HOO, HOO, HOOT OWL!!!!
Starting today, July 1, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has implemented HOOT OWL restrictions on the Deschutes River from the confluence with the Columbia River to Sherar's Falls. This means that, BY LAW, you are allowed to fish from one hour before legal sunrise to 2:00 PM and after 2:00 PM you must stop fishing. These measures were put in place to protect trout and salmon and steelhead on the Deschutes and they will remain in place through the end of September unless ODFW decides otherwise.
Above Sherar's Falls, which would include the stretch from Warm Springs all the way down through the town of Maupin and down to Sherar's Falls (located 8 miles downstream of Maupin), you are allowed to fish all day. Even though you are ALLOWED to fish all day, you should carry a thermometer with you and refrain from fishing when you find water temperatures climbing above 68 degrees and, some would argue, above 65 degrees. These warm water temperatures can be lethal to trout and steelhead/salmon, especially if they are played too long on tackle that is too light. Please put the health of the fish first.
Last week we had a bunch of camp trips and day trips scheduled to take place on the John Day River where we target bass. The bass do just fine in the warm water, but we opted to cancel all our trips and issue refunds because the water in the John Day dropped to very low levels (below 400 CFS) and the air temperature skyrocked to 117 degrees here in Maupin and was probably hotter down in the canyon on the John Day River. We were seriously concerned for the health and safety of our clients as well as our crew, staying hydrated while baking in a boat all day is difficult. There was very real possibility of our clients or staff experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and that was a risk we are not willing to take. Evacuating someone out of the John Day Canyon would be your worst nightmare. Our clients were very understanding, for which we were thankful.
Some breaking news from the Deschutes: we have one wildfire that started yesterday near the Warm Springs River on the reservation. That fire burned about 100 acres on the reservation side of the river and then jumped the river and started the BLM land on fire - burning 1500 acres last night (probably more by now due to crazy winds) and closing the road to the South Junction campground. The property at the end of the South Junction Road (Green Valley) looks to have been spared by the flames, but the fire is now burning north northeast towards the junction of Hwy 97 and Hwy 197 heading towards Criterion. This fire has probably burned away from the Deschutes by now.
Another fire is heading towards the Deschutes - this is a 10,000 acres fire that started about 2 days ago between the Deschutes River and Dufur. The winds and extremely hot and dry conditions have whipped this fire up and it is headed for the Deschutes in the Ferry Canyon/Macks Canyon area as far as we can tell. The fire has not yet reached the Deschutes and it may not, but the conditions and the winds say otherwise. I do not have any first hand info on the progress of the fires, so please don't blow up our phone lines looking for information on fires. Here is where you can find the latest information: :
The fire near South Junction is called the Rattlesnake Fire
The fire near Dufur is called the Wrentham Market Fire
Central Oregon Fire Information
You can also check on the Facebook pages for Wasco County & Sherman County Sherriff's Department as well as Columbia Gorge Wildlands Fire Management.
I will have a fishing report posted tomorrow. Stay safe out there.
Make no mistake, the biggest threat to the Lower Deschutes is PGE and their infernal underwater tower! They have the choice of releasing water from the top and/or the bottom of the reservoir and they have stubbornly insisted on releasing more of the surface water than is healthy for the once-pristine aquatic river environment.
Unfortunately, global warming is going to turn the Deschutes into the John Day.