May 15, 2014

Fishing the Lower Deschutes!

While in Bend, the folks at the fly shops were raving about the “salmonfly hatch” on the Lower Deschutes River.  Supposedly a fly fishing event that’s known by serious fishermen al over the US, this usually occurs around May 20th of each year.  These massive bugs come out and breed in massive quantities to produce a week or so of “spectacular” fishing.

Fishing Lower Deschutes-002Fishing Lower Deschutes-003Fishing Lower Deschutes-005So, off I go to Maupin, OR in search of this great experience.  The River was certainly beautiful, and seems to be a terrific rafting venue for those just wanting some fun, as well as a great float for fishing.  I caught this unlucky group “trapped” in a reverse eddy.  After watching them struggle for about 10 minutes to break free, they quit paddling, I guess waiting for another boat to come along and pull them out with a rope.Fishing Lower Deschutes-007

Fishing Lower Deschutes-001The areas I fished were from just down below (north, remember) the town and mostly about 3 miles up river from the town.  I stayed at a beautiful BLM Harpham campground right on the River, which was supposedly one of the better fishing spots on the River.Fishing Lower Deschutes-008

Well, after “pounding water” for 2-1/2 days in this area, and coming up with only a couple of tiny fish landed, I began to wonder what the heck happened???  So, after talking to several “experienced” fishermen who had grown up fishing this river, they were just as perplexed as I.  In fact the largest number of trout I heard anyone catch over the 2-3 days was three – and they were unusually small!Fishing Lower Deschutes-006

Discussing the situation with a couple of guides in town, I learned that the “hatch” had taken place here a couple of weeks earlier than normal.  They recommended moving “up river” (follow the bugs) to an area known as South Junction.

Cresting the high ridge above the South Junction, I can see the mighty Deschutes way below – a pretty sight, indeed!

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Anxiously, I get on the water that afternoon, excited because here I’m actually seeing hundreds of the very critters that are supposedly responsible for the “big bite”.   Fishing Lower Deschutes-012Fishing Lower Deschutes-013

But, to my surprise, same story here – another couple of days produced a couple of “hookups” which resulted in a “pull-off” and a broken leader.  At least the two fish I had on did feel like good ones, so I got a bit of fun battling each for a few seconds.

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So, after fishing hard – and I mean that, between the steep banks overgrown with thick vegetation, and the dangerously strong current to fight once down in the water, my knees & legs were pretty shot at the end of each day.

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I did have enough time (and space) to set up a good ham antenna and get on the radio, but that’s another posts for my ham friends…Fishing Lower Deschutes-039

Just being out there surrounded by all this beauty was a wonderful experience!Fishing Lower Deschutes-038