Dry fly fishing has been great on our local rivers: the Mckenzie and Willamette. The fish will be most active in the mornings when the water is the coolest. There will be a lot of bug activity in the evening, but the water will be significantly warmer. You will be able to tease the fish to the surface with dries all day, however the morning and evenings will be the best. The water has been getting hot in the lower river; if it is too hot to safely target trout, consider heading upriver or to a shaded tributary.
With recent warm temperatures, fishing higher in the system will be the most productive and safest for the fish. Trout require highly oxygenated, cold water, and hot summer days make life difficult for these cold water species. It is helpful this time of year to carry a streamside thermometer to monitor rising water temperatures. Trout start to shut off feeding at 65 degrees fahrenheit, and fishing for them at 67 degrees and over can become lethal. As water temperatures rise, the levels of dissolved oxygen decrease, and fighting fish in these conditions can kill them. Imagine being in a boxing match while breathing through a straw… even after a short fight, you wouldn’t be in great shape. “Roping up” or using stronger tippet to reduce fight time, fishing higher in the system, fishing brushy tributaries that are shaded, and switching to targeting warm water species like bass, panfish, and carp are ways to mitigate fish harm. 65 is the magic number you want to remember, if your thermometer reads 65, moving spots may be smart.
The biggest players in terms of hatches recently are: Pale Morning Duns (PMD’s), Gold Stones, and assorted summer caddis. Yellow sallies may also be present along with the slight possibility of some green drakes in the upper river. Gold Stones can be seen fluttering in the afternoon through the evening laying their eggs in tailouts. Pale Morning Duns can be found hatching in the mornings, and a hatch of Pale Evening Dun’s will come off in the evenings. Assorted caddis are currently making streamside vegetation home, and will be active throughout the day. The caddis, like other bugs will be more active in the evening. Yellow Sallies can be seen zipping around the river mid-day into the evening. The occasional green drake hatch will be found very high up in the system on particularly cloudy or cool days. Lastly, in burn areas that are in recovery, there are a significant amount of grasshoppers. Fishing a terrestrial mid-day can be productive, especially on windier days.
Fishing a Dry Dropper is an extremely effective searching strategy this time of year. Fishing a larger Golden Stonefly imitation with a #12-16 sized nymph suspended a few feet below is the way to do it. Larger foam dries for a dropper rig include: Double Stack Chubby Chernobyl #6-10, Water Walker #8-10, or a Morrish Hopper #8-12. Some great small nymphs to tag below follow: Jigged Frenchie #12-14, Jigged Fullback Napoleon #12, or a Weiss’s Possum Anchor Jig #12. If fish seem more interested in your fly on top, removing your nymph, and tagging a small dry from the same piece of tippet is a quick swap and a productive way to fish two dries. Tagging a PMD or small caddis behind my larger fly has been productive for me.
Dry fly fishing has been best during the mornings and especially the evenings. The mayfly of interest this time of year is the Pale Morning/Evening Dun (PMD/PED). It is a small pale-yellow mayfly sized 16-18. They are active in the mornings, and have a strong hatch from the afternoon into the evening. Here are some great patterns to imitate them if you come across a hatch: Sparkle Flag PMD #16/18, Sparkle Dun PMD #16/18, or a Parachute Extended Body PMD #16/18. PMD’s often hatch in abundance so fishing an emerger or cripple pattern can help your fly stand out. You may also catch a PMD spinner fall in the evening. You may see a cloud of mayflies bouncing up and down, they will eventually fall to the water dead after they spawn. Fishing a PMD Loopy that we have in the shop, or a PMD/Rusty spinner if you tie your own flies can be very effective to mimic a spent PMD spinner. If you are fishing very high on the upper mckenzie you may see a green drake or two, especially if it is a cloudy or cooler day. Although the hatch is at its tail end, having a few of the following is not a bad idea if you know you will be fishing up high: DJL Green Drake #10 or Hairwing Green Drake Dun #10/12.
Gold Stones are out in full force, these are some shop favorites: Double Stack Chubby Chernobyl #6-10, Water Walker #8-10, Burkus Bearback Gold Stone #8, or a Clarke’s Gold Stone #8/10. Yellow Sallys are small stoneflies that will be active mid-day and into the evening. They make a great searching pattern, try these: Silvey’s Yellow Sally #12-16, Front End Loader #16, or J’s Hi-Tie Sally #14. Assorted caddis will be around all day, but most active in the evenings. Here are the hot caddis patterns currently: Elk Hair Caddis Brown/Tan #12-16, Masquerade Caddis Brown/Tan #14/16, or Miller’s Clueless Caddis #14. Lastly in burn areas along the Mckenzie, there are lots of hoppers in the tall grass. Fish are starting to eat more terrestrials as we progress through summer. Ants, beetles, and hoppers will become a staple in their diet, especially on smaller tributaries: Moorish Hopper #8-12, Grillo’s Hamburgler #12, Dry Humper/ Hippy Stomper #12/14, or CFO Ant #12/14.
Nymphing is a great way to make it through the heat induced mid-day lull. Running a double nymph rig with slim bodied jigged nymphs in sizes 12-16 will be sure to produce fish. Here are some must haves: Jigged Frenchie #12-14, Jigged Rainbow Warrior #14/16, Jigged Hot Butt Hare’s Ear Nymph#14/16, Pennington D Rib Golden Stone #12, or a Weiss’s Possum Anchor Jig #12. Swinging soft hackles can be productive this time of year whether there is a hatch or not. PMD and Caddis patterns like these are most appropriate: Partridge and Orange #14/16, PMD Soft Emerger #16, Light Cahill #14, Sparkle Caddis Pupa #14, or a Green Soft Hackle #14-16.
Flows on both of our local rivers are conducive for a float, or walk-and-wade fishing. Dry fly fishing has been great, trout are looking up for a number of insects. The fish are stressed enough with warm water, and summer angling pressure, so if the water is above 65, give our friends a break and find some colder water upstream. Feel free to swing by or give the shop a call if you need anything, we are happy to help!