Tag Archives: Deschutes River Fishing Report

Deschutes River Salmonfly Hatch 2015

Steve Hanson with a football-shaped Deschutes River redside.

Steve Hanson with a football-shaped Deschutes River redside.

Yes, as we creep through the dog days of summer, this spring’s stonefly hatch on the Deschutes seems like old news.  My good friend Matt Ramsey, another veteran flyfishing guide in the Eugene area who I often collaborate with, recently sent me a bunch of great photos he took while working with our crew on the Deschutes for this year’s salmonfly hatch.  Matt takes great pictures, and was generous enough to share them with me.  They are a great reminder of the beauty of the Deschutes River canyon in the springtime, the awesome dry fly fishing opportunities for hard-fighting Deschutes redsides.  The overnight Deschutes canyon camping trip during the salmonfly hatch is one of the best fishing trips around.  From the fishing, the quality and dedication of the guide staff, to the camp amenities and food, it is a top notch experience.  For more information on overnight Deschutes trips, please click on the Deschutes link at the top of the page.

A flash in the water as a big Deschutes Redside puts a serious bend into a 5 wt.

A flash in the water as a big Deschutes Redside puts a serious bend into a 5 wt.

Now is a great time to start organizing and scheduling a Deschutes salmonfly trip for 2016.  To guarantee the best dates and best guides, it is a good idea to start the ball rolling early.  The peak dates for the hatch and the best dry fly fishing are any time between May 10 and the end of the month.  Within this window of opportunity, the Deschutes salmonfly hatch is not a hit or miss type of thing; the hatch is consistent within these dates, and when the bugs are around, the fish will be looking for them.

TJ Rosengarth, preparing to dig a big trout out of dense brush with a bow-and-arrow cast.

TJ Rosengarth, preparing to dig a big trout out of dense brush with a bow-and-arrow cast.

Brushy spots often offer good dry fly opportunities during the salmonfly hatch.  Unlike most of the bugs trout feed on, the salmonflies and golden stoneflies first migrate to the bank as nymphs and climb up onto stream side rocks and vegetation to emerge as adult insects.  As a result, the trout will often lie in wait adjacent to grassy banks and overhanging limbs, waiting to ambush the big bugs.  As the insects become active and begin their mating flights, however, they become available to the trout in all sorts of different types of water, including mid-stream seams and riffles.

Tim Becker takes trout after trout from the seams surrounding this mid-stream rock pile.

Tim Becker takes trout after trout from the seams surrounding this mid-stream rock pile.

The scenery in the Deschutes Canyon in the springtime is hard to beat.

Evening light on the Deschutes and a drift boat gliding downstream.

Evening light on the Deschutes and a drift boat gliding downstream.

A dramatic sky, precursor to an afternoon thundershower.

A dramatic sky, precursor to an afternoon thundershower.

The salmonfly hatch is hands-down the most fun and most productive time to fish the lower Deschutes for trout.  Good-sized, hungry rainbow trout and big dry flies are a great combination.

Eli Krainock with his rod bent on another nice fish.

Eli Krainock with his rod bent on another nice fish.

Phillip Dean with a well-fed Deschutes rainbow that pounced on a Norm Woods Special.

Phillip Dean with a well-fed Deschutes rainbow that pounced on a Norm Woods Special.

Providing the best fishing trips possible really is our family business!  Below, my wife and I are busy packing and reloading camp boxes and coolers while 4 month old Henry looks on from the shade of the boat stack.  We are getting ready for another trip the following day!

Teamwork at Ethan Nickel Outfitters.  It is a family affair!

Teamwork at Ethan Nickel Outfitters. It is a family affair!

Now is a great time to get in touch with your fishing buddies and organize a trip for next year’s salmonfly hatch.  Book early to secure the best dates!

MJ Lyons with a beautiful wild trout.

MJ Lyons with a beautiful wild trout.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Fall Round-Up: Deschutes and Willamette Steelhead

While I still do a good deal of trout fishing this time of year, the steelhead fishing, for me, is more compelling. The Fall is the most productive time to flyfish for summer steelhead. While low-water conditions persist, the fish chase swung flies better than they do at any other time of year. The Deschutes has had a great return of summer steelhead this year, with a good proportion of wild fish. The fishing there was very good throughout late September and early October. More recently the flow jumped up to 4720 cfs which moved the fish around and made them less willing to bite. As conditions stabillize this week the fishing should rebound. The desert is a magical setting: rim rock canyons, green hillsides, yellowing alders and flaming poplars. Traffic on the Deschutes has been down this year. Blame it on the economy, it might be bad for business, but I don’t miss the crowds. We have done several multi-day trips on the Trout Creek to Maupin section in the last couple of weeks and found very good fishing. On cloudy days and in low-light conditions, I have been doing well on traditional wet flies like a Purple Peril or Silver Hilton (#4-#6). When the sun is on the water, the fish have been responding to leech patterns swung on a type III sink-tip line.

IMG_0964

As good as the fishing on the Deschutes has been, I have really enjoyed fishing the rivers around Eugene for steelhead this fall. The Army Corps of Engineers has been manipulating the flows out of Leaburg and Dexter dams, making the fishing somewhat unpredictable. When the water is low and stable for a day or two, however, the steelhead fishing has been as good as it gets. Leech patterns swung on a sink tip have been getting a great response, as have traditional patterns fished on a floater in the shallower spots. With the lower light and cloudy days this time of year, fish will at times hold in very skinny water (less than 18 inches). This fish pounced on a marabou leech on Mr. Koe’s 5th cast of the morning:

IMG_0965

Fall is a magical time of year, but we all know it will be over soon. Now is the time to get out and enjoy the mild weather before the rains come for good.
Ethan

1 Comment

Filed under Deschutes River, Uncategorized

Deschutes River Fishing Report: the Steelhead are in

We just finished a three day trip on the Deschutes from Trout Creek to Maupin yesterday. Although it is no secret that the lower Deschutes (below Maupin) has had good numbers of steelhead in it for some time, there are now good numbers of fish throughout the system.
Aside from some wind, we had good weather throughout the trip and enjoyed some cloudy weather. This helped things out; steelhead will generally come for a swung fly better when they don’t have the sun shining directly in their eyes. We did well swinging flies, but also did some nymphing when the sun came out.

Wild Deschutes Steelhead

A variety of wet flies caught fish. In my boat, we did well on a sparkly purple fly, the Silver Hilton, and the Lady Carolyn (all #4). When the sun comes out, try fishing a black or purple leech on a sink tip. Top producing nymphs were the Prince Nymph (#8-#14), a black girdle bug (#6-#8), as well as a Flash Back Pheasant tail (#12-#14).

Deschutes Steelhead

Trout fishing also remains good. We caught some nice trout on the surface with October Caddis imitations as well as small caddises. We also took some nice trout on nymphs.

A Beautiful Deschutes River Rainbow

Mid and Late September are a nice time of year on the Trout Creek to Maupin stretch. The trout fishing is generally good, there are usually fishable numbers of steelhead and light traffic. This was a weekend trip and we saw very few people. As we move into October, there will generally be more steelhead up on this stretch but also more people trying to catch them. Because the weather cools and the days get shorter, November is not a very busy month on this stretch of the river, but can offer some spectacular steelhead fishing. That time of year, the fish are in and are unharassed. This makes the fish happier, and when they are in a good mood, they tend to bite better.
For anyone interested in doing a guided trip on the Deschutes, we have some availability still in October and more openings in November. With record numbers of steelhead coming up the river, this is the year to do it.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

McKenzie, Willamette and Deschutes Summer Fishing Report

I will be the first to admit that it’s been far too long since I’ve updated this page. I do, however, have a good excuse. I’ve been on the river nearly every day, and it’s been a great summer. I’ve been doing a lot of different things, and I’d like to give some highlights and some current reports.
I’ve been doing a lot of fishing on the Upper McKenzie lately, and have had some great days. In the last few weeks there haven’t been any significant hatches, but we’ve had a lot of nice mild weather and cloudy days. The fish have been responding well to both dry flies and nymphs. I do a lot of fishing throughout the summer and fall on the McKenzie with a two-fly rig; a dropper and dry fly combo. A medium-sized dense nymph like a Possie Bugger or a Prince Nymph (#10-#12) fished under a heavily-dressed Golden Stonefly or October Caddis imitation has been very effective. Lately, I’ve spent most of my time fishing above Blue River, a section that is not planted with hatchery trout. Though you may catch fewer fish over the course of the day up here, you have a much better shot at finding some really nice size wild trout currently than you do down stream. This fish is a prime example:

A Perfect Upper McKenzie wild Rainbow Trout

In the last few days we have had a major weather change, cooler weather and showers ushering in fall; probably the best time of year to get out and go fly fishing in Oregon. In the next couple of weeks hatches on the McKenzie and Willamette should improve. In September and October we get great hatches of October Caddis, Gray Drakes, and various smaller insects. The fish are looking to consume as many calories as possible before the onset of Winter, and the trout fishing is great on both the McKenzie and Middle Fork of the Willamette.

Angler of the Year Jim Becker with a gorgeous Middle Fork Willamette wild Rainbow

The trout fishing generally will hold up nicely through the end of October.

I have been spending a good deal of time of late fishing the summer steelhead run in our local rivers around Eugene. The return of adult summer steelhead to the Willamette River system this year was only average, but pressure has been relatively light, the water temperature is nice and cool, and the levels are good. I have enjoyed some exciting mornings of steelheading lately, with the fish responding well to swung flies.

A Nice Willamette River Steelhead taken on the swing!

As we move into fall, the fishing on the McKenzie and Willamette for steelhead will generally improve. Because the water level on the Willamette is a little high currently, I have been doing best swinging relatively big flies on a sink tip line. Favorite patterns include MOAL leeches, various prawn patterns and intruders.

A Bright Willamette River Steelhead

It was another good summer on the Deschutes as well, with good hatches of small caddises. The dry fly fishing was generally good with fish responding well to small caddis imitations as well as various attractors. We did a number of multi-day Deschutes trips between Trout Creek and Maupin throughout the summer months, and while the fishing varied trip-to-trip, it was relatively good throughout July and August with good numbers of rising fish, and the trout responding well to nymphing tactics as also.

A Nice Deschutes River Redside taken on a dry fly by M.J. Lyons

In the summer months, many of the native Redsides on the Deschutes will move into eddies and slow bank water to feed on prolific hatches of small mayflies and caddises. While this type of fishing isn’t always easy, stalking big rising trout is always entertaining and rewarding.

A Beautiful Deschutes River Redside

While the hot days of summer can make for slow fishing on some rivers, this time of year offers some of the best dry fly fishing of the year on the Deschutes. In general, the hotter the weather, the better the caddis hatch, and the happier the fish. Though daytime air temperatures can sometimes push 100 degrees, we stay comfortable stalking trout while wading wet in the river’s cool flows.

A Deschutes River Wild Rainbow Trout

As we move into fall, the trout fishing should hold up nicely. Soon the annual October caddis hatch will grace the river with its presence, bringing some of its nicest fish near the surface to feed. Blue Winged Olives will also become important, with a good number of duns emerging by late morning most days. The small caddises the fish have been feeding on throughout the summer will also remain important until the end of October.

This is the time of year that we start to get very excited about fishing for steelhead on the Deschutes. With good numbers of fish already in the river and record-setting fish counts on the Columbia, it should be a great fall on the Deschutes. These fish generally respond very well to swung flies fished near the surface. Many of the best flies here are traditional wet flies, sparsely dressed. My favorite is a Silver Hilton (#4).

Deschutes River Steelhead

Though it was still a little early for big numbers of steelhead in the Trout Creek to Maupin stretch, I did a multi-day trip there a couple of weeks ago and my guests hooked a couple steelhead over the course of the trip while fishing for trout. Numbers of steelhead in the Deschutes will only improve throughout the fall.

Deschutes River Steelhead

Though I have most of the rest of the summer and fall season booked, I still have a good deal of availability here and there. If anyone would like to get out on the river and enjoy some of the great fishing that Oregon has to offer, please call or email! The fall is probably the best time of year to fish here for trout and steelhead, and it will be over before we know it.

Ethan

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Lower Deschutes Salmonfly Melee

We just arrived back in Eugene from a week-long stint on the Deschutes. We did a four day trip followed by a three day trip. We had great weather, great groups of guests, and the fishing ranged from good to outstanding. The dry fly fishing was good enough that we did very little nymphing. The salmonflies and golden stones were out in force up and down the river. We had warm weather, which makes the bugs more active, and some of the most exciting fishing happened when we had some wind blowing; in effect chumming the water for us with naturals. Top producing patterns were the Norm Woods’ Special and Clark’s Stone (#6-#8), though other patterns work as well. When some anglers hit the Deschutes this time of year, they come armed with legions of stonefly patterns the size of badminton birdies. With the exception of very fast-water spots, I almost always do better with smaller, somewhat more drab imitations.

Deschutes River Fly Fishing

If you are heading for the Deschutes this week, bring a few Green Drakes as well, I saw a couple naturals, but we didn’t really have the weather for the hatch to pop. If you happen to be in the right place at the right time on the Lower Deschutes, the Green Drake hatch can be some of the most exciting dry fly fishing of the year. The Golden Stone and Salmonfly hatch should linger on the upper reaches until past the middle of the month. Later on in June and throughout the summer, dense hatches of small caddises and mayflies will become the most important items on the menu for the Deschutes Redsides.

Deschutes River Fly Fishing

We still have some availability for the rest of the summer and fall if anyone out there is interested in an outfitted and guided trip down the Deschutes. All the guides we work with have over a decade of experience guiding fishermen on the Lower Deschutes. The camp features lots of creature comforts and amenities and gourmet food. The trip is hard to beat.

Deschutes River Fly Fishing

What really makes the Deschutes incredible, however, are the fish, the setting, and the hatches. If you have not done so already, you owe it to yourself to experience Oregon’s finest trout stream.

Deschutes River Fly Fishing

Deschutes River Fly Fishing

Deschutes River Fly Fishing

Leave a comment

Filed under Deschutes River