Deschutes Fly-Fishing Report, 2019 Steelhead

July 11, 2019 – Just Like that! We’re off and running. Today marks my first non-motorized weekend break on the Deschutes River. I started running Steelhead Trips on July 6th, and I’ve seen fish caught every day, not a lot but they are in fact here!

I’ve had the pleasure of fishing some brave souls the last few days and some of them have been rewarded for their bravery. We’ve got four fish so far all in different spots, two on floating lines, two on sink tips. Some folks are concerned about the poor forecast and all the negative press and that’s great! I hope they don’t come fishing this year, no one likes the crowds good fishing reports and forecast bring. I expect this season to mirror the 2018 season as far as fish passage over Bonneville goes. In 2018 we stuck 200 steelhead. I’m good with that number.

summer 2019 is booked, we are booking October

October availability is good! This season we are selling single seats $300 per angler. I will take up to three anglers most days and can accommodate groups as large as four. Angler groups of two can secure the boat for $695.

DESCHUTES, STEELHEAD, JETBOATS, JULY

My four favorite things! I live for July steel heading on the lower Deschutes and I prefer to do it by jet boat! This is a lower river game. By lower river I mean the lower 12 miles of the river. For nearly 20 years I’ve fished the Deschutes on the 4th of July.  4th of July steelhead encounters are rare when drift boating but on years when I can drag my jet boat up the river on the 4th, I’ve never been shut out. This year is a power boat open 4th of July.

Steelhead will move into the Deschutes River in small numbers starting in May and June. The numbers don’t reach appreciable numbers until July. The Deschutes River is best described as a stray fishery. Most of the fish we catch down low are just visiting from the Columbia, their destinations remain way up river at a later date. I don’t know if it’s the cooler temps or just simply some flow which draws them in but they come in year over year. The larger the numbers over Bonneville and The Dalles Dams the more fish we get visiting. These fish come in several stages and most of the early fish are bigger than the one salt fish we play on in August. Not only are the fish bigger, they are hot, sometimes too hot. Keep in mind, the wild fish we catch get caught over and over through the season, they are biters, but in July, this is the first bite and the first fight. July steelhead on the Deschutes are nuclear!

I prefer 6 weight spey rods on the Deschutes.  Todays 6 weight spey rods are plenty of rod for the Deschutes Steelhead, the occasional fish will want for a bigger stick but prefer a lighter rod for the majority of steelhead we catch. I certainly fish 7 weight spey as well but I prefer rods with a lighter grain window say 480 versus 510-540.  My personal favorite combo is the GLOOMIS IMX PRO 6111 and 7111 floater or skagit.  I also pack the GLOOMIS Asquith in both 6 and 7 weight version and both are perfectly suited for the Deschutes. I pair all of my rods with Hatch7-Plus mid arbors they are the best most reliable reel on the market.What kind of flies should I bring? They’ll take your car keys most days!  But seriously, pick a favorite traditional hairwing and put it on a floating line.  i like a 10’ poly-leader with up to 5’ of maxima 10# Ultra Greeen, it could be 8 it could be 12#.  My favorite flies last last year were all size 6 ties by Aquaflies, green butt skunk, purple green butt and the fire butt skunk were all deadly last season.  When the sun hits the water I move to sink tips, sooner rather than later.  I fish one tip and it’s 10’ of T10 but I honestly don’t think it matters. I fish unweighted flies on my tips as a rule and I prefer maribou tubes in black and blue, purple and pink and red and orange.  Aqua flies also has some mini intruders that are very light that I fish if I want something fancier.  I use 12# maxima for tip work, sometimes 15, they are not line shy.
Last year we had a fire.   The river has grown back to it’s beautiful self.  Surprisingly many of the burnt trees made and shade is back in style.  We also had some high water this spring, really high like 25,000 cfs so there are some changes to many of the runs and some of the more popular camp spots.  There are new sand beaches up and down the river, and we are missing some toilets most notably at Kloan and Harris.

Sam Sickles
(541) 400-0855
www.steelheadoutfitters.com

Open Dates Deschutes Steelhead

(guided jet-boat trips)

Summer officially starts June 21st. I’ll still be trout fishing on the lower lower, mostly with a trout spey, hoping to accidentally hook a June Steelhead.  The real action happens in July.  On a magical day the summer steelhead show up on the Deschutes River.  There’s no rhyme or reason, no set date, no magical number over Bonneville or The Dalles Dams, it just happens.  July is easily my favorite month to fish the Deschutes.  There are certainly less fish in July than in August or September, but there a even fewer human beings around trying to catch a Steelhead.  In years past, July has been the most consistent month, perhaps a chance or two a day.  I’ll tell you something else, July fish pull the hardest – it’s not even close.  Encounters often end in straightened out hooks and long distance hand shakes.  The reason these fish are so powerful is simple, they’ve not been caught yet.  Steelhead are a really good biting fish which lends them to being caught and released a few times in their several month migration.  An early July fish is likely 100% fully charged.

Once the Steelhead show themselves for the first time they’re pretty much here.  The crowds stay fairly light until August.  With the crowds come waves of fish and by Labor Day weekend we are at the peak of the run, the A-run, one salt fish.  There will never be more fish in the river than there are late August and early September.  The crowds start to dwindle into September, school starts, hunting season is going on, and Fall Chinook are in full swing.  As September ends, we’ve been catching a few two salt steelhead and an occasional fall chinook.  October goes the way of the B-run, two and three salt steelhead.  The B-run steelhead are headed to far away Idaho and the Clearwater and Salmon Rivers. Before they go there they pull into the mighty Deschutes.  This migratory event makes or breaks our fall season, but typically there are fewer people around, fewer fish but larger fish…one of the best times of year to fish the Deschutes!

The 2019 Summer Season is booked! We are now booking October, $300 per angler. I Typically fish three anglers and can accommodate four. Two angler groups can secure the boat for $695 with no additional anglers.

We provide lunch, spey rods and reels, flies, BLM Boaters Pass, DOES NOT INCLUDE Oregon Fishing License with Columbia River Endorsement.  Credit cards can be used to book with a 4% convenience fee.

To Book call (541) 400-0855 or email samsickles@gmail.com  50% non-refundable deposit is required.

2018 Deschutes Steelhead Year End Results

The Deschutes steelhead season started off with a bang. Early summer was as good as I have ever seen on the lower Deschutes. There were spots on the river where we found fish every day for a week straight. There was the fire, fishing was unchanged and fishing pressure was completely…

Continue reading

Deschutes Trout Fishing Playbook

The crown jewel of Oregon is arguably the Deschutes River. Earning Federal Wild and Scenic designation in 1988 the Deschutes is managed for recreation and continues to gain in popularity. The tailwater fishery is 100 miles long and runs north through an arid desert canyon until it meets the mighty…

Continue reading

Guided Fly Fishing Trips for Steelhead and Trout in 2018

2018 Steelhead Outfitters Menu Happy belated New Year!  Best wishes to you and your families in 2018. Below is my annual menu/timeline for what’s going on at Steelhead Outfitters in 2018. I’ll have this attached to the very few emails I send out this year. Please feel free to text,…

Continue reading