Oregon

 

Rivers

Hatches divided by half-month.
 Super    Major    Minor    Slight    None

HATCH NYMPH/
LARVA
PUPA/
EMERGER
DUN/
ADULT
EGG-
LAYER
Blue-winged olive
March brown
Grannom
Spotted caddis
Green caddis
Golden stonefly
Salmonfly
Small black stonefly
Skwala
Cranefly
Midge
Aquatic beetle
Scud
Sculpin
Leech
Crayfish
Baitfish

 

If it's a typical March, we'll see a little of everything, from wet storms to mild, sunny days. Moral: watch the river levels and the weather forecasts. And don't trust the latter too much; somewhere in Oregon there is a tomb of the unknown fisherman, and the epitaph reads, "He believed the weather report."

Trout. Blue-winged olives will continue to hatch throughout the month, to the delight of trout and those who angle for them. Size 18-22 Baetis Cripples work well during hatches, as do Parachute Baetis . My personal favorite--a Sparkle Dun --seems to work most anywhere. In general, the best blue-winged olive action will be midday: 1:00-3:00 (standard time, not daylight). Cool, drippy days prolong and intensify the hatch, bringing more trout to the surface. Sometimes the best hatches occur when the weather is warming up after a couple of cold days.

If you want to fish outside the blue-winged olive hatch, tie on a size 18 gold-ribbed Hares Ear or a Pheasant Tail and drift it near the bottom during the pre-noon hours. The best way to get these small flies down on the bottom is to pinch a splitshot onto the leader or to use a tandem fly rig with a heavy fly such as a Rubber Legs on the point and the small fly on a dropper about 12 inches above it.

Runs of slow to moderate speed are best for the blue-winged olive nymphs, but the dry flies work best in backeddies. Post-hatch, try a Diving Baetis or Soft Hackle to pick up trout feeding on egg-laying females.

March browns will join the blue-wings on many rivers. A size 12-14 brown-bodied Comparadun or CDC Cripple is a good dry fly choice. During March brown hatches, look for feeding fish in the slow-to-moderate runs that are within about a hundred yards (upstream or downstream) of a good-sized riffle. Hatches start around 1:00-1:30 p.m., standard time.

The larvae of spotted caddis and green caddis continue to be on the trout menu. A Zug Bug or Prince nymph works. Look for current seams and slow water just below a riffle or drop-off, and dead drift your nymph through those spots.

Little brown stoneflies will also be present, but they're fading fast. Try a size 16 black Elk Hair Caddis near the bank, or a size 14 black Hares Ear near the bottom.

Midges are another staple of a trout's diet at this time of year. Look for midday hatches and use a midge pupa pattern or an adult pattern such as a Sprout Midge or Griffiths Gnat .

No matter where you pursue your trout, be sure to carry some size 14-16 Parachute Adams with you. They have saved my bacon on many rivers at this time of year. They will often take trout when no hatch is present and trout aren't evident near the surface. Sometimes, a size 14 Parachute Adams works wonders during a hatch of size 18 blue-winged olives. Go figure. Another generic pattern to carry is a size 16 brown Soft Hackle , which can pick up trout when presented with a surface swing.

Steelhead. Steelheading will continue to be an activity on rivers with strong runs of wild, native fish. Weather is still a factor, either if it's too dry or too wet. The adage is, "When rivers are high, fish high. When rivers are low, fish low." That means that when the flows are unseasonably low your best opportunities are farther down the river, near the mouth, where there is more water and steelhead are stacked up waiting to come in at the first sign of increased flows. Conversely, if the river is high, you'll find better water conditions farther upriver where fewer tributaries have added their loads of silt and water.

This month you're at least as likely to encounter a spawned-out "downstreamer" steelhead as a fresh one. Downstreamers favor slow water, so you can improve your odds of hooking bright, unspawned steelhead by keeping your fly out of those areas. Prime downstreamer water is just past a drop-off where a run starts, the slow water on the inside of current seams, and the slow water on the inside of riffle corners. Avoid those spots. All fish that are not fin-clipped should be allowed to continue their journey, whether it's upstream or down.

The best approach will be traditional tactics with a sink-tip line that gets the fly near the bottom, or indicator tactics. As the rivers warm up, you'll find swinging flies becomes more effective than when the water was cold.

Late in the month, some trout and most steelhead will get serious about spawning. When trout go on the spawn, I stop fishing nymphs near the bottom. Both need to be left alone to do their procreative thing. Also, watch out for redds, which can be identified as a clean patch of gravel among the algae-covered gravel. That's where the eggs are. Don't walk through a redd or fish over the trout that are hovering on or near it.

 

Lakes

Hatches divided by half-month.
 Super    Major    Minor    Slight    None

HATCH NYMPH/
LARVA
PUPA/
EMERGER
DUN/
ADULT
EGG-
LAYER
Damselfly
Dragonfly
Midge
Waterboatman
Aquatic beetle
Scud
Sculpin
Leech
Crayfish
Baitfish

Many lakes are closed until the fourth Saturday in April, and many others that are "open" all year are frozen over or are blocked by snow. But later this month the ice should start to leave, and there can be excellent fishing at ice-out.

In lakes or reservoirs with water (and trout), expect to find your fish in the shallower parts of the lake because those areas warm up first and are more likely to have food. Trout will be feeding on midges --look for hatches at midday--dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, and baitfish .

Other than a midge pattern, it's hard to go wrong with a Woolly Bugger or Seal Bugger on a slow sinking line, such as an intermediate or a Wet Cell II. A slow retrieve is usually best. Sometimes you can pick up fish at deeper levels, but in general you're better off to concentrate on the margins of the lakes and near weed beds. Lakes with cutthroat, such as Mann Lake, often have fish in very shallow areas---sometimes in water that hardly covers your ankles.

If you're on a lake that is partially covered with ice, cast a midge pupa pattern along the edge of the ice sheet. Midge pupae rise up under the ice, then wriggle to the open water. This concentrates them along the edge of the ice sheet, and that's where trout will cruise.

Spawning season is coming up for rainbow trout, so near the end of the month you'll find them in or not far from the inlet and outlet creeks, if they are wild fish. If you respect the fish and value the future of your sport, you'll leave them alone until they've spawned and recovered.

Non-wild rainbow trout in lakes with no spawning access will be stacked around rocky, gravelly areas. On some lakes, that means the boat ramp.