It's a Good Friday!
Good Friday morning!
I looked out over the river from my house and noticed a tinge of brown in the river. Upon closer inspection, the river does have a brown color to it thanks to the snow melt we have had this week. Yes, we had a decent amount of snow on Sunday night (about 6" on the ground on the top of the rimrock around Maupin). Maupin town level even got a dusting, but it quickly melted off. It was chilly enough all week to keep the snow around for a few days but it is now melting off of the hillsides and that has raised the water levels and put a bit of color in the river. I don't know which tributary is pushing out the dirt, but all the tributaries are flowing now and the gauge at Madras did not jump significantly in the last few days.
My guess is that the little bit of color that I saw from my house this morning will clear over the next 12 hours. I just sent Ben down to the river to take a close look. He should be back in the time that it takes me to write this fishing report - and that will give us the latest info on the condition of the Deschutes in Maupin.
Here is what we have seen so far in April - the March Browns (I told you they should have been named April Browns) have finally made an appearance and the hatch has even been fairly robust on the overcast and cloudy days. Unfortunately, it has been very very windy and cold and generally nasty all week, so a lot of them are getting blown off the water before they have a chance to get eaten by trout. The wind is, therefore, greatly appreciated by the mayflies and much less so by the anglers. I expect that we will continue to see the March Browns hatching for the next week or so.
Blue Winged Olives are always in the mix. This tough little mayfly is a swimmer, and is able to find good habitat to live in away from the rocks that are submerged but closer to shore. Those rocks that get a little light penetration are covered in a nuisance algae which has crowded out a huge percentage of our clinging and crawling insects. The algae is not a food source for the insects, and it makes huge portions of the Deschutes uninhabitable by insects, which is why certain insect populations in our river have declined significantly since 2010 when PGE started violating the state water quality laws by pouring heavily nutrient-laden water off the top of the dam. If that last sentence perked your ears up, please learn about the struggles of the river and join the fight to stop a corporation from polluting one of the greatest trout streams in the country. There are informative videos and scientific data available to view on www.deschutesriveralliance.org
Skwala stones are still around in some numbers. If you like fishing a dry-dropper rig, the skwala stone on top as the dry is a good option. You are likely to catch the majority of your trout on the nymph pattern that you trail below that Skwala, but you may be occasionally surprised by the trout that is looking for a bigger meal on the surface.
The birds are back! April is a great time on the Deschutes because we get to see so many of our spring and early summer birds returning to nest. The red-winged blackbirds are around in the winter, but the river absolutely explodes in the spring with their raspy warbles. Other colorful avian visitors to the river corridor are Lazuli Buntings, Western Tanangers, Northern Orioles, Yellow-Breasted Chats, Golden and Ruby-Crowned Kinglets, and Say's Phoebes. The Ospreys are back on their nests and have been fishing hard since returning from their vacation homes in the south. Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, Turkey Vultures, Great Blue Herons, Double-Breasted Cormorants, and Wild Turkeys are some of the larger birds that are frequently seen along the river. A variety of waterfowl will use the river as a resting spot as they navigate northward. The usual suspects, Common Mergansers, Mallards, American Wigeon, Green-Winged Teal, Gadwalls, and Canada Geese are all enjoying the river corridor. If you are really lucky, you may see some other species resting on the river as they migrate back to Canada. I saw a Common Loon once. Okay, bird nerd time is over.
Ben just returned from the river and the river is not dirty as I had assumed it was when I looked at it from my house this morning. It has a tiny bit of color in it, which can really help the fishing because the trout are far less wary in water that isn't crystal clear. So, RIVER conditions are good for the weekend ahead, but the weather on Saturday looks a bit wet and cold and chilly. If you can handle the cold, the overcast weather with rain is a really good trigger for the March Brown mayflies to hatch off in droves. Be ready around mid-day and position yourself below a riffle or rapid for the greatest density of mayflies.
I am going to wrap this up now and get back to my normal shop duties.
Tight lines on the river!