Oregon Cascade Trout Part IV: Fly Fishing Tactics

Ok. You’re in the Oregon Cascades. You are near a stream, river, rivulet, creek, or ditch. You need to figure out where to start fishing, right?

Try the first bridge you come to. Trout always live under bridges. Next, look for places where people have parked alongside the river. The wider the turnout, the better the fishing will be. Finally, as shown above, look for evidence that this is a swimming hole, in this case, still-wet socks, or as the evidence depicted below (no explanation needed), will tell you that, yes, this is where trout live.

By the way, there are several creative ways to hide one’s keys when parked alongside a popular fishing location. I have found that leaving the key in the door is useful to reduce the incidence of broken windows and such.

Now, let’s consider the season of the year, and how that might affect your fly fishing thinking.

In April and May, stick to the lowermost reaches of the stream or rivulet, think nymphs, match any hatch you stumble on, and chuck big attractor dry flies to see if you can bring lunkers to the surface.

June is perhaps the magic month for Oregon Cascade stream trout fly fishing. Fish will take nymphs much or all of the days, and there is plenty of dry fly activity to specific hatches and trout are just generally looking up. The giant black carpenter ant and the McKenzie Caddis are great probing flies, and you are likely to find interested fish from 10 AM through 5 PM.

July marks the beginning of tough fly fishing days on Cascade trout streams. The lower reaches of Cascade streams start to shut down but the upper reaches come alive, and these changes are generally keyed to water temperatures. So consider moving upriver where water is a little cooler and bugy activity is more consistent throughout the day.

August can be a tough month to fly fish the cascades, but persistence will pay off. You may come to understand the meaning of “dog days” in August. It will be hot, usually, and the sun will scortch you, and you will need to keep hydrated, but you may find great fishing in early morning, say from 7-11 AM, on spinner falls and tiny caddis emergences. There will always be some nymphing opportunities, but these may be in deeper pools and bubble curtains at the heads of pools. The last hour of daylight holds the potential for fish-on-every-cast in August, but don’t bet the farm on it. Sometimes it happens, sometimes not. Hummmmmm. Grasshoppers have been knows to save the day in August.

September is another banner month, and it can rival June for easy midday dry fly fishing. This is the month when the October Caddis start to play, there can be all sorts of mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, and termites and such that trout are selectively or wantonly feeding on before the winter sets in. September is the month that restores our confidence after being drubbed and snubbed in August.

This is a fine example of a Cascade pool that will fish all day in August, with opportunities for nymphing and dry fly fishing, depending on the trout’s mood.

Finally, your Cascades Trout fishing tactical considerations should include the likelihood that you will hit the dirt, forest floor, rocks, and or the river more than once. Carry a first aid kit. Carry medication. Carry water. Tell a friend or family member where you are going and when you will be expected to return. Seriously, it is easy to get lost just five minutes off a logging road.

PS: One matter of trout behavior I will note here, is that it is common for Cascades trout, just before dusk, to venture into the shallowest reaches at the very heads of pools. They will often take up station in a mere 12″ – 2′ of water, in places that would have been too shallow and exposed in sunlight, in order to have first shot at aquatic insects and terrestrials drifting downstream. Daytime will usually see these places harboring the smallest trout, evenings may see the same shallows holding the largest trout of the pool.

This is but one of many examples of how wild trout will move about their home range in order to optimize their feeding opportunities in balance with their need to evade predators.

As always, remember how precious these wild trout are, and think about how they move around in these streams throughout the year.


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4 Responses to Oregon Cascade Trout Part IV: Fly Fishing Tactics

  1. mike doughty says:


  2. Rob R says:

    you found my socks!

  3. Oregon Fly Fishing Blog says:

    You mean they were your socks – past tense – now they are mine! Ha ha. JN

  4. wrath of lorane says:

    Having had the window of my brand new rig busted once by some coastal sh*thead clouter(s), I was surprised as hell a few weeks ago after returning to a popular east-slope Sierras stream turnout, having left my windows rolled down all morning while fishing, only to find that nobody messed with my spare rods, reels, or camping gear at all.
    Speaking with some locals about my relief that none of my stuff was plundered, the old timer I was talking to said, “folks ’round here don’t go around taking things that they didn’t pay for.”

    Oh, and you forgot to mention the styrofoam worm containers as one of signs of good trout fishing. I think it’s a gear fisher requirement to leave ’em at the good spots.

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