Saturday Morning Fishing Report – from the banks of the Deschutes River
Here we are heading into the weekend again and everyone wants to know how good the steelhead fishing is. Well, the good news is that the steelhead fishing is open and we have the option to fish for steelhead for the entire season. The goals on wild fish counts at Bonneville Dam have been met, and that guarantees us an open steelhead season this year. This is a welcome change after last year when we found out, with only a few days-notice, that we would have to cancel all of our scheduled guide trips.
The bad news is that we have been experiencing brutally hot and sunny weather for the last few weeks and that has kept the water temperatures very high. The Deschutes is not cooler (and often registers hotter) than the Columbia River, and this is a deterrent for steelhead to enter the Deschutes. If they are in the river, they often don’t act aggressive or grabby when water temps are in the high 60s.
We are going to see the temps drop dramatically this weekend, and that should get a few more steelhead moving around. Reports from the lower river downstream of Maupin and all the way to the mouth have been a bit bleak since the day the river opened on August 15. Everyone and their brother, full of pent-up steelhead angst after being closed-out of the Deschutes last year, hit the river on the opening day. To the steelhead that had been casually swimming up the Deschutes all through July and into the first half of August, the morning of August 15 must have been their own special version of Shock and Awe. Steelhead that had seen nothing in the river for weeks on end were suddenly assaulted with lures, plugs, flies, nymphs, and spoons, as a barrage of jet boats, drift boats, rafts, pontoon boats, and bank anglers descended upon and occupied nearly every square foot of water between Mack’s Canyon and the mouth of the Deschutes.
That first day that steelhead opened was lights-out good, and, just after that, the lights seemed to go out for the steelhead. The water temperatures are a full five degrees warmer at the mouth of the Deschutes this year than they were last year at this time (I am using the USGS Data from the Moody Gauge on the Deschutes). Part of the problem is that we have had sustained high temperatures in August, part of it is that the water flows are relatively low, and we have not had very many fires this year. The lack of fires, oddly enough, will cause the river to warm up because we do not have that artificial cloud cover created by smoke.
This morning, the temps in the canyon dropped dramatically. We woke up to the first chilly morning of the late summer. With a huge drop in temperatures comes a huge pressure change. The “W” word (which shall not be spoken on the river) will undoubtedly be spoken by many on the river today – it was already blowing when I woke up at 5:00 this morning. We will take the punishing gales in order to have a cooler river in days to come, simply because we know that the steelhead will get moving.
Cooler water temps will be better for the trout too. They have been hunkering down for the past few weeks trying to stay in the cooler water, finding oxygen wherever they can. Nymph fishing has been the most productive method, but we should see the dry fly action start to pick up as we slowly edge into autumn. Dry-dropper rigs with grasshoppers or chubby chernobyls up top and 4-5 feet of 5X fluorocarbon tipper to a tungsten bead nymph will do the trick. Early morning trout anglers will find trout sipping on dead caddis and BWO mayfly spinners. Find the smallest fly in the box, tie it on, and work your way upstream on the edge of a riffle. Once the sun starts beating down on the water, you need to find shady pockets, or get your nymph rig out.We are still open daily from 8 to 5 until September when our hours will change to 9 to 5 weekdays, 8 to 5 Saturdays, and 10 to 3 Sundays. Tight lines! See you on your next trip to Maupin