While the mountain pass was a white-out of blowing snow on Monday as we transited to the Metolius, but only the shadows still held snow alongside the river when we slipped into our waders at Wizard Falls.

As we hiked the trail upriver, it was evident that the earth was working hard to absorb the snow melt, and under our boots, mud replaced ice as the dominant slippery surface. Wading staffs now became walking sticks, steadying our footfalls as we worked our way to favorite spots.

While not dropping precipitation, the weather front we encountered on the mountain did present itself with gusty winds from all directions and chilly temperatures. Not entirely the condition that was forecast, but the condition we found ourselves dealing with. As the saying goes, "forget the forecast," and we were adequately layered for the occasion.

The first pool we planned to fish had a freshly planted ponderosa pine that, after several hundred years, finally fell victim to wind, weather, and time, cutting this productive pool in half and adding to the challenge. Of course, the swirling winds didn't help, but there were other places to fish.

By the time we reached the next pool, BWOs were starting to pop to the surface to briefly ride the current before taking flight. Soon, splashy rises began on the current seam as Trout were pulled to the surface by the hatching Mayflies. We added 6x tippet to our leaders and plucked likely patterns from stuffed fly boxes. I started with a size 18 BWO Comparadun and watched as naturals were pucked from around it, leaving my offering untouched.

Even in perfect conditions, the presentation is challenging when light tippet is required. Swirling currents, gusting winds, and timid Trout didn't deter our efforts, but it also didn't prove to be fruitful. No matter; it was a beautiful hike with patches of snow breaking up the muddy earth and an aquamarine river running alongside the trail, reminding us that spring is still in the making on this side of the mountains...

Day two found us waking up just outside of Bend, and seeking nourishment at the Original Pancake House before heading to the Fall River, a favorite haunt of Jennifers but one I have visited only once, and that was decades ago. Finally, the weather was more comfortable, with a bright blue sky overhead but not the forecasted clouds we hoped would encourage a hatch. We found the river still surrounded by snow, with only bare patches where the sun had chased it away.

Somehow we missed our turnoff, so we turned in at the hatchery, where the resident lunkers were entertaining a pair of anglers from out of town who tempted them with a variety of bead-head creations with no success. Having a phobia about fishing so close to hatchery ponds, we opted to hike into the one spot I knew farther upriver. As with my first visit, the snow made the hiking perilous, hiding beaver holes, downed branches, and other trip hazards. We found a few fish hanging out under fallen timber, but the bright sun kept insects from popping, and it was apparent to both of us that this was a lost cause. While Jennifer tested the resolve of one local Trout, I launched my new drone in hopes of filming the action that was not to be. It was time to head back to the Metolius.

The five-mile hike on Monday in boots and waders discouraged a similar exercise, and since we had logged a few miles already that morning, we opted to fish a little closer to the truck.

Bridge 99 is a well-known landmark and a great jump-off point for the lower river. On this day, it seemed more popular considering the time of year, but we wadered up and watched Trout sipping Mayflies in the big eddy from the bridge. I have had some success presenting in this target-rich environment in the past, but not on this day. One beautiful nose-rise to a size 20 BWO was the best I could do; the minuscule hook failed to find a hold in the large Trout, and that was that. We shot photographs, ate cookies, and enjoyed the beauty found in this ancient pine forest, dreaming of the warmer days to come.



If you plan to make the trip over to the Metolius, pack plenty of small Mayflies, a few "October Caddis," and maybe some Bull Trout streamers... and if the mood hits you, your Euro Nymph rod. While we live for the dry fly take, it is not always the most productive, and I'm sure subsurface action would have been a better option given the conditions. 

Note: The Camp Sherman Store is not yet open on weekdays, nor is Ola, the Mexican restaurant in Camp Sherman. We found great margaritas and fantastic food in Sisters at Rancho Viejo. Try the Sea Enchiladas...and, of course, the margaritas.

23 Mar 2023
Don Mayfield
loved the read thanks
Leave a comment