The Babbling Brook

Late Winter/Early Spring Metolius Fishing Report | March 6

Warren Snyder
Hello anglers and friends of the Metolius river.

I was on the river this past Weds. the 29th of Feb. The river is in great shape,(clarity/height as usual) hit the section between the hatchery and Lower Bridge. Lots of little black stones size 14-16, some BWO small 18-20's, and lots of very large Caddis bugs 6-8, not sure of the species, out and about. Did not see many rises, so fish were mostly caught on B.H. P.T. nymphs size 16-18, small B.H., hares ear and little black stone nymphs, a few anglers were hooking into Bulls with large streamer patterns, overall was a great day.

**(come by the store/fly shop Fri-Sun. to get the Metolius Bull trout streamers designed by the locals).

The Upper Metolius | December 23

"On the Metolius with Gary"

With the sun hidden behind Green Ridge, we eased up the east bank to a spot where the river made a left turn. Here, the current had carved out a channel beneath a ridge of lava and the currents at the top ran faster than the water on the bottom.

Too early in the morning to see into the water, I imagined blue-gray shapes, like armed torpedoes, stacked in the hole, the biggest ones in the best lies.
With the spring runoff, the river was bank-full, at least a foot higher than summertime flows. On the far side of the riffle, eddies pulled water like lengths of rope, this way and that way.

It’s useless to fish an indicator in such water. Even with a weighted fly, most drifts would run my offering two or three inches below the surface.
But these fish hadn’t seen a fly in almost seven months and they wouldn’t be picky. To my 4x tippet, I knotted a weighted No. 10 Carey Special and cast far upstream to let the water pull the fly and line under.

There had to be a line, a seam that would pull the fly down. On the 10th cast, the riffle at the head of the pool pulled the fly deep. As the fly drifted toward me, I stripped in line and then as it swept by, I paid it out. Deeper this time, the leader shivered and I lifted the rod to see the end of my fly line rip toward mid-river.

Stung, the trout arced above the surface and blasted upstream then downstream and across the current to pull me into the branches on the other side. To turn it, I dropped my tip and let the downstream drag pull it away.

A minute later, it was over and the trout lay in the net, 16 or 17 inches of native Metolius rainbow, darkly spotted, a brilliant red sash.

We took turns then, and worked the ledges and the cutbanks, tied tinier tippets and smaller, heavy nymphs as the sun climbed higher.

June brings bugs to the surface as the water warms and longer days spur insect activity.

Now the fish grow selective on a diet that brings carpenter ants on the current, and green drakes, blue-winged olives, pale morning duns, brownish green stoneflies and golden stones.

An angler should be ready with dry flies to match a hatch, but nymphs will turn more trout into takers over the course of a season. Through June and into July, a good bet is to run a No. 10 Golden Stone nymph in tandem with a No. 16 mayfly nymph imitation. That big bug will roll with the current and trout will often key on the pattern as it looks like the naturals that make their way toward shore and short adulthoods.

We too, in our short adulthoods, made our way back down the bank.

Morning light filtered through pine needles. Currents shifted, to conceal then relent then conceal again, reluctant to reveal the blue-gray shadows that held low in the water column, fins aquiver, tails in constant motion.

Tiny nymphs, bound in peacock, mylar or pheasant tail, weighted with tungsten, brass or wire, drifted close, tempted trout. We brought several more to hand in an hour.
At the end of it, smug with success, we saluted a lone fisherman, knee-deep in a nice run. Another pair stood at the back of their pickup, stringing rods, ready to take to the water. Next weekend, the crowds would come. For an hour, on opening morning, we had the river to ourselves.

Gary Lewis is the host of “High Desert Outdoorsman” and author of “John Nosler — Going Ballistic,” “Black Bear Hunting,” “Hunting Oregon” and other titles.
Contact Lewis at