Deschutes River Salmonfly Report: Big Bugs and Big Trout

Robert Jones with a great Deschutes River Rainbow Trout

I just got home from another four day trip on the Deschutes. We had great weather, very good dry fly fishing, and an excellent group of guests; nice guys and good fishermen. When luck and conditions line up like this, it is hard for everyone, guests and guides alike, not to have a great trip.

Koffler Boats in camp

Tom Daugherty with a Deschutes River Redside

At this point the salmon flies and golden stones are well distributed from the Maupin area all the way up to Warm Springs. As the hatch progresses, the bugs will thin out on the lower end (around Maupin), but good numbers of bugs should stick around on the upper reaches for some time.

Keith Sherman with a nice Deschutes Rainbow

The Deschutes River salmonfly hatch is the best in the country, likely the most prolific in the world, but is often also accompanied by a fairly substantial drift boat hatch. This last trip was no exception, there were substantial numbers of other guides and fishermen around, but we had very good dry fly fishing nonetheless. Fishing successfully around or behind other anglers and guides often requires some strategy. The low hanging fruit has often been plucked; the easy spots out in the open have often been fished hard, but in the out of the way areas around brush, trees and low-hanging branches, and in the areas that are more difficult to wade, the fish are often relatively undisturbed, and very willing to attack a big dry fly.

Keith Steinbruck with a Deschutes River Rainbow

The way the fish eat the fly is my favorite part of fishing the salmonfly hatch. The takes are often startling, like a toilet bowl flush under the fly. Sometimes the strikes occur under the rod tip and are so violent that the fish splashes the angler.

Mike Stickel with a Deschutes River Rainbow

Special thanks to the guys who came fishing with us last week: Keith Steinbruck, Robert Jones, Keith Sherman, Tom Doherty, Mike Stickel, and Rick Fairbanks. All photos in this post were taken by my good friend Matt Ramsey, who was guiding with us on the trip. Many thanks to Matt for sharing the images. He has a great eye for photography and takes much better pictures than I do.

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