The Deschutes is a desert river flowing north through deep, rugged canyons and has some of the biggest trout water that an angler will ever see. High-side drift boats or inflatable rafts help anglers easily cover large stretches water, but numerous class III and IV rapids make the Deschutes appropriate for experienced whitewater boaters only. Keep in mind, there is no fishing from a boat allowed on the Lower Deschutes. This roughly 100 miles of river boasts abundant insect hatches, healthy populations of Rainbow Trout, and a run of Summer Steelhead. The Deschutes basin’s strain of rainbow trout, called “Redsides,” grow thick shouldered, and are surprisingly strong for their size.
A popular float with plenty of fishing time and great views is the almost 10 mile stretch from the Warm Springs boat ramp to Trout Creek Campground. Beyond Trout Creek, boaters must float 30-35 miles before arriving at one of the three next possible takeouts. The first is a boat ramp at Nena Creek, followed by Long Bend, then the biggest at Harpham Flat, then finally Wapanitia. We fondly label this lengthy section of river, the "Camp Stretch", where numerous BLM campsites dot the river's edge, and provide boaters a chance to camp. Towering canyon walls and challenging whitewater guard the beauty and remoteness of this section of the river from over fishing. A float on this Wild and Scenic stretch of the Deschutes is our most popular guided fly fishing trip.
The Lower Deschutes between the Pelton Regulating Dam and the northern boundary of the Warm Springs reservation is closed until April 22nd. There are still opportunities for trout below the Warm Springs reservation, near the town of Maupin. Small flies are on the menu this time of year. Dry fly hatches are sparse, though an occasional fish may rise to a midge or blue winged olive. Nymphing with a smaller stonefly nymph trailed with small mayfly nymphs and midges in a size 16-22 will be the way to go, likely until spring. We like the JuJu Baetis, Aero Baetis, Pheasant Tail, Copper John, Psycho Prince, and Zebra Midge. Pat's Rubber Legs in a size 10 or smaller are the go-to top fly for a double nymph rig. Deschutes steelhead are actively spawning, so we'd recommend heading to the coast if you're looking for chrome.
To stay up to date with our guides make sure to follow them on Instagram