It’s spring time in Oregon and if you are a trout fisherman you are likely thinking about the Deschutes river. More specifically you are probably considering when the hatch is going to start! The hatch being- the giant salmon flies and golden stones that are so much fun to fish. These big bugs are the main event of the year on the Deschutes river and timing the hatch can be challenging. Here are some things you should know if you are thinking about the hatch and when to hit it.
One great aspect of the Deschutes River salmon fly hatch is that the Deschutes being a tail water river typically runs clear even when high waters and snow melt run muddy on many western waters of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Timing when the great migration of stones crawling out of their watery homes and bursting onto the scene in their spiderman like legs and mini helicopter sounding wings is based on water temperature. Typically when the river hits a consistent 52.5 or more degrees these guys start to hatch. Now, this year we have a lot of snow pack and that has some thinking our timing may be somewhat delayed on that account. Historically, the hatch started with vigor the first and second weeks of May (since the changed water temp regime at the outflow of the dam 6 years ago). Looking back even farther the Memorial day weekend used to be the kickoff for great dry fly action.
This graph shows the water temps at the base of the dam near Madras OR. As of April 30th temps are almost hitting 52 degrees.
This year WTO guides or expecting the hatch to start somewhere in the first week of May with a 4-8 day window of adjustment depending on the weather. Then allow at least 4-6 days before the fish get keyed on the surface. That typically gives up to three weeks of good fishing from that time with a definite window of time after the hatch the bugs are gone but trout will still slash at the big profile.
If you get there and the big bugs are not going nuts, not to worry. Watch for PMD, BWO and PED’s to be hatching as well. Also, on the soggy days that sometimes happen in the spring (often shutting down the salmon fly action) watch for Green Drakes. This short hatch will often get trout going in a big way and quickly.
This year expect high water. The snow pack in the Cascade range is substancial and the D has been running very high. Average flows this time of year are a bit over 5,000 cfs this year they have been steady at 6500 cfs.