Fishing the month of May on the Deschutes has been exceptional. We’ve just wrapped up an entire month of camp trips on the wild and scenic 32 mile float section. This year the river seems to be hosting a better than average number of 14-16″ trout. These native redband rainbows seemed to be fat and very healthy. Each trip we would float for 3 or 4 days on the best trout waters of this amazing river. Water levels have been on the low side this year with average flows for the month being around 3800 cfs at Madras. That has helped make some spots much more wadable, it’s also exposed more rocks in Whitehorse Rapid. Whitehorse rapid is a class 3+ rapid that usually sinks at least one drift boat each year. So far there has been one boat to go down that we know of. The big deal the month of May is the salmon fly hatch which is some of the best dry fly action of the entire year.
Salmon flies started hatching sporadically the first week of May but it wasn’t until mid-May that fish were really keyed on them this year. This timing changes from year to year depending on snowpack and other factors. We had a patch of cooler weather mid month which seemed to slow the hatch progress and help extend the best dry fly fishing. During the month we saw Giant Black stone flies (salmon flies), Golden stones, caddis, Pale Morning Duns, Midges, Little Yellow Sallies and a few Green Drakes.
PMD’s were fairly consistent the last 3 weeks of May and provided some good action at times. Usually you would see some PMD’s starting to hatch around 10 am and extending into the afternoon. Some days were excellent and it was time to head to a back eddy as there would be lots fish rising on this mid-day hatch.
Biggest numbers of salmon flies were seen at Warm Springs where you are much closer to the dam and the coolest water. I’d expect fish to stay keyed on salmon flies for another 10 days or so especially higher up near Warm Springs.
Click here for more information on guided trout fishing trips on the Deschutes River.