Steelhead are the rage on the Deschutes

Deschutes River - Maupin, OR

by Amy Hazel

Cool and rainy weather this week has been great for the steelhead fishermen - and there is no shortage of them on the river right now! Yep, it is prime time and the river is busy, so bring your own rock to stand on and try to be calm when you get low holed. The etiquitte is astonishingly poor this year - funnily enough the Oregon state police commented that they had broken up more fist fights on the lower river this year than ever before! Really people? It's just fishing.

The telephone call of the day has been the question of what is happening with the White River - no big surprise, since it has been raining. As far as I know, the White River has been holding out okay - it is dirty but not big enough to impact the Deschutes yet. This could, of course, change at any time depending on what happens rain wise up on the mountain. But as of 11 AM on Tuesday, the conditions for fishing are good.

Trout fishing has been just fair on dry flies and better on nymphs. They are packing on the fat for the winter ahead and grabbing caddis pupae and bigger stonefly patterns with enthusiasm. There are a lot of October Caddis around already - so this is a good time of year to fish orange flies for both trout and steelhead. We have a stonefly hatch right now too - not tons of bugs, but you may notice that familiar silhouette bumbling around int he air and dropping to the river to lay eggs. I was out on Thursday night when I noticed the big females ovipositing on the river. Just as I was training my eyes on a particularly clumsy flyer - a flash of rufous and some sharp talons plucked it out of the air. A beautiful male American Kestral, for you non-bird nerds that is the smallest falcon in North America, was putting on a show for me - hunting big stoneflies from his perch on the side of the river. He swooped down and grabbed the stoneflies with his talons and flew back to his perch to eat them. I had never seen this behavior even during the big May stonefly hatch. It was cool.

Speaking of cool, the weather is just that right now and it is great for the fishing. With no bright sun in their eyes they have been grabby and surface oriented. Floating line, floating leader, and a small steetwalker or steelhead coachman is all you need to seduce a steelhead. No need to go deep - unless you like to fish sink tips and weighted flies. But steelhead are suspended in the water column, not hugging the bottom and the worst thing you could do is to swing your flies under them. Take advantage of the fact that these fish are aggressive and surface oriented - not very many places around where you can enjoy Spey casting a floating line and a skater and be productive at the same time! Tight lines!

Amy Hazel Deschutes Angler