Deschutes River fly fishing
The Lower Deschutes River in Central Oregon is a fly fishing mecca. The 100 miles of the Deschutes River from Pelton Dam to the Columbia are managed for wild rainbow trout, known as redsides. The Deschutes is Oregon's blue ribbon fly fishing river, with many hatches that will test angler's fly fishing skills. The salmonfly and golden stonefly hatch, caddis fly, and mayfly hatches provide engaging dry fly fishing opportunities. For angler's keen on indicator nymphing, the Deschutes has unlimited potential. Riffles and pocket water make up a staggering portion of the Deschutes, and small nymphs are productive every day of the year. While trout inhabit the entire Lower Deschutes, the upper river from Pelton Dam down to Maupin, Oregon is where the best fly fishing can be found.
River Runner Outfitters provides guided fly fishing trips on the Lower Deschutes River near Warm Springs, just a one hour drive from Bend, Oregon. Guided fly fishing trips are also available on the Deschutes River near Maupin. Alternatively, River Runner Outfitters offers multi-day camping float trips from Trout Creek to Maupin, the ultimate in Deschutes River fly fishing.
the Deschutes River
The Deschutes River begins as a spring creek, emerging from underground sources at Little Lava Lake in the Cascade Mountains. The Deschutes begins a 250 mile journey flowing south. Interrupted by Crane Prairie and Wickiup Reservoirs, the fertile waters of the Upper Deschutes grow large rainbow and brown trout in these stillwaters. The Deschutes takes a 180 degree turn, and flows north through downtown Bend, Oregon. The river between Bend and Lake Billy Chinook is known as the Middle Deschutes. Here the river carves through a deep rugged canyon, holding rainbow and brown trout. Irrigation season takes an enormous toll on the Middle Deschutes, however the river is revived by springs before joining the Metolius and Crooked Rivers to form Lake Billy Chinook. Pelton and Round Butte Dams release the Lower Deschutes River near Warm Springs, where the river flows 100 miles to the Columbia River. This lower section of the Deschutes River holds the healthiest population of wild rainbow trout, has a large run of summer steelhead, and provides some of the best fly fishing near Bend, Oregon.
fly fishing the Lower Deschutes River
March and April begin our Deschutes River season with hatches of blue winged olives and March brown mayflies. Each day nymphing is productive in the mornings, until the bugs start hatching in the early afternoon. For several hours dry fly fishing is great. This is a time when the trout show themselves in backeddies and soft riffles, sticking their noses above the surface to sip mayflies. During the spring, trout are in their peak condition, after resting (and growing) over the winter. The Deschutes River near Maupin, Oregon is open for fishing the entire year, however south of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation boundry the Deschutes is open for trout fishing the last Saturday in April through October 31.
May and June bring the salmonfly hatch, followed shortly by the golden stonefly hatch. These larger sized bugs (size 6 and 8) create a unique and exciting dry fly opportunity. The trout are looking up and ready to pounce on a well drifted fly. This is a popular time to fly fish the Deschutes River, and for good reason. Trout are eating large bugs that are highly visible, on heavy tippets, and are not so spooky. Fishing the Deschutes River salmonfly hatch is a game of searching the banks with short methodical casts. Trout hold tight to grassy banks and behind alder trees. The salmonfly hatch brings the largest trout of the year to the surface.
Mid June, during the stonefly hatches, a cloudy day will induce a green drake hatch. While not a dependable occurrence, the green drake hatch provides what many anglers consider the best dry fly fishing of the year. When the drakes hatch in the afternoon, trout lose interest in everything else and key in. Late June, overlapping and following the stonefly hatches, pale morning duns (pmd's) become a mid day hatch. Take a break from pounding the banks with giant salmonflies, and sight fish the weed beds and back eddies with mayfly patterns. This is an engaging change of pace, reminiscent to spring creek dry fly fishing. After the hatch subsides, back to fishing the banks with salmonflies.
Perhaps the best dry fly fishing of the year (and certainly most dependable) coincides with the caddis fly hatches of summer. By the end of June caddis flies become a rich food source for the trout. During the middle of the day trout can be found slurping caddis in the shade of alder trees. This is spot and stalk fly fishing at its best. During the last hour of daylight, trout leave their day time haunts and begin a surface feeding frenzy that is a sight to behold. This is fast and furious dry fly action, where trembling hands make tying snapped tippets a difficult task. Caddis flies maintain the trout's diet through the summer and fall, including October caddis that begin hatching mid September. Blue winged olives join the menu once again in October and November.
clothing and tackle
Deschutes redsides are wild trout. The larger fish have learned to be very wary of predators, including fly fishers. Stalking trout along the banks is a large part of the fly fishing day. To approach these trout successfully, it is important to wear clothing that blends in with the natural surroundings. Green, brown, grey, and tan are ideal. Polarized sunglasses are a must. Without them spotting trout is nearly impossible. Fly rods in 4 to 6 weight, and 8' 6" to 9' in length is best for dry fly fishing. 4 piece is easiest to travel with. For indicator and czech nymphing, a 10' to 11' switch rod is a useful tool. Breathable goretex waders are ideal. Studded wading boots are very helpful. During July and August wet wading with shorts and polypropylene longjohns or nylon pants is appropriate.
guided fly fishing trips
River Runner Outfitters provides guided fly fishing trips on the Deschutes River. A guided trip will help angler's read the water, find trout, and choose the right fly to match the hatch. Guided float trips from Warm Springs to Trout Creek provide a scenic day of fly fishing near Bend, Oregon. The Maupin area of the Lower Deschutes River also holds many trout and is a great option for a guided float trip.
multi-day fly fishing trips
The 35 miles of the Deschutes River between Trout Creek and Maupin, Oregon hold the greatest numbers of trout, and the best fly fishing opportunities. This productive section of the Deschutes River is only accessible by boat. River Runner Outfitters provides multi-day camping float trips from Trout Creek to Maupin, spanning three to five days, April through November. Camp on the river each night, and enjoy meals prepared with fresh local ingredients by River Runner Outfitters' house chef. All food and camping equipment is provided, and camps and meals are completely catered.