March 12, 2021
A double haul cast sends the fish-like streamer within a couple of feet of the shoreline. Strip, strip, hard jerk, strip . . . so the cadence begins in anticipation of the fast grab by the broad shouldered char. Bull trout in Lake Billy Chinook are no secret, but they can be picky and elusive, both of which can make for a long day of fly fishing. Me and George Krumm spend at least 3 hours casting at various places on the Metolius arm before I break the skunk from the boat! Not a big trout but it’s a start. About a half hour later we find what I refer to as a “wolf pack”. The wolf packs tend to be numerous schooling bulls that average decent size, 20-26 inches. On occasion, these schools will have the monsta bullie too! Fortunately it’s a good bite and we land about six or seven nice bull trout.
My preferred flies are streamers tied with synthetic hair in different lengths ranging from 3-6 inches. I like olive and white, olive, light blue and white, olive and yellow, light olive and tan, and blue and white. I only use one hook, generally in a short shank. Don’t worry about short strikes, these predators usually inhale your fly! Please make sure to flatten the barbs! The bull trout tend to take the fly deep and removing a barbless hook is less harmful. Most of the time I fish an Airflo, 300 gr Depth Finder. Once in a blue moon an intermediate sink line is nice to have where there are more shallow areas like on the Miracle mile on the Warms Springs res side. I use rapid strips with radical rod tip snaps. This seems to drive them crazy! Fly fishing from a boat is the best way to catch the bull trout. They can be scattered a long ways from launch sites which makes any motorless vessel a tough challenge to fish.
On the day we were there, it was a sunny windless day with the water temperature at 48F. Don’t be mistaken that bright sunny days are a turn off to these trout, on the contrary! Most of my best days have been in the middle of the day and in calm conditions. The biggest challenge is finding the bull trout, persistence pays off! Sometimes you might catch a very large loner, bull trout or sometimes it can be the wolf packs in one particular area. All I can say is, keep working the small coves, points and gradual sloping shorelines and don’t give up! Make sure you have a Warm Springs angling permit on the Metolius arm!
Tight lines on your fly fish pursuit!