Bananas about Maupin! (not all bananas are bad)
Maupin sits in what has been described as a bit of a banana belt - no, not the kind of belt that a cocky, "I'm never gonna get skunked" kind of fisherman might wear, but a somewhat mild region surrounded north, south, east and west by dark skies and heavy snow. We saw a few flakes earlier in the week but that was it, just a few flakes gently falling from the sky and melting upon impact. We like our little banana belt - and living within such a belt does NOT have a negative impact on one's fishing success.
The days have been in the 40s and the nights have been dipping down into the mid-20s, which is actually quite mild for this time of year. As a result of the freezing weather all around us, all of the tributaries are flowing cold and clean and the Deschutes is also cold and clean. The White River is typically gin clear when the foothills are snowy and frozen. Here's the White River Flow.
Steelhead fishing is really waning - the fish are settled into a holding pattern now and will wait out the winter, conserving energy for spawning in the spring and making that journey back out to the ocean - if possible. Since we only have a summer run of steelhead on the Deschutes, we have not seen fresh fish move into the system since October. If you are looking for chrome bright steelhead, your best bet is to head for the coastal rivers of Oregon or any steelhead river west of The Dalles. Sure, you can still hook a few here and there in the Deschutes in December - but it is best to leave these guys alone after the first of the year.
Trout, on the other hand, can keep things interesting for any angler who braves the chill and steps into the cold river armed with the right flies. It is mostly a nymphing game out there, unless you are here on a cloudy or overcast/rainy day. On cloudy or rainy days there is typically a robust blue winged olive hatch that lasts for up to an hour or so right smack in the middle of the day (around lunch time). The BWOs (AKA Baetis) are pretty tiny - sizes 18 and 20, so it can be helpful to rig your rod with two dry flies spaced about 2 feet apart from each other. One is simply a marker fly (this one should be size 10 or 12 with a hot wing color) and the other is your size 18 or 20 BWO pattern, which you may not be able to see when it is 30-50 feet away from you in a foam line. No problem! You loosely focus on the tracker fly and keep your eyes scanning in a two foot radius from your tracker. You should be able to pick up your size 18 BWO by scanning this radius. If you are unable to see it, you keep scanning until you see the lips of a rainbow trout softly sipping the surface.
The dry fly window is small - so be prepared with a good selection of nymphs for the majority of your fishing. Whether you Euro nymph, tight line nymph with a regular rod, or indicator nymph, you must be certain that you have enough weight to get down. On the Deschutes, in most spots that hold trout, the weight required to get close to the bottom will depend quite a bit on the type of leader you are using.
If you are using a traditional tapered leader, you should strongly consider using nymphs that have tungsten beads and, even with those heavier beads, you may have to add additional weight in the form of split shot or tungsten putty. It is not easy for flies to pull a tapered leader down to the depths in a quick and efficient manner. This is why Euro nymph leaders and other modified fluorocarbon leader set-ups work so well on the Deschutes.
If you don't have a Euro Rod and specialized Euro fly line, etc, there is a new leader system on the market that makes it possible to fish with a regular fly rod and to have similar performance to a Euro-nymphing set-up. The leader is made by Scientific Anglers and it is called an Absolute Right Angle Leader. We are carrying it in three sizes: 9ft 5x-6x, 9ft 3x-4x, and 11ft 2x.
Here is how the SA Absolute Right Angle leader works: You have a stiff three foot long butt section that leads to a thingamabobber (3/4" on the 9 foot leaders and 1" on the long leader). Directly off the thingamabobber at a right angle to the stiff butt section, there is a micro swivel (40 lb breaking strength) below which you have a 6 foot section of Absolute Fluorocarbon tippet in either 2X or 4X diameter. The end of that tippet piece has a 2 mm tippet ring on it to which you will tie either 5x or 6X tippet then one or two nymphs, or (with the heavier leaders) 3X or 4X tippet, to the length of your choosing. Here is an illustration:
This is a specialized leader which costs $16.95, but if you consider that it includes a $2.50 indicator, a $1 swivel, a $1 tippet ring, several knots hand-tied, and a big chunk of fluorocarbon, it is actually a pretty darn good deal. Hell, a nine-foot Rio fluorocarbon leader with no bells and whistles costs $15.95 - so a leader like this leader (with all the bells and whistles) is a really good deal. All of the legwork has been done for you. Tie on your length of tippet, a tag, and two nymphs and you are ready to go.
We are still here and still open 6 days a week to serve all of our fly fishing friends. If you want to give your relatives a hint about what you would like to find in your stocking, think about requesting a Deschutes Angler Gift Card. These are readily available on our website.
We will be shipping orders until December 21 - but waiting that long to order things for Christmas might result in the items arriving late. We will do our best to get stuff boxed up, but delivery is quite slow these days when the package delivery services get bogged down.
Look for another report next week!!
Tight lines! Amy Hazel and the staff at Deschutes Angler Fly Shop