The Bug Parade has begun.....

The Bug Parade has begun.....

It is now happening in the Maupin area and in the stretches of river around Maupin (mostly downstream)....the stoneflies are marching two by two out of the river and into the grasses and onto the rocks and trees. Day by day, more and more stoneflies will emerge each night until the bushes are drooping under their weight. 

The water flows bumped up just a bit after the weekend's rain, but not in a detrimental way. The color of the water is excellent both above and below the White River - the White had a bump, but didn't bump high enough to impact the Deschutes and its color stayed decent. 

This is a common sight along the river - the empty shuck of a stonefly nymph. The adult stonefly has already broken through the skin and crawled out to begin life as a winged adult.

In the earliest stage of the hatch, the trout will be quite eager to bust the surface and crush some dry flies. About a week or so in, and after some of the angling pressure has been evident, the trout will eat a bit more cautiously - inspecting each fly and following each fly before rising to it to slurp it down. The smashing grabs become more careful slurps as the month of May rolls by - until the bug activity begins to wane. At the end of the hatch, when the final batches of stoneflies are on their final flight, the trout will become a bit less cautious. They are eager to get that last big juicy burger-sized meal before a steady diet of caddis for the remainder of the summer. 

Here, we see an adult salmonfly (Pteronarcys californica) with the darker overall appearance and the telltale red line behind the head. The larger bugs are females and the smaller bugs are males. 

Fish your dry flies close to the grasses wherever the bank is deeper than a few feet. Fish your dry flies under the trees that overhang the water. Think about the habitat where the stoneflies are mating and getting clumsy, and falling into the water. In the first half of the hatch, this is where the trout will be looking and waiting for tasty morsels to hit the water. In the later part of the hatch, the golden stones will be flying and landing on the water to lay their eggs (salmonflies drop their eggs from the air) and thus, during the back part of the hatch you will find that your dry flies will get eats everywhere. 

Here is the Golden Stonefly (Hesperoperla pacifica) with a lighter body and wings and a golden head and underbelly.

Remember the importance of other insects during the month of May or possibly into early June - the stoneflies (salmonflies and golden stones) are not the only game in town. A decent-sized trout will spit a stonefly from his mouth in order to inhale one of the big and juicy mayflies of the Deschutes. The #1 favorite has to be the GREEN DRAKE, a massive mayfly that hatches out during the month of May for one or maybe two days in the middle of the day. If you have warm (80 degrees) weather with heavy clouds, relative calm, or maybe with a little bit of rain sprinkling down and a slight breeze, then you are in serious danger of seeing a huge green drake hatch on the Deschutes. Never be on the water in May without having a decent fistful of these flies - the green drake hatch may be the only hatch on the Deschutes that will cause the river to boil from bank to bank with BIG trout inhaling bugs. It is a thrilling time to be on the water. 

The adult green drake looks like a sausage with an oversized set of wings. 

Mayflies being a favorite food of the trout also means that they will be looking for any and all mayflies for the next few months. We have Pale Morning Duns, Pale Evening Duns, Pink Alberts, and Blue Winged Olives. The March Browns (which deceptively hatch in April) are just finishing up their month of glory and will be yielding the stage to all of these other mayflies making their appearance in May and June. Anglers should keep their eyes open for a few clues in the mid-day (Noon to 2:00 PM) that signal a mayfly hatch. First and foremost, the violet-green swallows, and cliff swallows, and bank swallows, and tree swallows (all birds) will all be swooping over the water to catch small mayflies during the hatch. The GULLS will take time out of their day to catch stoneflies in mid-air as well as green drakes - but they ignore the smaller mayflies. Use the birds as one cue. Second, for the best fishing during any mayfly hatch, you are wise to position yourself downstream of a riffle or rapid. The bugs use the broken whitewater to help break the surface tension of the water, thus making emergence a snap. Being in the right place is everything when you are hoping to capitalize on the mayfly hatch. 

It is not uncommon to have one group of anglers walk into the shop at the end of the day to report that they saw no mayflies at all that day. Another group will walk in raving of the epic mayfly hatches. Seeing, recognizing, and fishing a good mayfly hatch is all about where you are, how much you are paying attention, and how quickly you can get your rod re-rigged to take advantage of the hatch.

But, back to the salmonfly hatch, which is why everyone gets super pumped to be on the Deschutes in May. The hatch is triggered by water temperatures - not so much air temperatures. However, warmer air leads to warmer water. Cold air will keeo the bugs in the bushes and warm air will get the bugs moving and flying. The good news is that the forecast calls for warming temps by Friday and through the weekend - hang on to your hats, folks, here it comes!

The photos you see all over this report (except for the green drake photo) were taken within the hour (Monday) on the Deschutes from Maupin downstream to the Sandy Beach. As you go further north downstream near Beavertail and Macks Canyon, there should be more and more bugs in the bushes.

If you don't have plans to be out on the river in the Maupin area in the next two weeks, you should be making plans to do just that! You snooze, you lose!


  • Always such a phenomenal river report! Love the read and no doubt helps immensely when we stock the box for our trips! Thanks Amy and keep em comin!

  • Great write-up guys! Very enjoyable read. Keep ‘em coming!

  • Just rolling into town for a week or more last night! I am ready for some fun!! Thank for all the advice Amy. It REALLY REALLY helps! Let the frenzy begin! haha!

  • The pictures are so awesome. I always look forward to reading these reports but especially during salmon fly hatch time. Thank you Amy!!!


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