Home » Oregon » This Month

Oregon Forecast for April

By Scott Richmond

Oregon Rivers in General

What to Expect in April:

Spring weather governs April fishing: too warm, and snow will melt and muddy the rivers; too cold and the trout won't be very active and hatches will be depressed or delayed. Cool and showery, with a big storm about once every ten days--that's my fondest hope for April.

Trout. Blue-winged olives continue to be a major factor for trout anglers on rivers. They'll be important through early May, although other hatches will begin to overshadow them. Size 18-22 patterns such as Sparkle Duns and Baetis Cripples work well during hatches, as do Parachute Baetis and small Comparaduns. In general, the best action will be 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. If you want a little more fishing, 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 split shot 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 and along current seams. Post-hatch, try a Diving Baetis to pick up trout feeding on egg-laying females (see Hidden Adults and Go Below for BWO).

March brown mayfly hatches will continue on many rivers, especially those that are east of the Cascade crest. Carry size 10 and 12 Comparaduns, CDC Cripples or similar patterns. Check the naturals for color; some hatches east of the Cascade crest are pale brown or cream on the underside, while Willamette Valley hatches can be reddish-brown underneath. In all cases, the underside (the part trout see most) is lighter than the top. Look for feeding fish in slow-to-moderate runs that are near riffles. Note that March brown nymphs migrate from riffly water to slower water before they hatch. That migration could be upstream, downstream, or across stream. So you don't just find duns hatching below riffles; you can find them below, above, or near riffles. You can also find drifting duns in backeddies and quiet water below the hatch locations.

Another mayfly you'll find on some rivers this month is the first round of the mahogany duns. The nymphs migrate to slow water along the margins of the river before they hatch. Because the hatch is in slow water, you need to avoid blind casting. Instead, wait until a trout rises, then cast upstream of that spot. If you cast blindly you risk putting the fish down before you hook any. For more on this hatch, see Mahogany Duns.

Caddis are very important this month and next. Many rivers have large populations of green caddis (genus Rhyacophila) and spotted caddis (genus Hydropsyche). The larvae often drift in the current and are taken by trout. Princes, Green Rock Worms, and Net Builders are good fly choices, but you should take a look at Caddis Larvae--Part I before casting imitations.

Expect occasional hatches of green caddis around 2-4 p.m. (daylight time) in soft water below riffles. A dark Elk Hair Caddis in sizes 12-14 can work well, but emerger patterns such as a Soft Hackle or Sparkle Pupa are usually better. Emergers should be presented just subsurface, either on a dead drift or with a wet-fly swing. The green caddis will hatch through April and part of May, then come back again in fall.

Saddle-case caddis (genus Glossosoma) and weedy water caddis (genus Amiocentrus) also hatch throughout April in the afternoon, and some grannoms (genus Brachycentrus) may show up near the end of April.

Here's a summary of sizes and colors for April's most common adult caddis:

  1. Green caddis: size 12-14; dark olive body, gray wing
  2. Spotted caddis: size 12-14; brown to tan body, tan wing
  3. Saddle-case caddis: size 18-20; tan body, dark wing
  4. Grannom: size 10-14; dark brown body, tan wing
  5. Weedy Water: size 16-18; dark olive body, dark wing
  6. McKenzie Caddis: size 12; bluish-green body

Many caddis species lay eggs by swimming or crawling underwater, and trout often take them. Use a wet fly such as a Soft Hackle or a Diving Caddis in the sizes listed above. Caddis get darker when ready to lay eggs, so use darker versions of the listed colors.

Stoneflies are the other game in town. Very few little brown stoneflies (winter stones) are left, but trout will begin picking up the large salmonfly and golden stonefly nymphs. Look for little yellow stoneflies on some rivers; see Little Yellow Stoneflies for details about fishing this hatch. The spring stonefly, or Skwala, is a member of the little yellow stone group, although it isn't especially little--or yellow. It's a kind of gray-olive color, about size 8-10. Carry some Stimulators (an olive body with a hint of yellow around the thorax) or Bitterroot Olive Stoneflies in that size.

Above all, remember that rainbow trout are now spawning. Avoid spawning beds (redds). They show up as clear patches in the gravel. Don't walk through them, anchor over them, or target trout that are on them.

Flexibility and preparedness are the watchwords for spring fishing. Be prepared for any kind of weather and don't rely on any one hatch.

Steelhead. April is the end of winter steelheading. For the first half of the month, you can still find fish in the coastal rivers, upper Rogue, North Umpqua, and other rivers with healthy populations of wild, native steelhead. You will also find large numbers of spawned-out "downstreamers" headed for the ocean. The downstreamers are more likely to be in slower, quieter water than their fresher breathern.



Oregon Lakes in General

What to Expect in April:

Spring fishing in lakes is mostly a midge and streamer experience. During a midge hatch, the static midge tactic works well. If the hatch is during the bright part of the day, however, you may do better with the deep midge tactic because trout can be reluctant to come to the surface.

Streamers such as Woolly Buggers are effective, too. The colder the water, the slower you should present the fly. "Low and slow" are the watchwords for spring streamer fishing: keep your fly near the bottom (in water that is less than eight or ten feet deep) and retrieve it very slowly.

Another effective streamer strategy is wind drifting. This works well if the wind is not too strong. On the other hand, you need something more than dead calm or your fly isn't going to move. Done right, wind drifting covers the water well and feels like cheating.

Damselfly nymphs should become effective as the water warms up. Imitations work best near weedbeds.

Shallow areas are often the best places to look for trout in the spring. Those are the first parts of the lakes to warm up, and therefore they get more of the insect activity.

If you're fishing a lake where the ice is receding, a good strategy is to cast a midge pupa to the edge of the ice sheet. This works well because midge pupae will rise the surface and hit the ice. Then they'll wriggle out to where there is open water. This concentrates food along the edge of the ice sheet, and that is where feeding trout will be looking for a meal.

Be prepared for sudden weather changes and storms when fishing a lake in the spring.

Coastal bass lakes such as Tenmile and Siltcoos should turn on in April if we get some warm weather.



Chickahominy Reservoir

What to Expect in April:

Try damselfly nymphs, midge pupa patterns (static midge tactic during hatches, deep midge when there is no hatch), count-down-and-retrieve with dark size 8-10 Woolly Buggers, and similar flies.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Lakes in General report. See the Chickahominy Reservoir report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



Clackamas River

What to Expect in April:

Some early summer steelhead start poking their noses into the Clackamas in mid-April; they'll join late-arriving winter-run fish. Use traditional tactics with a sink-tip line a Fishing should be fair when the river level around 12.5 to 13.5 feet on the Estacada gage.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Rivers in General report. See the Clackamas River report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



Crane Prairie Reservoir

What to Expect in April:

Opens the fourth Saturday in April, but don't expect much action until mid-June.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Lakes in General report. See the Crane Prairie Reservoir report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



Crooked River

What to Expect in April:

Look for flows under 300 cfs. Flows could increase around mid-month as the irrigation season starts. Watch the river flow chart. If you see a sudden increase, wait a couple of days for it to steady-out before heading over here.

Expect blue-winged olive and midge hatches, and maybe some caddis. On the surface, toss a Sparkle Dun or Parachute Baetis for the first, and a Sprout Midge or a size 20-22 pupa pattern for the midges; a size 16-18 olive or tan Elk Hair Caddis or Parachute Caddis should work for the caddis.

Size 18 Flashback Pheasant Tail nymphs should also do well this month.

Size 14-18 Scuds with an orange tint are always a good option (scuds get an orange-colored parasite in their body, and studies have proved that trout key-in on that feature). Dead drift your scud near the bottom, or slowly retrieve it in slow water

We are approaching the Mother's Day Caddis season (grannoms), and that means an increasing number of cased caddis are found in the drift. See Caddis Larvae--Part I for a simple pattern that imitates drifting grannom larvae.

The no-bait, artificials-only season continues through all of April

When the river is pressured, small patterns usually are more productive.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Rivers in General report. See the Crooked River report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



Davis Lake

What to Expect in April:

Might be accessible now.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Lakes in General report. See the Davis Lake report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



Deschutes River, Lower

What to Expect in April:

Look for sporadic hatches of March browns, blue-winged olives, mahogany duns, and caddis this month. Midges and some Skwala stoneflies are also part of the mix.

Trout will begin focusing on big salmonfly nymphs, and you can pick up a lot of fish with a Kaufmanns Stonefly, Rocky Nymph, Rubber Legs, or similar nymph dead-drifted on the bottom. However, it's time for my annual lecture about fishing big stonefly nymphs on the Deschutes in spring: [Rant begins here]From now until the end of May, the river's trout will be spawning, and a spawning trout is the most likely fish to grab a big stonefly nymph tumbled along the bottom. These native wild fish don't need the extra stress of being caught, played, and released several times. If you stick to surface or near-surface flies, you will pick up bright, non-spawning fish--some of which are pretty big. Stay off the gravelly flats, because that's were the spawners are. It's essential that we take good care of the fish. If we don't, we could lose the right to fish year-round on the Deschutes. [End of rant]

There are three mayfly hatches of note this month: blue-winged olives, March browns, and mahogany duns. For the blue-winged olives, the best places to fish are in slow-moderate runs or (my favorite) backeddies. My go-to fly during a hatch is a size 18 olive Sparkle Dun; it seems to be a favorite with trout, too. For tips on fishing backeddies, see Three Quick Tips for Backeddies. If you're lucky enough to be on the river for an intense blue-winged olive hatch, you may have trouble spotting your fly among the mass of naturals. If you tie your fly with a dark brown wing, you'll have an easier time picking out your fraud; trout don't seem to mind the dark wing. Hatches will start around 2:00 p.m. and may last an hour.

March browns are a spotty hatch on the Deschutes, and it's usually on the way out by mid-April. Still, you should be prepared for it. It's great if you're in the right place at the right time, but that can be tough to arrange. March brown nymphs grow up in riffly water, but they migrate to slow water before hatching. So look for the hatch in slow-to-moderate flows within 100 yards or so of a riffle. A CDC Cripple or Comparadun works well during the hatch; the bugs are size 12-14. March browns on this river have a creamy underside.

Mahogany duns are often mistaken for March browns here, but this bug is size 14 and a dark, reddish-brown. It hatches in slow water along the margins of the river. Hatches are usually from 4:00 pm. to 5:30 p.m.

You'll also find hatches of saddle-case caddis in the afternoons. A size 18-20 imitation is needed. Green caddis larvae (green rock worms) are available to trout below riffles along the riprap banks.

The best fishing will be from 1:00 to 6:00. By 6:30, fishing is pretty much over for the day.

The upper river (upstream from the northern boundary of the Warm Springs Reservation) opens the fourth Saturday of April.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Rivers in General report. See the Deschutes River, Lower report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



Deschutes River, Upper

What to Expect in April:

The middle Deschutes (between Bend and Lake Billy Chinook) can have fluctuating flows in April, so check the river levels before heading over. After irrigation starts (around mid-April), draw-downs will make the river more fishable. However, warm weather can melt snow and add muddy flows to the river (e.g., Tumalo Creek).

March browns will be available. Carry size 12 CDC Cripples, Parachute Hares Ears, or Comparaduns, all with creamy-brown undersides and brown wings.

Standard nymphs also work, and you may encounter blue-winged olive hatches. Between Benham Falls and Bend, a streamer is a good choice.

The area near Terrebonne has decent public access.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Rivers in General report. See the Deschutes River, Upper report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



East Lake

What to Expect in April:

Opens the fourth Saturday in April.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Lakes in General report. See the East Lake report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



Fall River

What to Expect in April:

Midges and blue-winged olives will provide most of the action, with hatches occurring at midday. For the midges, try a Sprout Midge or a Griffiths Gnat to imitate adult and hatching midges. A small midge pupa pattern (sizes 20-22) should also produce well during a hatch.

The blue-winged olives will probably sputter their way to a mid-April fade-out, so be prepared with Parachute Baetis and Baetis Cripple patterns.

You might see some caddis, so carry a few cream-bodied X Caddis in size 14 or 16 in your fly box. Cased caddis larva patterns (size 10) are another option to consider.

You will need a 6X or 7X tippet and a downstream presentation no matter which dry flies you cast.

Streamers are sometimes effective on this river.

Remember that the river is closed below the falls until Memorial Day weekend.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Rivers in General report. See the Fall River report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



Grande Ronde River

What to Expect in April:

Not a spring prospect.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Rivers in General report. See the Grande Ronde River report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



Hosmer Lake

What to Expect in April:

Probably not accessible until May.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Lakes in General report. See the Hosmer Lake report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



Klamath Lake

What to Expect in April:

Look for trout in the Rocky Point area. Seal Buggers, Woolly Buggers, and damselfly nymphs are good fly choices. Red midge patterns such as Blood Midges or red Serendipities, are another option, as are size 12-14 green Hares Ears. Use an intermediate line or a slow-sinking "slime line" (clear fly line). Fish the reeds along the edges when the light is low during the early morning and dusk.

Early in the year you can also find trout in the south end of the lake, near Pelican Marina and Moore Park.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Lakes in General report. See the Klamath Lake report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



Klamath River

What to Expect in April:

Check the river flows. If the outflow from Keno is under 1,000 cfs, fishing could be good and you should toss big, black, weighted flies, such as Rubber Legs or Woolly Buggers. Dead-drift them past boulders, current seams, and any place the water slows. If the water below the Boyle powerhouse is fishable, try salmonfly nymphs such as Kaufmanns Stoneflies. This section is rich in spotted caddis larvae, so check out Jeff Morgan's article Caddis Larvae--Part I for some hot patterns.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Rivers in General report. See the Klamath River report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



Lava Lake

What to Expect in April:

Opens the fourth Saturday in April.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Lakes in General report. See the Lava Lake report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



Mann Lake

What to Expect in April:

Tan beadhead flies in size 14 and red midge pupa patterns are good choices. Large flies, such as a size 4 Woolly Bugger or Matts Fur, can pick up trout when retrieved on a sinking line. Vary your retrieve. Sometimes a very fast retrieve is needed to induce a strike.

Later in April you may see some of those black, size 10 mega-midges that hatch in desert stillwaters. Trout love 'em when they're out, and can be very selective. A size 10 midge pupa pattern with a black body and silver or white ribbing will do the job. Let it sit or give it a very slow retrieve.

Beware of the weather in April. It can be brutally cold and windy. If you get blown or snowed off Mann, trek down the road a few miles to the Alford hot springs and soak your cold body. You'll need to leave your clothes and modesty on the bench.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Lakes in General report. See the Mann Lake report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



McKenzie River

What to Expect in April:

In the first half of the month, be prepared for March browns with size 10-12 brown Comparaduns or CDC Cripples. Don't limit your fishing just to the hatch time. Beginning a couple of hours before a March brown hatch, you can pick up trout on a nymph pattern; a size 12 Pheasant Tail or dark brown Hares Ear will work well. A good strategy is to fish the nymph on a 12"-18" trailing leader that is attached to the hook bend of a dry fly. Trout could pick up either fly. Anglers using Soft Hackles sometimes do better than those using dries.

Days without March browns often have egg-laying caddis in size 16. Watch, too, for hatches of other mayflies of size 18 and size 14-16; the latter is locally called a "pink lady" for its color, but it doesn't appear to be a pink albert mayfly. And if all else fails, toss a size 14 or 16 Parachute Adams. I've been here when the March brown hatch was anemic and there were no surface or subsurface rises at all, but a size-14 Parachute Adams was a killer.

The moral: be prepared for more than March browns AND always have a few Adams in your fly box.

On the McKenzie, we should see the arrival of the first summer steelhead later this month.

You'll need a boat because private property lines the river banks.

The Willamette just below its confluence with the McKenzie can well this month. You can put in at Armitage Park (next to I-5 on the McKenzie) and float to Hays (12 miles) or put in at Hays and float to Harrisburg (7 miles). Hatches and tactics are similar to those on the McKenzie.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Rivers in General report. See the McKenzie River report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



Metolius River

What to Expect in April:

Expect Cinygmula mayflies at midday. Try a size 16 cream-colored or yellow-tan Sparkle Dun. Blue-winged olives are also hatching, and a Sparkle Dun, Parachute Baetis, or Baetis Cripple in size 18-20 is a good choice. Both hatches occur at midday.

Before the noon-time hatches, try a stonefly nymph dead-drifted near the bottom, or (better) a two-fly rig with a stonefly on the point and a Pheasant Tail Nymph or red Serendipity on a dropper.

Look for a large orange caddis. You'll swear it's an October caddis that got trapped in a time warp, but it's a near relative called the silver-striped sedge; same genus as the big October caddis, though. An orange-bodied Stimulator, Elk Hair Caddis, or Parachute Caddis would be one choice; about size 8. A better choice is a pupa pattern such as a Bird of Prey. These bugs are on their way out and will probably not be important by mid-month.

Smaller caddis--size 16--will be available on warm days. A tan or olive X Caddis works well here.

March browns hatch here, too, if the weather is mild this month. But before you tie on a March brown imitation, make sure the trout are actually taking them. Just because it's hatching, it doesn't mean the trout care.

On warmer days near the end of the month, you might see the beginnings of the pale morning dun hatch. Also near the end of the month, green drake nymphs could become important.

Red Serendipities and other midge pupa/larva pattern should be in your box. Midges are often of marginal importance here, but there are times when the imitations will work. Watch hatches carefully: what you may think is a blue-winged olive hatch may actually be midges. Carry some Griffiths Gnats as well as Sprout Midges for a dry fly option.

With more daylight, anglers can fish longer and may run into some evening events. Look for size 16 caddis and falls of blue-winged olive spinners as dusk approaches.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Rivers in General report. See the Metolius River report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



Owyhee River, Lower

What to Expect in April:

Look for midge and blue-winged olive hatches and maybe some pale-colored mayflies. Big leeches on a slow-sinking line are also a good bet in the deeper, slackwater pools. You might encounter some Skwala stonefllies below riffly sections, and later in the month some Callibaetis may be encountered in the slower water. Irrigation starts in mid-April, after which the water volume will be much higher and the temperature lower. This will tend to push the brown trout farther down the pools, away from the faster water.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Rivers in General report. See the Owyhee River, Lower report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



Rogue River, Upper

What to Expect in April:

Winter steelhead will continue to be available for the first two or three weeks of the month, if water conditions permit. Use indicator tactics with Egg Flies or Big Birds, or swing flies with traditional tactics. Check the Dodge Bridge gage: anything over 3,000 cfs is high water.

On the Holy Water, the blue-winged olive hatch is petering out, but midges should be hatching. You can also pick up fish on streamers, especially when there is no hatch. Trout fishing in the mainstem closes April 1, but remains open in the Holy Water.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Rivers in General report. See the Rogue River, Upper report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



Sandy River

What to Expect in April:

A few early summer steelhead will enter the river this month along with spring chinook; they overlap briefly with late winter-run steelhead. Use traditional tactics with a sink-tip line.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Rivers in General report. See the Sandy River report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



Umpqua River, North Fork

What to Expect in April:

The April steelhead fishery is a quick event: the steelhead will tend to move upstream fast, spawn quickly, then drop back to the ocean. You may catch more downstream-bound fish than fresh, un-spawned fish.

Summer fish will not arrive in numbers until the end of June or early July, so the North Umpqua will probably enter its spring hiatus around mid-month. You'll just have to go elsewhere to get your butt kicked by a steelhead.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Rivers in General report. See the Umpqua River, North Fork report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



Williamson River

What to Expect in April:

Closed.

For more on April tactics and flies, see the Rivers in General report. See the Williamson River report for current conditions, hatches, guides, and other information.



Willamette Region

What to Expect in April:

The Middle Fork of the Willamette should have good fishing this month. See the McKenzie report for flies and tactics; it's pretty much the same story here.




Click here to learn about advertising

logo
Home Forums Fly Patterns Entomology Articles Basic Skills Reviews Classifed Ads Photo Gallery Links Auctions  
IDAHO MONTANA OREGON WASHINGTON
Fishing Reports Trip Planner Hatches River Levels Weather Tides Guides+Lodges Events Fly Shops Fly Clubs