I have spent the better part of the last three weeks fishing the lower Deschutes River for steelhead on the Madras to Maupin stretch. While the fishing hasn’t been as good, on average, as it was last season, it has been steadily improving.
The bulk of the steelhead I have seen this fall on the Deschutes have been wild fish, and some beautiful specimens. This guest was entirely spooled by two steelhead before landing this beautifully colored buck.
The fish have been responding well at times to everything from small skaters and wet flies fished on a dry line to leech patterns swung on a sink tip to nymphs fished under a strike indicator. It makes sense to tailor your approach to the nuances of the given spot, and the light and water conditions.
My hunch is that the best of the steelhead fishing is yet to come on the section of the Deschutes between Madras and Maupin. The bulk of the steelhead run has been slower to migrate upstream this year than in the last several seasons. I think that this section of the river will fish very well in late October and November as more fish show up for the party.