Deschutes River, Oregon

Deschutes River, Oregon, best fly fishing river in the Pacific Northwest

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You are waist deep in the riffle, the shadows and reflections of the basalt ramparts above turn the water golden brown.  The fly rides in the surface film under light tension, the long rod balances lightly in your hand.  Your eyes wander to the Great Blue Heron stoically perched in an alder tree across the river.  You are content in this soft fluid world.   The line tightens in a slow but deliberate pull and the heavy fish twists and turns trying to dislodge your hook.  Your rod arches with his power and the line melts from your screaming reel.  An incredible distance away the huge silver and gunmetal fish bolts through the surface and you are caught in the frenzy of your first Deschutes Steelhead and time stands still....
The Deschutes River heads in South Central Oregon and flows nearly 300 miles due north to enter the Columbia River near The Dalles. It drains all of the east side of the Cascade Mountain Range. Although this drainage is located in the arid rain shadow of the Cascades, the large area encompassed produces a river with average annual flows of over 4,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the mouth. One hundred miles upstream from the mouth, Pelton Dam creates 400 foot deep Lake Billy Chinook. Agreements with the Power Company keep water fluctuations to a minimum. This tail-water effectively turns the next 60 miles of the Deschutes into an enormous spring creek.
The lower one hundred miles of the Deschutes is one of the most prolific trout streams in the western United States. Seventy miles are open to angling year round. In this unique river, wild endemic desert rainbow trout rise to myriad hatches in riffles and back eddies mirroring green alders and brown basalt cliffs. These distinctive fish are affectionately called Redsides and are linked to the desert Red Band Trout group. Rocky Mountain Whitefish add to the spectacular nymph fishing. An occasional native Bull Trout adds variety to your catch.
The Deschutes River canyon is an oasis in the sagebrush covered desert. Bird life is concentrated here, attracted by the hatches that also feed the fish. Game animals come to water. The sun shines an average of three hundred days a year. The air is very pure and clear.  

In winter the Deschutes often has warm mid-day sun which triggers hatches of tiny may flies and great dry fly fishing. Early spring is a time of March Browns or Gray wing Olives. Late spring and early summer brings on the world famous Salmon Fly hatch. The warm weather of mid-summer through October brings hatches of caddis, midges, mayflies and small stone flies.

Steelhead are available nearly year round, but mid-July through November is prime time when mint bright summer Steelhead enter the river. These aggressive fish come readily to the surface and create one of the premier floating line steelhead fisheries in the world.


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