The Salmonfly and Golden Stone hatch is out in force on the Lower Deschutes, and the dry fly fishing for the river’s wild redsides hatch has been good. Between Pelton Dam and Maupin, the Deschutes is host to the most prolific hatch of these bugs anywhere in the country. It is an epic hatch, one every dedicated trout angler should experience.
Earlier in the hatch, the dry fly fishing was a little spotty, with some high and off-color water, and many of the fish still in transition as the hatch worked its way upstream. More recently, however, the water has dropped and cleared, the fish have lined up where they should be, and we have had some spectacular sessions of dry fly fishing.
The water is still relatively high, but like anywhere, moderately high water doesn’t necessarily make the trout fishing good or bad, it just changes things to some extent. Some favorite spots will be washed-out, while many other places that wouldn’t necessarily fish at lower flows will become good spots. Especially during the salmonfly hatch, many fish will hold tight to the bank, downstream of trees, as well up underneath overhanging limbs. Dry fly fishing on the Deschutes forces you to work on your short game to work around these obstacles.
The grabs this time of year can be amazing. It is not uncommon to see a big rainbow chase your fly downstream to crush it. Sometimes two trout will charge the fly at the same time, and the bigger one usually wins. The same fish that in the summer months will be daintily sipping small caddis in a back eddy will charge out of a heavy current seam to blow up a fly nearly the size of a badminton birdie fished on a stubby 1x leader.
During periods of cool and wet weather, the bugs go dormant in the trees and grass, waiting for warmer weather to mate and lay their eggs. Given all the nasty weather we’ve endured this Spring, I think the good dry fly fishing the stonefly hatch offers will linger on for another week or two.