BIG water and BIG bugs....

BIG water and BIG bugs....

On Monday we were thinking that everything was coming together perfectly for the salmonfly hatch - the river had dropped steadily over the week to a normal, or average, flow. The weather forecast for the week was warm moving to HOT by the weekend. The water temps were heading to the mid-50s. Too perfect, almost. Then the damn dam managers freaked out and opened the flood gates. The snow pack and hot weather coming has caused all of the tributaries to jack up to high levels and that brought the reservoir levels up up up. They had to dump water, so here we are, water flowing out of the Madras dam nearing 7000 CFS and the water is fairly dirty. Down here in Maupin, thanks to a handful of upstream tributaries, the river is probably close to 8000 CFS and fairly brown. 

What does this mean for fishing? Well, I can tell you that this level of water is fairly normal for this time of year. In fact, over my 23 years of living on and working on the Deschutes, having high water during the salmonfly hatch is more common than having low and clear water conditions. The high water is actually advantageous for the trout and conducive to their ability to feed on the stoneflies. When the water is up in the grasses and trees along the river, the opportunity for the trout is enhanced. They can practically swim up to the branches and pick the stoneflies off the leaves with their lips!

Wading is going to be challenging, but there is no reason to try to get out into the middle of the river – all of the trout are hugging the edges of the river at these flows. The river’s edges are the easiest places for trout to hold because the current is so strong just a few feet off the bank. So, stay on dry ground, and flip your flies just inches off the grasses and tree branches – the trout will be waiting.

We have not seen a lot of salmonflies yet, but the warming temperatures should have them thick in the bushes by this weekend. If you or any of your fishing friends are squeamish about three-inch long bugs crawling on your neck, this might not be the best time to come to the river. They will be crawling all over you and flying for sure if temps really do get into the 90s.

If you are planning to boat, be aware that the river is a lot more powerful at these flows and the rapids may be very different than you have seen them in the past. Certain spots may be easier to navigate with the rocks submerged under the high water, but the hydraulics of other rapids or spots on the river will be daunting. With dam managers releasing water willy nilly, be sure that you anchor your boat with a lot of scope on the rope (long rope) and consider wrapping that anchor rope around the base of a tree or a rock for added purchase.

Be careful out there – but enjoy the fishing! The trout are more or less pushed right to your feet. Go get ’em!


  • YAHHHH!!!!! See you next week!!

  • Thanks for the update Amy. It is very useful with the changing conditions on the river from water levels to temperatures.

    Hank Mishima

Leave a comment

What are you looking for?

Your cart