Jeff’s fishing update 9/23/23

Happy Fall to you. Fall always brings up great memories of spectacular days on desert rivers and mountain lakes, from the Steens to the Cascades and down the Deschutes to chase both trout and steelhead, Fall is quite possibly the greatest time to fish here. What do you think?

I had a good week on the water for the last week of “summer”. A couple of days on Paulina, a day on the Metolius with my wife and a day at Crane Prairie to fulfill a donation to last years Water Watch fundraiser I donated a trip to. All the days were great for catching, but for the last week of summer, Mother Nature missed the message because we had Fall and Winter-like weather for sure all week. East, Paulina and 3 Creeks had their 1st snows of the fall, Crane was locked in a cold fog yesterday morning (it did burn off and was awesome once it did) and the breeze was up and icy if you were at the higher elevations.
That looks to continue with a wet and cool pattern coming up for the week. Water temps are cooling into the 50’s on the lakes and after this weeks soaker storm in the mountains I read in the Cliff Mass weather blog he thinks the Pacific NW fire season will be done. Hooray for that! Fall fishing without smoke in the air sounds perfect, and I am sure we will see a return to glorious, sunny and warm afternoons on and off many days in October. October never disappoints for overall weather and fishing.
So I hope you’re making plans to come visit us and do some fishing soon because the good stuff is here.

The Metolius is still seeing a great afternoon Green Drake hatch #10 mostly, and mixed in the medley of afternoon hatches are PMD’s #16, Mahogany Dun #16, BWO #18-20, Flav’s #14, Little Olive Stones #18 (this may be the last week of these for the season so grab some Henryville’s and trim the hackle flat and get after it) and a bunch of Caddis including October Caddis #8, Tan #16, Grey and Olive #14-18. The bigger stoneflies (Goldens #10, Cascade #4-6 and Salmonfly #6-8) are not super active unless it is warm and sunny. Today will be. After that though, I’d fish big nymphs and wait for another warm day to fish the dries and that looks to be at least a week away after this weekend.
It is a great time to swing or strip streamers for Bull Trout when the rain comes. I have always felt Bull’s like a freshet of rain on their river and respond by eating more when it is raining. Don’t just think big streamers, but small streamers too, and nymphs and balanced leeches. Indicator fishing is great under these circumstances so it’s not just about a giant streamer and a sink tip and a big long cast, and can be fun to target the fish in other ways.
And nymph action for trout and whitefish is strong now, with the Euro technique doing best for us.

The Lower Deschutes is fishing quite well on nymphs, with some dry fly action in the right place at the right time. Look for midges, BWO’s, spent caddis and the last of the PMD’s of the season in the eddies, and some fresh hatches below weed beds and in good riffles and runs to get fish on the dry fly.
Euro Nymphing 3.5 and 4 mm beaded flies (and sometimes bigger) is producing well for us.
Under the indicator use an October Caddis pupa, Stonefly Nymph (golden and black are both equally good) and Prince, Soft Hackle PT, Copper John (our amazing guide Troy loves a Red Copper John) and a Lightning Bug.
Do you have a trout spey? It’s a good time to get on the water with it if you do. Swing some small leeches and sculpins with a sink tip, and also soft hackles on a floating line. And will Steelhead spread though the entire 100 miles of the Lower D, of course get out your 6 and 7 weight spey rods and your scandi lines for smaller swung flies and skagit heads and sink tips for the leech and intruder work to be done as we see more cold mornings ahead and eventually go to all cold days and a drop in water temps later this fall, the fish will hunker down and respond to deeper presentations then. Or, just nymphs ’em! It’s all effective.

The Middle Deschutes will see an increase in water flow very soon as NUID and COID are about done providing water to patrons in the irrigation districts. Fishing is still good on the Middle D, but be aware of the upcoming changes and wade safely and watch for a color change and debris starting to float by. I have been there twice when that day happened and it can be a real bummer. Once it stabilized (takes a day or two) fishing is fine. Wading gets harder though in many areas of the Middle D.
Euro nymphing and streamers are very good now and will continue to be for several weeks. Some Dry Fly fishing is to be found, with the PMD’s lingering, BWO’s increasing, Mahogany Duns and Caddis hatches. My 3 favorite Middle D dries are a Purple Haze #14-18, Yellow or Olive Sparkle Dun #16-18, and an X Caddis Tan or Olive #14-18.

The Upper Deschutes is only open for another 8 days in the Headwaters stretch from Little Lave to Crane and from Wickiup to Benham. The section between Crane and Wickiup is already closed to protect spawning fish.
That headwaters section is a lot of fun in the fall. Nymph up some super good looking trout and whitefish now through Sept 30th when it closes.

The Fall River is good and it’s crowded because of that. Beat the crowds by going early in the morning, or fishing after 3 or 4 PM until dark, or walking a ways away from the main parking areas and “normal” fishing holes.
Eggs, Worms, Mops, Perdigons, Jigs, 2 Bits, Slumpbusters and other euro streamers are all great flies.
Look for actual hatches of BWO and Midges and some gorgeous little amber colored caddis #14-16 that hatch in the Fall each year here. PMD’s are not through their yearly cycle quite yet, so keep an eye peeled for that hatch of little yellow mayflies and be ready for that (and any) mayfly hatch with nymphs, emergers, cripples, duns and spinners.

The Crooked River is in prime shape at 227 cfs and with the reservoir still at 63% full we are going to have a good fall and winter fishing season on the Crooked.
BWO hatches are increasing and overlapping late season PMD’s. Make sure to have a Furminsky’s BWD Dun and an Extended Body Cut Wing PMD for your afternoon sessions on the Crooked. Purple Haze, Comparaduns and Sparkle Duns are wise choices too.
Euro Nymph jigs and perdigons to match the current or upcoming hatch. Meaning, BWO = #18 Brown or Olive Perdigon. PMD = #16 Brown or yellow Perdigon. That is a good starting point for you and add some Zebra Midges, Winklers, Scuds, 2 Bits and Micro Mayflies.

I didn’t get much of a report on the McKenzie this week, but I know the FFP guides had a lot of trips there. Assuming it is more of the same which has been trending great.

Crane Prairie was good for us again yesterday. Black Balanced Leeches were the best, but again that Fulling Mill jig I talked about before, with the CDL Tail, Stripped Herl Body, Red Holographic Thorax and a Copper Bead caught quite a few too. Chironomids, Bloodworms, Leeches, Water Boatman, Assassins or Black Birds Nests are all good choices stripped or under the indicator.
I am falling in love with the Scientific Anglers Emerger Tip Fly Line. From Crane to Paulina to East to Hosmer that line has accounted for a lot of good fishing this season and yesterday at CP our biggest fish came with that line stripping leeches. So, it’s not all about the bobber. If you don’t have this line, you should get one, besides the fact it puts the fly at a good level for the retrieve, on a windy day it is exceptional for a super slow retrieve on a leech, chironomid or mayfly nymph presentation.

Hosmer is good for Brook Trout and Big Rainbows and we love Fall at this gorgeous mountain lake.
Scuds, Leeches, Boatman, Chironomids, Callibaetis Nymphs and Soft Hackles. Look for big schools of Brookies in the Channel. They can get picky one day and bite like crazy the next. Strip Leeches and scuds and water boatman on a Hover or the SA Emerger Tip. Over the weed beds you should try a Booby on the point fly and a Soft Hackle on the dropper. With the Sinking line, and the buoyant eyes of the booby, the presentation is awesome over shallow zones and catches fish.

Paulina is great. Ants and Beetles are rocking it, also Balanced leeches and Scuds and some small black Chironomids.
Big Browns are just starting to school up and the next 5 weeks will see some tough, but interesting chase opportunities for these guys. A watermelon balanced leech has been the pattern I’ve done best with. You might try hanging that under a Purple Chubby instead of a “regular indicator” for this Fall period, because the browns like the Chubby too.

East Lake is good, in some ways similar to Paulina but I don’t see the same Brown Trout school craziness here. Certainly the browns are around, but more spread out. Fall Browns at East are susceptible to Balanced Leeches and Chub Patterns.
Ants and beetles worked around the edges has been great for all trout. We got a decent Kokanee on a beetle the other day. Kokanee are weird in East Lake.
I think Callibaetis are about done for the year. Maybe a few will pop here and there for a bit, but it’s getting late for Callibaetis at 6400 feet.

3 Creeks Lake is fishing great. Like East, Callibaetis are coming to the end, leaving midges and ants and beetles the main things trout will be rising too. Leeches and Chironomids are the hot flies for the rest of the season now. Brook Trout love Chartreuse and Hot Orange beaded leeches and that is fun along the shorelines with those until it gets too cold to keep going. I’m guessing we have another 3 weeks of solid fishing up there. Maybe more….

I’m headed to Portland in a moment to celebrate oregon’s rivers at the Water Watch dinner tonight.
Back home tomorrow and looking forward to a lot of time fishing again next week.

All the best,


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.