Well, it is high time I got a fishing report out - we are well into the hot weather that brings the caddis out in droves, and this gives anglers fantastic opportunities to hook trout on dry flies in the early morning hours as well as in the evening hours. During the heat of the day you will still find fish sipping - but they will be living in the shade and shelter of the riverside trees where the mid-day feast will continue.
I start the morning fishing session early - crack of dawn early - just as soon as it is light enough to tie on a dry fly. And what to tie on? A dead caddis, of course. Deschutes trout start their lazy summer day rising slowly and lazily to sip dead caddis off the surface of the water. On summer nights when the full moon illuminates the river, the trout may pull all-nighters sipping dying caddis out of the riffles and pools, which is why fishing sometimes slows down a bit on those full moon days. Since the caddis on the river at dawn are dead, you will rarely see the rise of a trout, even a huge trout, unless you are staring at exactly the spot where those trouty lips poke ever so slightly through the surface film while slurping. There is no hurry, the trout are confident that their snacks are incapable of taking to the air, so the riseforms are nearly imperceptible. Find a foamline, find deepish water (3-6 feet) and find a tree that hangs out over the river and you will find the sippers.
Once the sun climbs high enough to crest the canyon walls, the trout will either move off to the best canopy of tree branches or they will drop down in the water column where the current is a bit slower and the water a bit cooler. The trout will spend much of the day snacking on nymphs, crawdads, and sculpins. Anglers will be wise to use any flies that imitate those food sources.
4X tippet is as thick as I use for nymphing, and I actually prefer to go a bit thinner with 5X, given that I am using a rod that is soft enough to cushion that tippet diameter. For streamer fishing I would stick to 4X or maybe even 3X, depending on the size and weight of the streamer. Olive jigged buggers have been crushing it for trout Spey guys. Get those streamers out into the deep fast bouldery water and get ready to get throttled.
If clouds or smoke blot out the sun for an afternoon, you may see a decent mayfly hatch - pale morning duns and pale evening duns are very much on the menu even on sunny days, but their numbers are far more significant with cloud cover or false cloud cover. There is a fire up on Mt. Hood which is putting a thin sheen of smoke in the air around here, but it is nothing like we have seen in past years. I would call this haze BARELY smoky.
I have no verified reports of anglers hooking steelhead - though there are always a few early season fish that make it up to the Maupin area by this time of year. The steelhead fishing is open through August 15 and may remain open if we hit the numbers needed for wild steelhead passage at the Bonneville dam. There haven't been hoards of people out swinging for steelhead yet, but it is still quite early on in our summer run of steelhead.
The Deschutes does not have a winter run of steelhead - which is a question that we get asked with some frequency. Nope, no winters, just summer fish that stick around until springtime when they spawn and head back out to the ocean. Look further to the west for the winter run steelhead.
I took a busman's holiday this weekend and fished with a couple of my girlfriends over on the beautiful Metolius River. Such a pretty river. I am not used to fishing with that many people walking around or just sitting on the banks, which was sort of like fishing with an audience. One older couple said that they live nearby and come to the river a lot but in all their trips to the river they had never actually seen a person catch a fish. I had a Clark's stone on and was matching the hatch of golden stoneflies that were flying and laying eggs on the water. My friend, Kelly, saw a fish rise on my side of the river and yelled over to me. I cast the fly where my "guide" Kelly told me the riser was and, boom, fish on! I waded 50 feet down the river with the trout fighting and jumping and the couple finally got to see someone with a fish on - which seemed to tickle them. So, that was fun. Here's a picture of the beautiful Metolius:
Ran into a few customers who were surprised to see me out of my native habitat (behind the counter of the fly shop). I agreed that it was rare for me to get a hall pass in the middle of the summer. I went to both the Fly Fisher's Place in SIsters and to the Camp Sherman Store Fly Shop just to say hello and check out their goods. Both places were very friendly and welcoming.
The Metolius River water is so crystal clear and beautiful. It is also super cold and it reminded me of what the Deschutes River used to be - clear and cold because it was essentially 100% Metolius River water that poured into the bottom of the reservoir and then flowed from the bottom of the dam into the Deschutes. Now, thanks to the mixing tower that PGE put in, we get the highly polluted water from the top of the reservoir- with very high PH, high nutrient load, and high temperatures. PGE tells a cute little story about trying to return the river to the pre-dam temperatures of the 1950s - when the Deschutes was irrigated out of, over grazed, and had the absolute worst water quality in its entire history. We need to fight to get our water quality back to where it once was. If you want to know more about the situation that we are in on the lower river, please read up on the problem or watch some videos on the Deschutes River Alliance Website