The weather has been hot, cold and in between but the steelhead season so far has been consistently good for summer run steelhead since early August. Water Time Outfitters plies the cool waters of the lower 22 miles of the Deschutes river for summer steelhead in August and September not far from the central towns of the Dalles and Maupin Oregon. Steelhead migrating from the ocean veer into the cool waters of the Deschutes for respite from warm water in the Columbia River. Often upper Columbia basin steelhead will stray into the Deschutes (up to 100 miles) only to back out later and continue their migration up the Columbia River. The lower part of the Deschutes River is the perfect collecting pool of the entire Columbia basin run. Run sizes of 200,000 to 600,000 chrome steelhead migrate each season up the big river slicing through the edges of Oregon and Washington a large percentage of these fish stop in for a visit in the Deschutes Rivers cooler waters before finishing their journey to rivers like: Salmon, Clearwater, Methow, Snake and others.
On the lower Deschutes anglers use many methods for producing results on steelies 5-20lbs. Our favorite strategy is to swing flies. This is an extremely effective approach to the big water of the lower D. Here long flats and wide swaths provided the ideal current and boulder combination for perfect hangouts for steelhead. Fishing floating lines and traditional flies like: Green butt Skunks, Purpil Peril, Streetwalker, Muddlers and the like get aggressive fish in the shade of morning and evening. During the full sun hours sinking the fly deep with sink tips is the preferred strategy. (That or a nap in the shade waiting for evening).
Deschutes River steelhead move aggressively to the swung fly. When they grab the fly there are often large boils or even a spray of water on the surface. An exciting way to fish!