Winter is Still Here!

Winter is Still Here!


Attending the Deschutes River Alliance Annual Banquet

For any of you planning to hit the river this weekend, we have to announce that the fly shop will be closed on Saturday for most of the day because John and I will be in Portland attending the Deschutes River Alliance Annual Fundraiser. (If you're reading this before Monday (2/27) evening, there's still time to bid on their silent auction and help us raise money for protecting our waters & its inhabitants.) We have to leave Maupin around 10;30 AM, so we will open the shop in the morning from 9:00 to 10:30 just in case we have some hearty anglers braving the weather. Today and tomorrow will be below freezing and snowing, but Saturday looks a little warmer (41 degrees is supposed to be the high). Moving into next week the high temps are forecast to stay in the low 40s.  

The last 24 hours out here on the banks of the Deschutes River can best be described as frigid and snowy. This morning I woke to temps outside that are 14 degrees but feel like -1 with the wind howling as it is. In a nutshell, the weather is nasty! I took a photo of our back deck just so you can see the snowfall from overnight - it is chilly out here this morning!!!!

Yesterday was one of the rare days that nobody walked through the door wearing fishing gear looking for flies. Parts of Portland and SW Washington got inches of snow yesterday and the mountain looked like it got slammed too, but not to the point of having any of the roads closed. It was NOT a very nice day to be on the water yesterday and today looks even worse. Looking at the TripCheck cameras this morning, the west end of the Gorge looks pretty snowy and it seems to be snowing at some level from Portland to The Dalles. The mountain, of course, got a lot of snow too, so it will be a bit messy for a day or so. Out here we have about 2-3 inches and it is very windy, very cold, and still snowing. 

No matter how cold it is outside, the hatches continue through the winter -although they are far scarcer than what we see in the warmer months. The blue winged olives are the most predictable of the hatches, coming off daily between Noon and 3. As with most mayflies, BWO hatches are strongest on overcast days and last the longest on non-windy days. Mayflies of every variety tend to hatch out of the river best with the aid of a rapid or riffle to allow them to break through the surface tension of the water. This is why you might meet your buddy after a day of fishing and he is raving about the 45 minute dry fly session he had and you saw NOTHING RISING all day. The difference between your buddy's day and your day is that your buddy was in the right place at the right time and you were not. Your buddy found a rapid or strong riffle and he, or she, stood below that rapid in a slick slower moving pool or a backeddy. The BWOs emerged in the riffle and floated into the calmer water below where the trout were in their lazy winter water waiting for them. Many of the mayflies were able to dry their wings and fly off, but others were gulped down either as they swam to the surface, as they got caught in the "in between" water with their shuck stuck in the subsurface and the rest of their new body struggling to take flight, or maybe just they were lifting off an airborne trout made a meal out of them. 

If you really want to fish dry flies, (and who doesn't?), sometimes you have to plan accordingly. If you saw a lot of mayflies on the water in one spot, take note of that spot and use it again in the future. Good mayfly water is good mayfly water. 

The winter caddis have been seen a bit more lately. The caddis that we see this time of year tend to be larger (size 12 and 14) and quite clumsy. The hatches are not super frequent, but they will increase as we head into the month of March. 

March is the month for March Browns, right? Well, you would think so, given the name, but the bulk of this hatch takes place in the month of April. So, hang onto the thought of fishing size 12-14 March Brown dries, the rhithrogena morrisoni is on the way, but we won't start seeing them until the end of March. We have two distinct varieties of the mayfly that we call the March Brown on the Deschutes. Both are size 12-14 as adults, both have tannish brown bodies, but the dominant variety has speckled wings (they look oversized and awkward) and the other has a solid tan wing. Stay tuned, they will arrive as the weather warms.

When dry flies are few and far between what do we do? We either nymph fish, with or without indicators and/or Euro nymph, or we fish streamer patterns for trout. We talk about the Eurp thing a lot, simply because of the soaring popularity of this indicatorless technique. It is super productive and quite fun once you get the hang of it. A more difficult way to hook fish on the Deschutes is to swim a streamer through the water to elicit a trout to grab it. Trout Spey rods are fun to use, though the technique for maximizing trout hook-ups is less swinging and more stripping or jigging. The trout prefer a bit of action on that fly, so anglers should incorporate more than just a down-and-across swing technique when exploring the Deschutes for redsides on a trout Spey. Try pitching the fly upstream, allowing it to sink on the dead drift, and then stripping or jigging the fly to make it look like it is swimming quickly downstream. The fly needs to have some heavy weight on it, in the form of a tungsten bead, lead eyes, or a sculpin helmet. It doesn't have to be jigged, but many of the patterns are. Some of the best patterns for exploring the river with a trout Spey are the Meat Sweats fly, the Sculpzilla fly, the Mini Jig Bugger, Rowley's Balanced Baitfish, or any heavy woolly bugger like the Tungsten Bead Head Woolly Bugger Jig fly.

Well, this wraps up the fishing report for today. Remember, we are going to be closed on Saturday at 10:30 in order to celebrate and raise money for the Deschutes River Alliance - the ONLY organization whose sole focus is the health of the lower Deschutes. 


  • Amy, great article as usual. Try as I may I cannot find a separate specie for 2 Rithrogena Morrisoni. Do you know what the two are that we have on the Deschutes?
    Thanks, see you all soon ( if this western snow ever stops).

  • Hi Amy! We fought our way out of the city and made it today to Spey! It was an icy horrible mess. We ran out 84 and it was beyond ugly. Pretty darn white knuckle driving until we hit Troutdale and then the ice slowly went back to pavement and we were out! West bound 84 was an absolute parking lot for miles and miles. Yikes.
    I am going to switch over the Nymph dropper setup you put together for me on my cheapo rod onto my nice one and hit the river tomorrow! Your setup worked great last time! Fingers Crossed! I will stop by and say hello and grab some supplies, before I lose you for a couple days over the weekend! See you soon!


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