Sep 21, 2012

Fly Hatch: The Blue Wing Olive

I recall days on the river with clients - knee deep – swinging flies for steelhead and maybe getting a pluck or hooking a fish every now and again. It’s hard to discount the elation when hooking one of these fish, when the mystery is finally shattered and you unravel like line from your spool. It can take some heavy devotion to stick with it and reach this point.

Sometimes I start to question the madness. Not completely, but there are times when I think how funny are we to stand casting to a fish that rarely eats while being surrounded by fish that often do. From late September through the following spring, in certain places and certain times of the day, the river starts burping little mayflies and the trout – they have a tendency to go a bit crazy.

I know this one piece of water out on the Deschutes. Such a beautiful tailout: Four to five feet deep, bouldery, nice speed. I wonder how many fish have been hooked here over the years… Many Steelhead stop over here and often we find them here. Not always, but it is choice water and tends to give them up if they are in the mood. Many times though, I have stood here with only trout in the mood. And I mean really in the mood. Rising and swirling all over, trout and extremely big trout feasting recklessly not more than a few feet from us at times. Like they are all on catnip. Like they are drunk. All because of a little morsel hatching. But you keep throwing your fly out to their migratory cousins even though they may laugh at you. You have to because you are determined and you are actually Steelhead Fishing after all.

It’s interesting the fish we turn our noses at… Guess it takes a steelhead angler to humble them trout by not giving them the time of day. Yes, you know who you are.

So now, deep in the guts of our steelhead season, beware the blue wing olive and the fish that eat them. If you’re not going to play, at least observe the spotted river beasts breaking water and giving themselves to the world above. Maybe just ponder their might. The residents will amaze you this time of year. It’s like they wait all summer long for these flies to hatch because when they do, they cannot help themselves. I wonder what they taste like, sweet or savory? Lucky for some, it takes a bunch of these flies to fill up their tummies.

The olive-colored bugs are like little sailboats on the water and they fly like a helicopter might. Size 18-22

Have a good time,


  1. Great story! Thanks.

  2. sure, thanks for tuning in.. i am always amazed to see fish go this sort of nuts on such teeny bugs. if only it happened all day every day.. naw that wouldn't be any fun


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