Deschutes River, Lower

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GAGE
TIME
FT/CFS
℉/Turb
GRAPHS
3 am
4.81/109
7 30 year
3 am
2.82/3960
49.5
3 am
2.83/5160
53.1
04/20:

The river is in good shape. Harley at Deschutes Angler Fly Shop reports good hatches of blue-winged olives and March browns on cloudy days. However, the next week is expected to be sunny. If that forecast holds true, then those two hatches will be sparse, and you will be better off with a two nymph rig: a big salmonfly nymph with a size 16-18 Pheasant Tail on a trailing leader or dropper.

Importance by half-month
 Super    Major    Minor    Slight    None

Hatches are matched from Westfly's database of "standard" fly patterns.


Nymph

Size 16-20 Pheasant Tail, Hares Ear. Brown, brown-olive

Moderate runs, just below riffles: indicator, tight line, rising nymph

Emerger

Size 16-20 Sprout Midge, Film Critic, Hackle Stacker. Olive-brown body, gray wing

Flats, runs, backeddies: standard dry fly

Dun

Size 16-20 Sparkle Dun, Comparadun, Hairwing Dun. Olive-brown body, gray wing

Flats, runs, backeddies: standard dry fly

► Watch the rise forms during a hatch of blue-wings. If you only see the dorsal and tailfins, the trout are probably taking emergers just below the surface. In that case, a good choice is a size-18 emerger. If you see the nose, they're probably taking duns from the surface.

► A good nymphing strategy is a two-fly rig with a heavy fly--Rubber Legs, Kaufmanns Stonefly, etc.--on the point and a small nymph, such as a size-18 Pheasant Tail, on a dropper; use indicator tactics.

► Trout may be looking for duns in the backeddies and may take your dry fly even if there is no hatch; they will be looking at the same time of day that the hatch usually happens.

► On a good day, you can encounter a blizzard hatch of BWOs. This can be hard to deal with because your fly is one speck amid a multitude of naturals. You might try a larger fly, such as a size 16. At this time of year I've been able to get away with a bigger fly during a BWO hatch. It's not only easier for you to spot, but trout are attracted to it (maybe; no promises!). Sometimes a darker pattern can be more effective, as well.

► Don't ignore spinner falls. They usually happen around 3:00 p.m. to 5:00. A size 18 Rusty Spinner is a good choice.

► Trout and whitefish feed on drifting nymphs prior to the hatch. Emerging duns collect in backeddies, and that is where trout will be waiting for them. This hatch should improve throughout the month, if the weather is not too cold.

► During a hatch, emergers and duns drift into backeddies and become stuck there. That's where most trout will be looking for them.

► There will be some sort of hatch nearly every day, but some of them will not be strong enough to interest trout. The best hatches will be on drizzly or overcast days. Temperatures near or below freezing will not produce a good hatch. Hatches will start between 1:00 and 2:00 (daylight time), and last for an hour or two.

Emerger

Size 12-16 Quigley Cripple, Film Critic, Hackle Stacker. Red-brown body, gray wing

Bankwater, backeddies, slow runs: standard dry fly

Dun

Size 12-16 Comparadun, Sparkle Dun, Hairwing Dun. Red-brown body, gray wing

Bankwater, backeddies, slow runs: standard dry fly

► Nymphs migrate to slow water along the margins of the river before they hatch. Because the hatch is in slow water, you need to avoid blind casting. Instead, wait until a trout rises, then cast upstream of that spot. If you cast randomly you risk putting the fish down before you hook any.

Dun

Size 10-14 Sparkle Dun, Hairwing Dun, Comparadun. Tan to red-brown body, brown wing

Near riffles, flats: standard dry fly

► During the hatch, trout may be more receptive to emerger patterns than to duns.

► This hatch used to be highly localized on the Deschutes, but in recent years it has become more wide-spread.

► During hatches, look for feeding fish in the slow-to-moderate runs that are within about a hundred yards (upstream or downstream) of a good-sized riffle. Hatches start around 2:00-2:30 p.m., daylight time.

► Prior to the hatch, nymphs can be productive if you drift them near the bottom.

Pupa

Size 16-18 , Deep Sparkle Pupa, Soft Hackle. Body: tan, green

Riffles, fast runs; just below these: indicator, tight line, shallow nymph

Adult

Bankwater near foilage: standard dry fly

► These guys are active this month, so be ready with some small, dark adult patterns.

Nymph

Size 6-8 Kaufmanns Stonefly, Rubber Legs. Tan, yellow-tan

Riffles, moderate-fast runs; just below these: indicator, tight line

Nymph

Size 6-10 Kaufmanns Stonefly, Rubber Legs. Black, chocolate brown

Riffles, moderate-fast runs; just below these: indicator, tight line

► From now until the end of May, the river's trout will be spawning, and a spawning trout is the most likely fish to grab a big stonefly nymph tumbled along the bottom. These native wild fish don't need the extra stress of being caught, played, and released several times. If you stick to surface or near-surface flies, you will pick up bright, non-spawning fish--many of which are pretty big.

► Nymphs are definitely on a trout's menu this month--especially near the end of the month. Use a two-nymph rig with a heavy salmonfly nymph teamed with a smaller fly such as blue-winged olive imitation or a caddis larva.

Adult

Size 2-8 Muddler, Morrish Sculpin. Browns, olives

Lakes; rivers over gravel and cobble, undercut banks: count-down-and-retrieve, slow retrieve, wind drift, deep swing

Trout


► Streamers, such as Woolly Buggers, Morrish Sculpins, and Muddlers can sometimes be productive.

► If the river suddenly rises, such as following an intense rainstorm, fishing will be poor until the extra water subsides or stabilizes at a consistent level for a few days.

General


► Until the fourth Saturday of April, the river is closed from Pelton Dam to river mile 69 (northern boundary of Warm Springs Reservation). For reference, Maupin is at river mile 54, and the Locked Gate is at river mile 61.

► Take special care not to disturb spawning salmon or walk on their redds (nests; distinguishable by the clean-scraped gravel).
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