Deschutes River Salmonfly Report: Big Bugs and Big Trout

Robert Jones with a great Deschutes River Rainbow Trout

I just got home from another four day trip on the Deschutes. We had great weather, very good dry fly fishing, and an excellent group of guests; nice guys and good fishermen. When luck and conditions line up like this, it is hard for everyone, guests and guides alike, not to have a great trip.

Koffler Boats in camp

Tom Daugherty with a Deschutes River Redside

At this point the salmon flies and golden stones are well distributed from the Maupin area all the way up to Warm Springs. As the hatch progresses, the bugs will thin out on the lower end (around Maupin), but good numbers of bugs should stick around on the upper reaches for some time.

Keith Sherman with a nice Deschutes Rainbow

The Deschutes River salmonfly hatch is the best in the country, likely the most prolific in the world, but is often also accompanied by a fairly substantial drift boat hatch. This last trip was no exception, there were substantial numbers of other guides and fishermen around, but we had very good dry fly fishing nonetheless. Fishing successfully around or behind other anglers and guides often requires some strategy. The low hanging fruit has often been plucked; the easy spots out in the open have often been fished hard, but in the out of the way areas around brush, trees and low-hanging branches, and in the areas that are more difficult to wade, the fish are often relatively undisturbed, and very willing to attack a big dry fly.

Keith Steinbruck with a Deschutes River Rainbow

The way the fish eat the fly is my favorite part of fishing the salmonfly hatch. The takes are often startling, like a toilet bowl flush under the fly. Sometimes the strikes occur under the rod tip and are so violent that the fish splashes the angler.

Mike Stickel with a Deschutes River Rainbow

Special thanks to the guys who came fishing with us last week: Keith Steinbruck, Robert Jones, Keith Sherman, Tom Doherty, Mike Stickel, and Rick Fairbanks. All photos in this post were taken by my good friend Matt Ramsey, who was guiding with us on the trip. Many thanks to Matt for sharing the images. He has a great eye for photography and takes much better pictures than I do.

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Spring Special on Lower McKenzie Half Day Trips

Wild McKenzie River Rainbow Trout

Now through the end of April, I am offering a discounted rate for half day trips ($275) on the lower McKenzie. Late Winter and Spring offer some of the best fishing of the year for the lower McKenzie’s wild rainbow and cutthroat trout, with good nymphing opportunities throughout, and often great afternoon wet and dry fly fishing as the March Brown hatch materializes. The best early season fishing is during the middle of the day as things warm up a bit, and a half day trip is the perfect way to take advantage of this window of opportunity. A typical day involves meeting at 9:30 or 10:00 in the morning, and fishing until around 4:00 in the afternoon. All tackle, flies, etc. are included, along with beverages. All you need to bring is some rain gear, sunglasses, lunch, and a fishing license! What could be easier?
Wild McKenzie River Rainbow, cropped

The lower McKenzie is currently in great shape. We are seeing good March Brown hatches most days, with some really nice fish moving to dry flies and wet flies on or near the surface when the bugs are out!
Lower McKenzie Wild Rainbow

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March Winter Steelhead Report: Season of the Hog

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Judging from some of the fish I’ve seen in the last week, it may not be safe to wade in some of Oregon’s coastal rivers. These big bucks look mad, and they have teeth! I advise staying in the boat. Seriously though, steelhead fishing has been good of late, with many coastal rivers falling into great condition in the wake of February’s flooding. Though hatchery returns are thinning out, as is typical for this time of year, the wild run of winter steelhead is still going strong and will continue through the end of March.

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Much of February, usually a great month to fish winter steelhead, was lost to prolonged high water, and it appears we are poised for another blowout: the forecast is calling for a few inches of rain over the next several days. That being said, things should drop back into shape before too long.

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I am booked up through the 17th, but have a lot of availability throughout the last couple weeks of March. It’s not too late to get out and wrestle some chrome! Call or email to arrange a day on the water.

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2014 Oregon Winter Steelhead Report

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Over the last couple weeks we have had some rains to bring some fresh winter chrome into Oregon’s coastal river systems.

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Depending on the drainage and timing, we have seen great catches recently of both wild winter steelhead and bright, harvestable hatchery fish.

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As of this writing, there is a lot of snow on the ground in western Oregon, and with warm rains on their way, it seems we are poised for a blowout. However, as the high brown water drops and fades to green, there should be another group of bright fish in the coastal creeks and rivers.

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With about 7 weeks left to play in the 2014 winter steelhead season, we still have a lot to look forward to. New fish will continue to pull into streams of all size up and down the coast.

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Winter steelhead season is my favorite fishing of the year. While the conditions are changeable and the weather sometimes inclement, these fish are amazing and beautiful creatures.

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Though I have quite a few days booked over the next couple of weeks, I have a number of days still available this winter steelhead season, particularly in March. This is often the time of year when we see the biggest wild steelhead show up in our area streams! Please call or email if you would like to arrange a guided trip!

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The rivers of Oregon’s central coast offer some truly world class winter steelhead fishing opportunities!

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Mr. 40

Mr. 40 #2

Earlier in the week I was fishing with my good friend Brandon Bischoff and his guest, Dar Isensee. We were lucky enough to run into a fish that we had all been seeking for years. Brandon and I have devoted much of our adult lives to steelhead fishing, and this buck was the biggest either of us had ever seen in person, taping out at 40″ length and 20″ girth. A magnificent creature to say the least.

Mr. 40 #1

I wonder where he’s swimming around right now?

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Winter Steelhead Season is off to a Great Start!

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Though we have been experiencing a remarkable late fall and early winter drought, and weather ranging from pleasant to cold to downright arctic, the 2013/2014 winter steelhead season is off to a great start.

Chrome Bright Winter Steelhead

Because flows on are rivers are so low there are fewer places to fish than usual, but the lower reaches of many of Oregon’s coastal rivers have already seen a healthy return of winter steelhead. This is just the vanguard of the run; we should see a lot more to coming over the next several months.

Wild Winter Steelhead

Standard swing and nymph tactics have been working well in the right water.

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The forecast shows a good deal of precipitation headed our way in the first week of the New Year. Hopefully this much-needed weather will actually materialize, bringing us a nice spike in water levels throughout the coastal rivers. This would allow much better upstream passage for the fish already in fresh water, draw a nice group of fresh steelhead into creeks and rivers along the coast, and bring a lot more of our rivers into fishable shape.

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Winter steelhead season is arguably the most exciting fishing of the year in western Oregon, and if early returns are any indication, there will be a lot more fish showing up in our coastal rivers over the next several months.

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I have quite a few days booked over the coming weeks, but plenty of room open on the calendar at this point throughout winter steelhead season. Please call or email if you are interested in booking a day of fishing this winter. Let’s get out and chase some chrome!

Wild Winter Steelhead

Special thanks to Matt Ramsey for sending along some images from our recent fishing trip.

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Who’s Excited For Winter Steelhead Season?

I know I am.

Wild Oregon Winter Steelhead, cropped

Now is a great time to book winter steelhead trips.

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