Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Annual Met Trip

About this time of year for the last several years I take a step away from steelhead and head to one of my old stomping grounds on Oregon's Metolius River. Back in the day I would spend a considerable amount of my fishing time beating my head against the ponderosa pines on the banks of this river looking for its elusive redband, brown and bull trout. The crystal clear spring fed waters, amazing bug hatches, hard fighting fish and sometimes behemoth bulls kept me coming back. To this day when someone asks me where I fish I always say the Met, though over the years I seem find myself going there less and less. Yet every Spring I make at least one trip to this river in hopes of renewing my faith in trout fishing.

Though I can't seem to get the pull of a steelhead off my mind the thought of one of those mid-teen bull trout on the end of my six weight is usually enough get my mind off steelhead for at least a couple days. I didn't find one of those huge green demons, but what I did find was the beautiful river I used to fish devoid of other fishermen as well as a few scrappy fish that wanted to play. I guess the cold 26 degrees and snow were keeping the yuppies on the slopes of Mt Hood and Mt Bachelor instead of on the river.

Keith Darnall about to release his first Metolius Bull Trout.

The Metolius River is located about 120 miles Southeast of Salem and 15 miles north of Sisters, Oregon. The spring fed waters originating from an underground aquifer East of Round Butte, Oregon. This spring feeds the river before going through series of gorges where other smaller tributaries meet and ending in the western end of the Lake Billy Chinook. This river contains several species of fish, redband and brown trout, two species of char, brook and bull trout as well as mountain whitefish. Though both brook and brown trout are not native to this system, they can be found from residualized hatchery planting in the past. In the fall you will also find a migration of kokanee (landlocked sockeye salmon) that move up from Lake Billy Chinook to spawn.

The name Metolius is a Warm Springs Indian name for stinking fish, named for the smell of carcasses from dead sockeye and king salmon found on its banks after spawning in the fall and winter. With luck and the new ladders put in both Round Butte and Pelton Dam downstream on the Deschutes River there is hopes of bringing these fish back to this upper watershed. Read more about this project here and on Oregon Live.

This is by far one of the most beautiful rivers I have ever fished and a river worthy to visit if only for hiking and camping purposes. Fishing is just a bonus, but do not expect to catch much. These fish see everything and their reputation for being difficult to catch holds up for those who do not fish it regularly.


mike doughty said...

it's funny cause earlier i was thinking about hopefully being able to hook up with u sometime on the met for some big bulls..


looks like a wonderful river! Cool post!

beerfish said...

Just an FYI: it is only 120 miles from Salem if you drive down I-5 to Albany and take Hwy 20 the whole way. About 100 miles if you go the most direct route.