Dirty Water - Not anymore!

Dirty Water - Not anymore!

A heavy rain event on the night of June 2 or 3 has triggered some dirty flows in the Deschutes from way up stream by Warm Springs. Shitike Creek seems to be the culprit - pouring a big mudflow into the Deschutes right at the crossing point of Hwy 26, basically right at the Warm Springs boat launch. This mud has impacted the color of the Deschutes all the way down through the lower 100 miles. The middle Deschutes flows also bumped up when the rain fell a few days ago and that additional flow into the reservoir triggers the dam operators to release that much more water from the dam, bumping flows. 

The good news is that these "Gully washers," as the old-timers always called them, are relatively short-lived. They are flash floods that happen over a few hours and then calm right down again when the rain stops. Rain out here in the desert can be quite isolated and intense in small drainages, thus surprising everyone when a huge wall of mud hits the river on a bright and sunny day. Washout Rapid on the lower 20 miles of the Deschutes was created by a gully washer event on an otherwise sunny summer day. 

Reports from anglers who were fishing in the muddy water were actually really good reports! The trout felt safer thanks to the dirtier water and they lost a bit of their wariness. Reports from my buddies who were fishing near South Junction on Tuesday (the worst of the muddy water) were that fishing was excellent on dry stonefly patterns. The trout were racing each other to grab the dries. So, a bit of color in the water is never a bad thing - don't let a little off-color water turn you away from the river. 

I just took a few photos and posted a video on Instagram of what the river looked like at 10:00 AM on Wednesday, June 5, and you can see that the river has a tinge of color but is not muddy. The river is very fishable right now, it is warm and calm and sunny, and I saw a bunch of yellow sallies flying around just now (the smallest stonefly of the hatch and the last one to hatch out in big numbers). I am sure the warm weather will trigger the last hurrah for big bugs (mainly talking about golden stones here) - there should be a ton of goldens flying this afternoon and laying eggs on the water.

As the big bugs finish up the big crowds of anglers will go with them. It dumbfounds me that so many anglers only fish the Deschutes during this one window of the year. Since the stonefly hatch is notoriously fickle, meaning that hitting it just right is tricky because all of the planets have to align, this hatch often disappoints people who put all of their eggs in one basket by visiting the river for only 2-3 days per year. The weather needs to be HOT to get the big bugs flying, the wind can't be too crazy (it makes it too hard for most anglers to punch the big bugs out there), the water clarity must be fishable, and the water flows must be within a range that allows you to stand downstream of the trees to pitch your flies upstream and under the branches. If you hit a day when all conditions are perfect AND the fish haven't already gorged themselves on adult stoneflies, you can have the epic dry fly fishing day of your dreams on the Deschutes. Unfortunately, those epic days are limited to just a handful during most salmonfly hatch windows. 

Later in the year, in June and July, the caddis hatches, aquatic moths, and cranefly hatches are way more consistent for dry fly fishing. The trout are more relaxed and confident in eating dries because they are not getting harassed every two minutes, and the crowds of people are non-existent. If you are one of those people who only comes out in May, give the river a try a little later on in the year and you will be pleasantly surprised by how consistent the fishing can be and how good.

The best dry fly fishing, in my opinion, starts now and continues until early November. See you on the water!





  • back in town for another round! Thanks for the update! I plan to hit the D of course and spend a little time on the Crooked. Should be another GREAT weekend! And its lovely being out of wader season! WOOHOO!

  • Thanks for the helpful report as always, Amy!

    Reminds me of a few years ago when I hit the last hurrah week of salmonfly and caught about 10 fish. The next weekend the salmonflies were gone and I caught 0 fish. The weekend after that I fished caddisflies only and caught 20 fish, my best day on the Deschutes. And of course I had all the best water to myself that time.

    Casey Corrigan

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