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The Blue River Under the Mountain

We'd had a glorious summer here in Northwest Oregon. I know this, because my normally pasty rain-kissed hide is still bronzed enough that I wouldn't look like a vampire in Southern California. Okay, I'll admit that due to work and vacation, I did miss a lot of the Portland summer this year, and I did spend that time in places with a high UV index. However, I got multiple weekends at the Oregon Coast where it was actually possible to trade the down parka for a bikini. Usually that happens only twice a summer, and at least one of those days sends an epic jellyfish bloom into the surf.

When a flotilla of clouds rushed in last week, and dropped frigid rain paratroopers on the Portland area, I'd made the snap decision on Friday to flee. My destination ended up being Bend, both because of friends in the area, and the prospect of fishing some amazing rivers. I'd procrastinated for years about fishing the Metolius River. I don't know why. Maybe I wasn't ready until last weekend.

The Metolius was worth the wait. It is the bluest river I've ever seen in my travels. The trout are challenging and wary. The currents are tricky to mend across. There is a bunch of fly-only water to enjoy. The whole area, bedecked in Ponderosa pines, reminds me of growing up in a semi-arid mountain environment. Even the drive to the Metolius from the Portland area is beautiful as it climbs a canyon carved by the Santiam river, and passes by a multitude of breathtaking volcanoes and lava features.

If you don't fly fish, the Metolius should still be something you lay eyes on. The headwaters are quite unique. The entire river emanates directly out of the side of a mountain.

Metolius and Jefferson

View toward Mt. Jefferson from the Metolius Headwaters


The Santiam River, just above a reservoir. Normally these falls are underwater, but sometimes drought can be revealing.

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