Things got a little hairy with water levels over the last few days, and honestly I was wrong in thinking we wouldn’t see high water levels on some of our favorite rivers (Crooked and Lower D) because I thought we had the storage capacity to absorb the melt off. Well, the Crooked River is rolling high and the Lower Deschutes is too.
Some of the lakes are opening up and that is delightful and adds some places to go fish.
Even the Metolius is running a little high, but no worries as it remains very fishable. The creeks that come from the mountains are running high with snow melt so the river takes on that and absorbs it pretty well. Nothing seems off color, just a little more flow and pushy for wading.
Increase your weight on the nymphs or streamers and look for rising trout in the soft eddies and pools, which is not too different than the advice I’d give on any report, or if I saw you in the shop or at a club presentation,. Metolius trout like soft water.
We are seeing the 1st PMD’s of the season now! Size 16, 3 tail yellow mayflies. These will be with us until late October on a consistent and daily hatch. Right now expect to see the main hatch of Pale Morning Duns mid afternoon, but keep an eye open for them in the evening on hot days. PMD’s turn into Rusty Spinners so make sure to add the Sunset Spinner or CDC Biot Body Spinner to your collection if you plan to fish into the evening.
There are still a decent number of BWO’s, but that is being overshadowed by the PMD hatches and in fairness this is the time of year BWO’s tend to wane a bit. They never go away, but become less important in May and June and then become a major (if not surprising) food source in July again. Would I still carry BWO’s? Yes, absolutely. In fact my main mayfly fly box is a double sided Umpqua Dry Fly Box and one side is Yellow mayflies (PMD, Pale Evening Dun & Cinygmulas + a row of Mahogany Duns) and the other side is Olive and Purple Mayfly patterns with all shades of olive represented and all stages of the emergence from cripples to duns and spinners too. PS- I like flies.
Caddis hatches are excellent, and while you may not see fish active on adults, I am confident they are eating the heck out of pupa and that at times you can get fish to eat an Iris Caddis, CDC Caddis, Parachute Caddis and Corn Fed Caddis on the surface.
Most of the caddis now are grey #12-14, Tan #14-16 and a few big Orange October Caddis still around in good enough numbers I would carry a Pupa and an Adult and use them as searching patterns.
Bull Trout get fired up in higher flows. Sure, streamers on a sink tip is a no brainer, but consider running a Balanced Leech or a Squirmy Worm or a MOP under the indicator too. It works.
Fall River is the one place that is in the very best shape of the all the rivers and streams in our region. No outside influences and spring fed makes it stable as stable gets.
Like the Met, PMD hatches are springing to life here too. BWO’s, Midges (Black #22-24), March Browns, Ants, Beetles, Hippie Stompers and a fair number of Caddis are all good.
Euro Streamers and Euro nymphs are the hot stuff. Eggs and Mops are great too.
Spread out, Fall River is not just the hatchery. Go explore and hunt fish in different areas. They may not be stacked up like at the hatchery, but lot’s of places hold a fish a 2 and that is more realistic of what Spring Creek Angling ought to be. Think of yourself as a NZ guide, sneaking up on water than has one or 2 fish and you gotta get it right with a good fly choice and a great cast.
The Crooked River is definitely out for fishing for a bit. Maybe 2 weeks longer?
I never thought Prineville Reservoir had a chance of a snowball in H-E-double toothpicks (Ha ha, that is what my mom would have said) of filling up. But alas, here we are with the Bureau of Reclamation dumping water from the dam to make sure the reservoir doesn’t overflow next week when it fills to 100%.
I had some concerns from folks about how the fish do in high water. They are fine. If anything, overall a flushing event like this is so good for everything in and around the river that I am joyful to see it. It’s a bummer it cuts into guide trips for the moment, and we aren’t selling flies and tippet to our customers headed to the Crooked for a bit, but long term this is fricken awesome for the Crooked River. Spawning Beds are getting cleaned, rocks are getting cleaned, banks are absorbing water for growth and in some cases and places for releasing water later.
I thought you might be interested in what my friend Matt researched and shared with us:
I took a look at the 3 snotel stations that are in the Crooked river drainage basin, Derr., Snow Mountain and Ochoco Meadows (seems like there should be more than 3 to get a truly accurate representation, no?). All three are still > 100% for the year. Ochoco Meadows is dropping fast, Derr. has a ways to go, but is dropping now, and Snow Mountain is still very high and hasn’t really begun its rapid melt yet. Based on the topography map, it seems to me that the Snow Mountain area probably provides the most water to the basin. I don’t trust the BLM/BOR to get the math right, but maybe they are correct and are prepping for an eventual 100% in Prineville. I do notice they haven’t budged Ochoco creek, since the reservoir above is still ~40% (although a weird downward spike showed up the last couple days – data quality?). We’ll see. There is a lot of snow up there still to melt. I would love to see the Bowman Dam spillway flowing this year. That would be pretty cool.
The Lower Deschutes is really high this morning. In fact it is poking up in the 7000 cfs range. Typically in the summer we see 3500-4200 cfs.
From what i’ve heard from people there in the last 2 days is the fishing is still good.
Stonefly Nymphs seems to be the top producing fly which makes sense based on the hatch getting ready to pop in the next week or two.
Perdigons and Jigs, Squirmey’s, Soft Hackle PT and Flashback PT, Green Rock Worms, Prairie Dog Pupa and Graphic Caddis are some other nymphs we suggest now too. Sculpins and Wooly Buggers are good swinging flies, and may be worth stripping in some pools and eddies and seams along the riffles.
My best guess for when the fish will be up on the stonefly dries is the 3rd week of May and it will last until Mid June this year.. Just a guess.
I think the McKenzie is a no go for at least 2 weeks….
I drove up the Santiam yesterday and from the Reservoir up towards the pass (through Marion Forks) it is way too high to fish. Below the Detroit Dam and Big Cliff Dam the water was good and my friend Kurt sent me a photo last night of a nice rainbow with a Chubby in its lips! So apparently the fish are looking for stoneflies on the lower Santiam and until Detroit fills up that water ought to remain consistent.
I hear that access to Davis Lake is good and that you can launch a boat at Lava Flow. I’ve had no actual reports on the fishing conditions, but it is a place to add to the list of available waters to fish in Central Oregon.
South Twin is opened up and I hear fishing fine. I’ve only heard one report of a report, and haven’t gone myself yet…Leeches, Damsels, Chironomids are going to be staples.
I know as of yesterday Crane Prairie was still frozen, but the parking lot was 70% clear of snow and the ramp about 90% clear. I am thinking next weekend it will be all good as sometime this coming week it will break open.
Wickiup Reservoir is free of ice. No reports.
I do not know if access to North Twin is available. Anyone????
Hosmer Lake is going to be a long while.
East Lake is going to be a long time too.
I am watching Paulina Lake for a hopeful access date from the resort by mid-May…. I’m sure it’s frozen too, but the resort likes that early business and works hard to get ready for the season as soon as it can happen. Last year my 1st 6 or 7 trips I launched there ($5 fee) and it was great. They get the southern exposure and that helps melt off the snow faster than across at the Paulina CG.
Lake Billy Chinook is up and down on the Bull Trout. Steve and I had an ok day there a few days ago, with Steve being top rod in the boat for numbers and size. I did okay too, but he really had a nice day.
Others, including some trusted and good anglers I know had zero luck or little luck on days in and around when Steve and I went last Wednesday. Steve was stripping articulated streamers on a sink tip and got 5, including one nice big fish, and I never had much luck on that but got 3 (+ a smallmouth) on a leech under an indicator.
My friend Bret had good fishing at Ana Reservoir last week using leeches.
The lakes at the Justensen Ranch are fishing really really good now. Damsels and Callibaetis and more chironomids have increased with the warmth. Leeches are always good. If you haven’t booked a date yet, now is the time. The next 3 weeks ought to be especially magical, but probably well into June too. $140 per person per day. Bobber Down!
See you on the water,