Oct 29 to 31 Deschutes River Report

Last week I had the chance to fish with Mark Bachmann of The Fly Fishing Shop for 3 days (Mon-Tues-Weds). It was an auction trip thru Water Watch and the winner of the auction was unable to make the trip and they need a volunteer to fill the open seat. Twist my arm!

Mark met us at the Macks Canyon boat launch in his jet boat, then we motored a couple miles downstream to camp where Patty had lunch waiting for us. Besides myself there was only one other angler on this trip, Rick Dulude from Salem; a member of the Santiam Flycasters, he won this trip thru the Deschutes River Alliance auction. We had a great time fishing together.

Our camp was very comfortable and Patty took good care of us with hot meals and hot coffee available 24/7. The days were crisp, the nights were clear, the moon was mostly dark and the stars were very bright.

I hadn’t seen the lower river canyon after the Substation Fire. It was a little shocking to see the scorched hillsides but on the other hand, there was lots of new green growth beginning to show. Still, it will take a while for all the trees to grow back. What was truly shocking were all the deer bones we found along the riverbanks. We speculated the deer were overcome and died from smoke inhalation before the flames of the fire overtook them. On the good side, there were lots of live deer around.

The water was a little off color from the White River, which was gushing muddy water due to heavy rains on Mt Hood. The water temperature was 51 degrees, a good temperature to chase trout and steelhead. The salmon spawning activity was over for the year. As far as insect activity, there was a big midge hatch in the afternoons and some small mayflies mid morning. The ever present small caddis were around along with a few big October caddis. Mark broke out his insect seine and we netted some bugs: the nymphs were a combination of small dark mayflies (size 16 or 18) and decent sized tan or green caddis larva (size 12 or 14).

Rick stuck to steelhead fishing and had a good morning on our 2nd day, hooking two and landing one native steelhead on a December Day fly pattern. He also had several more pulls that didn’t stick.

For a while, I tried skating a Lemire’s Grease Liner given to me by Adrian Cortes at the Fly Fishing Symposium a couple weeks ago. At first I was determined to stick with the skater “as long as it took” but that didn’t last long as the riffle next to me was full of flashing trout and whitefish that I couldn’t resist. I put on a nymphing rig and started catching fish. I tried both indicator and Euro nymphing tactics. Euro nymphing was far more effective; it’s a technique I’ve only just started trying out but I’ll be doing it a lot more, it’s a winner! I tried lots of different flies, but the best patterns were zebra midges and hares ear nymphs, both in size 14.