Good morning from a sunny Sisters, Oregon. It is looking like a good fishing day! Sadly, I am scheduled to be in an all day Zoom for our Water Watch Board Meeting. I was supposed to go to the Albany Fly Tying Expo yesterday and then up to Portland last night for the meeting today, but the snow storm here and over the passes had me pause on that idea. So it is great to see the blue sly today.
I was sorry to miss the Albany show! After being off for a couple of years due to covid it would have been great to see everyone, plus I wanted to buy a few things from some of the vendors there.
I don’t know about you, but I am so excited about fishing now, each and every day I am thinking about where I’ll be going soon, what flies to tie today, and what gear to buy, or sell, or upgrade and how to organize it better than I’ve done in the past.
Steve and I are working on the FFP lake boats soon, adding a Minn Kota Bow Mount to the White Boat, and I am doing some upgrades to the Blue Boat. We have a seal to fix on the Yamaha motor on the White Boat, and I am kicking around how to seat my passengers and add storage in a more efficient way on my boat.
He and I are going to go check out a new (for us) private lake/ranch this week. Last week the lakes were still iced over so we hope this week to find open water a better reason to drive 2 hours each way!
Lake Billy Chinook is a huge pull for me now, as is Lake Simtustus after getting a great report from my dentist back a few weeks ago when we had that one warm sunday. We need more warm sundays! Don’t you think? I want to put my boat in the water so bad.
I had an amazing day at the Metolius earlier this week with a nice afternoon hatch of BWO’s and then some nymph action on the way out. It was magical to be back on the river. It was my first day on river since we got back from Argentina in early February. Inventory, taxes and a couple of ski days interfered with my fishing time. That ain’t right. Is it?
So let’s start there on the Metolius and dive into what you will find going on in the different areas of the river now. The Upper River from Allingham to Gorge is seeing a good afternoon hatch of BWO’s #18 and a few early Cinygmula mayflies (yellow #14-16), quite a few Oct Caddis #8-10 and Silver Stripe Sedges #10-14, some grey caddis (bracycentrus I believe) which are imitated well with a green or grey pupa or soft hackle, midges (black #22-24) and a smattering of various stoneflies that won’t make much difference for consistent productivity on the dry fly side, but stonefly nymphs of varying sizes and shades of gold, brown and black are quite effective on all of our rivers.
The Middle River from Canyon Creek to the Hatchery and below is tough access in the Canyon due to snow and icy trails, but good access to the Idiot Hole, Dolly Hole, Big Eddy, Cedar and Powerline Holes by hoofing it from the Wizard Falls Parking Lot.
All of the same hatches as above are important there and I would certainly feel like this area opens up better for the best Bull Trout action you can find. We’ve been getting fish on Big Streamers, but also on Egg’s, Mops, Perdigons and Stonefly Nymphs.
It snowed a good bit along the Metolius the last 2 days.Over a foot. When I was on the river last week we made it to Bridge 99 without any trouble, but now the road is covered in snow and as you probably know, there is no plowing down past Wizard Falls. Travel at your own risk and with proper equipment past the hatchery. I would not try it myself until we get some melting on the road.
The Fall River got a whole bunch of snow over this last storm too, so access and river bank walking are harder but not impossible. BWO #18 and Midges #20-24 are your main hatches now, but keep an eye out soon for some grey caddis #16 and a few march browns #14 coming up this month and improving in April. Fall River fish also like to be enticed with Foamy Rubber Legged attractors skittered on the surface and that is a lot of fun.
Small Streamers continue to be incredible. If you don’t follow The Fly Fisher’s Place on Instagram go check it out and see Mattias holding a large rainbow from a few days ago on one of our euro streamers.
Speaking of Euro, perdigons, jigs, eggs and zebra’s on 6X, 6 1/2X or 7X will do the trick. On the Streamers go 4 1/2X or 5X for less break-off’s!
The Crooked River is showing signs of improvement and the trout are there. Not many whitefish showing up yet, but good enough trout action mid-day from 11 to 3 with an afternoon midge hatch getting fish to eat dries, and nymph fishing the rest of the time. The river level is low at 50 cfs and I think the best way to target fish in that water condition is a single nymph with a NZ Wool Strike Indicator about 2 to 3 feet above the fly. This allows you to fish the fly in the channels between the weeds and hit small pockets that you can’t fish with a 2 fly fly rig. That is a generalization, and there will certainly be places where you can find a longer pool or run and fish 2, or euro nymph, or even swing a small streamer. Typically march has great hatches of BWO’s on the Crooked. I would imagine we will see good mayfly hatches in the next 2 to 3 weeks and it will be great in April. Fingers crossed.
The Lower Deschutes is a great bet in the Maupin area. REMEMBER that all waters adjacent to the Warm Spring Reservation are closed until 4/22/23. I am so surprised at how many people say they are headed to Mecca and think it is open. It is not open until 4/22. You have to get down to the end of the Reservation to have the river open year round, and that is at the Wasco County Line below Whitehorse Rapids.
Access from Maupin both upstream and downstream is good. Fish deeper runs now with heavy beaded perdigons and walt’s worms. Prince nymphs #12-16, Green Rock Worms #14-16, hares ear #12-14, soft hackle PT #14-18 and stonefly nymphs Black #4-8 and golden #6-10 will serve you well.
Swing a sculpin or black leech on your single hand rod with a sink tip or better yet on a 3 or 4 weight trout spey.
Sometime in the next 3 weeks we ought to be seeing the 1st good emergences of the March Browns.
The Middle Deschutes is still not quite on the list of good places to go in my opinion. Maybe end of the month we will have some Skwala news and March Browns to report on, but high water will persist for another month until canals are turned on.
This is a good time of year to be thinking of the Desert and heading east. The Owyhee is always a good one in the spring. Probably by early April the Skwala hatch will happen there. Midges and BWO’s will be the other key hatches.
There are other streams out east worth getting excited about, like the Ana River near Summer Lake in March and April.
Our basin just hit 104% average annual snowpack with this last wallop of snow we got this week. I’d sure like to see it closer to 130-140% and fill the lakes a bit more, and rejuvenate the springs too. But I feel like snow and precipitation are going to hang around for spring for a while yet, and let’s hope for the best for as much water we can squeeze out of these storms.
The Crooked River ought to be a viable fishery from now until mid summer. We can be sure the water will come up some for irrigation delivery sometime in April or May and last through some of the summer growing season. Prineville Reservoir is in a world of hurt though, so I would imagine by August we will be seeing really low flows and the temporary closure of the river again for about 60 days….time will tell.
We need an atmospheric river to hit the Ochocco’s instead of hitting California again and again. Mother Nature needs to check her aim.
Bad news in a way for those of us who love to visit Three Creek Lake in the early summer. The road (Forest Service Road 16) is going to be closed completely 24/7 until about JULY 21st. The Store and Boat rental lady can’t even open, and wonders if it will be worth it if she can’t open until 7/21 and then only have a month to do business. That sucks for her.
It sucks for us because we enjoy some good guide trip days and a lot of personal fishing days there in late June and all of July. During July there are not many lakes in the Cascades that see as good of callibaetis fishing as 3 Creeks. So we will miss that.
So don’t plan on fishing or camping at this lake in June or most of July.
Last year Camp Grounds closed because they couldn’t find hosts to open them up.
Thank goodness fishing is so good up there, because a lot of other things are pretty broken. Here’s to a better road and a better future for the lake starting 7/21/23 though. Have faith.
We hope to see you soon, out fishing or in the shop. Remember we are offering our spring special on guided trips from now until 4/21/23 for $100 off walk and wades on the Fall or Crooked Rivers, and $100 off float trips on the Lower Deschutes (Nena to Wapinitia) and if water conditions are good, Troy likes early float on the McKenzie too. Let’s get you on an early trip with us and sharpen your skills for the season to come.
All the best,