News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Steve's big bull trout

I'm starting to think that the local trout were as eager for warm weather as the local humans.

I fish almost every day - and no place is better for a crazed fly angler than Sisters - and I've found trout happily rising almost everywhere since warm weather rolled in.

Sure, a lot of local rivers, especially the Crooked and the Lower Deschutes, turned into torrents of coffee-colored water - heavy on the milk - with snow runoff. The good part of this is that we're savoring a great water year, which is very, very good for the trout, especially on the Crooked River. And those two rivers are now dropping and clearing into good shape.

In the meantime, two great streams near Sisters - the Metolius and the Middle Deschutes - have been clear and easy to wade. The aquatic bugs have been emerging into winged insects, and the trout have been happy.

I've been finding sparse hatches of the famous green drake mayfly on the Metolius, and the trout are already looking for these big bugs, which are a size 10 or size 8. These green-and-yellow mayflies are the size of an old-school 50-cent piece, and the local redsides rainbow trout - and a few brown trout - love these big chunks of food.

The huge hatches, where big green drakes are floating all over the river and the trout go a little nutso, haven't really happened yet, but they will over the next few weeks. The bugs usually hatch out in the afternoons, and it's best to fish the river as much as you can - just to be there when a big emergence starts.

After the trout have seen a lot of big green drakes - and a lot of fake green drakes on the end of long, 4X leaders - the fish get pretty picky. You'll see big trout drift under your fly, eye it - and then swim away.

It's a good idea to carry a few different green drake patterns, especially flies that imitate a bug that is struggling to get off the water after it emerged from its nymphal body at the surface. Lots of mayflies get tangled up in a jumble of legs and wings when making the transition from an underwater bug to a winged insect, and fish like to eat them. They're just an easy meal.

And we all like easy meals, right?

Our local fly shop, The Fly Fisher's Place, stocks a bunch of great green drake patterns, and it's worth your time to drop by, look at the flies, and get the daily scoop on what's going on in our local rivers.

A big bull

Just a few days ago, I was wandering around the Metolius River and looking for rising trout when I came upon local angler Steve Vujnovich knee-deep in the world-famous Dolly Hole - and gripping a fly rod that was bent deeply into the cork handle.

The rod tip throbbed with the headshakes of a big bull trout.

Steve gave me a tense smile and kept that rod bent to tire out the fish.

I was standing higher up on the bank, away from the edge of the river, so, thanks to my polarized sunglasses, I could see deep into the water. The fish flashed - it looked like a big flash bulb going off - and then I saw the dark, thick sides of a really big fish.

Whenever I see another angler playing a big trout, I'm always tempted to offer advice, but I learned a long time ago to keep my mouth shut. Why? Well, it's not my fish, and the angler was skilled enough to hook the fish, so my advice would just sound dumb.

And of course, what if the angler followed my advice and lost the fish?

Steve didn't need my advice, and he soon had that big bull in the net. It was one of the biggest bulls I've seen in a while. Steve, now sporting a happy smile, posed for a very quick photo before returning the fish to the river.

Steve carefully held the fish until it swam out of his gentle grip. Then Steve kept an eye on the fish while it finned for a while near the bottom just a few feet away.

This fish really showed off Steve's skills, as it was hooked on a small nymph that was fished on a fairly light Euro nymphing rod.

Most Metolius anglers have hooked big bull trout on rainbow trout tackle. When this happens, we wish we were fishing a heavy 8-weight rod and hefty leader. On lighter tackle, it's much harder to play and land the fish.

But you have try to manage the fish with the tackle you've got. What else are you going to do?

"What a fish," Steve said, as the bull trout swam away into deep water. "What a fish."

 

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