Football is good for fishing
Last updated 10/24/2023 at 10:21am
I love college football season.
I'm a University of Oregon grad, and I love my Ducks. I root for the Beavers when they're not playing the Ducks.
I never, ever root for the Huskies.
I love the packed, noisy stadiums, the tailgating, seeing old friends - and the thrills of the game.
But my favorite thing about college football season is the lack of anglers on our Sisters Country rivers and lakes. So many people are home watching the games or traveling to games!
I mostly love college football season because of all the solitude - and relaxed, aggressive trout - on the water.
Just a week or so ago, I abandoned ESPN and headed for the Metolius River. The Metolius is one of the most famous rivers in the Northwest - and rightly so. It's the prettiest river in Oregon or Washington, and the wild trout are big, gorgeous, and hard to catch.
The fish are picky and difficult because the clear water - as transparent as 33-degree vodka - shows them everything. These fish can take a long look at your fake fly - and the real naturals. I've seen them rise and refuse a real bug.
Crazy, crazy fun! We are so lucky to have the Metolius River so close.
Angling on the Metolius gets a bit easier when the crowds of anglers dive into the football season. Many of these fly anglers are among the best fly-fishers on the planet, and the resident Metolius rainbows - and a few browns - get very wary over the summer. But once this pressure eases during the football season, the trout get a little easier.
They're still not pushovers, but it's wonderful to creep up on a run or back eddy and find several nice trout feeding heavily on little olive stoneflies in the middle of the day. When the sun is beating down on the water.
It's even nicer when those trout tip up and slurp down your CDC caddis or X-Caddis in size 16 or 18.
On one recent afternoon, I found rising fish in many different spots - in back eddies, alongside fallen logs, in current seams, and tucked along the bank.
It's almost impossible to see these tiny stoneflies, as they often lie flat on the water. You can find clusters of these little bugs all over the streamside brush, grass, and shrubs. After a while, they will find you and start wiggling through your hair and under your shirt. These bugs are harmless, and, after a while, that vague tickling on the back of your neck is a sign to tie on the right fly and creep along the river looking for risers.
These stoneflies are always falling in the water. Sometimes you'll see them skittering across the water in a flurry of beating wings.
The trout always notice these bugs.
Lost and remembered
I was at a part of the Metolius where biologists have recently stacked sweepers of fallen trees into the river. These fallen trees slow the current and give trout lots of top-notch cover.
The trout expect to see little plive stoneflies fall into the river from the tree trunks, so I like to kneel on the bank and wait for a rise. Then I cast my fly. Lots of times, the fish makes a mistake and eats my fly.
On this day - which stretched into evening - I kept finding trout that ate my flies, well after my Ducks started playing Texas Tech.
One amazing trout ate my tiny fly, rolled on the surface - giving me a good look at its thick, shimmering, brassy side with a big red stripe - and then torpedoed downstream and broke me off. Chills ran down my back. I hope I see this big fish again before bowl season gets here.
By the time I got home, the Duck game was over. I turned ESPN back on and watched the game highlights. Later, as I closed my eyes to sleep, the image of that big fish sipping down my fly played over and over in my mind.
Yes, I love college football season.