Jeff’s fishing report 3/25/2023

It seems like just yesterday I said March is coming in like a lion, yet here we are almost finished with March and it is still roaring. It is snowing here in Sisters this morning, which I will say we are all pretty tired of, but the snowpack totals are so much better in the Deschutes Basin so a bit of “suffering” now will pay off later in our fishing season. Yesterday I had just commented that my yard was completely free of any snow for the 1st time in a long time, and today it is again covered in 4 fresh inches of snow.
I’ve got to get my Koffler Boat over to Eugene to trade it in for the new one but the pass looks sucky for pulling a boat over. Maybe next week?

Speaking of next week, on April 4th here in Sisters I will be doing a presentation for the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council on the Metolius, and then on April 5th I’ll be in Beaverton as part of the Trout Whisperers talk with the Deschutes River Alliance with Scott Richmond, Dave Hughes and Rick Haefle. The event in Sisters is free, and the one in Beaverton is $39 and includes pizza and beer. I hope to see some of you at one or both events.

We’ve seen really good days this past week on the Metolius, the Fall, the Crooked and down in the Maupin area of the Deschutes, and red hot fishing at the (private) Justesen Ranch Lakes this week.
None of the Cascade Lakes are even close to opening. Some years we are flirting with South Twin as option around the 1st week of April or so, but not this year. So we have all of these to report on and more. So pour another cup of coffee and be inspired for some good ol’ Central Oregon fishing updates.

We always like to start on the Metolius because it is our home waters, and our favorite place in the world. The afternoon hatches of BWO #18 and Cinygmula #14-16 have been good, and October Caddis #8-10, Silver Stripe Sedge #12-14 and some smaller Grey Caddis #14-16 are all in the mix for you to match at one stage or another.
Nymphing has been tremendously good. Eggs, Spanish Nymphs, Walt’s Worm, Perdigons, Zebra Midges, Micro Mayfly, Golden Stones, McGee’s Girdle Bug and a mix of Caddis Pupa’s to match the hatch.
Most dry fly action at the moment is from noon to 3:30. If we get the 50 degree days later in the week that might help see some early evening dry fly bite too.
Bull Trouting on Streamers is still money. Swing the big stuff and get down to the fish with a sink tip on a 7 or 8 weight rod.

The Crooked is coming out of the winter slumber and continued to impress us this week with great nymphing action. Not much of a hatch so far, but I would be expecting midges #22 and Blue Wing Olives #18 to come on fast with warmer spring days. I would put the Crooked on the Spring Break plan!
Right now the fish are loving small perdigons (Brown, Olive and Purple), Zebra Midges, Midge Winklers and Soft Hackle Pheasant Tails.
I suspect we will see good fishing on the Crooked River for a while, maybe into August like last year.
Don’t forget our Spring Special Guide Trips for $375 for 1 to 3 people (to split $375 2 or 3 ways!)

The Fall River is best from the Headwaters to the Hatchery. The Road to the Tubes is total crap right now, so I wouldn’t recommend that.
Plenty of BWO’s #18, Midges #22 and Little Black Stones #18. Keep some #14 March Browns and #14-18 Grey and Light Tan Caddis in your box for springy days to come.
Euro Streamers are whacking some seriously nice fish. Heavy eggs, and Perdigons and Zebra Midges round out what you need in the box for a day on the Fall. Don’t forget our Spring Special Guide Trips for $375 for 1 to 3 people (to split $375 2 or 3 ways!)

The Lower Deschutes is closed in the Warm Springs/Mecca/Trout Creek/South Junction areas for a little while longer. That opening is fast approaching on April 22nd and we can’t wait to drop a drift boat on the water soon. Until then, we are drifting the Nena to Wapinitia float for guide trips and have the $100 off deal there too. Or you can hit it on your own and access the river from Maupin up to the Locked Gate or Maupin down towards Mack’s Canyon.
Walts Worms, Frenchies, PCP Nymph, Spanish Bullet, Green Rock Worm, PT, Stonefly Nymphs including Girdle Bugs are all good nymphs. Don’t be afraid to go with big beads, even 5 mm and dredge it along the bottom.
I have not heard of many hatches yet, but it is fast approaching March Brown Hatch time on the Lower D in this area.

The Middle Deschutes is a possibility for those of you who are a bit more adventurous and stronger waders. The water is still fairly high and cold, but the fishing is waking up with spring. Skwalas will be a hatch to look out for, March Browns are likely still a week or 2 away, and now is a good time to strip streamers and try your bigger stonefly nymphs and crayfish patterns with the water being up, the bigger fish will be out more and hiding less because of the cover of the higher flows.
In 3 weeks the water draw down will be on and the river will really be awake when that happens, but I would say it is worth it now too.

Troy is ready to run Guide Trips on the McKenzie now. Until 4/21/23 these are also part of the spring special at $100 off. It is March Brown Hatch season there and some awfully good angling opportunities await us on that side of the mountain pass.

Justesen Ranch Lakes were on fire this week with great catches coming on Chironomids and Leeches. This week there are openings to get you out there on your own for $140 per day. Bring your boat or tube and slay some big Kamloops Rainbows.
I am thinking of going either Friday or Thursday if anyone wanted to do that and meet up. Email me at if you want more info.
On May 7-8 Steve Erickson and I have Big Lake at the Ranch Reserved for 2 days and the Grass Valley House rented for one night. We have that open for 4 anglers who’d like to be guided by us and share the private lakes with us.
I can get you booked in for a day trip any time from now until at least Mid-June and thank you to all of you who have already booked a date through us. Remember that Grass Valley is a 1000 feet lower than Bend and is in a dryer part of Oregon. You can be pretty sure the weather will be a bit better than here on most days with the pattern we are in.

We’ve still got a few sale items to talk about:
I’ll do the Puffy Jacket Sale again starting today through Monday for 50% off any puffy jacket.
50% off all stocking hats and gloves.
50% off the 2022 Redington Strike 10′ 3 weight rods making them the biggest Euro Nymph rod bargain ever at just $175!

We’ve also got 2 size 9 and 1 size 10 Simms G4 Pro Wading Boots on closeout for $190 for a $330 boot and 2 size XL G4 Pro Waders for $540 down from $800.

Do you follow The Fly Fishers Place on Instagram? Please do if you don’t. And I will say too that you should follow our guide Tonn Cummins @tonnfishes on Instagram. His underwater photography will remind us all there are a lot of fish to catch down there! He’s shooting some spectacular footage of fish in their natural environment.

Finally, I have been hearing some talk about non-natives, and calling for killing all the browns and brook trout that are here.
I have to say I don’t agree.
I even discussed the brown trout issue with a long time ODFW biologist and she was in agreement with me that brown trout should be more protected, not demonized as is the case in Central Oregon right now.
Brown Trout were introduced here in the 1800’s, and have coexisted with the native trout for nearly 150 years. All have done well together. That has never changed and is not changing now.
As we move towards an uncertain water future, my education of trout tells me Browns will do better in warmer water than rainbows will. Although desert redband trout are quite resilient to warm and low water too. But browns do have a higher tolerance for warmer water in general. So think about more summers that hit 115 degrees. Do we think we will have more frequent summers like that? Probably which is unfortunate.
For 35 years of my career in fly fishing we sell trips to people who want to go places to catch brown trout. It is short sided for ODFW to think brown trout should suddenly be gone from our rivers and lakes, and it is sad (might I even say selfish) to kill all of them and take a good fishing experience away from another angler who might enjoy the same fish, or at least an off spring of that fish down the road a week, or a month or a year or more later.
Lee Wulff said, all gamefish are too valuable to catch only once. And with our uncertain climate and water conditions we ought to be protecting all of our coldwater species for the enjoyment of all anglers in the future. Catch & Release works. And it feels good.
As for Brook Trout, I think the Upper Deschutes and the Lakes are great places brooks should remain. There are some trophies to still be found in Crane Prairie and the Headwaters section of the Deschutes, and they are such special trout.
Again these Brookies have cohabitated with the native whitefish and redband trout for about a 100 years. What’s the sense in getting rid of them now? Do we really think we will see a better redband fishery in the same waters without brook trout in them. I would seriously doubt it.
Have trout of different colors found a natural balance in Central Oregon over a century or more of being here? Have each species seen booms and busts, with populations and sizes going up and down depending on their needs being met (or not) during different cycles of weather and water?
I say Catch and Release all the trout and whitefish in the rivers, and if you’re hungry for a fish keep a mid size trout or kokanee for the table once in a while from a mountain lake.
But take only what you’ll use and let the rest go for future generations to enjoy.

Hot damn, my first soap box of the new year.
Fish well everyone and see you on the water.


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