Ready to POP!
Starting May 1, our shop will be open from 8 AM to 5 PM seven days a week.
The warm weather over the past few days is bringing the water temp closer and closer to the ideal trigger for the salmonflies. There have been one or two spotted on the grasses, and a few spotted flying in the afternoon, but we are not quite there yet. By Cinco de Mayo, I guarantee that the grasses will be filling with salmonflies and golden stones.
Ladies, if your boyfriend or husband is a little freaked out by 3 inch long bugs crawling up his neck and on his ears, you might want to leave him at home during the month of May. You don't need him squealing on the bank and ruining your fishing!
Let's talk about this hatch a little bit, so you can prepare yourselves for the fishing that is coming your way in May.
First off, everyone calls this the SALMONFLY hatch - but there are three species of stoneflies that make up the hatch, and the least important (IMHO) of the stoneflies is the salmonfly (Pteronarcys californica). Yes, it is the biggest, but it also happens to be the only one of the three species that dominate this hatch that does not drop down to the water to lay its eggs. The salmonfly drops its eggs from the sky, so it is not as readily available to the trout in the middle to the end of the hatch as the other two species are.
In the beginning of the hatch, every clumsy fly crawling on the grass and in the trees is fair game. Trout will be moving closer to the edges of the river in the next week or so because they know that the stoneflies will be crawling from the bottom of the river and up onto the trees and stones and riverside grasses to emerge. The adults, once they are out of the nymph body, are clumsy crawlers looking for love. They often fall into the water and into the mouths of the waiting trout.
In the first few weeks of the hatch, the trout only have opportunity to grab a stonefly when one falls into the water from a tree, bush, grass, etc. An orange-bodied salmonfly pattern is just as likely to hook fish as a golden stone pattern. The trout are waiting for any opportunity to get that protein. If you want to hook as many trout as possible, you have to put the bugs where the trout are waiting for them, which means pitching them up and under the overhanging branches of a tree or tight to a deep grassy bank. Trout in the early stages of the hatch will explode on the dries.
As the hatch marches on and the fish have seen more and more pressure, they become a lot less aggressive, even cautious. These are highly pressured trout that have been hooked multiple times. Often the trout will get to the point where they will no longer come to the surface to grab flies. Some of the biggest trout will switch their feeding patterns in late May to only eat drowned stoneflies. This way, they can stay several inches to a foot below the surface and still enjoy a lot of high calorie meals.
So, let's circle back to my bold statement in the beginning of this report....the part where I said that the salmonfly is the LEAST important of the stoneflies when it comes to fishing dry flies. The reason for that statement comes into play at the tail end of the hatch - sometime in late May when it is time for the big bugs to fly and when the females have fat juicy pouches of eggs to deposit in the river. The salmonflies prefer the B52 bomber approach to laying eggs - they drop them from the sky. The golden stones (Hesperoperla pacifica), and yellow sallies (Isoperla) actually land on the water to lay their eggs and they are far more available to the trout in the late part of the hatch. This is why you should load your fly box with golden stones in addition to the orange salmonflies.
I heard some disturbing news last Monday. One of our clients called to say that he and his dad were camping at Trout Creek campground on the opening weekend (last weekend) and that lots of people camping there had rods/reels/vests/gear stolen right out from under their noses while they slept. The thieves were on foot, creeping through the campground under the cover of darkness, and they must have parked their "getaway car" outside of the campground so as not to be heard. The sheriff was there the next day taking statements from the victims.
I generally feel like my stuff is pretty safe when I am camping on the Deschutes - but I have heard of more and more incidents like this one and I feel that I should mention it on this fishing report so that people are aware that this sometimes happens. Don't make it easy for the scumbags to get your stuff!
A new phenomena has happened this year - the White River is off-color more frequently. I am quite sure this is due to the enormous fire that burned in the White River Canyon last year. They are logging the area heavily, and the less stable barren portions of the canyon are not able to absorb rain. It isn't terrible today, but the burn definitely impacts the color of the White River and will probably do so for years to come. Because it is even more volatile now, it will be impossible for us to give you daily reports on the condition of the White River. It can change hour to hour.
By the time I write my next fishing report there should be big stoneflies crawling everywhere on the banks. I doubt we will have to wait even a full week - so check back soon! Thanks for reading!
Thanks for the great report. Granted now the wife doesn’t want to go, but it was still a good read. Was wondering if any reports are coming into the shop about the hatches? Weather has been all over the place in The Dalles, so not sure how things look in Maupin.