Hurtle #1 - Cleared!
Well, the good news came in on Sunday morning when we looked at the Bonneville Dam counts of unclipped steelhead. Sometime on Saturday, July 23, we eclipsed the goal of 9900 unclipped steelhead counted in the month of July. This means the the Deschutes will be OPEN for steelhead fishing starting on AUGUST 15 and will remain open until SEPTEMBER 15. The river may be open beyond the 15th of September if we are able to hit the goal numbers in the month of August. Currently, we stand at 11,678 unclipped steelhead in the month of July through the 25th.
One of the comments from my last blog post thought that I was posting numbers from The Dalles dam. Nope - only numbers from Bonneville. What might have this person confused is the running total posted in bold font on the bottom of the page where we see daily counts.
That bold number is a cumulative number which started on January 1. That bold number is not the number that determines whether or not steelhead seasons open. ODFW is using only the cumulative counts of wild/unclipped steelhead at Bonneville from July 1-July 31 and that count will be added to the August count in order to determine if we will be open all year or only open from August 15-September 15.
Like everywhere else in the Pacific Northwest, it it HOT out here. Yesterday it got up to 101 degrees and it is supposed to get hotter by the day this week. What this means for fishing is that it is an early morning game and last light game with lots of deep nymphing or streamer fishing in between those productive dry fly hours.
The managers at the dam dropped temperatures coming out of Madras at the beginning of this hot spell - on July 20 the water released from the Pelton/Round Butte dam system dropped from 59.18 degrees down to 56.66 degrees. This got the release temperature within about 1 degree (the river is hotter) of the median historical temperature for water released from Madras. The releases from this dam complex have been averaging 2-3 full degrees above the historical median temperature for that data sight. PGE has significantly warmed the river using their mixing tower in the reservoir and it has done a lot of damage to the river and to the trout. If you care about this issue, I encourage you to speak your voice and get active in the defense of the Deschutes. You can start by doing a deep dive on The Deschutes River Alliance website and blog. This is the only organization that is focused entirely on the health of the lower Deschutes River and its fish.
Hatches are going to be mainly caddis and aquatic moths, a few small mayflies on the cloudy days, and some juicy hoppers thrown in the mix popping off the riverside grasses. We also sometimes see trout sipping damsels in the backeddies and slow slicks.
When dry fly action is hard to find, you can bet that the trout are hunkered down deep in the water column just trying to stay cool. Double down on tungsten nymphs and find those places in the river where the currents are swirling and carrying food to the depths. Sometimes we are fishing 8 feet deep or deeper in the middle of the day in order to find the coolest holding water where the big trout are relaxing and feeding.
Stay cool out there and we hope to see you on the river!
Tight lines! Amy Hazel