While it’s not quite officially Summer it sure feels like it! The McKenzie and Willamette Rivers are running at levels very much unfamiliar to us at this time of year. Rivers are crystal clear and often moving at a snails pace compared to June flows of the past. Low flows give wading anglers access and make boating a bit more challenging. How about the fishing?
Hatches: It’s still June and despite the heat bugs are still hatching in good numbers. Little Yellow stones, Pale Morning Duns, small caddis, golden stones and green drakes are the most important adult insects to have in your box. Yesterday the river was alive in the morning from 8am. Undoubtedly it would have been better to be on the water even earlier as the temperature gauge near Blue River cracked 100 degrees later in the afternoon.
Tactics: Mornings and evenings are the most productive times to be out with the heat. Water clarity and low levels are putting added pressure on our local trout mid-day. You will want to shrink your tippet size a bit, if you normally fish 4x, go to 5x and even 6x on your smaller dries. Early and late if you don’t see fish rising don’t worry, often they will still come up and take a properly presented dry fly. When nymphing use smaller patterns and keep your tippet size down here as well. If you use double nymphs try tying your leader into the eye of the first nymph then a piece of tippet 12-18″ in length into the eye of the same fly and use a heavier but still small nymph on the end. This system has been working really well in the quickest water you can find.
Gear: This is a great year to get out the small rod! Summer steelheading has been really tough, counts over Willamette Falls are only 25% of last year and it was a slow start last year. Hopefully things pick up but it’s not looking real good. It’s very possible your three weight is going to become your favorite stick this summer. Fishing smaller waters like the South Fork of the McKenzie, Salmon and Salt Creek, the Middle Fork of the Willamette above Hills Creek Dam are all fantastic small rod waters. Productive evenings on the lower McKenzie are going to be a “last hour” show and you will be wet wading and casting #18 dries to cutthroat piles up in the riffles. It can be a blast catching lower river cutthroat on light tippets and a three weight.
Enjoy our Summer weather!