The transition from Winter to Spring in the Pacific NW, especially around Sisters has been a slow go this year. Our snowpack in the Deschutes/Crooked River basin is 139 percent, and my guess is that by Monday it will be near, or over 150% with the mountain snow forecast for the next 48 hours. This is obviously great news for our rivers and lakes. Although we can be fairly certain that opening day on a lot of the lakes will be pretty late this year…. (who wants to put odds on East Lake by Memorial Day?)
While Prineville Reservoir is beginning to see some better flows incoming, I would guess it has zero chance of filling all the way back up. I’d be surprised if it hits 40% full. So by mid-summer, even with the gifts Mother Nature is providing now, we will likely be in a similar situation as it was last summer. Time will tell, but read in the report, and be at least be inspired with how good the fishing has bounced back on the Crooked this spring.
I’ll just go ahead and start an hour East of Sisters this week and tell you more about the Crooked River. Water levels are steady, and fishing is getting better and better each week. Rainbows and Whitefish are healthy and strong.
BWO hatches are beginning to improve so afternoon dry fly action should be expected. We love the Furminsky BWO Dun on the Crooked, it is always a solid choice for a dry fly on this river, but add some Film Critics, Knock Down Duns, Comparaduns and Parachutes to make sure you have what they want to eat. You can count on seeing some midges hatching too, and for that you’ll want Zebra Midges, Winklers & Griffiths Gnats.
Micro Mayfly, Skinny Nelson, Olive Perdigon, Purple Perdigon, Brown Perdigon, Frenchie, PT and Scuds will round your spring collection until Mothers Day Caddis show up in about 7 weeks.
Bringing it back home, the Metolius is fishing quite well, with good hatches of BWO #18 and Cinygmula #14-16 and American Grannom Caddis #14-16 mixed with October Caddis #8-10 and Silver Stripe Sedge #12-14
Think bottom to top approaches for the hatches. Do I have the nymph? do I have the pupa (if it pupates), do I have the adult? Will an emerger or a cripple be important? What about an egg laying stage?
When we are assembling fly selections for technical waters this is the way to do it: Nymph-Pupa (caddis and midges have a pupa stage, mayflies and stones do not), emergers (will that fly be best if it floats or is it also possible to need an emerger that fishes below the surface like a soft hackle can), a cripple (so many mayflies especially end up crippled during the emergence and this provides a helpless meal to a trout), an Adult and a final stage egg layer?
Knowing how to do this makes you a better angler. Set up your boxes like a pro.
Nymphing has been most productive and a good number of fish have been coming to Spanish Nymph, Walts Worms, Olive Perdigons, Bird of Prey October Caddis, Golden Stones and Eggs.
The Fall River is really snowy down that way, and access is a little tough. Hatchery will be the easiest spot because it is plowed. The rest of the river for the next several days might be almost impossible.
There has been a good BWO hatch going in the afternoon. March Browns ought to show up this month.
Eggs, Mops, Perdigons, Zebra’s, 2 Bit’s, Tungsten Micro May’s and Euro Streamers are the tickets for nymphing.
The Lower Deschutes near the Maupin area is fishing good, with our best catches coming on nymphs so far. I’m hopeful looking at the forecast that we might see March Browns flying by this time next week? Mix in some BWO’s and a few caddis and the Deschutes is all ready for some great spring fishing.
For now, it’s a nymph and to a smaller extent, streamer game.
Blue, Olive, Brown Perdigons, Walts, PCP nymph, Frenchie, Rainbow Warrior, Green Rock Worm, Black and Golden Stonefly nymphs, Zebra Midges and standards like Hares Ear, PT and Prince Nymphs.
Soft Hackles, especially Hares Ear S/H and PT S/H is a great spring time fly on the Lower Deschutes.
Swinging a Leech, small intruder or Euro Streamer. match color and profile to Crayfish and leeches both found in good numbers on the D.
The McKenzie is in good shape and fishing well. It’s best down towards Eugene with March Brown hatches, but all over the river up to the Blue River Area nymphing is a good bet.
I saw Tokatee Golf Course is closing down today because they are expecting maybe 2 feet of snow in McKenzie Bridge and if that happens and melts, the river is going to get high and cold in a hurry more than likely, and that might be adverse for the fishing for a bit. We will watch that of course.
Lake Billy Chinook Bull Trout Fishing is good. Pick good weather days. You need a really good, seaworthy boat to access them where you need to go on that big body of water. And a 7 or 8 weight streamer rod with some sinking lines.
As for the other lakes….It is going to be a long while before South or North Twin is open. Crane? Maybe opening day on 4/22 is possible? It just keeps snowing though. Time will tell. Do we get slow melt or will it happen fast because of a warm rain, or a major warm up this month?
SO, I know a lot of us stillwater anglers are getting jumpy to feel the pull of the good trout on a Clear Camo line, or see the indicator get pulled under and thankfully this year we have the Justesen Ranch Lakes. Fishing is really good out there right now.
It’s an hour past Madras, or 30 minutes east from Maupin. There are 8 lakes we can get you on, meaning pick a day when you know your time and the weather are conducive to having a good time and go.
It’s $140 per person and you are going to love it. Call me and we will make it happen. Bring a float tube or pontoon, or even your pram or drift boat for most of the lakes on the ranch.
Also, I have May 7-8 for the overnight guide trip open with Steve and I. Two days of guiding, good accommodations and a lot of fun to be had with us goof balls if you want to join us.
Looking at the weather for the extended forecast for Central Oregon it looks like we have 3 more days of winter and then it looks like an actual bout of spring weather is in store for us.
I wanted to say thank you to all of you who wrote in support of Wild Trout last week. Wild Trout seem equally important as Native Trout at this time in our history. I’d rather see a wild brown or brookie in our streams or lakes than a hatchery fish, although there is a time and place for stockers too.
Spring Specials continue on guided trips until 4/21/23 making all walk and wade trips and float trips on the Lower Deschutes or McKenzie $100 off. Take advantage of that over the next few weeks.
I hope to see you on the water soon! And some of you on 4/5 in Beaverton for the Deschutes River Alliance talk with Hughes, Haefle and Richmond. Should be a great event.