Stay Flexible - and, yes, we have LOTS of BUGS
Hello from the busy little town of Maupin. As we head into the last weekend of May, Memorial Day Weekend, I have a little time to reflect on the 24th consecutive salmonfly/stonefly hatch that I have lived through as a guide on the Deschutes and a resident of Maupin. It was a weird one this year - certainly not a lights out hatch. In some places it felt like it never really got going, and in other places there were some banner evenings with heat and overcast and all the right elements but they were few and far between.
As for all the other bugs that hatched off this week - they kept us busy with lots of top water action. With the cloudy weather this week the mayflies were in their element - PMDs popping off in the morning, PEDs and Green Drakes popping off in the afternoon and evenings. So far, the Green Drakes have been a bit of a tease. We have had brief windows in the right place at the right time when fishing with Green Drake dries is productive for 6-8 fish before the hatch peters out. The cloudy and rainy weather of this weekend may be just what we need for an extended hatch of those huge mayflies.
Caddis and Little Yellow Sally stones are also heavily in the mix right now - which is why it is important to have a variety of options in your fly box. As much as most anglers are focused on fishing salmonfly and golden stone dries, they will find that their dry fly success rate goes through the roof if they are willing to fish some of the smaller dries in tandem with the big guys. Dry-dropper style fishing is not just for hanging a nymph, this method can be used with two dry flies and can help you tremendously when one of those dry flies is tiny and the other large and easy to see. Cast the bigger bug out onto the water, your eyes immediately find it, and you know that the tiny midge or caddis or mayfly is tethered to the big dry in a certain radius. Watch that surrounding area like a hawk and set the hook when you see the dimple as the trout sucks it down.
For those of you dead set on fishing stoneflies - it is not too late. This is the time in the hatch when the bugs are slowly disappearing from the grasses but the trout are still looking for them in the feeding lanes. The golden stones are landing on the water to lay eggs and they often get eaten in the middle of the river or when they have drown and are in the mid-water column. This is why it is a phenomanal time to fish drowned stoneflies. Pitch your Norm Woods Special or Clark's Stone straight upstream into the swirling water and let it get sucked under by the roiling currents. Once the fly is a foot or two beneath the surface, the big bruiser trout that are sick of looking for bugs and being harassed by the masses will grab that morsel and run with it.
The name of the game is to stay flexible. Be ready to pivot. Stay focused on the changing hatches on the river
All week we have seen the traffic on the river becoming less and less. This is typical of Memorial Day Weekend. People think it is going to be way too crowded out on the Deschutes and in the Maupin area, so they don't come out to fish. They have family outings, picnics, etc. and they stay away from the Deschutes. We have now had the shop open for an hour and we haven't had a single customer. This is odd for any Friday morning, but particularly odd on a holiday weekend. Sure, the weather looks a bit rough with cool rainy days forecast through Saturday, but rain and overcast skies are excellent for the mayfly hatches. Sunday and Monday look nice, and the early part of next week looks glorious. Have a great Memorial Day weekend and we will see you on your next visit to Maupin!
Thanks as always Amy. Even during the best big fly days, I’d estimate that over half of the big fish I’ve caught have been on the caddis dropper that I always hang off the back – especially so in the evening. I personally don’t ever fish a single dry fly on the D… I always have a double rig, so that is good advice!
Thank you for the report Amy, that drowned stonefly tip is definitely something I’ve experience, but never intentionally. A handful of times the floatant on my dry has worn off and sunk the fly, I’m always surprised when the drag starts screaming and I couldn’t even see my dry. I’ll have to leave the floatant off and let it sink in certain water.