The Metolius River is funny this time of year. In my experience there are two periods when the fishing gets a bit inconsistent; part of November into December, and part of March into April. Why? Good question, but I suspect this time of year might have to do with fish movement for spawning activity or returning from the spawn in the upper reaches. Most certainly every fish in the river isn’t migrating to the upper river, but it is a curious and repeated phenomenon each year with the only other explanation begin aquatic insect movement/drift/emergence/hatch. In the Early winter I think that might be it, but this time of year there is a ton going on with drift/emergence/hatch.
Is fishing on the Metolius slow? No. You need to work a bit harder right now to find the fish, and do a lot of nymphing for your best success.
I was out there the other day and had a few fish on BWO dries during the afternoon hatch. One of my friends has been pounding redsides and whitefish (and the occasional small bull trout) on Euro Nymphs.
The best stretched are Allingham to Gorge CG, the Idiot Hole (within the Wizard Falls area) to the Powerline, Pioneer Ford to Bridge 99, Bridge 99 to the Log Jam across from Candle Creek. SO MUCH water to spread out. Look for fish rising in the eddies about noon. Besides BWO’s the Cinygmula (yellow mayfly #14-16) are beginning their spring hatch, and quite a few caddis. Your best caddis fishing is going to come on the pupa’s. There are huge October Caddis hatching now, plus their smaller cousin the Silver Stripe Sedge, smaller Brachycentrus (Tan Pupa Grey Adult #12-16) and Glossosoma (Pupa is Cream & the Adult is Smokey Tan-Grey #16-18). These are going to be the hatches receiving the most attention during the emergence. You may also see good midge hatches, and a smattering of random stoneflies throughout any given spring day on the Metolius. Stick to the nymphs on both of those for a lot of success.
We always say it is hard to beat a zebra midge and there is 2 likely reasons for that: #1, it’s a food source trout are constantly fed. Lakes or Rivers, there are a ton of midges out there. #2, with a small simple fly like a Zebra Midge there is less to refuse. It is so simple by design that there isn’t much there to refuse by a snobby trout.
So, rounding out and summarizing, look for an afternoon hatch. With daylight savings time beginning tonight the 1 PM hatch is going to be 2 PM starting Sunday. Add Yellow #14-16 mayfly patterns to your box. Bring your best nymphing gear and hit them with Perdigons, Zebra Midges, Eggs, Stone Nymphs, Caddis Pupa(!) and Micro Mayflies.
Finally, Bull Trout fishing is good on Streamers. I don’t know when the Juvenile Chinook get stocked into the river but it’ll be soon and it’ll be fun. Until then, continue to enjoy the normal swing with your streamers on a sink tip using your 7 or 8 weights and hope for a big tug! For a while this winter Black Streamers were the ticket, but lately from the reports some of my good fishing buddies have shared, color is less important than depth and presentation.