We are back fishing our home waters the Metolius River. I’m amazed at the diversity of bugs we see on the river. For the last few weeks, we seemed to concentrate fishing one bug, but on the Metolius, the variety is amazing. And it can be different only 50 yards away. Olive mayflies in one hole, caddis in another, and small olive stones in the next.

Metolius River Double | www.johnkreft.com

The image above is a rare double where Dancingtrout and I both hooked and landed these Rainbow Trout at the same time. It’s difficult to land one fish, let alone two.

I don’t write much about my home waters, the Metolius River. I’d rather you fish somewhere else. In fact, when asked for a fishing report during any Central Oregon Flyfisher’s monthly meeting I’ve been known on more than one occasion to say, “I understand the Crooked River is fishing well”. And then laughter erupts from the room!

Yes, they’re on to me. They know I try to keep fly fishers from going to the river.

And my friends encourage me not to mention this river.

But I guess I don’t really need to worry. The fishing will self-select those who fish and decide to return.

To be fair, I write about other rivers we fished on our fly fishing road trips. I know some of you have gone to these rivers and fished because of the information I wrote about. I’m guessing some would rather I didn’t because it increases the pressure for their river.

I don’t want any more competition on the river, but I recognize it’s disingenuous not to write about the Metolius River on occasion. So here I go…

I’ve spent close to 50 years trying to figure out the secrets of the Metolius and there are days when I just shake my head and leave rising fish. It’s one of the toughest rivers I’ve ever fished. Why? The diversity of insects and all the microcurrents are two reasons.

Handful of Bugs | www.johnkreft.com

Perhaps that’s what I enjoy about it. The mystery.

Here is one example. In the last week, we’ve seen a variety of olive mayflies, most likely Caudatella (size 12 – 14), Flavilinea (size 12 – 14), and Ameletus (size 16). (You can read more about these mayflies in my post – Confusing Mayfly Names.)

How about caddis from size 14 to 22?

Remember I mentioned little olive stones? They look like caddis flitting around but pick one up and you’ll see it is in fact size 16 stoneflies.

And don’t forget a PMD in size 16 or 18.

With this information, what fly would you tie on your tippet when you notice a fish rising?

When I select a fly, I choose size first, then profile, and lastly color and hope for the best.

We’ve seen smoke from forest fires every day on the river. Some days, the wind comes up and moves smoke out. Each day is different. Yesterday, I experienced a slight headache with burning eyes and throat.

Despite the smoke from forest fires, I’m blessed to live in Sisters, OR. We get to fish this river a lot!

And catch some beautiful fish. Here are a few from the last week.

Metolius River Fatso | www.johnkreft.com
A Metolius River Fatso
Metolius Rainbow Trout | www.johnkreft.com
Metolius Rainbow Trout Closeup | www.johnkreft.com
Metolius Rainbow | www.johnkreft.com
Met Rainbow | www.johnkreft.com
Metolius River Spotted Rainbow | www.johnkreft.com

I love their colors and spots. It’s what makes me head back to the river and fish.

There’s my quick fishing report, but purposefully without a lot of detail. Suffice it to say the fish have been looking up. Who knows what will happen tomorrow or the rest of the week with temperatures in the mid-90s. One of our mantras is “no two days are alike”.

Lastly, here is a quick project I completed along the river trail yesterday.


Metolius Trail Work - Before | www.johnkreft.com

…and after…

Metolius Trail Work - After | www.johnkreft.com

We’ve done other work along the river in past years. Here are a couple of older posts you may enjoy:

If you fish the Metolius River, I hope you love it as much as I do.

Metolius River Above Hatchery Bridge - August 2020 | www.johnkreft.com

These images are of the river above the Wizard Fall Bridge from a couple of days ago when the river was running 1,300 cfs…very low. It’s difficult to see, but the lava chutes are really exposed at this level.

Metolius River Chute Above Hatchery Bridge - August 2020 | www.johnkreft.com

Enjoy…go fish, stay safe!

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  1. Thank you John for another beautiful post on the Metolius and its mysteries.

    I am just back from three nights at Camp Sherman. Challenging as usual, but some surprising fish activity in the cooler parts of the day.

    For reasons I cannot disclose I need a really, really good Green Drake nymph imitation.

    Looking forward to October and the magic of the Kokanee.

    1. Thanks for the nice Comment Gary. Have you seen Mercer’s Poxyback Green Drake Nymph? It’s been a while since I’ve used it, but I think Bull Trout even like it!


  2. I just happened across your website and will be back. I make the trek down to the Metolius a few times a year and look forward to your insight on this beautiful river. I was just there for a weeks stay and found the fishing to be a little slower than normal for me. Others I talked to were seeing the same. I had not really thought about the water level being off as I am not there as often as you but something looked off with the locations I normally fish. Seeing your pictures made it clear why. I am hoping to get back down in October depending on availability of a camping spot. I have never been that late in the year so it will be a learning experience. Thanks again.


    1. Hi George

      Thanks for leaving a Comment. Many people believe the Metolius water level is constant all year, but it does vary. It’s a natural occurrence. You should look forward to a return trip in October…it’s one of the best two months all year for dry fly fishing.


  3. Its ok,.you can write all you want about the Metolius because about 90% of us scratch our heads every day there and wonder how you catch all those fish. I go to the Metolius to fish, other rivers to catch fish, but I can’t stay away…

  4. When I climbed over that log I was wishing I had a hand saw. THANK YOU for spending the time to do that! And the small stones rocked it right before I saw you guys! It was a constant changing flies day…caddis worked one minute then the tiny stone was the charmer. ❤

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