ffpc-rods fly fishing blog


Central Oregon June 2014

Posted by Phil Hager on June 17, 2014 at 4:40 PM

Crooked River

June 4, 2014

     Tied up at accident Hiway 26 on Warm Springs just as leaving timber and hitting the flats. 18 wheeler of the road and down in a deep draw. Traffic blocked for 30+ minutes then slow travel until starting up hill out of Warm Springs. Got to Chimney Rock about 7:45. Watched the water for a while and saw a couple of decent rises but that’s all. No insects visible. Will fish it tomorrow and try out my little 18’s.

     Getting late so going to get some sleep. Probably try right here before breakfast. Reports to follow.


June 5, 2014

     Woke a little before 5 this morning, dressed and headed for the water before 6. Figured I’d walk upstream for a while then fish my way back down for breakfast. Started the day with the intermediate sink tip and a little 18, silver ribbed Midge. Not much action for most of the way back down until I got down to the island just below the next campground. I suddenly had a convincing urge that the best place to fish would be the slack waters. Good urge.

     Started working the slack water along the far bank and hit several little ones but not landing any. Have to get used to the size 18 barbless again after spending so much time with the bigger ones on the lakes. Waded across to the road side and worked that slack water and hit several nice ones but, again, didn’t land any. But that’s OK with me because of the much higher survival rate of the ones you don’t land.

     Had a quick breakfast then started working my way on down the river to see what I could find. Tried the little Midge for a while, switched to a tied down orange caddis, a tied down black caddis, GRHE, and several others all wet ones in grey, tan and green. Worked about 2 miles down the river and only had 2 more hits. Worked both the intermediate and floating line and both wet and dry flies to no avail. Getting warm by the time I got back for lunch about 1:30 so took a break and relaxed for a bit.

     5 PM headed back up the river, thinking about walking up to Big Bend but decided that was a little further than I wanted to travel in the heat so hit the 2 channel just below the island again. Got several nice ones one but did LDR’s again so no report on size or photos. Got pretty windy so pulled off the water about 7:30.

     One real aggravating this evening. Walked down to the deck on the water and was just watching a few swallows flit around and waiting to see if there were any rises. None of those but a bait fisher shows up and asks if I had caught anything there today. Told him no and he said he’d caught about a dozen. Casts out his line, hooks a nice fat 12 or 13 incher, yanks it up on the bank, grabs it with dry hands, stuffs his thumb and finger into it mouth, yanks out the hook and throws it back in the water. I left. Really hate to see that type of action and probably pretty safe to bet he had caught and killed 13 fish with that one added in.

     According to a biologist, now working for BLM, a recent electroshocking on the river revealed an approximate count of 7500 fish per mile including Redbands, White Fish and now, I guess, Bass.



Friday June 6, 2014 Deschutes Arm, Wickiup

     Hooked up the trailer and ran up to Big Bend but no place to park so pulled out and headed for Sheep Bridge. Got to the campground about 9 and took my time setting up. First thing I noticed was the wind here too. Not too bad but we’ll see how it develops as the day progresses.

     Put the pontoon together about 1 and headed up the Deschutes to see if I could get to the stream zone that was so good last year. Fought the wind and current up to the island only to find a buoy marker that shows “Angling Boundary” and “Fish channel restoration”. Have to check later and see how big the zone is and where you can fish the Deschutes between Crane and Wickiup. (Talked to a guy today and learned the “Angling Boundary” sign is to denote where the “no bait” section begins on the Deschutes above Wickiup. Said it was because too many people didn’t understand where the lake ended the river began and were using that as the excuse for using bait in the fly and lure only section. This in part because the lake opens in April but the "flowing" section of the Deschutes arm doesn't open until Memorial Day.)

     Floated back down and started working the quiet water. Found lots of green slime growth just about everywhere from the edge of the brush on the upper end down to the bridge abutment. Tried floating, intermediate and Type 3, everything from size 18 Midges to some size 6 for the big browns. Had one bump from what felt like maybe a 6” to actually hooking one about 4” for about 2 seconds. Not only are there lots of slime growth clumps floating around but the algae/plankton bloom is thick enough you could only see about 3 feet into the water.

     Gave up about 7 and had some dinner. Tomorrow Hosmer!

Saturday June 7, 2014 Hosmer

     Launched a little before 6 this morning and it was nice. The parking lot was empty and nobody else on the water, a few ducks swimming around, clear skies and the sun not quite up and on the water yet. Saw a few rises but they were wide spread and I headed for the upper lake.

     From the time I entered the channel, until I reached the upper lake I don’t think I saw more than a dozen fish so I went “exploring” and rowed my way clear into the upper channel. No fish seen after traveling a short distance there so I headed back down to the upper lake to see what I could find there. My “spot” in the upper lake proved to be a good one for Brookies, Atlantics and the Rainbows with three all being fat and healthy.

     Using my sinking line, and my DKDC Hosmer Special, I did very well on all three soon enough that it was time to start experimenting with other flies and techniques. By then the sun had been on the water for a short time and the surface action had started so I went to my floating line and a size 16 skinny Caddis pattern in dark brown. First cast and immediate hook up with a Rainbow. They have grown well in a short time because of the food quality available. Fat and very active 13” was the first, of 7 or 8, and really surprised me with the actions it took on hook up. The Brookies and Atlantics had been their usual action style with some solid runs, hard pulls and a few quick turnarounds. The Rainbows were a whole different action with really fast darting from side to side, breaking the water with flashy jumps, quick dives and hard core determination when they were brought in closer and closer. Some great actions that made them a real pleasure to play for a few minutes. As this was happening the wind was increasing, and finally got to the point that I was kicking full time to maintain my position ( it was even dragging my 10 lb chain anchor thru the silt) so I decided to head back to camp and something to eat. I noticed there were more than a few kayakers and paddle boarders in the upper lake by this time.

     Got back to the parking lot, pulled off my gear and set it in the rig then waited for about 15 minutes for some people to finish unloading and set up before I could pull out, back in to the ramp and load my pontoon. Lot was completely full and even a few rigs parked along the road above the parking area.

     Waited until about 6 and decided to try the Deschutes arm at Wickiup again, above Sheep Bridge, but saw no action because of the cloudy water conditions. I don’t think I could see more than maybe a foot into the water so gave up about 8 and called it a day.

Sunday June 8, 2014

     Walked over to the Deschutes arm this morning to see if there was any fish action to note. Glad I did because at the back end of the camp, looking across the river arm to the little island, I saw quite a few rises in the shallow water around the island. Decided I’d fish that area today and see if anybody from the UVFF showed up. Glad I made that decision.

     When I rowed over to the little island, and made my first cast, it turned out I was in for a bit of a surprise. I was set up using the intermediate sink tip line and a small, off white with tan hackle wrap at the head, size 16 nymph and it had not settled more than couple of inches when the first hit happened and the fish took off fast and strong. The real surprise came the first time it broke the surface and turned out be about a 17” whitefish. It turned out that this is what had been rising around the island and the little cove just up from it.

     For those not familiar with the whitefish it’s a member of the Grayling family and is referred to, at least by many of those I know, as the torpedo fish because of its design. Pretty much shaped like a piece of pipe from the head to the final taper just before the tail. It is known for strong fighting but mostly stays down in the water and runs strong. It is also usually found hugging the bottom and feeds on the initial emerging insects there. These were very aggressive, grabbing the emergers just before, and as they hit, the surface. Made for some very interesting tactics when it came time to play them with the jumping that several of them did between runs.

     Caught several, with the biggest just over 19”and fished the area for an hour, or so, before heading up the Deschutes arm to see what I could find. The next area, where I know some Browns to hold, had several people bank fishing so moved above the bridge abutment to see what might be there. The water was beginning to clear and didn’t find anything in the usual holding spots so quit about 1 and went back to camp to get out of the sun.

     Went back out in the evening and found the water even clearer than this morning but, because of the rapid change in water clarity, only hit a few more on a size 16 black, flat winged, Caddis style and small green, with hackle wrap collar, before calling it a night. Tomorrow, Davis Lake, before the wind kicks up again.

Monday June 9, 2014 Davis Lake

     Got to Davis bright and early, just a soft breeze out of the west, and was ready to launch when one of the campers came down asking for info on Davis and other local waters. Finally got in the water just before 8 and headed south along the lave rocks. Saw 5 Bass on the way out, holding in the channel to the lake, and they all looked pretty healthy. Would “guestimate” them to be in the 3-5 pound range with their sizes.

     Didn’t see any action for maybe 15 minutes and had worked my way out a ways when I heard the first splash back towards the reeds. Looked up and saw a second one break the surface before it turned into a major activity with slurping and rolling over maybe a 250 X 250 foot area. This was out from the reeds about 100 feet and out from the rocks about the same distance. I immediately headed in that direction while changing from my sinking line and a Bass streamer to a floating line. Figured I’d wait until I got in the area and see if I could see what was rising, or at least some shucks, to get an idea on color and size they were chasing. Unfortunately I didn’t get there fast enough and didn’t find anything to give me a clue as to what was happening.

     From there I worked my way about halfway down to the eagle ramp before the wind started kicking up so I headed back for the rocks by traveling along the reeds. Did not see a single fish on the way back and pulled out about noon.

     Headed back to camp for lunch but stopped by the Davis Creek arm on Wickiup to check that out. The wind was kicking up pretty good there too but did see some worth checking out tomorrow. Lauren, a member of UVFF arrived and set up and we made plans for tomorrow. Wanted to show him some good fishing so decided to hit the Davis Creek arm tomorrow.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014 Davis Creek Arm, Wickiup

     Ran over to the Davis Creek arm but didn’t find what I saw yesterday. There had been maybe a dozen Browns hanging in the inflow from the ground feed but this morning it was several schools of whitefish and some of these weren’t small ones. We both saw several that we would figure at 24”, at least.

     There was the first group, a couple dozen or so, right in the fast flow. Below that, where it gets a little slower and deeper, was a group of 75-100, circling around in a maybe 40’ wide circle. Travel another 100’ feet down the channel to an even bigger group. The last group, maybe another 25-30, was in the channel just out from the little grass cluster. Some were caught in each group using a small Royal Coachman, a GRHE, a size 18 black & white midge nymph and a couple others that were light in color. It seemed if it was very light in color, or had some white on it, it worked.

     Worth the time and effort because I like the way they fight! Tomorrow, Crane at Quinn River.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014 Crane Prairie, Quinn River

     Put in at Quinn River this morning. Saw nothing moving until we got out to the cl thru the snags still standing. One guy floating around a couple hundred feet into that channel, appeared to be Chironomiding, hit several nice looking Kokanee but that was all. Tried just about everything I had and touched nothing. Gave up on that area and started working my way towards Cow Camp, exploring more than fishing.

     Couple of notes worth making. What had been a major log float, for the last couple of years, is no longer there. It seems that the snags had been standing long enough to lose the soft fiber that helps them float and the log jam is pretty much on the bottom now. Some of the area that was a couple hundred feet wide is as few as two or three logs wide now. All of the cover that had provided the fish is now nearly completely gone and they are out in the open. Should make for some pretty good fishing.

     Got about half way to Cow Camp and had rowed and kicked my way over into the shallow water, and some of the downed trees that have brush growing on them, when the rises started. Quit looking long distance and started watching the water around me and was pleasantly surprised by the size of the Cranebows I saw swimming low water and feeding on the hatch. Again, tried several different patterns without much action until I saw a long, slim, translucent green, damsel nymph climbing up my leg. Had 4 that were similar and put one on. That hit the water and lasted about 10 seconds. Really hard hit and instant tangle in sunken logs. Same thing happened to the next 2 and I wanted to save the last one I had so I could tie some more. Very demanding on color and size while I was there. Tried several other Damsel nymphs that I had but got no action on any of them. Next time up I will go back to that spot and see what I find.

     Wind was getting fairly strong so finally gave up and headed back over to Quinn ramp and then to camp. Finished the day with a couple hours in the evening on the Deschutes. Water clearing nicely but I think it will be a few more days until the fish adjust to the clarity and become more active.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

     Decided to run back up to Hosmer this morning and show Lauren the spot on the upper lake that I’ve found so productive. Good decision.

     First, noticed on the way up the channel that there were a few more that had moved up there than there were the other day we were here. Second, by 7 the wind was already kicking up a bit and it had not warmed up as much. A few clouds scudding by and a thin, higher, layer was keeping the sun from getting thru as well. Glad I had worn some polar fleece over my regular clothes this morning. Hands still getting a little stiff from the cold though.

     Got into the upper lake area and my first actual cast, after “trolling” the fly getting up there. Made the whole effort worthwhile. Didn’t get a look at the first one, but it was a hard fighter from the hook-up. Had that one on a minute or so before it got off, pulled the line snug and on the second twitch I had another one on. This one was a nice Atlantic about 17”. Had released that one when Lauren finally caught up and my next cast brought in a nice Cranebow at about 2 ½ pounds. Released that one, then remembered my camera in the side pocket, and discussed tactics with Lauren. I’d head up to the upper end of the zone and he’d start at the lower end. As we fished he’d work up the slot and I’d work down. Once set up neither of us moved much for at least an hour because of all of the action. Both of us were using a small, maybe 10 3X long, medium grey leech pattern and hitting all three families of fish. (Brookies, Cranebows, Atlantics)

     We worked that area for about 3 hours before we were both cold enough we decided it was time to leave. Wind had picked up enough it was dragging my 10 pound chain anchor thru the silt again and the day had not warmed up much. Hit a few more on the way back down the channel, considered checking out the outlet side but the wind killed that idea, and worked our way back to the ramp, hitting a few small Cranebows in the lower lake. Actually got off the water about 1 again.

     Lauren wanted to check the RV service at Lava so we stopped by there to check it out, on the way back to camp. While there we walked down to the dock and I pointed out several good fishing areas to hit the next time he was up, and it wasn’t white capping. Also stopped by Little Lava and pointed out several areas there. Also noted that it’s not a bad little lake to fish when the winds come up and waves start bouncing you around on Lava.

     Didn’t fish this evening because of the clouds, some sprinkles and some pretty stout winds. Guess we’ll wait until tomorrow and see what the weather brings before we head out.

Friday June 13, 2014

      Guess the day/date says it all. Friday the 13th. Cold, rainy, windy with some real strong gusts. Time to sit in the trailer and tie a few then go over to the camp of a guy I met several years ago here and see who can tell the biggest fish story. Don’t like going out when it’s raining and winds are gusting to 25 or 30 mph. Not comfortable on a pontoon in those conditions.

     Went out in the evening when it quieted down and worked from the upper area of the Deschutes arm of the lake, down past the bridge abutment and down to the far end of the campground to take out and wheel back to camp. Sudden pressure change, stormy weather, saw no action what so ever.

     Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Saturday June 14, 2014

     The sky is in better shape this morning but still some wind with gusts, but not as bad as yesterday. Decided to go back over to the Davis Creek arm and see how things are there. Might not have as much wind and the fishing was pretty good the other day. Besides Lauren said he had never done whitefish before the other day and enjoyed how strong they fought. Sounded good to me.

     Got over to the campground and quite a few people were camping there so we left, ran down the side road and then down to one of the “dispersed” campsites right on the arm. Launched and headed up towards the inlet to see if it was still offering the schools that were there the other day. Not as many, and not as active, but still worth going after. Worked the upper waters for a bit then headed down the arm, past where we had launched, to see what other action we would find. Hit a number of nice, healthy, and decent sized whitefish in addition to some nice Kokanee. If there size now is any indication there should be some good sized ones heading up to the spawning area this fall. Even had something hit hard enough that it popped my 6 pound tippet in just a second or so. What surprised me here was the same grey leech pattern we had used the other day on Hosmer seemed to work best here too. The real surprise was the number of whitefish that hit it, very aggressively, and managed to get it into their mouth on the strike. In the past I’ve usually seem them hooked from the outside, with hooks this size, but they were flat taking these in with no problem. Breezy and cold enough we pulled off about 1 and headed back to camp to clean up and get ready to pull out tomorrow. Glad I came though, despite the winds, rain and cooler than usual weather.

A closing thought

     I talked to several people that considered the whitefish to be a “trash” fish and best if thrown up on the bank. In part it had to do that they thought it was a member of the sucker carp family and, because of that, just something that took food from the trout and Kokanee.

     First, the whitefish in most of the lakes around central Oregon, are the Mountain Whitefish and is a member of the Grayling family.

     Second, they are about the only true, native fish, in those waters. (Going back to before the last ice age.) At one time it was about the only thing in the “local” waters

     Third, lots of folks have been told by others, who were told by others, who were told by some old timer that had never tried eating one, that they were foul tasting and bony as hell. None of those I talked to had ever tried eating one, so really didn’t know what they offered, and had always tossed them up on the bank. Next time you catch some, immediately clean and put on ice, like you should all cold water fish, then filet them out for cooking. When you cook it try the usual coating of eggs, flour and seasoning and some hot oil. Believe me when I say you will be pleasantly surprised with the crisp, mild flavor and the firmness of the white meat. It’s as firm and solid, when cooked right, as it is when you catch them and they live, pretty much, on the same diet as the other types in the same waters so they have the same flavor, just milder.

     If you have any questions, or want to add info, feel free to join the group. It will notify me if you want to join and I’ll take care of that ASAP.

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