September Steelhead – Oregon’s Deschutes River Ups and Downs

The fishing update on the Deschutes River consists of typical steelhead fishing reports from a season that has been plauged by murky waters of White River dumping silt into the lower river – the mecca for steelhead fishing in August and September.  Recent coolings in our weather has helped but more frequent fall rains have continued the off and on clearing of the lower river.  Most days the water clarity is good enough to warrant plying the waters and even in reduced visibility we’ve been catching a decent tally – when the water clears to a clear vision of your boots in waist deep water watch out and double check your drag.  Our last day the water cleared enough to see boots in thigh deep water we tallied up 9 hookups for the day.

Swinging flies is the most productive way to cover a lot of water on a big river like the D.  The thrill of the take is unmistakable and addictive thing.  With off colored water we have done well with sink tips and Spirit River flies in the Crandall versions of:  The Wedding Dress (blue and Cerise), Devils Candy and The Provider have all yeilded great results.

We’ve even found a few willing chinook on recent days.  Some of these salmon are huge and large splashy jumps reveal their presence.  Steelhead typically don’t mix well with thier smellier cousins and often are found higher in riffle water or deep in tailouts when chinook are around.

Trout fishing seems to be doing well with the cooler water and decent hatches of PMD, some Blue Winged Olives and sometimes blizzards of midges.  We also know fall is here as October caddis have been showing too.  Water flows have been very consistently around 3800 cfs out of Pelton Dam.  The upper river runs clear free from the effects of White river.

Marty Smith working the camp kitchen

It’s that time of year when we operate our camps on the lower Deschutes River; launching our jet boats from Mack’s Canyon and setting up residence for 10 days at a time on the most famous steelhead waters of the Deschutes.  Camp life is great when you’ve been fortunate enough to get a camp with great steelhead water and good protection from the wind.  It’s also a life saver for a fishing guide to have Super Man of running camp Marty Smith keeping things running smoothly.  However, I can attest; even Marty can’t help when a guide leaves his best pile of boot socks at home-yet that’s another story (big thanks to client Kevin L for saving the day there!).

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