Oregon

 

Rivers

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

HATCH NYMPH/
LARVA
PUPA/
EMERGER
DUN/
ADULT
EGG-
LAYER
Ameletus
Flav
Pale evening dun
Mahogany dun
Gray drake
Trico
Grannom
Saddle-case caddis
Caddis
Golden stonefly
Yellow sally
Salmonfly
Midge
Scud
Sculpin
Hopper
Leech
Crayfish
Baitfish
Beetle
Ant

 

Trout. August is always a tough month for Oregon trout anglers. There are five good reasons for this:

  1. High water temperature increases a trout's metabolism to the point where it's more wired than an espresso junkie; fish will flee at anything that looks threatning.
  2. Warm water also holds less oxygen, so fish are stressed.
  3. Bright, sunny days make fish feel exposed, plus months of fishing pressure has made them wary.
  4. Trout have spent May, June, and July gorging on salmonflies, caddis, pale morning duns, etc.; they're not very hungry.
  5. There are no big, intense hatches.

What do you have? Super spooky trout that have no reason to expose or exert themselves in the search for food. They seek deeper, cooler, darker water. Or undercut banks, the shelter of overhanging tree branches, crevices alongside rocks, and other places that make them feel safe.

Fishing will be easiest in the very early morning hours and just before dark. Any time you're fishing, look for water that doesn't have the sun on it. You can take a midday siesta and rest your casting arm, resigning yourself to the fact that the trout are going to be moody and will play hard-to-get.

Or, you might open your eyes and actually find a few willing fish during the sunny hours. Look for them near the banks where the water is more than two feet deep and is shaded by vegetation, or where micro-eddies, foam, and broken water offer some measure of security.

Always carry a stream thermometer. If the water is 70 or warmer, don't fish for trout.

Hatches. In Oregon, the primary August hatches are caddis and midges. Both will be small: size 16-18 for the former, size 20-22 for the latter. A few southern Oregon rivers will have trico hatches and spinner falls. Again, we're talking about little bugs of size 22-24.

Later in the month, longer, cooler nights may improve fishing--but don't bet on it. When the water finally cools, trout will increasingly target large stonefly nymphs in rivers that have them. Evening midge and caddis activity will continue to be important.

Steelhead. For steelheaders, it's a different story. The summer run is building in intensity this month, so there are fish in all the major rivers except in the far eastern part of the state. However, some of the same factors that affect trout--warm water, bright sun, angling pressure--impact steelhead. Your best results will be during the low light hours. If you have to wear sunglasses to fish a run, figure your chances of success are not very good (but not down to zero). Start fishing at the crack of dawn. That doesn't mean you get up at dawn; it means you're on your favorite run with your rod strung, fly tied on, and ready to cast as soon as you can see; legal fishing begins one hour before sunrise. Use the bright hours to rest and relax so you're ready to go again in the evening.

A useful noontime activity is to climb the banks above the river, if the geography permits it. With the advantage of height you might spot some fish; they'll still be there in the evening, but they'll be more likely to bite when the light's off the water. Even if you don't see any fish, you can understand the structure of a run much better because the rocks, slots, and ledges become clear in your mind. You'll gain a better idea of how to fish the run. You might even discover a productive run that you didn't know existed.

While your best chance of a hookup is during low-light time, it's possible to pick up steelhead during the bright hours. If you feel compelled to cast all day, switch to a sink-tip line and standard summer steelhead deep swinging fly. Swing your fly through deeper water or riffly sections (steelhead pull into the frothy water in search of overhead cover). Or use indicator tactics and work any slots, seams, or rocky areas that you think may hold fish.

As the water warms up, you may actually do better with a sink-tip line, even during the low-light times. The reason is that the cooler water is near the bottom, and steelhead may be more receptive to your fly if they don't have to rise through warm water to reach it. However, if the water temperature is over 70, don't fish for steelhead.

Whether you quarry is steelhead or trout, you'll need to use caution when approaching fish in low, clear water.

 

Lakes

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

HATCH NYMPH/
LARVA
PUPA/
EMERGER
DUN/
ADULT
EGG-
LAYER
Callibaetis
Gray drake
Longhorn caddis
Northern caddis
Traveling sedge
Dragonfly
Midge
Scud
Leech
Crayfish
Baitfish
Beetle
Ant

The damselfly nymphs have hatched into adults, so there's little point in casting a damsel nymph pattern. Adult patterns such as the Foam Adult Damselfly can sometimes pick up fish early in the month. Cast your fly on a long leader and a floating line; then sit patiently, like you had on a worm and a bobber. But don't go to sleep: trout can slam that fly without warning. The best times are when the wind is very light.

Callibaetis hatches will continue throughout the month, but August hatches are typically weak; they pick up again in September. Look for late-morning to mid-afternoon hatches. Trout will feed on active nymphs for several hours before the hatch. Take advantage of this by casting a Flashback Pheasant Tail and retrieving it ever so slowly with an intermediate line and a leader of at least 12 feet. Callibaetis get smaller and darker as the season progresses, so size 16 flies will be needed.

As in July, trout will be feeding on midges in the evening; some days will see afternoon or morning hatches, too. The trick is to match the size and color of the pupae (size is more important than color). Experiment until you find which colors/sizes the trout prefer. Narrow it to size first, then refine your choice of color. Of course, once you've got it all figured out it will be dark and you'll have to quit. And the next night they'll probably want something completely different. That's midge fishing in August.

If all else fails, go with an olive Woolly Bugger on an intermediate line.