Cloudy waters, blue skies, and the wild summer runs of the Deschutes River

Just over a week ago I hosted a group of five anglers on a four day, three night camp trip on the Deschutes River thru Deschutes Angler Fly Shop. A few days prior to the trip, the areas around the Deschutes were met with triple digit temperatures causing a large chunk of the glacier on Mt. Hood to melt. Driving over the White river on Sunday, it was flowing rather quickly and looked like white mud.

After seeing the White river and knowing we were probably going to have to fish sink tips and larger flies, I have to admit I was a bit bummed out. My dreams of hooking wild Deschutes river summer runs on floating lines and skaters under the low light of the rivers canyon walls would probably have to wait till next trip. Oh well, its steelheading, how often do we get ideal conditions when we want them! Heck, if we ever did, steelhead would not be called the fish of a 1,000 casts!

We loaded up monday morning and were off for a four day, forty mile float down to the mouth of the Deschutes. In the course of four days we witnessed a variety of wild life from Bald Eagles, Bighorn Sheep, and bright wild summer run steelhead. We had many grabs each day. Some were nice fat Deschutes redside rainbows and others were just short plucks from an unwilling steelhead. We all had quite a few non-committal plucks from these ocean run rainbows. Part of you would think for a brief second, was that a trout? Only to put another cast in the same spot and get slammed by a streak of silver. When the fish really wanted it, they took the fly with authority. Many of us were blessed with hard grabs and long runs from these summer run torpedos. Bill Carnazzo hooked one of the hottest fish of the trip a chrome bright wild buck in the 9-10 lb range that had him in his backing before he could blink. Kudos to a great fish Bill!

Over the four days we had fish take a variety of flies from #6 sparse hairwing summer patterns to 4" long purple and black Intruder and marabou style patterns. A few fish were hooked on floating lines but a majority of fish were taken on sink tips. Fish were hooked in slow moving boulder stream tailouts, walking speed riffely runs, and fast pieces of pocket water not many would think to fish. There is a reason this place is so well loved. The Deschutes has everything someone would want in a river filled with grabby summer steelhead!

All things considered I think we had pretty good fishing considering the conditions. Visibility ranged anywhere from 2-3' and varied from hour to hour. Every time we thought the river was clearing, we would wake up from a nap after lunch only to find the viz had almost gotten worse. Keeping a positive mindset and fishing sink tips and bigger flies most were able to connect with a fish or two each day. By the end, everyone on the trip had landed at least one fish.

A big hanks goes out to John and Amy Hazel from Deschutes Angler for the opportunity to host a trip. They have an amazing fly shop and guide service and anyone on their way to the Deschuutes should check out! Another big thanks to our camp host and guides Harley, Gordon, Charles, and Travis for working extremely hard everyday putting our group of anglers onto fish. Not to mention the entertaining jokes and conversations they created around the dinner table each night. The trip was fantastic! We had great campsites each night, good company, and amazing food. A big thanks to John and Harley for the meals. The chicken with the mango salsa is one of the best chicken dishes I have ever had and I am hoping John will share the recipe! Thanks to Bill, John, Fred, Kevin, and Spencer for joining me on the trip and hopefully we can do it again next year.

More pics to come...


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