Weird Changing River Conditions

Weird Changing River Conditions

You are all aware by now that the storms on Friday night caused some massive mudslides and flash floods on Deschutes tributaries. These floods caused the river to be as dark chocolate as we have seen it in years. Here is the photo that I took at Boxcar rapid on Saturday morning at 8:30 AM:


This morning (Sunday, May 21) I drove down to the river to take a photo in the same spot so I could compare it to yesterday. I took this photo at 9:15 AM at Boxcar and I was super excited to see that the river was clearing up so quickly. I was even thinking that the trout would happily be back on the dry flies with this new 18" of visibility. Things were looking good! I opened the fly shop and began selling flies and leaders and things.

Then - about 40 minutes after I took this photo - Brian Silvey walked in and commented on how bad the river looks. I said that I thought it was clearing quite quickly, based on the photos that I had just taken and the water that I had just been standing next to. He looked at me like I was losing my marbles and I looked at him and thought that he wasn't seeing the glass half full with how nicely the river was clearing. Brian kept commenting on how red the river looked. More and more anglers drifted into the shop and the story was all about how horrible the river was looking. So, I jumped in my rig and drove back down to the river and nearly fell out of my seat when I saw the river at 11:15 AM. It was nearly as bad as it had been on Saturday morning! I took this photo:

It is totally crazy that it changed back to the heavy mud flow so quickly - but we did have a bunch of isolated rain storms last night. So, the river, once again looks horrible. I will check back in with the river tonight or tomorrow and will let you know what happens next. It can change very quickly. 

We know that several creeks and rivers on the Warm Springs Reservation had flash flooding on Friday night due to the heavy localized rain storms. Dry Creek campground had to be evacuated and the road was temporarily washed out. The Warm Springs river was also extremely muddy at one point. Even tiny tributaries that don't have names had flash floods and now have gravel deposits extending out into the Deschutes where there were no gravel deposits earlier. 

I am not sure where today's mud flow originated. There were additional isolated thunderstorms last night. Looks like we could get a few more storms tonight. Hard to say what will happen or how quickly things will clear. Hopefully we will have clearer water soon. 


  • Hopefully it was enough water to strip away some of those nasty weed beds that had started to form over the last couple of years. Thanks for the update, Amy.

  • Amy, you are heaven sent with your updates and river info. Planning a four day stay at Pelton Park starting Monday, 5-22-23. Your postings will definitely help on when and where to fish (or not). Thank you very much.

    Henry Herwig
  • Are you sure this was the Deschutes, not the Colorado, you were photographing?

    Mike Bell
  • Thanks for keeping all of us informed!

    It is greatly appreciated!

  • Thanks for the continuous updates, Amy. I always stop in the shop to spend my money as a thank you for your great reports.


Leave a comment

What are you looking for?

Your cart