I will never tire of finding beautiful fish like this on the Deschutes. They fight so hard because they have to fight against such a massive river.
The only fish I found were hanging in the faster riffles and they were taking big flies. The one in the fishes mouth above is a size 8 Ice Dub Prince (learn to tie it here). I have had a great trout fix, now I am off to try for Steelhead again.
Trout season is starting to slow. In all fairness it is November first so it is time, right. Soon I will have to hunker down and get started on my winter fly tying extravaganza to get my boxes replenished for spring. I try to go after steelhead and salmon in the winter but I just can’t muster as much excitement for them as I do for trout. I am sure most of it is that I understand trout more and that I like catching more then one fish every 1,000 casts.
I went to the McKenzie on October 31 and had a fun day with my wife and daughter. It is really great to take my wife along as she likes to take photos so I come back with more then just me holding the fish out and trying to take a fast photo so I can get it back in the water (see almost all photos in my other posts). She took this one of me tying on a new fly:
Speaking of flies, the fish were SUPER picky. I saw larger mayflies on the water and the fish were hitting them hard but I could not figure out what the fish wanted to see. I tried all the usual suspects with no luck. So I waded out to the top of my waders and waited for one of the mayflies to float near me and grabbed it off the water. It looked like a BWO but darker so I matched as close to the size as I could but unfortunately I didn’t have the right darkness of fly but, hey, that is why I carry a black sharpie in my vest. I got the parachute BWO nice and dark and threw it out and found this nice 15″:
I love the color of wild McKenzie trout. The last fish of the day was on a #12 BH flashback pheasant tail and as soon as the fish starts to move in the water you can just tell they are not wild by there lack of fighting and there colors. Compare this hatchery fish (that I took home to eat) to the wild above:
BTW: Oregonflyfishingblog.com has a great list of what you can do to help out wild fish in the McKenzie. Check it out here.
After the day of fishing we swung by Ike’s and I got my favorite Trout Special pizza (mushrooms and sausage) and my wife got broasted chicken. If you find yourself on McKenzie Highway near Vida, OR I recommend both, especially after a day fishing. As we sat there eating all the power went out suddenly and the eerie glow of the battery powered jack o’ lanterns near by illuminated our table. We packed up in the dark and headed towards home just to find the highway closed five miles down from a car that had hit a power pole and brought the lines down on the road. The emergency workers told us it would be hours before the road was open but seeing as we were low on gas we got in the queue and waited our turn after 15 to 30 minuets of waiting we were on our way. The delay from the accident put us back home after 11 so we missed all the trick or treaters. To bad we weren’t giving out candy this year or we would have had a nice stash.
To close, one more great photo from my wife (thanks for the camera mom and dad):
The upper McKenzie was nice on Thursday but the fishing was extremely sporadic. I showed up about 10:30am and had a few really nice fish on #12 Parachute Adams that I tied a little mahogany dubbing into. Four nice 16-18 inch fish like this one in an hour:
But then it was dead for two hours or more. You could see a few fish rising around but they were not taking anything I was offering. In the afternoon I switched over to nymphing with a #16 BH flashback pheasant tail and a #18 mercury pheasant tail lower. They were nailing the mercury pheasant tail the whole afternoon all the way until the sun went down:
I dropped off my wife and child at the airport Saturday morning so they could go see the Grandparents in Virgina and I was going to have to work on Sunday, and again several times at the start of the week, so I thought it best to make a mad dash down to the McKenzie. After a 2.5 hour drive that I probably did to fast due to excitement I got to my favorite spot and saw Ed fishing there already. Ed is either 82 or 84 years old (depending on which story he his telling) and is the happiest fly fisherman I have met. I have met with him several times in the same area and he is always super excited when anyone gets a fish. He loves to carry on with stories and encouragement and this last time he walked 200 feet up the river just to show me the fly that he caught a fish on.
So Ed was fishing upstream a way and I ran down to the river trying to run line through the ferrules. I put on one of the #12 Parachute Adams that I had tied the night before and had a fish strike hard on the third cast.
A few cast later I had another one on. And then it was dead for an hour and a half. Even Ed was starting to wonder what in the world the rising fish were taking. All around you would hear hard takes and I was fishing my Parachute Adams as hard as I could. Then I put on a #10 Orange Stimulator and that did the trick. Ed was super excited and was dying to see what fly I had caught the fish on. He promptly switched over to a Stimulator and got two in a half hour. While I was standing talking to Ed I noticed several large fish rising farther up the river in the rapids. I snuck up towards the area and crept out into the river and cast from behind a rock to the fish. On my third cast I got another 14″ like the one I got earlier and then a few casts later another. Then the fish lost all interest in my Stimulator. I cycled through a few other dries and then did something I rarely do on the McKenzie, I put on nymphs. The top was a #8 Ice Dub Prince and the bottom a #16 Flashback Pheasant Tail. Both I had tied that morning (and I am tying more now they were that great).
I found a nice little deep run and started working from the closest out. About half way out I found a really nice fish. A few casts later, and a few feet farther out, I caught a really hard fighting 15″ on the Flashback Pheasant Tail.
I let that fish off and threw my line out to get ready to cast and got slammed on the Ice Dub Prince.
(I love how that fish looks like he just told a great joke.)
The fish were getting larger and larger through the day . How perfect. Then I saw the salmon starting to move around. The monsters were easily 24″ and made my little rainbows look like fingerlings. I thought about going up to get my 5 weight rod because I wasn’t sure what I would do if I got into one of those fish on a 3 weight but there is just no time to worry about such things, so I fished on. A few fish later I got into my favorite fish.
I had been noticing a really nice area on the other side of the river and so I waded, probably to far, into the river and cast over to it.
You really can’t tell from the photos but the thing was shaped like a football and really gave my 3 weight a work out. I fished on after that but the day was getting late and the fishing had slowed.
On one of my last cast I threw the line straight up the riffles in front of me and to my surprise there was a huge salmon chasing my flies back out of the riffles. The fish was headed straight towards me and I got a great look at him but unfortunately I think it got a great look at me and headed back up to the safety of the riffles. I want to head back down there soon with the Ice Dub Prince and Pheasant Tails I am tying now—and I think I will use my 5 weight this time—just in case.