On warm sunny days in the high desert of central Oregon it’s one of life’s pleasures to wade knee deep in the cool waters of the Deschutes River fly fishing for wild rainbow trout. The Deschutes which winds its way from the high cascade mountains in the heart of Oregon flows north to the Columbia River. Stopped up by dams in this arid landscape to provide power and water for irrigation the Deschutes is a green band in what otherwise is a dry part of Oregon. Below this dammed section of river the Deschutes runs powerful and strong through the Mutton mountain range and carves a deep path through the National wild and scenic coorridor. White water rafting and fly fishing are the mainstay for local economies and the native “redband” trout swim in the oxygenated waters of the Deschutes.
The Deschutes canyon flows through several roadless or near roadless sections that could be clearly called wilderness. Wild horses, mule deer, golden eagles, blue heron, osprey and a multitude of other critters call the Deschutes canyon home. Our main focus on these amazing places is to find the wild redband trout. A subspecies of the Rainbow Trout the redband is a hardy fish that is native to these waters. As the Deschutes river averages 6 miles per hour with some real whitewater; these trout are well conditioned. Fattened by a high protein diet of stonefly nymphs, caddis and other aquatic species the redband trout are some of the toughest fighters in the west. Anglers say if you tied a 12″ rainbow tail to tail with any 20″ Montana rainbow the Deschutes rainbow would drag the bigger fish to death. These fish are hardy no doubt about it.
To catch these rainbows on a fly anglers use a wide variety of techniques. Fly fishing strategies range from dry fly presentations to retrieving streamers as fast as you can go. Standard nymph fishing strategies are effective as well. One of the most effective and newer strategies is Euro nymphing which is extremely productive and fun with #3 weight fly rods.
Camping on the Deschutes is one of the preferred ways to reach the most remote sections of the Deschutes. Often times float trip sections are 3-4 day floats. Setting up a tent in the evening glow of the canyon is a sight not to miss. Fly fishing rivers edge at the cusp of dark for the frenzied caddis fly hatch can be as good as it gets. Be sure to check first where you go as the Deschutes has many boat flipping rapids and hiring a reputable guide can be the best way to see the river canyon.
Rafting and fly fishing guide services are common on the Deschutes. For the best fly fishing experience, comfortable camp, knowledgeable and friendly guides connect with Water Time Outfitters. They’ve been floating and guiding the Deschutes River for almost 30 years and know how to get the job done right.