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.
Nymphing remains the most productive tactic, though hatch activity has been good and there have been some fish feeding on top. Caddis, PMD's, PED's, and the Green Drake are all on the menu. Keep a dry fly rod rigged and ready to go in case you come across a group of rising fish. Before you start casting, take some time and watch the fish, it will help tremendously with fly selection, presentation, and hook up ratios. Dead drifting emerger patterns in or under the surface film can often times help with picky fish. Look for caddis throughout the late morning into dusk, PMD's throughout the afternoon and Green Drakes on those overcast and cloudy days. Nymphing with a smaller stonefly nymph trailed with small mayfly nymphs (#16-#20) caddis pupa/larva (#14-#18) and attractor nymphs (#12-#20) is always a good way to prospect for fish. Streamers are an underutilized tactic on this stretch. Swinging and stripping a sculpin usually won't produce lots of fish, but it can produce some big, healthy trout when conditions are right.
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