Finally, A Little Cool Weather!!!
The heat wave has finally started to subside out here in Maupin, and we have temps in the 80s to look forward to for the next couple of days. Due to a number of massive fires throughout the Pacific NW, and I have been getting calls asking about the smoke in Maupin. We have a tiny bit here and there, depending on the direction of the wind, but looking out over the canyon right now I cannot see a whisper of smoke. Clear blue skies surround our high desert oasis.
If the smoke does roll in, which it could overnight, be thankful for the filter of the smoke because it makes trout fishing WAY better. Last year, with the heavy brown smoke that was thick over the Deschutes, we had AMAZING trout fishing. It was like the insane fishing that you see in last five minutes of light…but that insane fishing lasted………all…….day………..long! So, if the smoke rolls in, welcome it with open arms.
The hoot owl restrictions remain in place for the Deschutes River below Sherar’s Falls – this means that you cannot fish after 2:00 PM. Sherar's Falls is located about 8 miles downstream of Maupin. If you are driving down river and you come to a stop sign right next to a big waterfall - that is Sherar's Falls. You cannot fish downstream from this point after 2:00 PM. These restrictions are likely to be in place through August and possibly through September.
PGE let the river warm right up last week but mysteriously dropped the temp on July 13 by about 5 degrees to a much cooler 54. Maybe the many pictures that guides have been taking of dead and dying spring Chinook in the Deschutes made PGE a little itchy. The drop in temp from the dam seemed to translate a day or so later down at the mouth with a drop in the Moody temps from 72 to 70.
70 degrees is a nice warm bath. It is not a safe water temperature for hooking, playing, landing, and releasing trout or steelhead. Mortality rates for trout played in 70 degree water are through the roof. No matter how quickly you play them, and keep them wet, a huge number of trout released do not survive. Water temps in the morning below Sherar’s Falls are currently around 62-64 and those starting temps warm the closer you get to the mouth. Hoot Owl restrictions are in place to keep people from fishing when water temps get the warmest in the afternoon and evening.
Younger anglers coming through the shop over the last couple of weeks have really impressed me by asking great questions about water temperature and fishing. They are also buying thermometers and keeping a journal on temperatures at certain times of day. They seem very earnest when they tell me that they will absolutely refrain from fishing when the water temps hit 68.
A few early steelhead might be making their way up the Deschutes right now, but it seems more likely that they will stay in the deeper pools in the Columbia to wait for cooler waters. The Columbia surface temperature is around 69-70, which is on par with and possibly cooler than the water temperatures the steelhead will encounter at the mouth of the Deschutes. As the Columbia warms up a little bit more over the next few weeks, we hope that the steelhead come home to the Deschutes. So far, reports from the lower river are of swinging for steel and hooking lots of bass instead. Bass, in the Deschutes, thanks PGE for warming the river with your mixing tower and creating a bass fishery where one had never been before.
The dropping temperatures nearly always go hand in hand with a cold front and gusty conditions. Yep, it looks to be a windy one today with gusts to 20 mph. The juniper trees outside my window are already dancing. Fortunately, the wind is supposed to lay down tonight and tomorrow is just barely breezy 5-8 mph with temps in the low 80s – a perfect fishing day!
It is hard to believe that the high today of 79 is nearly 40 degrees cooler than the 117 that hit here a few weeks ago. That was brutal. The plants along the river really suffered – particularly the poison oak. I noticed that it was crispy, brown, and dried out (but I bet it still packs a punch – I didn’t test it out).
The next 6 weeks are the heart of the rafting season out here on the Deschutes. This can make it difficult to find a campsite close in to town, but the rafting campers rarely go down the long dirt access road towards Mack’s Canyon. If you want to get away from rafts (for the most part) head down river to the dirt road or go upstream past the locked gate. Fish really early in the morning – the rafts don’t start going anywhere until 10:00 AM.
Enjoy the cooling weather! See you on the river.