With the air getting warmer, so are our water bodies. I've had several inquiries about the Blitzen the past week. With the exception of the thunder storms pushing the stream up over 200 cfs a couple of times, the river is flowing in the mid-80 cfs range. Temperatures are mid- to upper 50's, to just below 70 degrees daytime, and rising with each passing day. If the trend continues, watch for warnings regarding stressed fish before too long.
And if you fish there, again....load up on mosquito repellant.
No recent reports from Chickahominy, however, I know some nice fish were caught there last week. Anticipate algae.
No reports from Krumbo.
Beulah is currently at 45% full, while Warm Springs is 53% this evening. No recent reports.
I haven't tossed a fly in a handful of weeks, however, did manage to bring this dude up from the depths. Unfortunately, I left the flies for surface black cod in the rig and didn't get a chance to cast to surface feeders last week. Maybe soon....
Now a few days into June, Harney County sees temps in the 70's and 80's in the forecast for the next couple of weeks, with only a couple days dipping into the 60's. This means to start filling the boxes with damsel flies, both nymphs and dries, for your stillwater excursions. The June Fly-of-the-Month will be a very simple to tie, and quite effective, damsel nymph. I hope to have the tying instructions up by Wednesday of this week.
No recent reports have come into the shop recently, and now that we've cleaned up from the 60-70 mph "straight line" winds which affected the area, hopefully locals can get back to fishing and I can hear some reports, since I'm not seeing myself getting out again this week. (I do hope to start posting some saltwater reports from the southern Oregon coast by the end of next week, however.)
Blitzen: 118 cfs as I write this, and a temperature of 65 degrees at 4:20 in the afternoon. It appears from the graph that while the water level is dropping each day, the daily "high" volume hits around 6 AM. Low temperatures have went up from the high 40's to 55 degrees over the past four days, with a steady increase in daytime high temperatures.
Fish Lake: The road opened last week. No reports.
Watch for snakes when in the area. I've already seen two rattlers on the road. And pack some good bug spray. And sunscreen. And water!
The strong winds the past week have hampered fishing efforts, although it appears that there should be a calm coming over the region starting Sunday. We can only hope!
USFS Lakes/Reservoirs: It appears that the lakes and reservoirs in the forest have held over, with fish in the 14-18" range being caught, along with their smaller cousins. Smaller flies seem to be working best, such as traditional Hare's Ear, Pheasant Tails, and other nymphs in #14-16. There have been some good chironomid hatches, too, so be prepared.
KRUMBO: Krumbo has been planted, however, there are larger fish being caught, which often isn't the case until a few weeks after the plant. I wish I could give you a good report from my time there with my father last weekend, however, after the winds suddenly picked up about 5 minutes after we launched the boat, pushing us hard to the far side of the lake, it became kind of miserable. In fact, we know that there were gusts at least over 30 mph....when there was a SNAP of an oarlock breaking. &%$%!! After tossing out two anchors to keep from being blown into the reeds, some Harney County ingenuity with a sliced up piece of anchor rope, and hard rowing back across the lake, I can't say we fished much at all. I did land one 12" trout while waiting for the gusts to subside (they never did), while my dad did hook a small planter. That was it. We plan on hitting it again this week. Two trips before that I had a wheel bearing go out of the little trailer I use for hauling around the pontoon. Lovely. All trailers have since had either new bearings installed or simply repacked. Hoping that's all for surprises for awhile...
Chickahominy: Fish continue to be caught as weather allows, with fish being found in the deeper, 8-12' of water. I haven't seen how much it's dropped the past two weeks, or if algae has started, so be prepared for the possibility.
Blitzen: The Blitzen did hit over 300 cfs this week, but is falling the past 24 hours as I write this, currently flowing at 172 cfs. If it keeps dropping, it should fish well on the fall. If it starts rising again, watch for days of little fluctuations or continual falling flows.
I hoped to give a report on the water level at Chickahominy before last weekend, however, between being quite busy at the coastal property (and an hour or two of fishing!), and not being able to access the site earlier this week, I wasn't able to keep my word. Apologies!
I did stop in to look at the water both coming and going from the area, and it appears it's in fine shape. For those who may have thought what appears to be the high water level for the spring is substantially above the current level, it looks like it's pretty close to the same height as it was at ice out, as that visible high water line is from last year...and before. I think we are good for the spring until things "green up" in the early summer. I think... I am hearing that fish caught this last week continue to be plugged with leeches, beetles, and a few snails. Plan accordingly.
The Blitzen is currently running at 120 cfs and holding fairly steady since hitting around 200 cfs a week ago.
The weather today has been everything from snow and ice coated ground (and vehicles) this morning, winds in the 20-30 mph range with higher gusts, flurries, sprinkles and anything but warm spells. No "great" weather in view, for over a day at a time, for about a week. Spring in Harney County!!
SO.....took my dad out to Chick Friday afternoon. The water has dropped this past week, and not sure why - maybe up to 2 feet...? It appears it dropped more this past week than previously from ice out. Very concerning, as we haven't had "evaporative" conditions. Still in good shape, clear, and fishing well when the weather permits!
I've had a couple of reports come in that Chickahominy fished quite well over spring break when the wind wasn't blowing. That's the norm for this time of year. I also had a report that the water level has dropped some over the last month, but no measurements on that to verify how much. I'm hoping to stop in and take a peek at the boat launch area on my way through in the morning, and will provide an update on the level by the weekend.
Reports also stated that the fish are fat, healthy, and full of leeches and beetles. Also heard some had some snails in the gut. This all shows that the standard flies - buggers, Prince nymphs, scuds - should all produce.
The Blitzen has been running fairly consistent between 75 and 85 cfs, so should be in good shape before runoff occurs. As always, I encourage those planning a trip to watch the USGS site for levels, and beware of rising flows or upcoming warm temperatures which will cause the water to get quite off color and normally any bite to turn off.
A new feature is being added to the website under STORE. Each month KCFS plans on sharing tying instructions for a Fly of the Month (FOTM), including info for purchasing finished flies. I can also help with purchase of materials. Since I have made quite the ruckus about the brown Woolly Bugger, and have been asked for instructions/suggestions for tying, that will be the FOTM for April.
The return of a winter cold spell we experienced the last couple of weeks was sufficient to put a solid sheet of ice on the local reservoir. With strong winds last week, and daytime temperatures in the modestly comfortable range, I thought that Chickahominy would be ice free, yet again, and invited my good friend and fishing/hunting partner to join me for a day of tight lines, good photo ops, and a chance to try some new fly patterns we have been working on.
Sometimes I should keep my thoughts to myself.
We arrived at the ice block at about 10:15, and found a bit of open water on the north side. As we donned waders and I beat my head against the window of the rig due to a rod which got wet in the case which caused the wood insert in the reel seat to swell such that I couldn't slide the "keeper" ring down to accept my reel, all due getting side tracked after the last trip out and not drying out my wading shoes stored in the bottom of my wader/gear bag, we saw that things were slowly opening as iced moved. About 80% of the surface was ice covered, and over the next couple of hours, we guessed another 10% or so opened up. That said, I'm guessing that it will be ice free again by mid-week, or at least by weekend. But then again, that's a thought I'm having....
Water clarity is amazing for that water body. I'm guessing at least 6 feet of visibility!
Unfortunately, and very surprising to us, the fishing was not good. We didn't touch a fish on any pattern tried. We did find that the arm on the highway side was open, and did see one fish come up near the mouth of it, however, numerous casts of a variety of flies had no bumps. We were, in a word, defeated. Not too many of those have occurred at Chick in the last 30-some years. We are racking this one up to fish being stuffed. But we are also wondering if the re-icing had some effect, coupled with a falling barometer and east/south wind. We all know that "fish bite the least when it blows from the east", and "fish close their mouth when the wind is from the south", right?
I did hear that the Blitzen fished fair one day this weekend, but then water color went bad with the slight warming. The flow is still rather low, but watch the USGS stream flow site (the link is on the home page here) to see what it's doing, and look for somewhat constant or falling flows.
Looking at the forecast, I'm seeing a drop in temps, thunderstorms and possible snow over the next few days. So after it settles, I'll just wait for "wind from the west, fish with a loaded vest".
Yep, That's how my hand felt after about 30 minutes of fishing Chickahominy Saturday evening. The stiff 30-some degree breeze blowing over wet hands made it painful. Sure, I've been there before. Many times. We all have! Sometimes I'm smart enough to bring gloves. Sometimes, I even tear open a package or two of the disposable hand warmers and have them activating as I pull on waders and rig up the fly rod. Sometimes...I don't.
I need to figure out why my gloves are not in my wader bag.
And I need to put some hand warmers in my wader bag. And sling pack. And vest. And anything else I may be bringing along, just in case.
So, after 20 or so minutes of fishing (more on the fishing report momentarily), I ventured back to the rig, sorted through the early season and unprepared gear, and found some toe warmers (more on the toes coming up, too). I figured if they can keep toes warm, they'll take the edge off the inferno in my fingertips. No go. Not an ounce of heat coming from them. Of course, they've probably been in my wader bag for several presidential administrations. Mental note made...
The hands got their initial dousing upon releasing a fat...no, FAT....15" 'bow on about my sixth cast. At the same time, I glanced over to see my son-in-law hooked up as well. The water is still cold, of course, so there were more head shakes and throbbing surges than line-peeling runs. These fish are in excellent shape! A couple more casts found the line tight again. The takes, I had a half dozen or more in that pre-sunset hour, as did he, were all subtle. The line came tight, and a raise of the rod tip indicated it wasn't the weeds we were fishing in. Ok, maybe once or twice, but most were "fish on" indications. My SIL did say one of his strikes was solid, but the rest were simply a slight sensation in the line as it was retrieved. More than one fish was lost in the weed growth we were wading around, so not sure if we hooked up with anything in the 18-20" range which we know are prevalent in pretty good numbers. Another trip, adequately supplied with survival gear, will hopefully answer that.
Now, regarding my toes. Wading thigh deep into water which was covered in ice a week ago often makes one aware of the appendages below the knee. For this trip, I was wearing a pair of WetSox which had been sent for me to try from the company, and I'm pleased to say I didn't even think about my feet. They were warm! WetSox are lightweight, lined neoprene socks which I must say, so far, I'm pretty darn impressed with. The outer lining makes them a breeze to slip into and out of the foot of the waders. This was my first time fishing with them. I had tried them on one cold coyote hunting trip, found them warm for that excursion, as well, but a bit damp inside after a long morning of hiking. But still pleasantly warm. I may have to consider handling these in the shop. WetSox is now making a set of waterproof wool socks, which has me a bit intrigued, as well.
As for other "Chick info", the water is very clear (maybe 3' visibility) and water level is good. Just wishing it was "great", but will suffice to get us through the year, at least, pending no run-off or spring rains. And the flies getting bit? If you have to ask, you haven't been reading this blog.
...a reason to start getting excited.
Last evening I was shown a picture of Chickahominy. I had heard Friday that there was a crack in the ice, which means it wouldn't be long until there is open water to fish, especially coupled with the "warm" temps we are anticipating. I was planning on checking the pond this next Friday to check on the progress of the ice regression. Imagine my surprise when I look at a pic on a friend's phone which shows OPEN WATER. And I'm not talking a sliver, but what appears to be the entire south side of the reservoir being open.
Break out the Woolly Buggers, friends!!
OK, maybe some emergers and nymphs, too...
Keep an eye out here for a fishing report, as I hope to shake off the cobwebs and coyote hair from my casting arm later this week. I guess there is room in my rig for both my predator hunting gear and fishing equipment, too.
As the temperatures here are falling, the fishing is picking up! Water temperatures in all areas are where we like to see them in the fall, and the fish are feeding. And now that I'm home and since I put a deer in the freezer, and have some wonderful meat from a bull elk, thanks to my hunting partner, I've been able to spend a bit of time on the water, as well as talk with folks fishing the area. (However, coyotes, beware...I'm after you next.)
Blitzen: The river has been running in the low 40 cfs range, with temps in the low 40's to low 50's each day. I'm hearing of some good reports the past 2-3 weeks, with some top water action being seen the first couple weeks this month. Look for fish moving up and down the system, as always, and concentrate on deeper holes. Don't be afraid of days that there is ice on the river....they are still feeding. On warmer days, try an attractor pattern on top solo, or as an indicator with your favorite nymph dropper.
Krumbo: Fish in the 15-20" range seem to be the main fare, with limits coming to those soaking bait, I've heard. Leech and streamer patterns should be ready to go on floating or intermediate lines. As always, make sure that 3X leader is tied well.
Chickahominy: This fished very well on Monday afternoon, and fairly good Tuesday morning. While several flies were tried amongst three of us, there was one stand out which accounted for all of the fish between two of us, with a close replica doing it's job for the other. Yes, it was brown.... Be armed with the formidable brown woolly bugger and fish it s-l-o-w. Overall, these fish are the fattest I've seen in the three decades I've fished "Chick". These 'bows are running 14-18" for the most part, and are DEEP bodied fish. And strong. And acrobatic. Even the one little guy (9-10") was strong and feisty! The next few days are to be warm (mid-60's), and I anticipate good fishing until the ice hampers our chase. Water quality is pretty good, with just some bloom atop, but quite clear under it. If you don't find fish in the first 20-30 min, move to a different depth, possibly dependent on time of day and ambient temperatures.
Beulah: I heard from a buddy hunting that area this past week that there were a couple of boats on the reservoir; however, realize that it is only 20% full (as of tonight) now that the irrigation season is winding down. No reports.
...a bit late in coming??
Well, it's been hot for several weeks now, and as with most the state, smoky. But it's the heat which has the fishing report somewhat void of information.
I have been receiving quite a few inquiries regarding the Blitzen the past few weeks, and with each visit or call I'm pretty much saying the same thing: how about we leave those fish alone until the water temperatures drop! We have been seeing temperatures of that system in the 70's nearly everyday now for the past month or so. With those temps, fish get quite stressed. While redbands can take the 'extreme' temperatures a bit better than other sub-species, they are still quite susceptible to mortality when hooked and fought in these low water-high temp conditions, so please fish responsibly. If you see a dozen fish gathered tightly together in a hole, they are seeking refuge near a cool seep/spring. Watch, and don't bother them! Friends don't let friends stress trout. :)
The stillwaters are a bit 'green', as one may imagine. And to be honest, I haven't heard of any local fishing reports for several weeks now. As for myself, I've been slacking, moving and painting a house for my parents, playing with my 10 month old granddaughter, and waiting for cooler temps to go chase elk with a bow, all the while being patient(?) for cooler days and nights, the fall desert fishery, and of course, the fall run of salmon and steelhead on the coast. Gladly, the house in Brookings survived the inferno down there; now just hoping the fishery in the Chetco isn't affected too badly.
Once things pick up here in the SE part of the state, I'll post some updates. Until then, breathe well, stay cool, and keep on tying!