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October / November Deschutes River Reports

Water Time Outfitters has been guiding most every day in the last several months on Oregon’s Deschutes river chasing our favorite fish- Steelhead!  Here we swing flies for the aggressive grab from elusive steelies.  As steelhead migrate in from the ocean they spread out over the lower 100 miles of the Deschutes River.  These fish like to hide in certain spots where the water speed and depth are to their liking.  Structure like boulders and riffle breaks in the current give these migrating beauties a place to rest from their journey against the steady flow of the Deschutes River which averaged 6 miles per hour.  River flows for much of October were steadily around 4000 cfs at Madras and bumped up to around 5000 in early November.  Water temperatures have been very mild and steadily in the 50’s slowly migrating lower into November.  The consistent flow and tailwaters of the Deschutes make it ideal water to chase steelies Here you rarely have to worry the river will blow out or turn brown when you arrive.

The Deschutes River flows through arid canyons of the high desert of central Oregon.  Sage brush and juniper spice the dry air and fill your nose with a medly of the desert country smells.  Columnar basalt cliffs rise high above you as you float the ancient Deschutes River canyon.  Golden eagles often soar on the rising thermals near these cliffs.  Mule deer and otters often great you along the river’s narrow but lush riparian zone next to the steady flowing river.

Our favorite trip on the Deschutes is a camp trip.  Here we send Marty Smith with our gear boat ahead to set a comfortable camp.  Anglers and guides spend all day on the water and come into a prepared camp with a warm campfire going.  Marty often has chocolate cookies in the oven as we arrive.

The Deschutes River has a variety of steelhead strains that arrive in the fall.  The Deschutes hatchery steelhead is from the Pelton Dam hatchery located near the 100 mile mark.  These fish are clipped with the distinctive adipose fin and maxillary fin clipped.  Wild – unclipped fish also spawn in the Deschutes basin.  A strong run of wild fish ascend the Deschutes River each fall.  Out of basin steelhead often stray into the cool verdant waters of the Deschutes as well.  These fish are both wild and hatchery origin.  Hatchery strays will have only the adipose fin clipped.

Water Time Outfitter guides have been sharing the Deschutes river with anglers for over 20 years.  Our seasons are generally filled up with returning guests but we always love to meet new friends.  If you’d like to join us for a Deschutes River fishing adventure visit our website: and give us a call!  Guides Rob Crandall, Gil Muhleman, Marty Smith and Kenny Kiley.  

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