This post has definitely gotten held up a bit by a busy life *3 weeks on the Olympic Peninsula for work...) and a fair bit of fishing. However here it finally is.
With fishing on the Metolius River a little slow and the Deschutes finally starting to drop, catching the salmon fly hatch was on our priority list. We arrived at the river in the late afternoon and found that the wind was howling and from talking to other anglers it sounded like the weather had really slowed the hatch and fishing down, so we decided to just hangout at our campsite, enjoy dinner and maybe do a little hiking up the river before dark to scout things out for the next day.
The mighty Deschutes
After dinner we headed up the river (without our rods) to do a little scouting after walking about a mile upstream we came to a descent looking spot and upon walking to the water's edge it was clear that the hatch was in progress as the grass along the bank was filled with adult salmonflies. Unsurprisingly Colton couldn't help himself and tossed one of the big bugs in the river.
It drifted maybe fifteen feet before disappearing with a swirl of water. Seeing a trout eat a big bug on the surface that is exciting, but after we witnessed this phenomena repeat itself several more times with different fish we couldn't resist the draw of fishing anymore. Unfortunately for us it was almost sunset already and we left the rods back at the campsite. So by the time that we got back with just ended up fishing at camp, however for just a few minutes of fishing we each got one on top, with Colton getting a smallish fish and me getting a nice about 15" redband. This was enough to get us psyched for the coming day and we made a plan to be up at the crack of dawn to have our choice of water in the morning.
As planned we were up at first light and headed straight to the stretch that we had found the night before. With the chilly morning temperatures the hatch typically doesn't kick in till around 10am or 11am, so we started out fishing nymphs and attractor dries and managed to get a few small fish. However we found that the way that the water flowed in this stretch made it extremely difficult to fish so we kept moving on in search of a better stretch.
About another mile upstream stream we found what we were looking for, with a run that had a nice riffle at the top, great structure along the bank and salmonflies everywhere. While the salmonflies were definitely abundant in this stretch of river it was still early and the hatch really hadn't fully kicked into gear yet.
As with the night before Colton tried the swimming salmonfly trick and flung one in the water and pretty much right away a fish rose and gulped it. Next we tried the same thing with an artificial and once again the fish rose to the fly, however after a short battle the fish came loose. Seeing the results of this and given that I the salmonflies were starting the land on us left and right I picked one off my neck and tossed it in. This one didn't get grabbed right away and just as I was about to give up on watching it a trout finally nailed it. The only problem was that the fish was in a pretty darn tough spot being under a tree with a couple of branches hanging down that made present a fly drag-free quite difficult. After a few tries though I got a good drift and hooked up with the trout. This fish put up a heck of a battle, but after a few runs the fish tired and I slid it into the net.
Me with a beautiful redband
Next it was Colton's turn and after working a feeding trout for awhile the fish finally rose to his fly and took it. This was a hot fish and made Colton work for it, but he had a good hook-set and after a few minutes we netted a beautiful 16" redband.
Colton with his big redband
Fishing was good in this stretch, but after a few fish and with most of the day still ahead of us we decided to do a bit more exploring. Even though we found a few nice fish this ended up being more leg work then fishing and it seems that the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence.
Great scenery upstream, not as good of fishing
After our little bit of exploring upstream, we headed back to the stretch that we had been working. By the time that we got back the hatch was in full swing, with salmonflies literally everywhere and plenty of egglaying adults in the air.
Trout's eye view
I started upstream at some water we had passed over in the morning and quickly found a pond of feeding fish. I got one nice on off the bat, but the rest of the fish seemed to be a bit picky and were keying in on fluttering salmonflies.
A nice Deschutes redband
With the fish being a bit finicky I switch to a PMX that would ride a little lower in the water, but also pulled the deer hair for the wing off to the sides so it looked like a fluttering adult. This did the trick after singling out a nice fish the rose just upstream against the bank I got a rise and hooked into a nice fish. This fish immediately took off downstream and stopped a couple of times, but kept turning and heading downstream. However after chasing it several hundred feet downstream it finally tired out I managed to land a beautiful about 17" fat redband.
My big trout for the day.
While we fished for a little longer and picked up a few more fish, before long the driftboat armada started to show up and while we had this stretch to ourselves pretty much all day now we were finding ourselves getting low-holed. This was our sign to call an end to a great fishing trip and a great weekend.
While were ready to go the excitement wasn't over as nothing gets my heart racing quite like surprise visit by a rattlesnake in the middle of the trail.