Hurtle #2 - Cleared! We made it!!
Great news for steelhead anglers, we hit the number that we needed to hit with yesterday's wild steelhead count at Bonneville dam. 515 unclipped steelhead were counted and that put us over the required July + August wild fish count that we needed. Currently, we are sitting at 23,238 wild steelhead over Bonneville and we needed 23,100 in order for the Deschutes to remain open to steelhead fishing past September 15. So, I have been doing my little happy dance in here today.
Steelhead fishing opened on Monday morning the 15th of August. A few folks reported great fishing in those first few days, and that is not surprising given the fact that the fish had been allowed to swim up the Deschutes unharassed by flies and spoons and plugs in their faces from dawn to dusk. Now, they face a gauntlet. Reports from the river from Macks to the mouth are BUSY BUSY BUSY. Lots more people than fish. Good fly anglers are reporting an average of one steelhead every two to three days.
It has been roasting hot all week but the cloud cover of the last two days has helped keep the river from reaching 70 degrees. Use your best judgement when fishing near the mouth. Carry a thermometer and consider reeling it in when temps hit 68 degrees. These temperatures are extremely stressful on fish when they are played out and exhausted.
If we want to continue to fish for steelhead into the future, as anglers we should be thinking about ways to limit our impact. If you are fortunate enough to hook and land one or two steelhead during the day (hatchery or wild), ask yourself if you really NEED to go out and continue to fish for more and more steelhead. This is not and has never been a game of numbers. Every steelhead that you hook is impacted in some way.
Our trips are concentrating on morning and early afternoon fishing - leaving the river at 2-3 PM to avoid the hottest part of the day and the warmest water. The wee hours of the morning, from dawn to 10:00 AM, will probably be your best window to hook steelhead on a swinging fly. Cooler water temps in the morning and shade on the water make the steelhead feel very confident, comfortable, and grabby.
Trout fishing is also good during the same hours. Caddis dries will work in the morning, streamers and nymphs will reign supreme for the rest of the day. The super oxygenated riffles are where the trout tend to congregate in the heat of the summer. They will also be found enjoying the shade of the alders that hang out over the water.
Looks like we have to beat the heat for one more week - and then we will welcome the cold crisp mornings of fall with open arms and bent rods.
I will be changing the weekday store hours starting September 1 to open at 9:00 AM. On Saturday morning I will open at 8:00. All other days will have a 9:00 AM opening. The majority of anglers are already on the water at 6:00 AM to catch the good trout and steelhead fishing. If you need something early in the morning, you can call the day before and we can arrange something.
Tight lines to you all! Let's celebrate that the Deschutes is now open for steelhead with a normal season.