The Deschutes River’s Salmonfly hatch is one of the most anticipated events of the flyfishing calendar here in Oregon. Once again, the hatch did not disappoint; we had great numbers of bugs this year and consistently good dry fly fishing. Though the bugs have been out in force since the middle of May, the hatch should linger on for another couple weeks, particularly on the Warm Springs to Trout Creek section and the upper reaches of the Trout Creek to Maupin float. When I took out yesterday afternoon at Harpham Flats, just above Maupin, decent numbers of golden stones were still around, and the Deschutes’ native redsides were responding well to dry flies.
Later in the hatch the fish have seen some pressure, and golden stones outnumber the salmonflies. As the hatch wears on, the fish become a bit shy to some of the giant, foam salmonfly patterns, particularly in the softer water, and a smaller, more sparsely dressed golden stonefly imitation will often out perform the bigger stuff.
It is true that the Deschutes sees its share of pressure this time of year, and the fish have become somewhat more cagey in many of the more heavily fished spots, but it is remarkable how much good water there is to fish on the lower Deschutes. With a little poking around it isn’t hard to find less-molested water and willing fish. Brushy shorelines hold both bugs and fish. This type of fishing is a close quarters affair. Tension casts and bow-and-arrow tactics can lead to a lot of action in places that don’t allow room for more conventional casting. This type of short game fishing is exciting, often leading to violent takes right under the rod tip.
On the last trip I did we had issues with rain, cold temperatures, and high winds. The unseasonable cool weather made the salmonflies and golden stones hunker down in the grass and go dormant. The dry fly fishing was still pretty good in the more out of the way areas, but tougher than it had been when the weather was warmer and the bugs more active. The cold weather did have an upside, however. We got some great afternoon mayfly hatches, with fish rising greedily to a mixture of mayfly species. The smaller mayflies brought some nice fish to the surface with dainty rises, but when the green drakes started to pop this last monday afternoon, all the big redsides came to the surface to hunt one of their favorite prey. This green drake hatch led to an hour and a half of outrageously good dry fly fishing, etching indelible memories for guests and guides alike.