Here is the latest skinny from the Deschutes River.....

The stonefly hatch is in full swing in the Maupin area with golden stones and salmonflies taking to the skies. The yellow sallies have also begun to fly and they already have eggs ready to lay - evidence of their eggs shows up in the bright reddish/orange clump on their back end. I talk to dozens and dozens of people in the fly shop every day and chat with lots of the guides who come off the water after their three or four day camp floats from Trout Creek to Maupin. 

Everyone wants to know where the hatch is - and the answer to that is not really that simple. I know that, as of the writing of this report, the trout seem to begin keying into the big bugs around North Junction or possibly a little further upstream around Whitehorse rapid. There are certainly stoneflies all up and down the river by now, but the trout take some time to key into them and the guides tell me that they don't seem to be keyed into them just yet in the Warm Springs to Trout Creek section or even in the ten or so miles downstream of the Trout Creek boat Launch. This is all subject to change with cooling or warming weather and with the spots themselves. You can stop into a spot that looks perfect for trout and find absolutely nothing happening, yet just a mile downstream or upstream you may find a foam line loaded with fat happy trout looking up. 

A couple of my good buddies were out here yesterday fishing all around the Maupin area - mostly on the paved road that runs up and downstream from the bridge in Maupin. They know where to fish, they understand the habitat, and they are willing to move quickly and change their flies often in order to fool the big trout. They had excellent catching - lots of big trout on dry flies yesterday and last night. People who are fishing on the lower access road report that the bugs are getting to be few and far between down there, but the fish are 100% keyed in and on board with eating dries if you are fishing the right places. 

Here are some thoughts that I have had this week pertaining to the hatch. 

The Deschutes is NEVER easy. This river has never been a super easy river to fish or to be successful fishing and that fact does not change just because we have a lot of big bugs in the air and crawling around on the banks. The Deschutes makes you work to learn its nuances, and the work involves fishing the river more than just once or twice during the most hyped hatch of the year. Unfortunately, most anglers come once or twice in May, don't know the river intimately, and end up fishing sections of the river that are just not holding large trout. Over the past 22 years I have written in this report that ankle-deep water or sandy-bottom areas are some of the least productive places on the river to hook trout. Yet, when I drove along the river (as I just did a few minutes ago) I saw angler after angler standing in the river in ankle deep water pitching flies either out towards the middle or straight upstream. Most were fishing in campgrounds or in boat ramps with nothing around them to impede their casts. Some even had a buddy standing 50 feet upstream of them, also in ankle-deep water, also casting upstream. One angler casting at the ankles of their buddy, hoping that a trout might be silly enough to be hanging out with a person fully in view and within a few feet. 

Trout are animals and Deschutes trout are wild, native, spooky animals with strong tendencies towards self-preservation. To be successful you must be a predator - which means taking measures to avoid spooking trout or making them aware of your presence. Trout face into the current and this means that you need to cast your flies so that they land gently upstream of the trout and float down to the trout in a drag-free drift. If you have a boat, you need to have a game plan about the waters you want to fish and avoid rowing your boat directly over the trout before stopping to make your casts. 

 If you are in a spot where it is easy to cast and easy to wade, you are probably not in good trout-holding water. Trout like huge boulders, deep fast water, shady areas under trees, rocky banks alongside deep grass lines, and areas that make it easy for them to duck into cover to hide from predators. 

On my drive upstream I saw about 30 people fishing and of the 30 people fishing I saw 2 that were in water that had the elements needed to hold big fish in waiting for the stoneflies to hit the water. I saw a lot of stoneflies in the air - nearly all of them were golden stones. They looked to be changing positions in the riverside foliage, possibly in search of mates, and a few were landing on the water to lay eggs. 

Once the trout have seen enough stoneflies they will stay keyed into them even for 10 days after the last of the big stones have died off. We need heat to get them flying, and we have had that for the better part of ten days. Now that things are cooling off a bit, it isn't going to negatively impact that hatch too much in the areas that have already seen a ton of bugs. Now, the weather forecast for the next ten days calls for things around Madras (Warm Springs to Trout Creek Section) to cool into the 60s and this will hold the stoneflies in the bushes. The hatch there may not really get going until things get hot again near the end of the month. The cold weather tends to make the hatch last longer, but it does keep the bugs from flying. If you had to pick a place to go this weekend to really hit the hatch - the Maupin area, both up and downstream from town, will be your very best bet. If you drive down the lower access road you will see fewer bugs, but the fish are looking for them and have been seeing them for weeks. They are keyed in - your job is to find the right water types. 

Don't burn yourself out too early in the day. The very best fishing is to be had in the afternoon and evening when the temperatures are at their warmest. Getting up at the crack of dawn is fine if you enjoy seeing the sunrise, and this is a good strategy in the hottest part of the summer, but this is not productive during this time of the year. You don't see the guides out there picking up their clients at 5:00 AM - unless they are driving them up to Trout Creek to put the boats in early for a multi-day camp trip. Getting on the water at 9:00 or 10:00 is just fine.

The last thing I will say about the stonefly hatch is that there are a lot of other things happening at the same time as this hatch and you can often catch more big trout on dry flies if you are willing to fish some of the other species that are showing up on the water. They are not as big and bushy and easy to see as the stonefly dries, but Pale Morning Duns, Pale Evening Duns, Craneflies, Caddis flies, Little Yellow Sallies (small stoneflies), and, if you are very very lucky, Green Drakes - all offer an angler smaller pieces of the puzzle and are very often more productive. Trout can only eat and get hooked on the same old patterns so many times before they are smart enough to avoid them completely. 

What tippet size to fish with the big stoneflies? I like 4X tippet. It is strong enough to land big fish but small enough to fool the biggest and wariest of the trout. I know, I know, a lot of the guides fish 2X and 3X leaders - and that is because they supply flies for their clients and don't want them to break flies off in the trees and bushes or on big fish. I assure you that you will hook more trout using smaller tippets - especially as the hatch goes on and each trout has been hooked and released multiple times. If I were on a guided trip, I would want to have an assortment of unique fly patterns that are not normally on the menu. I would want to have my own fly box of flies so that I wouldn't find myself stranded somewhere waiting for the guide to come back to check on me. I would also have all the small mayflies and caddis at the ready, along with 5X tippet in order to fish them. 

Friday morning, just as I was gathering photos for this report, there was a huge spinnerfall of Pale Evening Duns and the violet green swallows were eating them like crazy. I took a photo of the belly of the mayfly so you can see the size and color: 

If you have a trout Spey, you can fish big sculpins deep down if you like, OR, try hucking a salmonfly or golden stone out to some fast and foamy water that is impossible to cast to with a single-handed rod. This is a really fun way to scare up a few trout that nobody else has had a chance to harass. 

We have a couple of very fun weekend events coming up. This weekend is Maupin Daze which will bring all kinds of fun entertainment and food vendors into town. Downtown Maupin will be hosting the majority of the MaupinDaze festivities. At the end of May we have two simultaneous events – one is a Fish and Hang Event being put on by ifishibelong and, also on May 31 and June 1 we have an event called TroutFest being put on by Deschutes River Alliance.  The TroutFest event will be held at the Oasis Riverview Campground just upstream of Maupin on the access road. For more information you can click these links:

If you have made it this far through the report, thank you for being readers. Now, here are some pictures to help you out with finding good fishing water:

Look for steep banks with water at least 3-4 feet deep under trees like these.....

Look for places where a little patch of shade is thrown on the water like this (you still need rocks and depth and current flow:

The wind over the past couple of days has been brutal - but it surely knocked a lot of bugs in the water and got the trout all excited. Keep moving all around on the river and you can find places where the wind isn't as crazy. Have fun and stop on in if you need some flies!


  • Spot on Amy, as usual. A 4X with a big stonefly on a shorter leader always seems to work for me. Am looking forward to this Monday and Tuesday on the Deschutes near Maupin, and will be sure to bring some green drakes, PEDs, and yellow sallies for some variety. Suspect those larger stonefly nymphs as a point fly with a soft hackle emerger tag will still work fishing deep until early afternoon too. Thanks for all your advice, has helped me immensely.

  • Spot on Amy, as usual. A 4X with a big stonefly on a shorter leader always seems to work for me. Am looking forward to this Monday and Tuesday on the Deschutes near Maupin, and will be sure to bring some green drakes, PEDs, and yellow sallies for some variety. Suspect those larger stonefly nymphs as a point fly with a soft hackle emerger tag will still work fishing deep until early afternoon too. Thanks for all your advice, has helped me immensely.

  • Right on the money as always Amy! Had serval double digit days last week. But you’re right… You have to take advice when advice is given, fish smart, and fish hard!! If it’s tough to get to, chances are its unfished water and worth it. Just watch out for rattlesnakes and poison oak :)


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