With the weather finally showing some improvements, at least in the short term, it's time to get out and start hitting the local waters. That said, options remain limited due to a variety of issues. Here's an update of what's going on around the area.
Chickahominy - DRY
Mann Lake - DRY
Blitzen - This is the system of most concern. Besides spending 4 hours fishing various sections of the river a month ago during ideal conditions, I have spoken with over a half-dozen anglers who have fished multiple days on the river and I have yet to hear of a fish caught, or even seen. ODFW has concerns, and will be doing some creel surveys and other studies on the river this year. There are MANY variables which can affect this stream, so narrowing down the issue may be difficult. Two years of over a month each of 70 degree water temps has undoubtedly affected the population and recruitment, along with other possible factors. As info comes forth, I will pass it along.
Beulah- Currently 47% full, and receding as water is being released. I have heard of one trout caught, that by someone fishing spinner baits for bass. (Yes, bass have 'somehow' been introduced into this water body....). With over 400 cfs of water being released from this reservoir, we will see it dropping rather quickly, as just under 200 cfs is coming into the impoundment.
Warm Springs - At 16% full and nearly 400 cfs being released versus 120 cfs entering the reservoir, Warm Springs will be short lived. No fishing report from Warm Springs.
Malheur - Up until the release of water from Beulah and Warm Springs, the only water flowing in the Malheur was from the South Fork, with under 20 cfs being reported for a flow. Fish did survive in much of the main stem below the South Fork, however, I have been told by ODFW that they anticipate losing this fishery this summer.
Krumbo - Due to requirements to maintain a minimum pool, Krumbo should fish ok as conditions allow. No recent reports.
Yellowjacket/Delintment - Each of these carried over this past winter. Yellowjacket is fishing the best and undoubtedly has the higher population of fish. Cooler temperatures should delay the annual "weeding" of Delintment (although that is major contributor to the prolific damsel hatches witnessed at that small reservoir).
That's a quick rundown of what's happening in the county. Other small BLM reservoirs may have carried over, but no reports, and it's inevitable that with the conditions, any little water body will most likely go dry or see very high temps by mid to late summer. We are also finding perch in some of the small reservoirs which have held only trout in the past. Some people just can't seem to help themselves....
Things are slowly starting to thaw out here in Harney County. Unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot to thaw in terms of snow which will make it to our local reservoirs. Chickahominy will remain essentially dry this season, it appears, and with that, no fish will be introduced. Before it went dry last year, ODFW did capture a good number of fish from the reservoir and transplanted them into other local waters. With that, time will tell if the other lakes and small reservoirs in the area carry over.
Blitzen: Currently running at 44 cfs, anticipate the flow to increase as the weather warms and the lower elevation snow melts. Only time will tell when this will occur, and how significant the increased water levels will be. Fishing was reported to be unusually slow through the winter. Standard nymphs (GRHE, PT's, Princes) and streamers stripped in the deeper pools would be the go to patterns.
Krumbo Reservoir: Krumbo has been seeing some significant fishing pressure the past couple of weeks, with some fish in the 12-15" range being caught. It is ice free. Slow stripped leech patterns and chironomids should provide some success. Be aware that many roads in that area are turning soft.
No reports on current ice amounts or ice conditions at Yellowjacket, and doubtful that Delintement is reachable due to snow drifts.
This past week, ODFW lifted the bag limit on Chickahominy. This is in effect until October 10. According to the news release, the reservoir is less than 10% full, with the deepest portion only 6 feet deep. Driving by this past Thursday, it appears many are trying to take advantage of the current scenario, with over a dozen RV's at the site.
I'm hearing that Krumbo is still fishing a bit slow, however, recent winds have hampered attempts.
The Blitzen is seeing 30-50 cfs swings each day, but well within the levels I feel are good fishing conditions. Other local streams, not effected by runoff, are starting to fish well. Until hatches start with regularity, bead head Hare's Ears seem to be the most effecting pattern.
Fished Chickahominy mid-morning yesterday to be able to get a real fishing report posted. Parked at Access Point A and walked out to the water's edge....then out another 100 yards or so to find water which was nearing knee deep. I would say that the visibility was 2 inches, however, that may be a bit generous. Or a lot generous. Half-heartedly, I made a cast, launching the ol' standard brown Woolly Bugger, and began the slow strips. I figured I'd give it 20-30 minutes, but the poor visibility had me thinking 5 min may be sufficient! However, on cast #3 the line came tight, and it wasn't weeds. A strong fish was landed after a couple of minutes, a bright, red-stripped beauty which measured a true 20" according to the mark on my fly rod. Decided to give it another 40 minutes. I saw one fish roll, bait anglers leave, and the breeze pick up. Not another bump. So....I know there are at least 2 fish in there. May try it again in a week or so. Not sure it'll clear up a whole lot. I will warn those wading to beware that there are some soft spots, and sinking in above the ankles and having boots stuck when fishing solo a couple hundred feet from the shoreline when no one is around gives an ominous feeling for a bit. But seeing that the water has already dropped about 3-4" in the past couple of weeks, I didn't think I"d be stuck there much more than a month or two at the most....
This past weekend a drive out to Chickahominy showed us a couple of things we were a bit surprised about. First, there was some open water. In fact, nearly half the reservoir was free of ice. The second discovery wasn't quite as encouraging. The area out from Access Point C and a ways south/east are dry. Absolutely no water in the areas so many of us were fishing this past spring. Coupled with the ODFW report of low O2 levels this winter, concerns were rising. So, I planned on a trip out to fish the open water today to see if any signs of life presented themselves, but first decided to call our local ODFW fisheries biologist, Dave Banks. Dave told me the agency has netted a couple of areas and, despite the 0% dissolved O2 in a December test, there were some fish in the captured, including some nice sized fish. However, there were not the numbers of smaller fish found which were there in the fall. With that said, it's not anticipated that the reservoir levels will substantially rise, and there will not be fish planted this spring. With that info, I'm holding back on today's trip.
Krumbo: My tires tracks also led to an area which allowed a look down on a lot of Krumbo from a couple miles away, an it appeared the reservoir is essentially ice-free. No reports.
The reservoirs in the forest saw considerable ice this year, but most likely starting to break up. Yellowjacket usually always carries over (plenty of fish were caught through the ice this winter), and time will tell about Delintment when it becomes accessible.
More info as it becomes available....
It's 3:05PM on Tuesday and I just got off the phone with the local BLM. The road and access into Chickahominy remains open, just no camping and restroom facilities are closed. Boat ramp remains open. I've had multiple inquiries as to the status of Chick....so there ya go! However, we are encouraging people to stay close to home, limit out of town traveling, and please, maintain all safety precautions during this time. Thank you!
Just returned from a chilly wade in Chickahominy. It's a gorgeous day, glassy surface, air temp pushing 60 degrees, and the water wasn't in bad shape. In fact, a good 18" visibility, which is pretty good considering we had gusts to 50 mph just a few days ago. The chilliness was mostly due to the fact that in the first wade of the year I learned of a nearly dime sized tear in my waders. just below the knee. And I was wading waist deep. So, yes, there was water in both legs of the waders for over an hour. Chil-ee!
In the hour and a half which I spent testing my circulation, I landed one heavy fish, probably just over 20", and lost one other. I saw two fish caught by a boat trolling, and heard of a few fish caught by a couple of bank anglers. There were probably 8-10 fishing today. Word was that it fished very well over the past two days, and slowed today as the morning passed. I was also told that nearer the power lines the water became quite muddy, so possibilities exist that visibility may decrease over the next week or two. Speaking with the game warden, I was told that a number of fish were removed by ice fishers this winter. Nonetheless, there are some dandy fish to be caught in Chick. Next trip out, I'll be trying boatman and beetles...as I left my recent ties sitting on my tying desk. Sheesh....
Blitzen: I just heard that it's been fishing quite poorly. I was also told that carp have been found upstream further than where they were just a few years ago, possibly due to different management techniques. I will have to look into that. Increased numbers of river otters are also being blamed by some for some of the poor fishing.
Krumbo: Hearing it is fishing fair, and also fished better a couple of weeks ago.
After the cold medication kicked in this morning, I ventured out to check on Chickahominy to see what the situation was regarding ice. This past week while checking the trapline, we've noticed that despite some cold nights, many water holes and ponds have opened up. Well, it's true regarding the larger water bodies, as well. Chickahominy appears to be 50-60% ice free, with the only ice being around the boat ramp (3 sections are floating) and the area around and above "Point C". Clarity looked okay (honestly, I didn't leave the rig). No one was fishing, and no evidence, from what I could see, that anyone had, which makes sense as it has been a bit windy the past few days. Rather calm today, it would have been a decent day to give it a whirl, but the only thing in the back of my pickup were snowshoes, some traps, a shovel to dig out stuck vehicles (mine) and some jars of beaver castor, skunk scent and bobcat urine. Not the right equipment to see what was lurking below the surface. Needless to say, I'll be back out within the week, donning the right supplies, and bring back a report.
Now that (my) hunting seasons are over, waters have cooled (and how!) and the fish begin to feed in preparation for winter, it's time to get the lines back into the water.
Locally, things are starting to pick up.
Chickahominy: The clarity has improved significantly from late spring. There were concerns regarding the high temps the reservoir experienced throughout the summer, and while we don't know the toil it may have taken, I can report there are fish present! With about 30" of visibility, and some heavy weed...er, shrub...growth in the shallows, there are fish to be caught. I spent about 90 min out this past Sunday, landing a fat 13-14" fish, followed by a trout which measured right at 20", while having a couple others come unbuttoned and two or three other strikes. Today I was a bit more prepared with fleece pants under the waders and fished just over 2 hours, again landing two fish, one a bit larger and heavier than Sunday's largest, with a handful of other strikes. Most fish are being taken within the pockets of openings in the weeds, although the large fish today was caught in "open water". Not enough activity to recommend a single fly, however, from what I noted and have heard, brown woolly buggers (ha!) and #10 black woolly worms seem to be doing a lot of the work.
The reservoir is approximately 3' lower than springtime highs.
Krumbo: The recent report I received was "there were some fish caught, but not fast fishing". Interpret that as you wish.
Blitzen: No recent report, however, daily temperatures are fluctuating between mid-30's to high 40's while running fairly consistent at 50 cfs.
...Which means temperatures are increasing, water flows are changing, and time to change fishing tactics. That said, I've had no recent fishing reports, but know that local waters should start becoming more productive. I'm currently in summer-mode, meaning spending time on the southern Oregon coast, prepping the boat for offshore salmon and bottom fishing.
Blitzen: At this time, the river is running over 400 cfs, and seeing some rather large swings in flow each day. Just this past week it flowed at nearly 700 cfs as upper elevation snow began to melt. As always, keep an eye on the USGS website (link on my home page) for daily flows and to take a look at the graph to see what times of day the river is on the fall. And if heading there, don't forget to pack your case of DEET!
Beulah: Currently at 97% full, there has been a good amount of water released while the reservoir maintains a nearly full status. No reports.
Warm Springs: Another reservoir flirting with 100% full, but seeing summer irrigation flows out the dam. No reports.
Lower Owyhee River: I get a few calls about this fishery, and while I don't get to it often enough, or hear frequent reports being nearly 3 hours away, I do keep an eye on flows. This morning it is at a rather average 200 cfs, whereas just a couple of weeks ago, water being released was in the several thousand cubic feet per second range. The reservoir remains at 100% full. No idea if the high flows washed out weeds which may have disrupted hatches, but something to be aware of if you are traveling that way.