4 Day Metolius Impressions

The first time I fished it, there was a green drake hatch for about 45 minutes in the afternoon. The pools below Camp Sherman seemed empty all morning, but once the hatch started there were fish rising everywhere. The first day, it took me about 30 minutes to find the right fly and hook two beautiful redsides on consecutive casts before the hatch ended. That evening, I tied up a few flies for the next day's hatch. The next day, the big mayflies came off at the same time, and I was ready this time. I caught two, then the fish wouldn't touch my flies, even though they continued to rise for the naturals.

If you can relax and enjoy days like this, the Metolius is wonderful. If you need more action, there are other places where the fish are more plentiful and less spooky. But you'll be hard-pressed to find a prettier place than the upper Metolius.
About 10-12 years ago I watched a survey crew shock the Met above Camp Sherman. They were counting Kokes (it was mid-September) but I could not believe the number and size of the rainbows and bulls. The largest fish was at least 24" and there were dozens in the 12-16" range. This was above the junction with Lake Creek where the water is so thin you would swear there are no decent fish around.

But, like I posted above, it sucks so don't go there.


Active Member
I grew up fishing the Met. Since they got rid of the hatchery program the river has become tough for the everyday fisherman. The hydraulics on the Met are crazy and getting down to fish is difficult. Are there big rainbows in there? Yes. The problem I see with all rivers, and in particular, popular ones-- like the Met, is that people think they should be able to catch big fish on the surface. If they can't, they write the river off as "cookie cutter," or have the tone this dude does. The simple fact is that you must adapt to the river, rather than expecting it to cater to your novice skills. This is what separates good fisherman from your everyday fisherman. If you want to catch big fish, go big and below the surface---should be obvious. Sounds like you got your ass handed to you and you want to vent. Epic river, with big bulls (that act like steelhead) and big rainbows that require technical approaches. What more do you want? :D

By the way, I'm calling BS on raising bulls to dries on the Met. I've never seen it happen.
You can make it technical with midget flies, patience, and perfect presentations or you can nymph it with tungsten beadheads and have a lot of fun, especially in the evening when the browns are cruising. Very cold at night this time of year. Very beautiful river around Camp Sherman.

I will apologize in advance if i come off as crass or rude or a jerk etc.......But In my opinion, and of course it is only my opinion....the metolius is one of the top rivers in Oregon. Having said that, It is tougher fishing. It is technical fishing, and it is some of the best, most consistant dry fly fishing around. But these aren't your run of the mill 12" hatchery pellet eating half fish....these are native,wild,willy,rainbows....and most of the time they require a very good hatch match coupled with a very good presentation. You also have to be able to read the water well and locate the fish, they just aren't everywhere in the river, they appreciate a certain type of depth,hydrology,food sources etc and you have to locate those spots to have success. I don't fish the upper river that much anymore......(above the hatchery), mainly because i enjoy chasing the bigger bows(16+") and bull trout....leave the smaller fish for others....and don't even get me started on the bull trout.....Average size fish over 20" with plenty over 8lbs.....how great is that. You can nymph...or my fav streamer fish to these guys and its a blast. Personally i think its a great fishery, but if you only bring your c game its gonna kick your butt....and you have to locate the fish first.....I live about 40 minutes from it and fish it over 50 times a year, if any of you guys are in the area and would like to test it out shoot me a pm.....ps....its prime bull trout time right now.


Active Member
i first fished the metolius in '68. back then the hatchery truck would roll up to a stop on the allingham bridge, put the pipe over the railing and dump the load. standing below the bridge would be an army of 'fly fishermen and women' frothing the surface and killing all of those hatchery fish about as fast as they hit the water.

then the stocking stopped, the removal of fallen timber ceased, and the river started a different sort of 'come back'. the crowds of catch and kill evaporated, pools and runs started to take shape, the resident fish noticed and took up home keeping.

the 'trick' to fishing the metolius is thinking like a fish and learning just where they are likely to have set up house keeping. fishing those spots methodically with small dries is my prefered tactic. can i catch fish? sure. are they whoppers, naw. are they tough to come by? you bet. this is, afterall a spring creek and it deserves the same respect and thoughtful approach of a montana counter part.

top that with some great camp sites, a knock out setting, and a good time can be had year around. i would, however skip mid june through right now.
I fished the Met a few years ago in March and (I swear) there was an October Caddis hatch
going on down by the hatchery. I about had a nervous breakdown trying to get a drag free
drift to rising trout in the Met's diabolical micro currents. After hanging up my third or forth
orange stimulator in a ponderosa pine I gave up. Upon returning to the car my wife says,
"I don't know why you fly fish. It just seems to make you so angry." That was the last time
I took her along fly fishing.

It wasn't all for nothing. The frustrating experience led me to John Judy's book "Slack Line
Strategies for Fly Fishing". He lives and guides in Camp Sherman and has to deal with those
wicked Metolius mico-currents every day. While I can't say that I mastered the Met after
reading his book, I have had better luck there and on many other streams where a drag
free drift is the difference between hooking rising fish and coming home empty handed.


Active Member
if you have the time and interest, i might suggest you visit, october, november or december. if you haunt the river enough days in a row, you will start to recognize the 'regulars' as they come out in the afternoon to fool a fish or two, maybe not. these are the folks who live close by and have a pretty intimate knowledge of just where the fish might be, take notes.

this is not a begineers spring creek and too often folks look at it, the amazing setting and beautiful camp grounds and think it's as simple as casting some sort of fly on the water and catching dumb fish. not so by any stretch of the imagination. of course if they charged a daily entry fee ala montana spring creeks, you would more than likely hear glowing reports of the 'challenging' fishing.

this spring creek deserves time and respect to learn and be humbled before you can actually start figuring it out. i never fish bigger than 18's, don't count on finding rising fish, but i fish every spot that could possibly hold a trout with religious zeal. some days that works :)

if nothing else, it's an astounding place to visit. make sure you hike the river sections along the well worn paths both river left and right.