Planning your Deschutes Adventure

Planning your Deschutes Adventure


                        CLOSE:6:00 PM (4:00 PM on Sunday)

This is the time of year when the phone calls start coming in hot and heavy with lots of questions about the hatch and the status of it from day to day. So far, from all of our scouts, customers, employees and trusted angling friends we are hearing that the bugs are not here yet - or an all-day search will yield one adult stonefly. This means that the trout are not quite keyed into the big dries yet. There are, however, plenty of suicidal Deschutes steelhead smolt in the river that won't let anything pass by them without throwing themselves upon it. These are baby steelhead on their way out the ocean - most are between 5" and 10" in length. They have no fear and they are really aggressive to race to a fly. If they become annoying, please just move to faster or deeper water where the larger trout are more likely to be holding. 

The best success you will have on dry flies will be to fish either a March Brown dry fly in the afternoon into evening, or a blue winged olive. Either of these mayfly patterns will get trout to move at this time of year. Caddis, too, will be hatching out strongly in the evenings, so please don't pass those by when selecting a fly from your arsenal. 

Euro nymphing and regular nymphing will both be very productive all day long. For the greatest success, approach the water carefully and fish it all. This means that you should fish the shallow riffle water BEFORE you go tromping through it as you try to toss your bugs into the middle of the river. Pick apart each piece of water that you have a chance to secure. 

Things are going to get busy out on the river over the course of this month. It is going to be really busy when we hit next week's warm weather and the big bugs make their big showing. For anglers who fish this river several times a month throughout the year, crowds won't be a problem for you. Thanks to the groundwork you have already put in, you have several favorite places to fish and you should be able to slide into one of your spots since you have so many that you have learned over the years. 

For those of you who are new to the river, please keep in mind that this is a large river with tons of access points. There is no need to crowd other anglers or to try to horn in on the water that someone else is fishing. Give other anglers plenty of space. If you walk into the river close enough to another angler to hear them as they make a comment about you, then you are too close. If you see someone, keep moving and try to find a spot where there isn't another angler as far as you can see upriver or downriver. 

Camping spots may become limited, but this does not mean that camping is a free-for-all. Along the river in  Maupin you must camp at designated camp sites within the campgrounds. Parking along the road and sleeping in your van is not allowed by law - and the BLM rangers will be up and down the road to enforce that law. The few dollars that you spend at a campsite are used to maintain the toilets and campsites along the river as well as to keep the boat ramps and roads in working order. 

If you are planning to use a boat on the Deschutes, please be aware that there are a lot of rules that go along with boating on this river. Firstly, you need to have a boater pass (available only on to cover all of the people in the boat and to designate which section you will be floating. You will need an invasive species or waterway permit for all boats over 10 feet in length. You will need lifejackets, a throw rope, a seat cushion that is a throwable floatation device, and a noise making device such as a whistle. If you plan to use your boat for camping, you need to carry a toilet approved by the BLM and a firepan if you are planning to bring wood to burn. It is illegal to cut down trees on the river. Fires are only allowed until June 1 and are not allowed after that date all summer and fall until the ban is lifted on October 15. All fires on the Deschutes must be in a firepan.

The weather looks like it is going to take a bad turn this evening to become windy and rainy for the next couple of days. Next week, however, the forecast is a lot more favorable towards the hatch and the weather heating up. We will keep you informed about the heating up of the hatch. We have an advantage over all other fly shops in Oregon because we are located smack dab on the Deschutes. We talk to dozens and dozens of anglers, guides, and friends of the river every day and from them we get the up to the minute reports on bugs, weather, wind, and the little things that happen on the water. We will post all that we know in this report and will update it instantly if something significant should happen. 

On a sad note, I must report the passing of one of our longest-time friends. Dale Madden was the heart and soul of Maupin - he was the grey-haired gentleman who you may have seen sitting in the back of the fly shop in the evenings. His daily routine was to stop in for a visit around lunch time - we would shoot the breeze, catch up on his kids and grandkids happenings, we would hear about his long time rodeo buddy still operating a ranch in Wyoming well into his 80s, Dale would travel to Wyoming to help his buddy, Mike, with the branding, or the calving, or the sale of the calves at the end of the year. Dale was born in Oklahoma and raised on a dairy farm where he was expected to hand-milk his share of cows before walking to school in the mornings. He knew hard work from an early age and never lost that work ethic. 

In college at the University of Wyoming, Dale was a star wrestler and also became a star bull rider on the rodeo circuit - he travelled all around the west in his youthful days hitting one rodeo arena after the next and passing very few honky tonk bars along the route! He had a fulfilling and successful career in the food sciences, helping to develop processes to improve ice cream and other diary products. For years and years we could always depend on a big wheel of Cougar Gold aged White Cheddar cheese as a Christmas gift from Dale. He was so very generous to all whom he knew and his gifts were always extremely practical. Pocket knives were a favorite gift, as were salt guns to shoot the flies in the back office. I think of Dale every time I rattle down the road with the Christmas present of a full-sized floor jack in the back of my truck. 

Dale was a very avid angler well before he bought a house on the river in Maupin. He did annual trips with all of his buddies and we got to laugh right along with Dale as he relayed that stories of the practical jokes that flew around the camp. He cared a lot more about the camaraderie than the fishing - and his friends always came first. One of my fondest memories of my young guiding days was the time that Dale hooked and landed a tank of a steelhead with me at the boat ramp before we even started our float that day. This was a thick, hard-bodied double red stripe fire engine buck - an absolute unit of a steelhead which Dale wrestled in with ease. I have a picture was over 25 years ago.

We went on several vacations with Dale - to Honduras and to Belize to go saltwater fishing as well as on many local adventures around Maupin. Dale was a hoot on the ocean - and even out fished those much younger than he. He was always super wiry, tough, and strong and no tarpon was going to push Dale around!! 

We celebrated Dale's many milestone birthdays with him - 70, 75, 80, 85 and always felt like he was as much a part of our family as anyone could be. Dale would walk through the back door of the shop into the office every single day at 4:20 PM. The crack of the door at that time of day elicited happy greetings' "Hey, Dale!" "Mr. Madden!" "What's up buddy?" and Dale would take his chair in the back office just opposite John's desk. As we wrapped up our day, Dale would casually sip his beer and laugh at the shenanigans that always took place in the back room. He offered us sage advice in business transactions and also in life transactions. Whenever I got worked up about something, he had a way of reminding me not to sweat the small stuff. I will miss his sage advice and constant friendship. 

Dale lived his whole life as he wanted to live it. He was able to drive his own truck, live independently in his own house, he met with his friends daily, he supported all of the businesses in Maupin, and he ate what he pleased, drank what he pleased, and was a hero to many of the people who got to know him. We have an empty spot in the shop and in our hearts, but we were the lucky ones for having all the good times with Dale over the many years that we knew him. I will miss his morning phone call to the shop when the water color went off, or the water rose, or the water dropped, or the stoneflies finally showed up on his deck - Dale had his finger on the pulse of the river. Our entire Deschutes Angler Family will miss this man. 

Keep checking the reports - we will be getting them out more frequently as things start to pop.  


  • Great tribute to Dale. Always enjoyed sharing fishing stories together over a beer from the kegerator on his deck. He was an exceptional person, lived life to the fullest, and will be missed by many.

    Tim Knecht
  • Amy, what a truly delightful and well-written memory of Dale. Thank you so much for this. It so nicely rounds out what appeared in the paper, and it’s a great gift to all of us who knew Dale—and those of us who didn’t.

    Doug Lowell
  • Amy thanks for the post, always appreciate your knowledge and advice (and nice tribute to your friend). See you in the shop next trip to Maupin.

  • Thanks for the update, Amy. Sorry to hear about your friend Dale, wish I could have met him.

    And Joey, why so harsh? Amy always speaks highly of you. LOL.

  • Thanks Amy for the report, and all that you do to welcome us non-locals to your lovely town, to spend our money in it’s restaurants, grocery store, motel, and fly shop. I’ve always got a good vibe from the people in that town, but then I’ve never met any bottom feeders named Joey. Lucky I guess.


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