Methow River Report
June 16, 2017
by Guest Writer, Ryan Kilgore
Even though the Methow River is still running a little high, swinging streamers is doing the trick. It’s time to break out the trout spey rod and grab some of your favorite streamer patterns.
I have been waiting all spring for the Methow to open. Don’t get me wrong, stillwater fishing has its moments, but once the river is fishable, that’s where I want to be.
As soon as the spring runoff started to recede, I started looking for accessible water. At first, I tried running a heavy two-nymph rig along some deeper banks where there was relief from the raging torrent. But with limited water visibility, hidden riparian vegetation, and lots of woody debris, I was losing flies (and my patience) rapidly. That’s when I decided to switch to streamers.
I loaded up my 5-wt Echo Classic trout spey rod with my OPST Commando Head and a fast sinking tip. There’s no need to make much more than a 20-30 ft. cast, but I did want to get my fly down a bit. I probed some sheltered lies near the banks, but wasn’t finding any takers, so I started focusing more on the big, deep back eddies.
That’s where I started having success. The fish weren’t necessarily in the eddy itself, but anywhere nearby that had some depth and a soft current alongside the faster flow. Medium sized weighted streamers and sculpin patterns seemed to be the ticket.
As the spring flows have continued to drop and the water has cleared up a bit, I started finding fish in new spots. In part, that was because some of the good lies became too shallow and exposed, and partially because now I was able to access more of the stream. One good spot I found was on the edge of a run with a steep bank that has some boulders in it.
In the lower end of the run, the water near the bank is just deep enough to offer cover, and just slow enough to be comfortable. Swinging smaller streamers and buggers into this kind of water should be productive for a while.
With some warmer weather predicted for early next week, the river may come back up a bit. As soon as the flow starts to drop again and the water still has some good color to it, I’ll be swinging streamers. And as it continues to drop and clear, and as wading access improves, running some nymphs under an indicator will also be a good way to go. I like to pair a small nymph like a chironomid or size 16 pheasant tail with a bigger stonefly, like a size 8 Pat’s Rubber Legs, especially if the water still has a little bit of color.
You may want to use some heavy tungsten headed flies to get down quickly. And even though it won’t help your flies to sink, I would recommend sticking with 4x or larger tippet so you can put the brakes on a fish that wants to head out into the fast water.
If you are watching the flows online, I have found that at about 6-7000 cfs (at Pateros), the stream side access is difficult, but if you look hard you can find a few spots to fish from the bank.
3000 cfs is a better target for wading anglers, but even then, extra caution is in order. No fish is worth your life. Be safe and have fun!