Of Toyotas, Takodas & Thunderstorms: Deschutes, Metolius, & Crane Prairie Reports

Last Monday I left Eugene with a mission: buy a used Toyota Tacoma and get some fishing in. Thankfully I did both, but with a few hiccups. First I learned I had to wait a week before I could get my truck from the Toyota service center, and second, thunder and lightning threatened to stall any afternoon/evening fishing in central Oregon. Betting against the weather my mom, dad, and I took a Tuesday-Wednesday Deschutes float trip from Warm Springs to Trout Creek. Thursday and Friday I headed to the Metolius, and Sunday I explored the murky bottom of Crane Prairie Reservoir in a less-than-comfortable raft.

My parents at the Warm Springs put in.

X-Caddis proved to still be effective on the Warm Springs-Trout Creek stretch of the Deschutes, as did Pheasant Tails and Sparkle Pupas. At the risk of sounding like a broken record dry fly fishing was good early and late, while nymphs floated deep under an indicator worked well all day. It was a bit slower this time than previous trips, but there were still hundreds of bugs about with eager trout looking for an easy meal.

Thankfully the promised thunderstorms held off until we were on our way home. Still, we had to take refuge in the Takodas Restaurant in Sisters while thunder cracked and hail smacked the streets and cars outside. Now here’s a selfless plug for Takodas’ Buffalo Burger with a side of onion rings. It’s the best thing ever after a few days on the river!
Rain, hail, and lightning, mid-storm on our way home from the Trout Creek take out.
Thursday I learned the entire fly fishing only section of the Metolius was open after fire crews contained most of the Bridge 99 Fire. With next to zero surface activity it took a while to learn what the fish were eating. I tried Yellow Sally nymphs, but quickly switched over to a size 22 WD-40 micro mayfly nymph. After a few casts I had on a sizable whitefish. Whitefish were the name of the game and bit actively while the redsides seemed not to want to come out to play. Still I managed one bite from a large trout that took me for a few runs before breaking me off in strong current. The next day was a similar story. Zero surface activity, but active subsurface feeding on micro mayfly nymphs.

Big reservoir, little raft, at the put in at Quinn River Campground.

With my recently purchased Toyota Tacoma still locked up in the service department I decided to make a trip to Crane Prairie on Sunday. Since this was a solo trip I couldn’t bring my pontoon, so I was stuck toting my mom’s inflatable raft, which she lovingly refers to as her “rubber ducky.” It’s a three-person raft that hardly fits one and gear with next to no legroom. Still, it was fun cruising around Quinn River area. Even though the fishing was slow and after several fly changes I finally hooked into a famous cranebow only to have him run around a snag and shake off. After eight hours my leg cramps had me paddling towards shore, but it was still fun exploring a new place, and I’ll definitely be back but this time in my pontoon or a proper boat!

Summary:

Deschutes: X-Caddis, Pheasant Tails, and Sparkle Pupas. Downsized tippet also helped, 5X & 6X for dries, 4X for nymphs was okay, but fluorocarbon seemed to work better than mono.

Metolius: Micro Mayfly Emergers like the WD-40 in sizes 20-22. If you nymph the Met at all you know fluorocarbon is the only way to fool fish. 4X for end of leader and 6X for droppers worked well, and go deep!

Crane Prairie: I tried everything from Chironbombers to leech patterns, but had my only bite on a #16 Pheasant Tail on a slow retrieve at about twelve feet.

Bryan T. Robinson

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