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.
Consistent as ever, the Metolius will continue to fish well through the middle of summer. Nymphing can be productive all hours of the day. We like golden stone nymphs, Psycho Princes, Pheasant Tails, eggs, baetis patterns, and midges. This month, the most likely dry fly hatches will be PMDs and Golden Stoneflies. But stay ready with caddis in the afternoons, and rusty spinners at dusk. Fine fluorocarbon tippet is a necessity. Fish 5x fluoro on a relatively long leader (12′ is a good length). The Metolius is a great option for the long, hot summer days, because the water stays nice and cold.