The late season here in the valley has been hot, dry, and smoky, thanks to the myriad fires burning to the east and south of our area. Our wet winter and spring made for lots of understory growth in the forests of the Cascades and Siskiyou Mountains. After several weeks of hot dry weather plus a sprinkling of lightning storms, the worst fire season in a generation is upon us.
While the eerie, orange-hued, apocalyptic conditions have been unnerving, uncomfortable, and downright unhealthy some days, the fishing has actually been very good. Apparently the trout don’t mind the faux overcast.
While the fires will persist until we get some significant rain, each day on the river is different. With smoke conditions dependent on the whims and vagaries of the wind, some days are beautiful; some are… decidedly not. As we look to the weeks ahead, once we have some reasonable rain and the first wet onshore flow off the ocean, things should settle back into a more normal pattern. The fishing will remain excellent from here on out into November. In the meantime, seemingly everyone is hunkered down inside keeping a wary eye to the hazy skies, waiting for the air to clear.
It seems like everyone is getting hot and bothered over the upcoming Oregon eclipse, trying to out think the masses while keeping one eye on the ever-changing weather forecast: “will it be cloudy?!?…” “Are these goggles approved?..”
For those of us who are looking forward to the eclipse being over with, eyes instead are turned west to the cloudy cool coastal morning calm that signals the advance of Autumn, and the return of the Kings.
Fly fishing in the valley is still in full swing, but in between days, it’s great to spin some herring with good friends. Here, in no particular order are some fresh images from the front lines of Oregon’s most popular fishery. I wonder if there’ll be a good bite when the sun goes dark?
Just when we were all feeling comfortable in our flip-flops and shorts, a late pulse of cold fronts and wet weather reminds us that we’re closer on the calendar to winter than we are to the dry heat of late summer. But as western Oregon locals say, there’s no such thing as bad weather; only bad raingear. Anglers on the McKenzie over the last couple of weeks have had to bring their best slickers. But no one notices the wind and rain when the fishing is good.
While the conditions have been “variable,” the trout action on the McKenzie has been steady, with the native rainbows and their hatchery-born roommates clearly enjoying the cloudy skies, higher water, and abundant hatches. Whenever it’s raining in June, remember: it’s a great day to be a fish… or a fisher.
As we look ahead to more summery conditions in the weeks to come, the rivers remain full and healthy, just like the trout. Oregon’s summer season will soon be here. But who among us wouldn’t swap their flip-flop tan for some good waders and a quality rain coat to enjoy a wet June-uary adventure on the McKenzie? It’s all good!
With the flowers of May in full bloom, it finally seems safe to say that winter is over. A last couple of floats on the rivers of the coast range towards the end of April were the final shots for winter steelhead fishing until next season. While one trip was highlighted by eating lunch in a cave during a downpour, another yielded an amazing fish for young uber-angler, Max Jensen. This beautiful tide-running early summer-run hatchery hen put a nice exclamation point on what has been a volatile season to say the least!
Back in the Valley, McKenzie Trout Action continues. High water has predominated thanks to our higher-than-average snowpack, and nymphing has been steady. The March Brown Mayflies made for some reliably good fishing throughout the month of April, with lots of nice fish looking up. Recent warm days have seen the first big McKenzie Caddis of the season out bouncing around on the riffles.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Cascades, the annual Deschutes River Salmonfly Hatch is just getting started. The late spring has seemingly made for a more “normal” time-frame on the hatch this season, which means a just-completed early May float found high water, good nymphing, and very few adult big bugs out and about. Dry fly action was limited to say the least, but save for some sore shoulders, the nymphing more than made up for the lack of surface feeders.
Here is a sampling of images from the first run through the High Desert. It only gets better from here! Enjoy!
Spring has sprung here in the Valley! Warmer days and plenty of water have made for some very good trout action over the last few weeks. On cloudy drizzle days, the annual March Brown Mayfly emergence has brought some very nice redsides and cutthroat to the surface. On recent warmer days, the Grannom Caddis hatch has been heavy, and although the trout dont like them as much as the mayflies, plenty of good fish have had their heads up.
Weather at this time of year tends to be volatile. One day is warm and calm; the next, the wind is knocking down trees. But when the elements align, Spring trout fishing can be some of the most rewarding of the year. What better evidence that all is right with the world than beautiful wild trout rising to hatching insects on your home river?
If you’re in need of some dry-fly therapy to chase those winter blues, we’re still offering our Spring Special half-day rate through the 20th of April.
While the local angling population focusses on the siren song of winter steelheading, the McKenzie River is quietly waking from its midwinter slumber. On a recent midday outing, Fred and I managed a couple of nice redsides on nymphs and had the river to ourselves.
As we transition into the new season here in the Valley, trout fishing will steadily improve. Sometimes a few hours floating and some chunky trout can be a welcome respite from the chaos and drama of day-to-day reality.
If you find yourself needing a break from all the noise, we’re once again offering the
McKenzie River Spring Special Rate: $275/boat for a 4-5 hour trout fishing tour.
The MRSS runs from February 1 – April 20, 2017. Limit 2 anglers/boat. All fly fishing gear and flies as well as water & sodas provided. BYO lunch/snacks.
Late-fall fly fishing for ocean-fresh chinook salmon can be a compelling siren song. With the variables of weather, river level and clarity, tides, ocean conditions, other anglers, and luck all in play, as often as not, an angler’s dreams of Chrome encounters can be fraught with frustration. It’s easy to talk yourself out of going. But the chance to connect with the ultimate prize on Oregon’s fly fishing Mt. Rushmore entices anglers to roll the dice even when it looks dicey.
A recent 3-day outing illustrates: Day one came on the heels of some discouraging reports and featured constant torrential rain and wind, leading to a rapidly rising river. But the Two Dudes have good rain gear! So we launched, enjoying the kind of river solitude that only a true Oregon downpour can provide.
As the river steadily filled with mud, leaves, and debris, we cast hopefully for hours. Would the salmon also be coming with the flood? In short: Yes! Three hours in, salmon began to roll and crash the surface. And they were in a biting mood.
On days two and three, we were joined by our old friend, the Oceanographer. The weather improved, but thanks to Day one, the rivers were kinda high for fly fishing. Conditions slowly improved, but we saw only a few crackers here and there. Even the bait guys were shaking their heads.
In the end, you can’t catch ’em if they aren’t there. And while a few fish probably trickled past in the high flow, we spent our time casting and stripping, casting and stripping, casting and stripping until it was time to reel up and head home. A taste of success, followed by a full double-serving of skunk stew!
Can’t wait to try again!