Methow River Report
September 29, 2017
—Ryan Kilgore and North 40 Omak
This Saturday, September 30, is the last day of the catch-and-release trout season on the Methow River. Since there is not going to be a steelhead season for Upper Columbia tributaries this fall, I’ve been trying to savor what I can of this fishery. On a cloudy and cool day last week, I got into plenty of fish when I floated a section of the river below Twisp. I started off the day with a purple Chubby Chernobyl attractor pattern.
It soon found its way into the jaw of a nice cutthroat that was holding along a foamline among some large rocks, and under an overhanging tree—perfect cutty water. I found a few more fish in the morning, just below the riffles and inside the corners, as well as the middle of runs along foam lines. With the low water conditions, typical of this time of year, it’s usually not too hard to figure out where the fish are. I had success with attractor dries, nymphs, and soft-hackles, but couldn’t get any takers on my small streamers. I did find, unsurprisingly, that flashy, bead-head nymphs, like the Rainbow Warrior, really attract whitefish.
The best action of the day, however, occurred just after lunch, when a serious hatch of mayflies started. For a couple hours, the surface was covered with a good variety of bugs; mostly what looked to me like BWOs from size 18 and larger. All around were the splashy rises of trout. It was a phenomenon we don’t see here very consistently. I switched my tactics and started fishing a variety of small dries to imitate emerging or just-hatched duns, such as a size 14 Parachute Adams and size 16 Klinkhammer. All of these types of flies were quite effective, even through late in the afternoon. Yesterday (Wednesday), I floated a different section and didn’t find quite as many fish. It was a bright, blue-sky day, and there were no significant hatches, which led to very few rising fish. I alternated between throwing attractor dries, like an orange rubber legged Stimulator, and nymphing with a stonefly and small Hare’s Ear.
Though I didn’t find as many players, I hooked into at least one fish in each run. The lack of numbers was more than made up for by one very large cutthroat that lazily gulped up my Stimulator. Late in the day, I had some success drifting small dries. I also tied on a Pheasant Tail soft hackle, which I swung slowly through some soft, bouldery water along a riprap levee and felt a slight tightening of the line that told me it had found home in the jaw of a nice cuttbow. Perfect ending.
Note: Ryan Kilgore, one of our dedicated customers, sent this report on his latest adventure on the Methow River. Like he says, the season on the river comes to a close at the end of the month so get out there if you’re going to. Thanks, Ryan, for sharing.
The fall season is here. Throughout the state, reports are coming in of how good the fishing has been at this well-known, popular fly fishing only lake.
Daytime temperatures are holding in the 70s to low 80s. Nighttime temps have hit the mid-30s a few times in the last couple weeks. Water temperature has been holding around the mid-50s range.
As for what is working, that depends on who you talk to. Reports of a couple of guys doing good with #12 black chironomids in about 14 feet of water. Other reports are, “It’s a leech’s game.” A #10 leech is a good size to use this time of year. Semi seal, hale bopp and squirrel leeches will be a good choice to get you started. One of my favorites is the pumpkin head leech. What colors work in the leech patterns depends on the mood of the fish that day.
Work areas from 5 feet out to 15 feet. Once you find what's working, stick with it till it doesn't. Mid-lake to a little north from are some of the best areas. On a good day with the right flies, you should be able to net 20 or more rainbows.
Not many people have been hitting this lake, so if you're looking for a little space—this might be a good choice. The lake level has held this year and has not come down much at all. Morning fishing is a solid bet. Water temps are holding around 57 degrees.
Those anglers using chironomids are picking up a few fish on #12 and #10 blacks and olives. This is one lake where buggers and leech patterns seem to work the best all the time. Black or black mixed with another color is your safest bet here in the fall. Consider bringing along a small minnow pattern as well; the browns will be cruising near the shoreline.
What depth to fish depends on what the weather is like that day. Start at 5 feet close to shore and work your way out from there. Vary your retrieve speed until you find what's working, then stick with it.
Blue Lake (Sinlahekin)
In the Sinlahekin Wildlife area, the colors of fall are starting to show. Cooler nights will bring more colors blazing to life every day. That change can mean only one thing at Blue Lake, the browns will be anticipating the spawn. Even though there really isn't any place for them to spawn, that doesn’t change how mother nature works on the browns this time of the year.
Start watching the waters in close to shore for the cruising browns. The main part of the lake will be your best shot at this. They'll come in close in the morning and evenings then move back out to a little deeper water during the bright sun of the day.
Minnows such as Ian's epoxy minnow or Franke Shiner will be a good choice. Black buggers and black leeches will be another solid bet. Keep them in the #10 and #12 range. #14 grey or olive scuds are also on the menu this time of year.
Note: If you’re a grouse hunter, bring your shotgun and chase after forest chickens in the hills around the lake.