Jeff’s Mid-September fly fishing updates

Sunday night report because it was a busy weekend guiding and meeting reps and catching up from the Padres (vs. Mariners) games.
What a big change of weather that hit the Pacific NW this weekend. A welcome change for sure. We got rain and that is going to really help tamp down that fire over in the Crane Prairie area. We are so thankful Cultus Lake Resort was not burned and that Oakridge and West Fir escaped the east wind driven fire about a week ago. It got pretty scary out there, but I am hopeful as we just had this wet weekend, and have more rain coming mid this week that we are on the right side of things.

I was only able to make it to the Metolius last Sunday (Tina out fished me!), so I am going to share with you a mid week report that my good friend Chester shared with me:
(From 9/14/22)
I had Heather with me on the Metolius Tuesday evening, and it was kind of a blah session. Some fish rose to a sparse mix of different hatches, but there were few sustained rises.

Tonight (Wednesday) was completely different. Flavs were coming off when I arrived — at 4 pm — and fish were working throughout the Dolly Hole and Frustration Flats. However, there was no room for me, so I headed down to the big bend and Evil Bastards.

Nice fish have been hugging the bank and sipping bugs at Evil Bastards most of the summer. I’ve hooked a few, but mostly I’ve watched these fish reject buckets of flies. Tonight’s big caddis emergence had the fish really going. I wanted to show then something in size 16 — but different from what I’ve been showing them, which is mostly CDC winged caddis, Iris Caddis and spent caddis, along with Sparkle Duns and Floating Nymphs in a variety of sizes and shades. I noticed a lot of cripples buzzing on the water. So why not a X-Caddis? My first cast drifted too far off the bank (I was just casting my long leader) but the second cast put the fly on a drift under the overhanging grass. A big head came up and I set the hook.

The fish ran all over the damn river, and he made a couple tours of the deep, fast water. Once again, I was grateful for the stretch of a long leader with a long tippet of 6X — and the delightful flex of my Sage Trout LL 490. I used up a lot of luck as well. The fish was over 20 inches, which makes it my best-ever rainbow on the river. It was also thick and wide. I was delighted! See photos.

Then I went down to the Big Eddy, where fish were dining on caddis. An angler was working the water hard. The man had no fear, as a wandering cast went into the Hornet Willow, and the guy got out of the water, shook the branch and reached INTO THE HEART of the brush. I broke into a healthy trot, which got me back to the Dolly Hole by 6:30 pm.

Caddis were in the air and on the water. I saw a big head on a seam, and he ate the X-caddis (tied with Blue Ribbon Flies’ Hydropsyche Tan Zelon dubbing, which makes a nice, spiky fly). This fish ran all over the river, and I was lucky again to land a really nice fish. 

A few minutes later, I hooked another nice fish, who rocketed downstream on a long run, and then wrapped my tippet on something. PING.

The Metolius beats on all of us, but sometimes it lifts us up and showers us with joy. No river is more rewarding, especially if you just keep going back.

Life is really good.

(From 9/16/22)
I bounced all over the river this Friday evening — from the Cedar Tree to the Big Eddy to Evil Bastards to the Big Bend to Frustration Flats to the Dolly Hole.

The fish really got onto emerging caddis after 6 pm. I got a big redsides at Evil Bastards on a Size 22 BWO Sparkle Dun (about 4:45 pm). Got another big fish just at dark in the Dolly Hole — just downstream from those current channels and near the big, churning part of the middle of the river. Size 16 X-Caddis.

Hatches went in this sequence:

Size 20 and Size 22 BWO.

A few size 16 PMDS.

Little Olive Stoneflies.


Caddis, caddis and more caddis.

Of course, a lot of these bugs were mixed together. Saw a very, very large fish eating dries on Frustration Flats. It totally spooked when my fly went over his nose. Microdrag? I dunno.


So, there are 3 days of trends you can follow the hatches and see they are magnificent. Our friend Candice also fooled some fish mid-week on October Caddis!
Don’t forget Golden Stones, especially as the warmer weather returns soon. Big Pacific Stones too.
Besides all that, the Bull Trout fishing is really good too.
No Kokanee quite yet, but we always appreciate hearing from you this time of year if you see any. So let us know.

The Lower Deschutes has slowed a bit this week. Skilled anglers with a Euro Nymph are going to do best, Trout Spey people are going to have fun and get some good grabs, and dry fly people are watching summer hatches wane quickly and waiting for better Fall hatches which include BWO’s, Mahogany Duns, Midges, October Caddis and certainly a mix of smaller Caddis like tan (#16) grey/olive (#16-18) black (#18-20).
It looks like ODFW is going to for sure keep steelhead season open through the year as run numbers have been good enough to warrant a season. Fish with the ultimate respect to steelhead, and when you know it is a wild fish upon landing keep it in the water, revive well and release it.
We are going to open up our October through Mid-December guide calendar for steelhead trips if you want to book with one of the FFP guides who really love to chase these fish. Steve and Troy are passionate about anadromous fish and Spey rods.

The Middle Deschutes from Bend to Lake Billy Chinook is good, and offers a lot of access points for an all day affair, or a quick evening or afternoon jaunt.
Euro Nymphing is going to be your best throughout the day, but dry fly fishing is good at times mid day with PMD’s and small tan caddis, but in the evening BWO, Caddis, Rusty Spinners and just a plain ol’ Purple Haze are going to treat you right.

The Upper Deschutes Headwater stretch is still closed due to fire fighting activity. We hope to get back up there before it closes on September 30th.

The Fall River is fishing great, lots of fish on nymphs and streamers. There are good hatches of BWO and Midges, and I believe PMD’s will continue to be good for another 2 weeks or more. Ants and Hippie Stompers have been good for risers, or for making them rise. Mid Week crowds have been fewer, and early morning and evening fishing is really uncrowded most of the time.

The Crooked River is lowering to 10 cfs as we speak. They began the process on Wednesday this week and have been doing it as responsibly as possible to save fish and others critters that need to escape shallow water. Today is 35 cfs.
None of us in the angling community wanted this to happen.
I do thank whoever made them do the deed slowly, instead of all at once. This truly will help.
The Crooked has been at 10 cfs many times over my nearly 40 years of fishing and working there. It has survived it before and it will survive it again. The smaller trout seem to do really well, and I have 2 reasons for optimism for the bigger fish. #1 is this is temporary until 11/1/22 we believe. We should not see any really extreme hot or cold weather between today and November 1. One would think….
#2, is a big conservation project I know many agencies including ODFW and conservation groups including Trout Unlimited were involved in removing the weir at Mile Post 9. This is huge as it allows the bigger fish to swim farther downstream to where the river has less gradient and more pools. Our trout should do better than in years past when the river also suffered 10 cfs periods.
I had a good exchange with a customer last week (thanks Paul for the interaction) and want to stress to all of you that this is not a Chickahonimy or Haystack type of situation. These fish dont need to be harvested to protect them from a horrible death. They just need to be left alone for a little while and they are going to be okay.
This goes without saying but FFP and our guide team is strongly against fishing the Crooked River until the water pops back to normal. Can we count on our readers to not shoot fish in a barrel and stay away for a while too?

The McKenzie is our #1 guide trip destination now and the FFP guide squad is whacking a bunch of fish on Euro Jigs, some streamer action and occasional dry fly fishing.

It is my understanding that Hosmer Lake is accessible and that the road closure is near there but not included in the evacuation order. Good stuff.
Waterboatman, Leeches, Damsel Nymphs, Soft Hackles, Scuds, Chironomids and a Black Butte Callibaetis dry, even though I doubt you’ll see any mayflies at this time.
The Lower Lake is cooling nicely by now with the cold nights around here, so feel good about fishing any area of the lake.

Still no access to Crane Prairie, Wickiup, Davis, Lava, Little Lava, Cultus, Little Cultus, North Twin and South Twin as well as the hike in lakes west of the Cascade Lakes Hwy.

Todd Lake and 3 Creeks Lake are 2 I’d fish this week. Leeches, Chironomids, Ants, Beetles and maybe some straggler callibaetis, but even if you didn’t see a hatch, the nymphs will be good as many of the nymphs will overwinter and not be ready to hatch until next summer.

I was on Paulina Monday, Friday and Saturday guiding and all 3 days shared good balanced leech fishing under an indicator, and the last couple of days were amazing dry fly fishing on black foam beetles, hippie stomper black and hippie stomper red.

East Lake is seeing an end to the Callibaetis hatch, though one might be lucky to see enough to get a fishable hatch for a bit. Nymphs of callibaetis will continue to be an important food source until the water temps go into the low 40’s.
Ants, Beetles, Chironomids, Scuds and Leeches are great. Damsel Nymphs can be important and would be something to fish over the weed beds.
Early risers should fish Chub streamers on the shorelines and see what might happen in terms of connecting with a big brown.

I need to go tie some flies for this weeks guide trips.

Hope to see you on the water or in the shop.

Be well,

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