Leg Five: North Santiam, Metolius


North Santiam River  ·


After the hook incident and a pleasant stay in Sisters, a town that reminded us both of Truckee, we were on the road again. We headed northwest from Sisters and crossed Santiam Pass and arrived at the North Santiam River near Marion Fork and Marion Creek.

We decided to give it a try after seeing a promising couple of pockets. I began fishing upstream and immediately started catching fish. They were beautiful, little, wild rainbows, probably the area native Red Band Rainbows.

My daughter, Leslie, worked on downstream while I headed upstream to see if I could find more pockets. I came to a long run below a pretty good gradient that was probably 20 yards long and about 6 feet at its deepest point at the head of the run. I put on an indicator for this run and began at the tail of the run.

I began catching fish on nearly every cast. The largest was perhaps 14 inches, but they were all gorgeous fish. I walked down to a bridge below where we had parted and looked upstream. She was busily fishing one of the pockets. She had caught about five fish, so I told her about the run I had found. We walked the half mile or so upstream and I showed her what I was doing. It took me about six drifts before a fish grabbed one of the two nymphs I was fishing. I backed out and she took over the run and caught at least 10 additional fish out of that run before we decided we had better get a campsite for the night.

A decision to head back toward the Metolius was agreed upon. Leslie had not landed a fish at the Metolius yet, so she was determined to give it another shot.

Shortly after we began fishing a likely slot with some depth, I heard her exclaim, “Fish on.” She landed a small fish, but it was not a trout. A closer inspection revealed a Mountain Whitefish.

We proceeded into the Gorge and I fished a hole upstream from her. After about 10 minutes, I had the feeling that I should check on her. As I got to her location, I peered through the thickly tree-lined banks and caught a glimpse of a splash in front of her. She had dropped a fish while attempting to land it with her hand. Fortunately, the fish was still attached. It was what appeared to be a nice wild Red Band Trout, native to this part of Oregon. The smile on her face said it all. She was happy and relieved that she had finally caught a trout on the Metolius.


(See Sightseeing for water levels.)

Boca | Inflow is at 90 cfs and the outflow is 82 cfs. Try powerbait or nightcrawlers. Throwing lures from shore has been working. Fly fishers have been catching some fish near the inlet mostly nymphing.

Donner | Fishing has been good. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the bait of choice. Mackinaw and Kokanee fishing has been fair. Fly fishermen are catching some fish with streamers.

Lake Tahoe | Fishing has been fair to good for mackinaw. A guide is highly recommended if you are fishing for mackinaw for the first time. Toplining and shore fishing is fair. Most shore fishermen use inflated nightcrawlers. A state record Kokanee was recently landed by an angler out of Nevada City.

Little Truckee River | The flow is now at 90 cfs. This is a low flow for this water, but better than last week. Fishing will be tougher at this level. Hopper dropper set-ups are working well.

Martis Lake | Zero kill. Catch and Release only with barbless artificial lures or flies. Some small cutthroats and an occasional large brown and rainbow can still be caught here. Smallmouth bass have been introduced in this water.

Prosser | The lake is fishing fair to good. Powerbait and nightcrawlers are the best bait. Smallmouth Bass are beginning to bite well with the warming water. Lure and fly fishermen also are taking some fish from shore and near the inlets.

Stampede | Fishing has been fair to good from shore. Kokanee fishing has been fair. Mackinaw fishing has been good. Smallmouth Bass are beginning to get active. Fly fishermen have been doing well near the inlets with nymphs and streamers for trout and in the coves for Smallmouth Bass.

Truckee River | Flowing out of the lake at 339 cfs. The flow through Truckee is at 371 cfs as of Aug. 11. Fish have been caught on nymphs, emergers, dries and streamers. The main hatches now are Caddis and terrestrials, ants, beetles and grasshoppers. Flies imitating these have been the most productive. Streamers also have been good. Crayfish patterns should be a top producer this time of year. A hopper dropper set-up also is a good combination. Warm weather is causing the water to warm into the 70s by the evening. Carry a thermometer and limit your fishing to cooler periods. Try and fish early in the morning to mid-day for the best results. Fishing from Boca downstream should be your best bet now.

Bruce is a long-time area fly fisherman and past president of Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers.

Bruce Ajari

Bruce Ajari is a long-time area fly-fisherman and past president of Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers.