The Metolius is as spectacular a river as one can imagine existing in the Pacific Northwest. Emanating from 2 clusters of springs near the base of Black Butte, the river winds some 28.6 miles through the Deschutes National Forest, until it empties into Lake Billy Chinook and ultimately the Deschutes River. Designated in 1988, as a National Wild and Scenic River, lush meadows, vegetated banks, and stands of ponderosa pine line the rushing rapids that generally describe the main character of the river. The geology of the Black Butte drainage basin, stabilizes the river’s flow and temperature throughout it’s entire length, and at its source, the river is a consistent 48 deg F. The Metolius' high quality water, supports a tremendous variety of insects and as a result, healthy populations of wild rainbow trout, bull trout, and whitefish also exist. Seasonally, this collection of wild fish is augmented by a spawning run of kokanee that enter the Metolius from Lake Billy Chinook. Generally considered a challenging place to fish, anglers that put in their time will be rewarded. Learn to seek out deeper holes, and those places where ample bank cover and near bank structure provide fish habitat and respite from the relatively structure-less heavy flow of mid-river.
From the headwaters downstream to Bridge 99, the river is FLY FISHING ONLY, but barbless, catch-and-release fishing must be practiced throughout the entire river’s length. The lower 17 miles are bordered from the west by the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, which is closed to entry. However, a primitive trail lines the eastern side of the river downstream of Bridge 99, and although quite voluminous and near impossible to wade, adventurous anglers can use it for access to this part of the river.
Commercial guided fishing is prohibited on the Metolius, but we have an excellent map available at the shop, to which we will be happy to add tips to the river’s most productive sections. As with most spring creeks, the selective fish and clear water of the Metolius forces anglers to be at the top of their game. Call, stop into the shop, or reference our Guide Report below for valuable insight on leader and tippet configurations, precise fly pattern choice, and floatant recommendations that will up your chance of success.
As always, the Metolius continues to challenge any and all anglers that wish to humble their angling on any given day. Dry fly action has been consistent in certain areas and spending time on the water will help you key in on the where and when for said hatches. BWO's are always a staple this time of year and are a solid option to fish, especially when you may not be quite sure what is being taken on the surface. Subsurface nymphing is always a good way to get into fish and figuring out what is on the menu can be fun. First off, don't shoot yourself in the foot by trying to nymph with anything but fluorocarbon in the gin clear waters that flow throughout the entire river. We're not saying that leaders that aren't fluoro won't catch fish, but you will drastically increase your odds of fooling fish with an option that becomes virtually transparent under the water. Heavy stonefly, bwo, midge, & egg patterns have been working well out there. The CDC Pheasant Tail that we have in the shop is always a front-runner in the nymph choices for the river. If you're on the search to find bull trout, a big white or olive/white pattern has been a good option. Try different techniques when targeting these voracious fish. Swing or strip your patterns to find out what the fish want to chase.