Fly Fishing Predictions for Oregon May/June
In Oregon, long range weather forecasts for May are cooler and wetter than average, but June and July are warmer and drier than normal as the Pacific Ocean continues in El Nino. Snow packs in the Willamette, Sandy, Hood and Deschutes drainages are from 50% to 69% of average. This means that late spring water flows will be below average and aquatic insect hatches are liable to be sped up. Summer steelhead and spring Chinook runs should be on time, and fish will move upstream at normal speeds. All in all, fishing should be pretty good, but don't put away your rain jacket until June.
Deschutes River Trout
Deschutes River water flows are finally down to fishable levels, but still a little on the high side. Big bugs are everywhere, and fish are looking up. This year, the salmonfly/golden stone hatch will extend into June. PMDs and PEDs are popping. Olive stone are egg laying in the afternoon. Big trout are prowling. The lower Deschutes went from zero to full-on in two weeks. Don't forget to drop in for some Chubbies. We know you are not going to be distracted from the Deschutes Salmonfly Hatch. It is just too good. But you might consider that the best fishing over there is in the evening, and where would you rather spend the hot part of the day, in the glaring sun of the desert or the shade of tall green trees?
Resident Trout on the West Side of the Cascade Mountains
Anglers and even local shops think that trout in Oregon are nearly all east of the Cascade Mountains. In the past that might have been true. The elimination of the put and take trout fisheries in our streams has had a very positive effect on wild trout populations. Are the local trout as large as Deschutes basin trout? Nope, or at least not on the average. But they are very cool just the same. We first started noticing pockets of larger fish about four years ago.
Keeping it quiet allowed them to prosper and multiply. It all started about 1990 when stream surveys done by U.S. Forest Service biologists disclosed that the resident trout population had dropped to about one adult per river mile. Hatchery trout, bait, and harvest were eliminated, as well as the hatchery steelhead program. Recovery was very slow at first, but has accelerated recently. Now, both rainbows and cutthroats are doing well enough to make things interesting. Dry fly, nymph, and streamer fishing occurs in many parts of both the upper Sandy and Clackamas watersheds.
With the predicted warm weather, Winged Carpenter Ant Queens and Olive Stoneflies will be the best hatches. March Browns can still be a factor at this elevation. Golden Stones and Salmonflies will also be in the dry fly mix. Don't forget your traditional dry flies, such as Parachute Adams, and Yellow Humpies. Trout Spey fishing with Sculpin patterns will produce surprises.
The roads to Trillium Lake (pictured above), Clear Lake and Timothy Lakes are all plowed, and the lakes are ice free. They are all fishing well according to reports. Leeches, and Woolly Buggers, Midges and Chironomids, are all worth having in your fly box for lake fishing. Fishing lakes is serene, and offers the chance of catching larger than average trout, especially if the angler has a set of both sinking and floating fly lines. Read about how to be successful on early season lakes.
So far, summer steelhead runs have been about average. That said, we are early in the season and there is no telling how many fish will actually be coming. There is a good possibility that water levels will remain low for the main stem Sandy River until the river turns off-color with glacial silt in July. This means that summer steelhead may stay dispersed in riffle water, where they will be vulnerable to surface Waking and Skating flies. who doesn't want to catch a steelhead on a surface fly? This could be the best surface fly fishing in years. It all depends on how many summer steelhead show up. Recently, the flows have remained a little cold and the fish have favored unweighted tube flies such as Mark's Tube Spey Intruders in both black/blue and red/orange. Fish as you would during the winter with Skagit Heads and Medium M.O.W Tips.
Seems that spring Chinook salmon enter our rivers when the water rises to a constant 50 degrees. That normally happens around May 20th. This year, it might be a little later because of cool nights. We are predicting that by June 1st there will be enough Chinooks in both the Sandy and Clackamas rivers to provide good fishing. The Clackamas warms before the Sandy does. Chinooks are moving in the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. They will be in all the tributaries soon. No matter whether you are after Chinooks locally, or going to Alaska or British Columbia, we've got a good stock of the Chinook Flies to catch them. Chinooks like the main flows, and hold more near the center of rivers than do steelhead. Using heavier gear and triple density Skagit heads, such as the Airflo F.I.S.T. can be keys to success. Larger Alaskan and B.C. kings demand larger gear and beefier reels. More info on fishing for Chinooks (kings).