Beautiful Weekend on the Horizon!
Deschutes River Fishing Report
Good morning from the Deschutes River - it is Friday, February 26, 2021 and we are having some wild weather out here today! All night long the sleet and ice pelted the windows of the house, blown by 40 mph gusts. The river had a little color in it this week due to the melting snow, but the clarity is getting better bit by bit and things should come into alignment just as we roll into the weekend. The good news is that the weekend weather is supposed to be warm and calm. Saturday the high is supposed to be in the low 50s and Sunday is forecast to be even warmer.
Hatches are still fairly sparse, but the mid-day blue winged olives have been decent and even better on cloudy days. Other insects out and about these days are the winter stoneflies - they are not quite as big as golden stones, they are dark, and most of them have stunted wings and are unable to fly. We have a smattering of caddis around, and some itty bitty midges as well.
Though the window of dry fly opportunity is still quite small at this stage, the nymph fishing has been off the charts. We are out there using Euro-nymphing techniques - which means that we are using a very long leader and size 16 bead head nymphs tied sparsely with oversized bead heads. We have specialized rods for this type of fishing, they are long and have very supple tips which cushion the 6X and 7X fluorocarbon tippets that we are using.
The only sections of the lower 100 miles of the Deschutes River that are currently open to fishing are the areas from the northern border of the Warm Springs Reservation all the way to the Columbia River. The areas around Trout Creek, Mecca Flats, South Junction, and Warm Springs are all closed until April 22. If you come to Maupin and fish up or down on the access roads that parallel the river, you are able to fish this area year-round.
With most people purchasing their fishing licenses online these days, it seems really difficult to find the regulations booklets that used to be stacked high on the counter at the place where we bought our fishing licenses. This has resulted in a lot of anglers on the river with zero knowledge of the rules. I feel that a quick review of Deschutes Regulations is a good thing to do in this fishing report, just to give everyone a heads up as the fishing season kicks off. So, here are the basics followed by the particular rules that apply to the Deschutes River:
Basic regulations in Oregon:All persons 12 and older must have a fishing license. In the Central Zone angling for all species is restricted to artificial flies and lures in all river and streams. Bait is NOT allowed in any rivers and streams in Central Oregon unless the regulations for that stream specifically allow the use of bait. This is the ODFW definition of BAIT: Any item used to attract fish that is not an artificial fly, lure or attractor. Molded soft plastic or rubber imitations of worms, eggs, insects, bait fish, crayfish, etc. are considered baits. Scent is not considered bait.
Regulations specific to the Deschutes are as follows: The Deschutes is divided into the area of river that borders the Warm Springs Reservation and the area of the river that does not. The Warm Springs Reservation boundary is 7 miles upstream of the locked gate. From that point south to Warm Springs and the Hwy 26 bridge the river is closed in the winter. It reopens on April 22. From that point North to the confluence with the Columbia, the Deschutes is open year-round.
The oddest regulation on the Deschutes River is that you are not allowed to fish from any floating device. This means that you must exit your boat in order to fish the river. It's a GREAT rule. The trout get a lot of sanctuary water where anglers cannot harass them, and the river is far less busy and crowded than rivers that allow fishing from a boat.
Although the Deschutes has a "slot limit" which allows anglers to keep 2 rainbow trout per day with a 10 inch minimum length and a 13 inch maximum length, we encourage anglers to practice catch and release. The Deschutes trout are all native, wild trout. This river is NOT a hatchery river. The fish are all wild and self-sustaining. In recent years' creel surveys by ODFW, they reveal that 98% of anglers release ALL of the trout that they catch on the Deschutes River. Catch and Release is the standard practice on the Deschutes and it is rare to see anglers kill these beautiful native trout. We would like to see that practice continue because a trout is too valuable to only catch one time.Besides that, our rainbow trout are covered in Black Spot Disease - a parasite which makes the thought of eating one quite unappealing.
Bait is illegal on the Deschutes except for a very small area around Sherars Falls. If you carefully read the definition of bait in the regulations, it is fair to interpret that using a rubber worm or squirmy worm tied on a hook would be considered using bait. This is the reason that we don't sell squirmy worm patterns in the shop, we don't sell soft rubber egg patterns in the shop, and we don't sell flies that have molded rubber or plastic bodies.
That pretty much sums up the rules for the Deschutes. Of course, there are a lot of general statewide regulations that apply. If you want a regulation booklet, stop by one of the stores that sells fishing licenses (Bi Mart, Coastal Farm and Ranch, etc)
We hope to see a few people out here this weekend. The weather looks to be far nicer than it is today. We are open 9-5 on Saturday and closed on Sunday.