Incredible Weather Weekend!
It looks like we are heading into a gloriously beautiful weekend with little to no wind and temperatures in the low 60s. Warming conditions like these will get a few bugs flying around and should kick the trout into high gear. What are we seeing on the wing these days? The Baetis have been making a strong showing for the past two weeks, and these mayflies are not all tiny. Most of the Blue Winged Olives we see on the river are size 18-20, however, there is a segment of the Baetis population that are significantly larger (size 14 or so). Trout LOVE mayflies, so be ready to fish those BWO dries in the mid-day, particularly if we have cloud cover (those days tend to have the thickest hatches). We are also seeing Skwala stones out and about - this is an olive-bodied stone fly that makes its appearance in March and early April. We are seeing size 12-14 brown caddis on the water too, though they are a bit more unpredictable. Midges are always present on the Deschutes in the spring - they are tiny and tricky to imitate accurately, but we have done very well using a tiny size 20 midge pattern.
If you are not into matching the hatch, then you may want to stick with nymph fishing. Trout are always feeding down deep, and we have an incredible selection of tungsten bead-head nymphs to help you reach these bottom dwellers with ease. Using a long and very fine leader makes a huge difference in how quickly your nymphs descend - which is why so many people are making the investment into a Euro-nymph outfit. The sensitive rod tip and extra length in a Euro-nymph specific rod allows you to cast a non-tapered, fine diameter leader by using the weight of a couple of tiny nymphs. The sensitive tip additionally cushions the fine diameter tippet when fighting a fish. As more and more anglers adopt the technique of Euro-style fishing, the more sensitive the trout are going to become to the diameter of tippet you are tying onto your fly. It is not unusual for us to fish 6X or 7X fluorocarbon tippet, and there are times when we go finer by fishing 8X or even (gasp) 9X tippet on our Euro leader. If you are interested in learning more about the Euro-nymphing phenomena, consider jumping into one of our weekend clinics. For $250 you spend the entire day with Evan Unti and Ben Stephenson learning the finer points of Euro-nymphing. You will have a chance to try out a variety of rods during the clinic, helping you decide which one to add to your fly fishing arsenal. Evan and Ben teach leader construction, fly choice, how to cast, what water types to fish, and how to play and land trout effectively and efficiently with the long and wispy Euro-rods.
If you plan on camping out, be sure to bring a warm sleeping bag, the clear skies in the desert will cause air temps to drop into the 20s at night.
And now for a word on bringing your best fishing buddy to the river - your dog. There are a few things on the Deschutes that you need to be aware of in order to keep your pooch safe. The first rattlesnakes will likely slither out of their dens this weekend and they are typically pretty cranky right out of the gate. They usually have to molt their skin upon coming out of their winter lair, and this process makes them vulnerable and irritable. Just keep your eyes peeled when walking in the thick grass along the river's edge and don't put your hand on a flat rock surface unless you inspect that surface first. I have known people to get bitten while climbing up a steep rock wall where they reached up and put their hand on a snake warming itself in the sun. Humans, though, are rarely bitten by rattlesnakes on the Deschutes. Dogs, on the other hand, are frequently bitten and it is a scary deal to watch your dog's head swell to the size of a beach ball. I had a Border Collie named Winston who was bitten by a rattlesnake right in front of me. He survived, but I was able to get him to the vet quickly. Carry some children's Benedryl in the liquid form when you are in snake country. Give one tsp for every 12.5 lbs of body weight if your dog is bitten and get to the vet ASAP. Better yet, get your dog vaccinated against rattlesnake bite with a twice yearly shot.
The ticks are out in full force along the river right now - so be sure to check yourself and your dog after a day spent tromping along the river. Some of these ticks have been known to carry Lyme disease as well as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. So, tick treatment on your dog is a good idea if you plan on spending time on the river.
For those of you who bring your dog with you in the boat, try to keep your dog close to you when fishing on the track-side of the river. I have known two dogs that have been killed on the train tracks when their owners are busy fishing. It seems odd, but the dogs are drawn to the tracks by dead deer or other "roadkill" and the trains cannot stop easily. The dogs end up trying to outrun the train by running down the tracks ahead of the train, not knowing that they just have to turn right or left to exit the danger zone. I cannot forget the panic on the face of the guy who ran into the fly shop asking for directions to the nearest vet. His dog lay dying in the back of his car, and didn't survive the 45 minute drive to The Dalles (which is where our nearest vet is located).
This might be the nicest March weekend we have seen in years! It is going to be beautiful, warm, non-windy, and a perfect weekend to be wetting a line. We hope to see you in the shop on your way to a great adventure!