Summertime ... and the livin' is easy!

Summertime ... and the livin' is easy!

Hello friends of the Deschutes. I have some good news to report on the steelhead front - the goals that we needed to hit to keep the river open from August 15 to September 15 this year have been MET. We now have one more goal to meet in order to keep steelhead fishing open from September 15 onward and here is how we are doing on edging closer to that goal...

We have a count of 18,565 unclipped steelhead over Bonneville dam as of today. We are getting around 600-700 steelhead per day over the past few days, a rate of fish passage which SHOULD get us to the magic number (23,100 unmarked steelhead) that we need to pass over Bonneville Dam by the end of August. We will keep our fingers crossed on that front. 

The good news is that the Deschutes is open for steelhead for sure through the middle of September. We have not seen a ton of people out chasing steelhead so far this year, but we expect the crowds to be significant this year because the North Umpqua is closed to steelhead fishing.

IF, and this is still an IF, the Skeena system up in British Columbia closes down this year due to a very low number of fish returning, we are likely to see an extremely busy river here on the Deschutes. Unfortunately, it looks like the John Day River will remain closed to steelhead fishing again this season.

Closures of these rivers are painful for recreational anglers - particularly when the gill net commercial fisheries are allowed to continue on. 

Trout fishing has continued to stay strong. Dry flies are an early morning and evening affair - but on days like today with high overcast and a spit of rain, the fish are less wary and willing to eat dry flies all day long. We have caddis, aquatic moths, craneflies (small and few) and we have pale morning duns (little yellow mayflies). Keep your leaders fine - 5X and 6X tippets will hook you a bunch more fish than 4X tippet. Elk hair caddis are fine, but EC Caddis, X Caddis, Fin Fetcher Caddis and CDC Caddis will hook a lot more fish than an unmodified Elk Hair Caddis. Unmodified? What does that mean? It is standard practice to modify store-bought flies to make them work better for certain picky fish. If an elk hair is the fly that I have, I may want to modify it by clipping the hackle short so the fly sits lower on the water. I may want to splay the wings out by pinching the elk hair until the fly looks dead. You can do a lot to a fly to modify it and enhance its fish-catching properties. 

I gotta cut this short - been alone in the store all day helping customers with little time to update this report. I will write more later. 

Very few anglers out here right now. Lots of rafters on the weekends but it is a pretty wide open river for anglers if you stay out of the "splash and giggle" stretches of the Deschutes. 


  • Does anyone know why the John day is still closed even though the Deschutes and eastern Oregon steelhead fisheries are open?

  • so I checked on how warm a bass can live. they can survive 100 degrees for short periods.

    timothy martin
  • Good link to what is going on in BC:

  • Small point to clarify: Its 23,100 since the start of July. The totals on the generic dam count page are for the full year. That said, as of 8/6 there are just over 18K fish with almost 1K coming on 8/6 alone! Like you said, we should get there(even if it is still far under the 10 year average).

    Watch those water temps folks!

  • Hit it last Monday and swung the spey from 6-9 without a bump. Switched to nymphing trout to feel a bend and hooked and lost 3 steelhead in a matter of 20 minutes! Felt so good to feel a big bend and let the reel rip. Would have been better to hook them on the spey, however, bobber down and a big flash never gets old. A pod must have moved into the seam I was fishing which happened another time about 15 years ago. Hah. River is the lowest I’ve seen in it so I was able to wade out to a midriver seam. Talked to the survey guy melting in the sun, and he said their trailer was broken into. So lame! Hope the August heat doesn’t hit too hard.


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