. Finally, I asked if anyone had any info on Sparks lake a few reports ago. Nope. So my customer Mike and I went and did it and it was actually really cool on so many levels.
So, I’ll start at Sparks Lake. On a cloudy and showery day in the mountains this week, my customer Mike and I launched the little Koffler boat into unknown and new water for me. I had fished Sparks from the shore a time or 2 way back when, but had never seen the main part of the lake and boy was I blown away by the beauty.
We found some great looking water, some of which held fish and produced for us, and other water that looked incredible but we did not catch any, although I’m convinced we would at the right moment.
Near the boat ramp in the super shallow areas we were greeted to a rare sighting of Gray Drakes all over the surface. No risers for them, but cool to see.
Once we rowed across the shallow I was able to use my electric motor and we gawked at the beauty of the lava formations, the wild flowers, the majestic beauty of 3 towering peaks surrounding one side of the lake behind us. More than anything, there was a good hour of the day that I found a peace rarely experienced on the water anymore. We were absolutely alone out there. No breeze. Almost no sound at all. It’s been a long time since I felt that, and while the lake filled up later with paddlers, everyone seemed quiet and respectful of what a glorious day it was to be on the water.
Is Sparks my new favorite place? No. For sure no. The road in sucks. I think it usually has a high population of boards and kayaks and the fishing is probably only fair on the best days. We found fish on Soft Hackle Hares Ears and Olive Flashback Pheasant Tails (neither with beads) stripped on a Camo line using 7x fluorocarbon tippet. We caught about a dozen or more I suppose, with some getting away earlier than the introduction to the net, but all were fat and feisty making up for their lack in length. Most were brook trout with one bluegill shaped cutty in the mix.
I have a few clients who go with me multiple times each year, and to be able to share another pretty place with a good chance of catching a nice trout or two with them is something I will do again soon.
East Lake reminded me of the good old days this week with fish coming up to Callibaetis emergers and duns during the late morning and early afternoon. When the hatch action was over we switched to wind drifting callibaetis nymphs on an intermediate line with good success over the weed beds. We have a new callibaetis nymph at the shop that is tied with olive marabou for the body and thorax and a peacock herl wing case that has been very good for me at most of the lakes this season and by far is the pattern of choice at East now.
Mattias, Drew and Joey found a lot of fish eating damsels, some on the adult but most on a hot beaded nymphs under an indicator. If you’re in the shop and run into Joey, ask him about his “ITALIAN” special strike indicator. It’s a strange one indeed.
At Paulina on Monday I had Chris and Chase in the boat and after the last few weeks of on and off fishing it was wonderful to see a lot of good dry fly action all day long, from Callibaetis to beetles, ants and grasshoppers. Tuesday, with high hopes Dan and his grandson joined me and while the morning rise was good, soon the wind stopped that action and overall we had a slower day.
I think we need to pass this heat wave and get to some September days where cooler weather is more common.
I did see fish starting to return to some of the deeper weed beds on the middle north area of the lake, and usually that means good chironomid fishing coming up.
Crane Prairie is better in the channels on Balanced Leeches and Chironomids and Zebra Midges. Again, bigger red bloodworms are a good choice now.
Hosmer is okay, especially the upper lake and the channels. Damsels, Callibaeits, Ice Cream Cones, Zebra Midges, Scuds, Water Boatman and Leeches. September cooler days and nights ought to be really good for Hosmer.
3 Creeks Lake has slowed down from the hot bite it was having. I still recommend it overall, but you might be working a little harder for the fish than we were earlier this season. Callibaetis , Damsels, Chironomids, Beetles, Ants and Leeches are all good. Bring sinking lines (Hover, Intermediate and even Type 3 and 5 to probe the depths a bit and find the feeding zones).
I’m off now to teach my saturday casting lessons.
See you on the water!