Fly Fishing Through the Mid-Summer Drought

IMG_2597Despite historic drought conditions here in western Oregon, fishing has been good.  The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has imposed unprecedented restrictions on recreational fishing, closing most waters statewide from 2 p.m. to 1 hour before daylight, with the goal of protecting fish from additional stress during the warmest hours of the day. Fortunately, the cold spring-fed McKenzie and Middle Fork Willamette rivers are exempted and remain open to fishing throughout the daylight hours.  Whew!

During heat waves, there are not many better places to play than on the upper McKenzie.  Clean, clear, and cold, the McKenzie’s waters are a welcome respite from the hot, dry, and dusty Willamette Valley.  Early starts have been the key to getting into some great fishing action followed by some bracingly refreshing swimming after lunch.IMG_2686IMG_2721IMG_2708 - Version 2

In addition to the steady fishing on our local rivers, a highlight this summer has been the fishing on the high lakes of the Cascades.  Many reservoirs dependent on snowmelt are at unprecedentedly low levels. For example, check out this shot from the resort at southern Oregon’s Howard Prairie Reservoir:IMG_2767

However, low water concentrates fish over cold springs and around deeper water structure, making for an easier task of finding feeding trout.  Here are some shots from a recent camping and fishing adventure in the high Cascades.IMG_2503IMG_2492IMG_2544IMG_2426IMG_2625

As we roll on into the traditional “dog-days” of summer, opportunities for good fishing continue.  See you on the water!

June is the new August

Now one month into the summer season here in the Valley, the drought is official.  Rivers are already running at late-summer levels.  No one around here can remember a drier first half of the year.  Fire restrictions are in place throughout Oregon in both urban and rural environs.

Luckily, the upper McKenzie has provided a welcome respite from the heat.IMG_2241 Charged by the upper Cascades aquifer, the river flows cold and clear despite the lack of snowmelt.  So even now at minimum annual flow, there is plenty of water, and the fishing has been good.  If the weather is hot, a quick dip into one of the McKenzie’s  crystal cold green pools is guaranteed to refresh!

This summer in addition to standard hopper/dropper-style fishing, we’ve also been enjoying the novelty and fun of trouting with our Tenkara rods.

IMG_2212 Perfect for beginners and experts alike, Tenkara is quickly becoming a go-to technique when chasing midsummer McKenzie trout.

IMG_2215IMG_2204Towards the end of the month, I slipped away for a couple of 5-day trips through the Canyon over on the Deschutes.  Caddisfly fishing for subtle sipping risers with #16-#20 dries was fair-to-good, with some excellent fish testing anglers’ backing knots and 5X tippets.  Here are some highlights:

IMG_2250 - Version 2IMG_2349IMG_2360IMG_2256IMG_2343IMG_2282IMG_2247Now back home for the summer, McKenzie trouting is the focus.  Although summer steelhead numbers over Willamette Falls are relatively woeful thus far, angler effort has been correspondingly low. Those who have been diligently putting in their swings have been rewarded as often as not.Salerno2015

We will be out there in the weeks to come.  Stay tuned for fresh updates from the field.  And pray for rain!