July 23rd, 2021
Fishing has been pretty good out on the Crooked in the 5 or 6 miles below Bowman Dam We are getting some decent PMD hatches and finding some fish eating on top. PMD patterns such as the Sparkle Flag PMD, Sparkle Dun and the Gould's Shuckoff are getting some decent fish. If you find a really picky fish you can try a sparse emerging PMD or Midge pattern on some 6x and that may make all the difference.
Overall the best fishing has been on the nymph rigs. Most of the bigger fish we've seen caught have also been on the nymphs. Our guides are mostly fishing Chubby dropper tactics with the Firestarter or Olive Hot Spot Jig hanging below a small chubby. Don't be surprised if a decent trout comes up and smacks the chubby especially when the shade hits the water. Most guides are fishing during the late morning from about 9 am to about 2pm. If you fish later in the afternoon into evening pressure seems to drop quite a bit.
Flows are at around 200 CFS and there is no issues with water temps right below the dam as its under 50 degrees for most of the day.
Guest Author: Ron Romeis
It’s Salmon Fly season in Central Oregon
The big bugs are here. Anglers from far and wide are all aflutter over the seasonal Salmon Fly hatch on the Deschutes. I look forward to it too, but not for the reason most others do. I head to smaller waters where I can avoid the masses and often have some water to myself. It may be coincidence that the upper stretches of the Metolius River open on May 22, about the same time as the big bugs arrive on the Deschutes. While every drift boat in the state are bunched up on the Deschutes, I’ll be wading some quiet water that hasn’t been fished for the last several months. I spent a beautiful day last week wading a stretch of the Metolius with not another fisherman in my path all day.
But, there’s another hatch that occurs this time of year that I find more exciting than the big bug’s arrival. The Mother’s Day Caddis hatch on the Crooked River can be amazing. Anyone who has turned over a rock on the river bed will find caddis cases on nearly ever rock in the river. Literally, there are millions of these cases sheltering the caddis larva as they mature and await their big day. Coincidentally, this occurs at about the same time of year as the Salmon Flies show up on various stretches of the Big D. I understand the allure of that surface take on that chubby chernobyl or other large dry fly, but while those guys are getting that fix; I’m getting hooked on a much smaller bug.
The Mother’s Day Caddis gets its name for a reason. The big hatch usually occurs somewhere around Mother’s Day… go figure. This year it was a little late. Two day ago, March 26, I was fishing a popular stretch of the Crooked River when the river banks were swarming with adult caddis flies. A relatively small caddis, about a size 16-18, mottled wings and dark bodied, the adults spend little time on the water surface. On this day, only the swallows seemed to be aware the hatch was underway. At times the swarm would be quite substantial and the birds were feasting. The trout, however; seemed to not notice the potential feast available. So I spent the day brushing caddis out of my hair and attracting a few fish on my perdigons with a caddis pupa dropper. Alas, the only trout of the day ate the perdigon and whitefish ate the caddis pupa.
But, what a difference a day makes. Yesterday, I returned to the Crooked despite the forecast of 20 30 mph wind gusts. Apparently, the fish figured out the caddis were there over night. Early in the day the fish were still not present and I started the day with a standard indicator rig to try and deal with the wind gusts. I had on a perdigon again and a caddis larva or pupa pattern. I picked up a couple white fish on the perdigon and even though there were a few trout rising, none were taking my flies.
Around midday everything changed. The hatch was thick and the swallows were there by the hundreds. Suddenly, so were the trout. Fish were rising everywhere, constantly. My fishing companion for the day was a dry fly guy. He had been trying to entice trout all day with a variety of caddis dries. He did pick up a couple while I was nymphing. How he managed in that wind was pretty amazing. But, as soon as the trout started showing themselves with regularity, I switched to my favorite method. I quickly changed leaders and tied on a pair of caddis soft hackles. In Dave Hughes book “Wet Flies”, he describes a day he spent fishing with Syl Nemes during a Mother’s Day hatch. Dave was struggling to entice the frenzied trout on dries and various emergers. Nemes had his Mother’s Caddis soft hackle pattern and was doing quite well. I too had learned that I had better luck swinging soft hackles through the swarm than I had on dries. Mainly, because I can’t see the small dries that imitate those small caddis. I had tied on a classic partridge and green on point and Nemes soft hackle on the dropper.
Between the howling wind gusts I was able to start picking up fish. I convinced my partner to switch to soft hackles as well. The Nemes soft hackle was the favored fly of my pair all day. All I can say was it was one of the most exciting afternoons of fishing I had experienced in a long time. I’d hate to think how many trout we could have caught had we had just a normal windy day. At one point in the day, I just had to stop and marvel at the cloud of caddis flies over the water, the hundreds of swallows over head, and the trout rising as far down the river as I could see.
The moral of this story is go enjoy the Salmon Fly hatch. Go fish the upper Metolius and enjoy the beauty and solitude. If you are lucky enough to hit the Crooked River when the Mother’s Day Caddis hatch is on it will be amazing.
May 18th, 2021
The Crooked is fishing very well. Dries, nymphs, soft hackles, attractor patterns. If the crowds on the Deschutes are too much, take a look at some time on the Crooked.
Fish size has really improved this year and numbers are good. Afternoon caddis hatches have been strong and nymphing will always find some fish. If you are nymphing, stop in and pick up the Fire Starter nymph as its been really good. Zebra Midges, Ray Charles, and Frenchies are also great flies to try.
March 16th, 2021
With daylight savings time now in place, trout fishing is becoming an afternoon show on the Crooked. Peak hatches and trout feeding activity will be from noon to about 4pm on most days. Blue-wing olives and midges are hatching and fish are up and eating them. Don't be surprised to see whitefish eating dries also. You will have to have good aim and a clean drift to hit them square in the kisser.
Sparkle Duns and Gould's Shuckoff for dries will get it done. Size 18 and 20's for the most part. Have some Griffith's Gnat's also. Last but not least, there is a modest Skwala stonefly hatch. The next 3 weeks are when to expect to see a few. Silvey's Little Olive Stone in a #12 or #14 is our best pattern.
Nymphers will find success with sparse mayfly nymphs. The Juan's Tung Slim Shady fits the bill. Heavy for its size but still sparse. Use very light indicators (such as a New Zealand Indicator) or a small Chubby Chernobyl for light strike detection. If you are Euro fishing you know how important being light-handed is. If you are using plastic Thingamabobbers or Air-locks in the 50 CFS Crooked you are missing fish. Period and end of sentence.
March 8th, 2021
Guest Author: Ron Romeis
Winter fishing on the Crooked River can be a guessing game. Management of the river for irrigation forces flows to be 50 cfs or less, compared to summer flows of 200+. Many areas of the river are pretty much unfishable and void of fish this time of year. However, we’ve had a relatively mild winter and the weather has been favorable to get out on the water and go in search of the plentiful trout and whitefish. Locating the fish is the biggest challenge. When you do find them, catching them is another story.
Stephen, Tim, and I fish together regularly. We’ve had the good fortune to have located some healthy numbers of fish in the last few weeks. During the coldest months, while the whitefish were spawning, it seemed any egg pattern was the only fly you needed. As the spawn tapered off, the trout were still eagerly inhaling eggs when the opportunity presented itself. The last couple weeks, however, the fish were totally ignoring the protein they’d been so willing to eat the previous weeks.
Regulars on the Crooked know that midges and scuds are plentiful in the winter. A “Ray Charles” is a favorite fly for many but I’ve found that concentrating on the midges and BWO mayflies has been more productive this year. My friend Tim is a former guide and when fishing with him, it pays to pay attention to what he’s doing. The man can catch fish! He’s a skilled Euro style nympher, and will switch to a dry fly rig when the trout start rising to the tiny bugs on the surface. This year, I noticed that he was using a different tactic. We were fishing a stretch of relatively flat water. The water was somewhat deeper than much of the river this time of year. I had been tight line nymphing with a two fly rig consisting of an egg fly and a mayfly nymph. I had been doing pretty well, especially while the trout were still eating eggs and the whitefish as well. Stephen loves to cast dries and was picking off his share of trout with small dry flies. But, Tim was just killing them. His 90 degree set up with a New Zealand wool indicatorwas out fishing us considerably. After all he’s former guide, right.
Surely, he was fishing with a tiny nymph under that indicator and dredging the bottom. Nope, when pride was swallowed and we inquired what he was using, he shared it was a size 16 Z-Midge (Zebra Midge), no split shot. Couldn’t be, the fly was too big, and not on the bottom. Well, as I said earlier, when Tim speaks, pay attention. Being astute listeners and having no shame, both Stephen and I changed strategies and quickly began having a greater measure of success. Tim’s rig was perfect for the conditions we faced. It called for a delicate presentation, a fly that mimicked the midge pupa, and was suspended in the right depth. The subtle takes were transmitted by the wool indicator and we were producing more trout and fewer whitefish. And , if any of you think all the trout in the Crooked are 6-8inches long, think again.
I’ve had the opportunity to be on the water more often than has Stephen and Tim lately, The Z-Midge for a couple weeks was by far the most productive fly. Then it just seemed the fish had wised up. They wouldn’t touch an egg, and just sniffed at the midge pattern that had been so productive lately. I’m a believer that sometimes it pays to show the fish a fly they’ve never seen. I had a number of Z-midge variants that I had tied in my box. The classic pattern, black thread, silver bead, silver rib is a standby. A little different bead, different ribbing, and a little flash seemed to just what was needed to get the fish interested. The last two outings have produced some outstanding trout for the Crooked and reinforced my belief in changing things up. Of course, having a former guide to point you in the right direction doesn’t hurt.
The moral of this long story is that there are some really knowledgeable anglers in this area. Your local fly shop is a ready source of knowledge and if you are lucky enough to have friends much more experienced than yourself, pay attention. You might learn something.
March 6th, 2021
Fishing has definitely picked up on the Crooked. Improved hatches and slightly warming water has our local tailwater on the upswing. Look for Blue Wing Olive hatches from noon to 3pm on most days and have a good assortment of bugs. We like the Sparkle Dun as a good place to start but carry some Parachute syles in smaller sizes (usually #18 or #20) as well as some lowriding emerger styles. We have a good assortment of CDC flies which often fool the smart fish (as long as you do your part and make a good cast and drift)!
Nymphing is steady and fish will eat well-presented midge, mayfly or caddis nymphs. Many have switched over to Euro Nymphing with great results or you can try Dry Dropper tactics and have good success also. Crooked fish don't usually move too far to eat a fly so getting your drifts to mimic the natural drift of the bugs will make a huge difference. Our selection of tungsten-beaded nymphs is at an all-time high with a great assortment of bead sizes, profiles and colors.
January 30th, 2021
Decent fishing on the Crooked River in the afternoons after the water warms up a bit. Flows are low (49CFS) and will likely remain that way into March. Fish are often in the frog water conserving energy. Stealthy and quiet presentations with the New Zealand Indicator is a popular tactic as is Euro Nymphing. Not a lot of bugs hatching but you will see some blue-wing olives and tiny midges. Most afternoons will have some fish eating on top around 1 or 2pm. Using a size 20 Sparkle Dun will get some fish to commit or you can nymph the standards such as a sparse Pheasant Tail in size 18 or 20, Zebra Midges in 18 or 20 or a small Perdigon.
December 27th, 2020
The Crooked is fishing fair to good. With limited sun penetration and light hatches we are likely in the slowest time of year but still a good option if you get the urge to fly fish in the winter. Access is good and the water is low. Fish light leaders and small flies and look for trout to be conserving energy in the slower runs.
We see Euro nymphing gaining in popularity every year and the Crooked is a great place to work on your skills. Either a 2wt or 3wt Euro rod is perfect for the Crooked and its modestly sized-fish. We just got a fresh shipment of the Echo Shadow II rods that are well-suited for our area and the Crooked in particular. Echo has always been at the forefront of the Euro game and these mid-priced rods are really good sticks. Please let us know if you have any questions about how to get started with Euro nymphing in our area.
December 4th, 2020
Go small on the Crooked. With low flows and moderate to heavy pressure for December use light presentations and smaller flies. Occasional midges and Blue Wing Olives will bring some fish up top midday but your best bet will be nymphing the small stuff. If you are tightline/Euro nymphing use small perdigons and jig flies. Alternate between flashy (brighter perdigons for example) and natural colored flies (match-the-hatch) to dial in what the fish want that particular day. Egg flies are also working well with the whitefish on the spawn.
If you are indicator fishing, get yourself a New Zealand Indicator kit and some Aquel to keep it floating properly. The New Zealand will work much better than a Thingamabobber or Air-Lock. They work better by detecting the light strikes that occur when fish eat small flies in low water. Use your favorite tiny flies such as Zebra Midges, Pheasant Tails or size 18 perdigons with this method. Water is low enough you probably won't need any split shot to get down. Have fun and enjoy a day on the Crooked in December!
November 15th, 2020
The Crooked remains a good spot to spend a day in November. Fishing is holding up quite well with the best action midday from about 11 to 2. You will get some topwater action on most days with small blue-wing olives. A size 20 Purple Haze is always a good place to start if you see some fish eating on top. Nymphing is very good and we have seen some great trout in the 17-18" range caught recently. If you are indicator fishing the Zebra Midge/Ray Charles combo is always on the menu. We are now restocked on the New Zealand Indicator. We think its the best indicator out there especially in the low flows of winter. If you are fishing tightline/Euro tactics try a small Perdigon in size 16 or 18 and hold on. You can also expect to see some whitefish spawning so small egg patterns are going to get it done.
October 20th, 2020
Water levels are at a low 47 CFS which means anglers and fish are concentrated pretty heavily but fishing is holding up pretty well. You will do very good with tightline/ Euro nymph tactics and some nice fish can be found eating dries at times. Look for Blue Wing Olives over the next few weeks if you make it out there. With the cooler weather this week forecasted you can expect that midday (warmest part of the day) will be best.
October 1st, 2020
With the splash and giggle crowd fading, trout are up and eating almost every day. This summer was good but it was getting pretty frustrating that the Crooked got discovered as a floating destination for the summer tourists. With the onset of fall trout are looking to put on some weight before the lean times of winter. Small dries like a Purple Haze and a Parachute Adams are a good place to start but always have some more tricked out patterns like the Stalcup's Winger PMD in size 18. Soft hackles can be very good also.
Euro nymphing is becoming huge on our local waters and the Crooked seems to be the epicenter. If you haven't got into it yet we have the new Orvis Clearwater 3wt.Euro Nymph combo in stock for just $309.00. Add some jig flies, fluoro tippet and time on the water and you are on your way to improving your success on this productive tailwater.
September 17th, 2020
The smoke covering the region looks like it will dissipate this weekend so it might be a good time to get on the Crooked. Fishing pressure has been light and hatches were building pretty well before the fires and smoky sky took over. You can expect some good PMD hatches every day as well as good hopper-dropper fishing, especially in the late afternoon. Nymphing will produce of course as it always does on our local tailwater gem. Try small Perdigon's, Split Case PMD's and Zebra Midges this week.
September 7th, 2020
Pretty darn good fishing this week on the Crooked River with steady midday PMD hatches and great nymphing opportunities. The rubber floaty hatch on the Crooked was pretty extreme this weekend but the fish still were eating on top for much of the day. Emerging PMD patterns in size 16 and 18, as well as soft hackles, were very effective. Small hoppers are abundant along the banks so you can play the hopper-dropper game also. Smallish size 12 hoppers are generally going to outfish the big foam monsters out there.
August 29th, 2020
Overall its been a nymphing game on the Crooked with some great but sporadic dry fly fishing mixed in. Small PMD's mixed with some midges are keeping the hatch matching dry fly enthusiasts on their toes. You may also do well with the occasional hopper. Flows are stable at 215 CFS and water conditions are decent except for the junk in the drift which can be annoying at times.
Nymphing is very good with tightline/ Euro tactics dominating. Small perdigon's jig pheasant tails and Duracell's are getting it done. We really feel sparser is better so when tying or buying flies. Crooked fish can surprisingly stingy at times but sparse flies that sink quickly are key.
Expect that Labor Day weekend will be very crowded. Evenings will be the least fished times, so plan accordingly.
August 20th, 2020
The Crooked River is fishing well right now. Expect some company out there as everyone seems to be finding some fish especially the Euro nymph crowd. If you haven't tried the Euro style of nymphing, the Crooked is tailor-made for the technique. Short precise drifts with smallish nymphs have always been the order of the day but with Euro nymphing the tools are vastly better than most other techniques. The most popular set-ups are 10 or 10.5 foot 3wt Euro rods. The 2 wt. models also have some play on the Crooked but might be undergunned for some rivers especially the Deschutes. Tippet size matters also. Generally 5x and 6x Flurocarbon are best. 7x tippet is even back on the radar in our shop when it previously collected dust on the shelves or went out with the occasional Fall River angler.
Play around with light tippet if you have a true Euro-rod. Your Euro rod is designed to protect tippet. Not only is the rod longer to give you a reach advantage, but its softer flex pattern has shock absorption that is not found in most rods. Light tippet will allow your flies to sink faster and get "in the zone" much faster than other tippet. Light tippet hooks more fish than heavy tippet. The question becomes how many break-offs can you tolerate. Everyone hates breaking off fish but some hate it more than others.
Dry fly fishing is good in the afternoons with some hopper-dropper action, PMD's and some midges. If you are a dry fly fisher and you aren't really into nymphing the good news is that traffic declines quite a bit in the late afternoons when dry fly fishing is better. Many in the Euro-crowd arrive early so you can time your day accordingly.
If you are out on the Crooked on one of those Tough Days with a capital T, try a small woolly bugger or leech pattern. Dead-drifted or stripped, the small streamers can save the day when nothing else seems to work.
August 13th, 2020
Good fishing on the Crooked right now with Euro Nymphing and Dry Dropper fishing leading the way. Small profile mayfly nymphs and perdigon's continue to be the most popular patterns. Tungsten is your friend out here and all but eliminates the need to fish external split shot. For your dry fly in the Dry Dropper rig now is a time to start fishing some smallish hopper patterns such as a Parachute Hopper. Indicator fishing with a Zebra Midge and a Split Back PMD or Juan's PMD Slim Shady is good also for anyone that prefers this method. Dry fly anglers are doing well most afternoons on PMD emergers and dries as well as small Purple Hazes and Parachute Adams. Flows are stable at 215 CFS and you can expect fishing will only improve into late summer and fall. Generally 5x tippet is perfect for the Crooked but carry some 6x also especially when the fish are being picky and the sun is on the water.
August 6th, 2020
We are having a good summer on the Crooked. Flows are down to 215 CFS after running a touch higher than normal. Fish are chowing down the nymphs every day and anglers that have precise drifts are finding a lot of fish. Perdigon's, Thread Frenchies and the ever-popular Duracell are getting it done. You can swing some soft hackes also, particularly in the afternoons. Dry fly fishing is hit-or-miss right now but look for afternoons and evenings to be the best time to find some fish feeding on top. Midges and PMD's are best. We generally fish a Purple Haze size 18 day-to-day unless the fish are thumbing their noses at it and then we will change into a little more match-the-hatch bugs. Often just changing your angle on a picky fish will do the trick. The Crooked is a great place to build skills and after catching a bunch of fish with one tactic look to catch a few with a tactic that you are not as dialed-in with. Doing this will make you a better angler and is respectful to the resource.
March 10th, 2020
Psst. Don't tell anyone but the Crooked is fishing pretty well. Is it as good as it was back in 2015 (our last great year out there)? No, probably not, but we have seen a nice increase in the average size and many anglers are catching good numbers again. March should be a very good month to get reacquainted with our little tailwater gem. The consistent water flows all winter seemed to provide good habitat for both the fish and the insects.
Nymphing will remain the most consistent method to fool some fish. Whether you are an indicator or tightline-style angler, get those flies down and in the strike zone and get those flies dead-drifting. Crooked fish see a lot of natural insects going past their noses all day so they don't normally chase too far for their meals. Flies to consider on the Crooked would include the Perdigon's, Hot Spot Pheasant Tails, and the good ol' Zebra Midge. When you see some fish start working the surface in March, put on a Griffith's Gnat, small Parachute Adams (sizes 18 -22), Midge Emergers such as the Juju Midge or the VC Midge and look for the odd Skwala stone towards the end of March.