Nestled in the center of the state and forming a squiggling line on the Oregon map is the most famous river in the western United States, the Deschutes River. Know for native redband trout, great steelhead fishing and whitewater rafting the Deschutes river flows to the Columbia river at an average of 6 miles per hour. The river itself originating near Little Lava lake high in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains flows 252 miles north to the Columbia River. Home to wild trout, steelhead, salmon and endangered bull trout the fertile waters of the Deschutes are a living oasis in what truely is the high desert of Oregon.
The Deschutes River near the base of White Horse Rapids
Home to wild trout and good runs of steelhead the Deschutes River is the go to river for most anglers in the region. Stable water flows a side effect of being a tail water river (river which flows out of a large dam) enhance insect hatches and fishability. The most famous hatch on the Deschutes River is the Salmon fly hatch. This insect is up to 3″ long and a great meal for hungry trout. Other prolific hatches through-out the year include: blue wing olive and pale morning dun mayflies and a handfull of caddisflies.
Deschutes River has Giant Salmon Flies and Golden Stones
Flowing mostly through BLM lands, some private ranch lands and bordered by the Warm Springs Indian tribe for nearly 20 miles the Deschutes has bountiful optiosn for both the boating and bank bound angler. The lower 100 miles of the Deschutes River is the most prolific and abundant section of the river and where most anglers focus their attention.
Access on the lower 100 miles of the Deschutes is available in many forms. The first access point below Pelton Dam is the Warm Springs area. There is a boat launch located just off HWY 26 near the town of Warm Springs. A second access point is found just 2 miles down river at Mecca Flats, here there are picnic tables and camp sites. About 10 miles down from Mecca Flats campground is another fishing access point. This is called the Trout Creek campground. Boat launch, vault toilets, and campsites are found here. This section of river borders the Warm Springs Reservation on the west side of the river. Boating passes are available at www.tribalpermits.com for the section of river from Dry Creek to Trout Creek about 8 miles.
Water Time Outfitter’s Riverside Camp
Once past Trout Creek access is limited and boaters passing Trout Creek must be commited to about 30 mile float and some serious whitewater. First time floaters are advised to go with a guide. Whitehorse rapids lives in this section of the river. It is a famous rapid with rocks in it who have earned names like: “can opener”, “house rock”, “slide rock” and most famous- “Oh shit rock.” Portable toilets and boating passes are required to float this section of river. Boater passes are required for any floating device on the Deschutes. Passes on the lower river are subject to limited passes. These passes are regulated by the BLM and are available at: www.boaterpass.com
Water Time Outfitters clients enjoying a ride through Buckskin Mary Rapids
The town of Maupin is sandwiched in the middle of the lower Deschutes River. At about the 60 mile marker this section of river is popular with rafters as there are series of great whitewater rapids in this section of river. Rapids like Boxcar, Oaksprings,Elevator shaft and Wreck rapids make for an exciting adventure in a whitewater raft.
The bumpiest gravel access road on the river stretches from below Sherars Falls. It is miles of 15 mph driving. (Recent road work may help- spring 2012). This road takes you to Max Canyon, the end of the road for non-floating access. From Max Canyon it is 22 river miles to the mouth where the Deschutes meets the Columbia river. This section of river has multiple user groups. Jet boats are allowed every other weekend, drift boats and rafts frequent this stretch in summer and fall. Here you may see big horn sheep treading the steep hills of the big canyon.
For Deschutes River fly patterns a must stop shop in the Portland area is Royal Treatment Fly Shop. Call Joel at: 503-850-4397 for the latest on what patterns are hot right now. www.royaltreatmentflyfishing.com
The Deschutes River has much to offer from excellent trout and steelhead fishing, whitewater rafting, and sight seeing this green emerald in the tan colored high desert of Oregon is a great get-away for any outdoor enthusiast.
Mark Ellis (who was second baseman for the Oakland A’s at the time) and his first steelhead with guide Rob Crandall
For the best of guided fishing trips on the Deschutes River connect with Rob Crandall at Water Time Outfitters. Rob has been guiding the Deschutes for over 20 years and his energetic but patient attitude is fun to be around. Wether learning or adding a great river to a long list of waters you’ve fished Rob will do his best to make it a great day. Call Rob at 503-704-6449. Rob and his crew of top guides will do their best to make the most of your water time. www.watertimeoutfitters.com
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