August 28, 2007 - Deschutes River, Oregon
What a river! Big water at its finest - the Lehigh on steroids!
It was running 4,000cfs in the area we fished and actually the
flows stay relatively stable throughout the year. Time on the
water was extremely limited due to the quick nature of outing
with just an eve and morning to hit it. The plan was to bike
in from the mouth where it meets the Columbia River at Heritage
Landing and find some decent water with a vacant campsite near-by.
Despite the crowds we lucked out with really nice piece of traditional
steelhead water. The campsite was just a small piece of bare
ground. Perfect for the 5am wake up call.
Weather both days was bright and hot. No shade, bare ground
and rocks everywhere meant intense heat. This would only add
the difficulty of this river. No doubt the Deschutes ain't for
the faint of heart. It is huge and is not a river for the wading-timid.
Staff and studs are a necessity. Being able to get around will
absolutely get you more hook-ups. Even at that the hook-ups
do not come fast and furious - for the most part. Three of us
fished hard for about three hours in the eve and five hours
in the morning. All said and done we put one fish on the bank,
a hatchery fish; had one hook-up that shook loose after a handful
of minutes; and one player that smacked a streamer a few times
throughout the swing. Actually all three of us got into the
action. With the high sun this was supposedly not too bad of
an outing for late August. Expectations for Deschutes steelhead
from what I gather are usually not set too high. It is the killer
days (combo of a handful of pulls and fish landed), just like
the salt that keep you coming back.
In the eve we had nothing - no grabs, despite perfect fishing
conditions and some really nice water. Water temp though was
68-69F - 6 miles above the Columbia...this very might have been
the reason for the lack of activity. The Deschutes is known
to nip 70F from time to time. At night it cools back down though...64F
in the am. Now the am sesh is where we had the action...maybe
the cooler water turned them on. The landed fish came from a
piece of water still shaded from the sun by a high cliff, while
the hook-up was under bright skies. All fish ate streamers -
essentially traditional steelhead ties. Much like saltwater
fishing, you make lots of cast...but you don't strip the fly
Realistically you do not go to the Deschutes for numbers. It
is all about the experience and the task of figuring these fish
out. Oh yeah, lets not forget that you are surrounded by some
amazing country and have the chance to catch a fish that has
literally run the gauntlet.