Incredible weather, Incredible trout fishing!
The sun has been shining down on the lower Deschutes River all week and the weather has been more like mid-September than early December. Trout are happy, the wind has been light and variable on most days, and anglers are enjoying a river that is very sparsely populated. The campgrounds are still open and they are free in the winter. You can also have a wood burning open fire in the fire pits provided at the camp sites (or, you can bring a fire pan). You must bring your own firewood or buy firewood in Maupin at the Maupin Market. Please do not cut down the trees at the campgrounds - we have very few trees out here and they are badly needed for shade. If you need additional wood because you burnt the supply you toted to the river, look for dead wood piles left over from floods. One more word of warning about fires - it is a terrible idea to make your own fire ring using the basalt rocks that you find along the Deschutes. Not only does the ring scar the landscape, but the rocks are extremely dangerous when they get hot next to that fire because they can and will explode into multiple pieces. I know one guy who almost lost his eye when a rock exploded on the Deschutes and a shard hit him in the face.
Winter is a good time to explore new water. You can bushwack the banks without fear of snakes, ticks, or poison ivy/oak. Fish tend to congregate in the slower deeper water, so there are times when standing in one spot will produce a dozen or more fish.
Dry-dropper and indicator nymph fishing are producing well, Euro-nymphing is absolutely killing it, and dry fly fishing is great for brief bursts in time if you are lucky enough to be standing in the right place when the mid-day blue winged olive hatch occurs. The caddis are quite large in the winter - not as large as the October Caddis - but size 10 and 12 sedge-like brown caddis can be a lifesaver of a pattern if that hatch occurs in the afternoon/evening.
Best fishing times are between 10 AM and about 4:00 PM - so these are very relaxed hours of fishing which can be followed up by some Maupin bar hopping (that is 1, 2, or 3 hops depending on the evening and which establishments are open for business) or some kicking back around a roaring campfire.
Perdigon patterns are my go-to in the wintertime, which are basically mutant midge patterns with heads way too large for their skinny tapered bodies. Fish the lightest tippets that your rod can cushion - 5X or 6X will catch far more trout than 3X or 4X. Our perdigon selection is insane - stop on in to check it out.
Holiday shopping? Let us help you out! We have great ideas for all skill levels of fly angler and all budgets. Please keep in mind that shipping times slow down quite a bit around the holidays, so if you need it by Christmas - order soon!
Here is an inside local tip for anyone driving to Maupin over Mt. Hood: bring your empty water vessels and stop at Bear Springs (not the campground but East of the campground). You will see Keeps Mill Road on your left and the Bear Springs pull out is roughly 100 feet past that on the right hand side of the road. The pull out area says "Day Use Only," and there you will find an endless supply of spring water bubbling out of the ground. There is a hose hooked up to the spring that makes it easy to fill all of the water jugs you might need to sustain you through the weekend while camping. On your way home, fill up your containers again and enjoy the best water that Mt. Hood has to offer.
We hope that you can escape to the Deschutes this weekend to enjoy some stunning weather. The high on Saturday is going to be 61 degrees and it is going to be windy on Saturday but way way calmer on Sunday and not quite as warm. If we wait for all things to be perfect and all the planets to align, we would never find the right time to go fishing.
Have a great weekend, whatever your adventure might be.
Tight lines! Amy Hazel and the crew at Deschutes Angler