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.
Stopped in to look at Chickahominy on the way by today. The measuring tape said that there is around 10" of visibility at the boat ramp, give or take an inch. Still not what we are looking for, but improving. However, with more rain coming the first part of the week, I'm not exactly holding my breath. With the crazy spring we have been experiencing, it's just been a wait and see game. Day after day. Week after week.
Haven't received any other reports recently, which isn't too surprising given the rain, wind and occasional bolt of lightning we keep getting gifted. Hopefully the weather improves soon, the waters clear, and we can start fishing and sharing reports. Until then, friends, just don't turn too blue in the face from the breath holding!
I've received a couple reports this week that the visibility at Chickahominy has not improved. In fact, 5" seems to be the consensus. The cold weather this week (I saw 17 deg here one morning!) should have slowed down any leftover melt, minimizing possible muddy inflow. We are being greeted with warm weather this coming week, starting today, so will see what that does to the reservoir.
The Blitzen was steadily falling nicely into the 300's, with the flow stable the last 24 hours right at the 300 cfs mark. Again, warmer temps will most likely cause some remaining lower elevation snow to liquefy and raise the level, so if you have plans on fishing it soon, keep an eye on the USGS website and look for falling flows into the 200's.
WINTER KILL: This week, ODFW reported that both Yellowjacket and Delintment suffered a winter kill, so don't anticipated much in terms of holdover trout in those locations. From reports of poor fishing in local BLM ponds, I wouldn't be surprised if they have encountered the same fate.
So for now, keep on tying, practice double hauls, and wait for the coffee to change into a light tea...
That's kind of how it felt out at Chickahominy this morning. Having been quite curious about the conditions of the reservoir after reports of it being quite muddy the last couple of weeks, and from the number of calls I've received the past few days inquiring about the status there, I ventured out. I wasn't the only one. Nearly 2 dozen anglers were searching for fish, a half dozen of them in boats, the remainder surrounding the lake. The good news is that the water level is up as high as I have seen it for several years. In fact, another 3-4 feet and the rock points would be underwater. Clarity still remains poor. There is perhaps 8 inches of visibility.
Regarding fishing, I will admit I only had a fly in the water for an hour, and no success in my attempts. I did see one fish break the surface. Other than that, nothing to report regarding fish, as no one seemed to be having success. I did hear a couple of gentlemen in a boat comment say that there didn't appear to be any fish "up in the 6 to 7 feet of water", and noticed they and others in another boat going through their tackle boxes for different gear. Other than some rain forecast for Saturday, then again late next week, the upcoming weather looks decent, which will hopefully lead to decreased turbidity. I will check on it again next week and provide an update.
Beulah: As I write this, Beulah is at 87% full and rising. No reports.
Krumbo: No recent reports. Only thing I have heard is it's been fair with no large fish being caught yet.
Blitzen: The river has been running in the 300-500 cfs range, and could see another uptick as this warm weather sticks around for a couple of days. For best results, wait for it to be dropping on the south side of 200 cfs, give or take.
Swung into Chickahominy for a water check on the way by yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to see that the water level has come up considerably. Earlier, there was just over one dock section afloat at the ramp, while currently four sections are usable. And with the moisture we received last night (an inch of snow here in town, but just looks wet on the Riley TripCheck cam) and what's forecast, it should rise more. With the increase of water and spring winds, the water is very off color. I've had several calls reporting that fishing really slowed down to turned off once visibility decreased. Expect turbid waters until we have several days of calm.
Reports are that Krumbo is fishing fair, with most fish in the mid-teens.
No reports from the Blitzen, which currently is flowing less each day (226 cfs right now) with maximum flow around midnight. Expect high flows again with warmer weather.
Beulah if filling nicely, with the Bureau of Reclamation website showing it at 67% full. There is a lot of snow in the hills, so it should continue to rise for some time, or until the flood gates open for downstream irrigation. If you haven't heard, word is that there is a significant population of smallmouth now inhabiting that reservoir, with quite a few in the 3-4 lb range. Not what we needed for what can be a superb trout fishery, but not totally unheard of nowadays....
"This is as good as it gets!". That was the feeling after the first 45 minutes at Chickahominy yesterday as we braved the sub-freezing temps, snapped ice out of the guides, and warmed our fingers between fish. Then things slowed down, but stayed interesting. Frequent trips to a warming fire, chased with some hot cocoa, kept the blood flowing to the extremities. When the day was called after a couple of hours of pounding a small section of the reservoir, nearly a dozen fish to 19" had been brought to hand, with close to another half dozen benefiting from a long line release. The fish are strong, have a liking for a slowly stripped leech (you know which pattern!) or Prince, and return a subtle but solid take for the offering. It's gonna be a good spring, indeed!