Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Owyhee Brown Trout Time!

In March the weather may sometime be frightful but fishing on the Owyhee can still be delightful! (see photos below)

This is from our Owyhee River Guide:
I guided a Dad and his two college age kids Sunday March 13 on a pretty crazy weather day. Canyon was fogged in until 11:00 a.m and in the low 30's but fish were up on midges as long as the sun did not hit the water.

The rest of the day was drizzly or downright rainy but they took 15-20 fish with 5 over 20", including Hailey's 24" (see the photos). Almost all the fish were taken on #22 or #24 zebra midges. Color does not seem to be a major factor but finding a fish that is holding in a feeding lane is the key. That may sound easy but on the Owyhee this time of year it is not. River flow is currently around 32 cfs which really limits the amount of moving water, most of the fish are cruising looking for food and there are thousands of midges for them to choose from.

The irrigation district typically opens the dam to about 200 cfs about April 15 and then we have a whole new scenario. The reservoir is already 60% full, the water content in the Owyhee snow pack is 120% of average and that means we will have a full body of water behind the dam which is great! The only trick to that is if we get warm weather with rain and heavy, fast runoff which will force the dam to open up the gates. Make sure you check water levels if you plan to come in April. You don't want to drive all the way across the state and have the river running at 1500 cfs!
An interesting phenomenon on the Owyhee the last two years has been how it all of the sudden has morphed from the chalky-green river that it was for years to a crystal clear spring creek. This certainly has made fishing the river more technical. Some of us who are on the river a lot believe that the reason for this is that because of low water in the reservoir the last couple of years it did not "turnover". The "turnover" is caused when the three layers of water in the reservoir (epilimnion, thermocline, and hypolimnion), which are of different temperature and density, reach a point where the epilimnion becomes heaviest and sinks to the bottom and creates a mixing of the water and a more chalky color that the Owyhee was noted for. We will see if our theory is correct as the reservoir will certainly fill this year.

As of today, March 15 there has not been a Skwala sighting and from exploring the river bottom there seem to be fewer Skwala nymphs this year. That is probably a result of several years of no flush from the dam and a therefore a buildup of silt which is detrimental to the Skwala population.

Remember this about the Skwala, it is a small stonefly, a 10 at the biggest. Also, weighted stonefly nymphs don't work in the riffles now because they are only 10" to 12" deep and barely moving. The weighted nymph just goes to the bottom and sticks in the weeds, i.e.. just fish the dry!

If you are interested in booking a trip for trout on the Owyhee River, or any of our other flyfishing destinations call us at (503)-639-6400 or email us at

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