Deschutes River Salmon Fly Action

Tradition has it in Oregon that when the Dogwood trees start to bloom the spring Chinook are running; another tradition that holds true in Oregon is when the Redwing Blackbirds show up on the Deschutes River the Salmon Flies are hatching!  That call of nature is heard by more than just birds and fish. Fishermen flock from all parts of the globe to see this “freak of nature-four winged-food bananza” happen on the banks of our favorite river.

Salmon flies and the golden stones are insects that live underwater in the stones of the river some for up to three years in what looks to be an armored outfit.  Only clean oxygenated rivers with all the right components have hatches like the lower Deschutes River.  When the water temps hit 52.5 degrees, these armoured meat packages crawl out of the water into nearby vegetation and shed their skin as it were like the proverbial worm to the butterfly. These critters not anywhere near the graceful beauty of a butterfly are clumsy fliers and often crash with a smack into the water making a veritable food buffet for hungry trout.

The intensity of this unique hatch which is found in only some of the most legendary rivers of the west can be amazing.  Afternoon flights of thousands of these four winged fliers can pepper the sky.  Driving near the river during one of these afternoons can be disasterous; leaving bloody smears of the three inch blobs coating a vehicle.  The good news is these clumsy critters do not bite.

The fish however do, they seem to love them and viciously attack a floating food morsel of both salmon flies or golden stones.  The goldens seem to be the prefered meal – perhaps they are sweeter? All this combines to provide anglers on the Deschutes- who have the good fortune of timing their trip right – some unbeleivable dry fly fishing!

Favorite fly patterns for the hatch:

  • Chubby Chernobyl – Golden
  • Chubby Chernobyl – Salmon Fly
  • Chubby Chernobyl – Norm Woods
  • Sofa Pillow
  • Clark Stone
  • Norm Woods Special

Favorite Leaders for this hatch:

  • 7-1/2′ 3X tapered leader

Other hatches that show at the same time:

  • Caddis
  • Blue Winged Olives
  • PMD- pale morning dun
  • Green Drakes (inconsistently)

Fishing the Dwto_Blog_Collage_720x300_Bug_Campeschutes can be challenging as regulations do not allow one to fish out of a boat. Good bank fishing access can be found around the town of Maupin or Warm Springs/Mecca Flats.

To really experience the best of the hatch, in the most remote parts of the canyon join the crew of the guides from Water Time Outfitters.  The WTO team has many decades of experience fishing the banks of the D.  Groups of 2- 10 anglers can easily be accomodated.  See more at:

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top

Ask a Question