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 boatramp 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 and unwind. 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.
Fishing on the lower Deschutes can still be productive after the prolific salmonfly hatch. Small flies are on the menu this time of year. PMDs and BWOs are likely to come off in the afternoon. Be ready with adult caddis flies. Caddis fishing can be very good at dusk, and good in the morning too. Nymphing with a stonefly nymph trailed with small mayfly nymphs and midges in a size 16-22 will be the way to go. We like the JuJu Baetis, Aero Baetis, Pheasant Tail, Copper John, Psycho Prince, and Zebra Midge. Pat’s Rubber Legs in a size 6 or 8 are the go-to top fly for a double nymph rig.
On hot summer days, fish will be more active in the morning/evening. It’s not a bad idea to put the rod down for a few hours in the hottest part of the day.
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