May 7th, 2021
The salmonflies are now hatching on many sections of the Middle Deschutes River north of Redmond. Look for areas that are more canyon and rocky in nature and not the slower areas that have silty bottoms. The next two weeks should provide good opportunity to get a few nice browns or rainbows to eat the big dry. Carry some Purple Chubbies, Norm Woods or the Rogue Foam Salmonfly. Hotter days will have the best dry fly action but don't skip the cooler days as mayflies and nymphing will still get some action.
April 16th, 2021
Guest Author: Ron Romeis
Each year I look forward to irrigation season in Central Oregon. I know, not what I thought would be the case given the negative effects that the Deschutes River suffers from being treated as a large irrigation ditch.
However, when the irrigators start removing water from the upper stretches of the river to fill their canals, the flow drops in certain stretches of the river that otherwise would be pretty difficult to wade and fish. At this time of year it is possible to reach some areas that most folks won’t make the effort and find some water with unpressured fish. This was the case last week for me and my regular fishing companion, Stephen. A brief scouting session revealed that the spring flows were underway and the river clarity was good, so we decided to fish a couple of our favorite stretches to see if we could find a few fish.
I started the day swinging a couple soft hackles searching as much water as possible and Stephen was indicator nymphing. For two hours it was pretty discouraging. Neither of us had touched a fish and we were wondering if the fish were not in their usual spots. I abandoned my favored method of swinging soft hackles and Stephen meandered down stream in search of deeper water and perhaps a rising fish. I had brought a second rod set up with a “mono rig”. I was using 10# monofilament as my fly line with a sighter and 6x fluorocarbon tippet. Attached was a perdigon anchor fly and an unweighted pheasant tail nymph dropper. Just as I stepped into the water with the backup rod, I noticed a few March Brown mayflies starting to hatch. Bad timing I thought to go to a deep nymphing strategy. But, for the first time that day, a fish rose just down river from where I was standing. For some reason I resisted the urge to go back and grab the soft hackle rod. Against what all the books say, I made a cast with the mono rig above where the fish rose and tried to high stick my nymphs down river to the fish. Amazingly, a nice brown trout hammered the perdigon as only brown trout do and I brought a nice 12 incher to hand. Another fish made the mistake of showing himself in about the same area as the first fish. Another downstream drift produced a second fish; a clone of the first. By this time, the March Brown hatch was in full bloom. A number of more traditional drifts with the mono rig failed to produce another fish. As there were a few fish rising to the hatching mayflies I knew Stephen was attacking them with dries. My soft hackles just didn’t work this day. So I headed upstream to some deeper water with the mono rig again. On the first cast with the perdigon and pheasant tail duo at the bottom of my drift a fish just hammered the fly. When the fish came up and shook his head I was stunned to see the size of the fish. All I could think of was how was I going to land this fish on the 3wt rod and 6x tippet I was using. A few tense moments as the fish made several determined runs and I stumbled into some shallower water, I was able to lead the fish into the net. It measured a solid 16 inches, by far the largest brown I had caught in this stretch of water.
As I thought about this day on the water several things stuck out to me. Mostly, I was struck by the fact that neither Stephen nor I caught any rainbow trout. All fish caught were browns and whitefish. Secondly, when the expected March Browns hatch came on at midday, we didn’t really see a lot of fish rising to those bugs. I did fool a couple fish with my nymph in the area of rising fish, but they were all taken downstream from where traditionally I’d expect to hook up with fish using the high stick, long line, Euro techniques. Stephen was able to take some fish on dries during the hatch, but being a sort of stubborn guy who won’t tie on a dry fly unless I really have to, I wondered if I would have done better on dries than nymphing during a hatch. I’ll never know, but all the fish I caught that day were on the same perdigon fly and basically free nymphing. I guess I was dumb enough to take what the fish were giving me and stuck with what was working.