Smoke on the Water
On Thursday night we had a storm cell roll through Maupin producing several lightning strikes and starting a handful of fires in the area. Currently, the fires are on the ranch lands outside of Maupin up the Bakeoven Road - so there is nothing to worry about on the river right now. We do, however, have a hazy overcast smoke layer which is combining with a fairly substantial cloud layer today - which makes for great fishing weather!!Here is a photograph of the storm as it rolled over Maupin:
The trout love an overcast day, but the rattlesnakes love these days too, so watch your step out there and watch where you put your hands. I find a lot of rattlesnakes in the grass right on the river's edge.
The smoke in the air is not palpable or harmful - visibility is still good. The fact that the smoke is hanging around is due largely to the fact that the wind has been very slight to non-existent in the last few days (which has been a blessing for the crews fighting fire). You anglers who hit the river so hard during the heinously windy weekends of April, May and June would be pleasantly surprised to find out how calm the river can be. The fishing pressure is way down at this time of year, and you can easily work your way around the daytime rafting traffic by moving to areas where the rafts are not.
Keep in mind that the Hoot Owl measures are still in effect - which means that the river is closed from Sherar's Falls downstream from 2:00 PM until dawn the next morning. If you want to fish in the afternoon and evening, it is possible to do so if you are fishing around the Maupin area and upstream. Keep an eye on the temperatures and do the right thing by curtailing your fishing if you find water temperatures over 66 degrees.
What's hatching? Well, today we should have fantastic mid-day mayfly hatches thanks to the heavy cloud cover. Fish lose a lot of their inhibitions when the clouds block out the sun, and they don't have to hide up under the trees on days like these. Most of the mayflies are likely to be pale morning duns or pale evening duns. The caddis hatches are thick pretty much throughout the day - and they have gotten a lot better in recent days since the water temperatures coming out of the dams has been lowered. We also have aquatic moths on the water and a few craneflies, but very few.
Speaking of Smoke on the Water - some of you may know this 1972 tune sung by Deep Purple - the band name could easily be used as a fly name. You know what they say about steelhead flies on the Deschutes? Any color will work, as long as it is purple! We have been swinging some purple lately - sometimes deep purple, but we are mostly fishing in the mornings with floating line and floating polyleaders.When the sun gets on the water in the mid-day, we might switch to a sink tip between 11:00 and the 2:00 deadline in order to finish up the day fishing the deeper and cooler waters.
The steelhead numbers are looking pretty weak this year, but we have managed to hook a few on our own individual forays to the river. One thing that the steelhead have going for them is the lack of heavy pressure on the lower river. With the high water temperatures and Hoot Owl closure, many anglers have decided to cancel their trips or postpone the trips until the Hoot Owl is lifted (maybe some time in September). Without having to run the gauntlet of hardware in the lower river, the steelhead are moving up into the cooler waters here in Maupin. The farther they swim upriver, the cooler it gets. Don't be surprised if you hook a steelhead while nymph fishing for trout - that has happened to us several times in the past few weeks. It is usually a short-lived fight resulting in broken off flies.
If you need a break from the big city, you can always get away from it all out here in Maupin. There are still wild places away from the chaotic world, and the Deschutes River is still one of those places.