I finished a three day trip this afternoon on the stretch of the lower Deschutes that runs between Trout Creek and Maupin. The weather was unseasonably mild for this time of year, but the fish didn’t seem to mind the cooler weather. We saw highs in the seventies, but the temperature would drop quickly when the afternoon thunderstorms materialized. Though high winds did occasionaly put a crimp in the dry fly action (and certainly the casting), the dry fly fishing and nymphing were consistently good.
Summer is caddis season on the Deschutes. During the peak of the hatch (usually sometime in July) there can sometimes be a blizzard of bugs hanging over the river, and the dry fly action can be widespred. These bugs come out in greatest profusion when the weather gets really hot (85 degrees or more), which is typical for the lower Deschutes canyon this time of year. When some other trout streams go through their summer doldrums, the Deschutes can really shine.
The weather was cool on this last trip, feeling more like May than July, but despite the cool weather, there were still enough caddis coming off to keep the fish looking up, with a mixed match of small mayflies to spice things up. Though the hatch wasn’t heavy, we found nice trout rising in various types of water from eddies to riffles and brushy bank lines. Top producing dry fly pattern in my boat included the royal wulff, peacock caddis, and parachute adams, and x-caddis, all in sizes 16 and 18. Simple flies work well here, provided they are well-presented, small and relatively sparse.
Some of the Deschutes’ native redsides can get picky this time of year, but sight fishing for these trout is really compelling. It pays to move slowly and carefully observe before you cast. Oftentimes the biggest trout are the most subtle risers. If you get a refusal, it pays to rest the fish and change the fly, usually to something smaller and darker.
Nymphing was also productive. When the wind started to crank, blowing most of the bugs off the water, we did well fishing various small nymphs about 7 or 8 feet under a thingamabobber. Various nymphs worked well. A Fox’s Poopah in tan and a pheasant tail fished in tandem were hard to beat.
We had a number of guests on the trip who had never held a fly rod before, but by the end of the trip, with some instruction and coaching, all had landed some great fish.