Lower Deschutes River
The Lower Deschutes River in Central Oregon offers world class fly fishing for native Steelhead and Rainbow Trout. Deep in the Cascade Mountains, this dynamic and diverse river begins its 200-mile journey to the Columbia. Our most popular guide trip is a Multi-Day Camping Trip down various sections of the “Lower D”.
Healthy populations of rainbow trout and growing returns of steelhead inhabit the lower 100 miles, known as the Lower Deschutes River. This spectacular river rambles through an immense canyon, at times silently, and then dropping sharply creating exciting whitewater. Besides great fly fishing, the Lower Deschutes is home to some of Central Oregon's most dramatic scenery and wildlife, including Bald eagles, Osprey, Blue Heron, Big Horn sheep, Mule deer, playful Otters and of course strong rainbow trout and summer steelhead!
The Lower Deschutes River boasts some of Oregon's finest fly fishing for rainbow trout. Known locally as Redsides, these native fish grow thick shouldered and extremely powerful for their size. Averaging 14-16 inches, and topping out around 21 inches, these unique rainbow trout are notorious for their strength, often running harder and jumping higher than any rainbow trout in any other Western rivers.
Open to fly fishing all year, the Lower Deschutes River is home to many species of insects that hatch to Biblical proportions. The warming weather of mid-May brings out the Stonefly hatch. Famous in the fly fishing community, Giant Salmon flies and Golden stones cover the grass, brush, and trees of the river's banks through the first weeks of June. These huge bugs prove to be the ultimate meal for the Redsides, who eat them with reckless abandon. Anglers who cast these large dry flies into the bank and under over hanging trees will be rewarded with the largest, hottest rainbow trout of the season. Like all fly fishing rivers, the Deschutes has ever-changing hatches, creating great fly fishing throughout the year.
July and August offer some of the best fly fishing of the season. Long, hot summer days make for endless opportunities to hook these feisty rainbow trout. The Lower Deschutes produces all day-long caddis hatches with Pale Morning Duns at dawn and Pale Evening Duns at dusk. The ample amount of bugs cause the rainbow trout to look up for their meals. For anglers who live for dry fly fishing, this is the time to visit the Lower Deschutes River.
The Lower Deschutes is equally famous for its Summer Steelhead run. These anadromous fish begin migrating from the Pacific in July, and occupy the river through March. By the end of July or beginning of August, there are fishable numbers of steelhead in the lowest reaches of the Deschutes River. Warm water temperatures can create challenging fly fishing conditions for these powerful fish, but those who hook-up are rewarded with the hottest Deschutes River steelhead of the season. When the weather cools in September, the steelhead respond. They are notorious risers for skated dries and initiate takes that leave the most hardened fly fishing veteran’s heart racing.
October is a great month for fishing on the Deschutes River. The weather is pleasant, and steelhead can be caught in the entire river. Fly fishing during this time of year offers anglers the greatest chance for catching both rainbow trout and steelhead. For those not afraid of the cooler temperatures, November and December can offer great fly fishing. Anglers fly fishing under an indicator can have record setting days, since the largest numbers of steelhead are in the system.
The Lower Deschutes is a big river with frequently windy conditions in the fall. An eight-weight with dry line is the standard recipe for indicator tactics. Two-handed or Spey rods have gained a huge following in the fly fishing community on the Lower Deschutes. Fishing for steelhead with a Spey rod is a huge aid when trying to reach mid-river holding water or throw heavy sink tips. Much of the Spey fishing revolution in the sport of Fly Fishing can be traced to the banks of the Deschutes River.
While fishing for the wild rainbow trout in the river, we recommend a 4 to 6 wt. single-handed rod. Weight forward, floating lines are best. Often, our guest chooses to have one rod rigging for dry fly opportunities and one rod rigging for sub-surface, nymphing spots.
Wildness of the Deschutes river is legendary, as is the unusual regulation that anglers must fish from the bank or standing in the water. It is illegal to fish from a floating device on the 100-mile stretch of the Lower Deschutes. If fishing from a boat is a requirement for your trip, recommend checking our packages on the Mckenzie River and the Upper Deschutes River.
If you enjoy fly fishing for feisty rainbow trout and powerful steelhead, the Lower Deschutes River is an experience you must have.