While I still do a good deal of trout fishing this time of year, the steelhead fishing, for me, is more compelling. The Fall is the most productive time to flyfish for summer steelhead. While low-water conditions persist, the fish chase swung flies better than they do at any other time of year. The Deschutes has had a great return of summer steelhead this year, with a good proportion of wild fish. The fishing there was very good throughout late September and early October. More recently the flow jumped up to 4720 cfs which moved the fish around and made them less willing to bite. As conditions stabillize this week the fishing should rebound. The desert is a magical setting: rim rock canyons, green hillsides, yellowing alders and flaming poplars. Traffic on the Deschutes has been down this year. Blame it on the economy, it might be bad for business, but I don’t miss the crowds. We have done several multi-day trips on the Trout Creek to Maupin section in the last couple of weeks and found very good fishing. On cloudy days and in low-light conditions, I have been doing well on traditional wet flies like a Purple Peril or Silver Hilton (#4-#6). When the sun is on the water, the fish have been responding to leech patterns swung on a type III sink-tip line.
As good as the fishing on the Deschutes has been, I have really enjoyed fishing the rivers around Eugene for steelhead this fall. The Army Corps of Engineers has been manipulating the flows out of Leaburg and Dexter dams, making the fishing somewhat unpredictable. When the water is low and stable for a day or two, however, the steelhead fishing has been as good as it gets. Leech patterns swung on a sink tip have been getting a great response, as have traditional patterns fished on a floater in the shallower spots. With the lower light and cloudy days this time of year, fish will at times hold in very skinny water (less than 18 inches). This fish pounced on a marabou leech on Mr. Koe’s 5th cast of the morning:
Fall is a magical time of year, but we all know it will be over soon. Now is the time to get out and enjoy the mild weather before the rains come for good.