The Metolius River- The Grand Dame of Spring Creeks
The Metolius River, an hour or so north of Bend in Central Oregon, is easily one of the most beautiful rivers in the world. Few would dispute that. Anyone who has roamed her banks, whether in search of a large trout or just some solitude, would attest to this being a special place filled with all the dimensions that a pristine riparian habitat should have. It’s just that the Metolius has more of them. From the crystal clear, turquoise blue swirls of water. To lush, forested banks, towering pine-covered mountains, and miles and miles to explore. If you’re feeling adventuresome, you can get to stretches of this river that see few footsteps. All of these elements conspire to create an epic river to fish.
The Metolius is perhaps best known for the run of bull trout that migrate from Lake Billy Chinook every winter. These fish follow Kokanee salmon and eat both them and their eggs. The bull trout are voracious meat eaters. Leave the 5wt home for this fishing. You’ll want a 7 or 8wt that can throw massive streamers sometimes on a sinking line. The bull trout grow to tremendous size, up to double digits in pounds. This is thrilling fishing best done with a buddy who can spot while you cast and vice versa.
There is no professional guiding allowed on the Metolius. But here at Fly and Field Outfitters we have our thumb on the pulse of the river and will help you select flies and discuss perspective techniques for approaching this spectacular and difficult fishery.
This is a “Fly Fishing Only” river. In Oregon that regulation has several facets that are meant to purify the practice to a few essential rudiments. We can now use external weight (splitshot) out there, which has been a big help when nymphing under an indicator. Fish the Metolius with a nymph rig for five minutes and you’ll begin to understand how this regulation change has assisted. The fish hold in channels, deep undercuts, deeper pools, way out in the middle behind lava outcrops. You will have to look at things a little differently to fool fish sub-surface in the Metolius. Long tension/roll casts and really good, advanced mending techniques will be your best friend out there. Or you can just sit on the bank and wait for the fish to start rising!
There are miles of trail on both sides of the river, so explore to your heart’s content. Find a stretch of water that fits your eye and get after it! Whether trying for Redbands or bull trout, just spending a day on the banks of the Metolius is a day well spent.
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