Deschutes Fly-Fishing Report, 2019 Steelhead

August 8th, 2019 – Non Motorized weekend number three, that means I’m thirty days in. We are now finding a fish or two each day and working really hard to do it. The crowds are thick and the annual post up campers have arrived taking prime camps for days, me included. Our first camp was set for seven days and we stayed at Henry’s and for three days we had two sleds, 1-2 fish per day mornings and evenings. The eastside fished a little better than the west and we picked up a few upriver but it was real busy up there. In all honesty this is going to be 2019 but hey it’s still the best summer steelhead fishery in the United States, and steelhead are still the best fish to pursue. We are catching fish on floating lines and sink tips, skater flies haven’t been working well and it’s been easy to pick our own pockets. The weather has been cool and windy, we did have two days over 100 and the river heated right up to 70. I’ll keep reporting after each closure. Stay tuned. I’m currently booked into week two of October but please hit me up if you’re looking for a fall date!

July 28, 2019 -Non-motorized weekend number two. The crowds have officially arrived, the fishing is slow compared to prior July. We are averaging a fish or two every other day. The fish are spread out throughout the lower 24 miles in thin numbers and there seems to be no real concentration of steelhead anywhere. The numbers of fish will increase as we merge into Augst and the busiest part of the season. The river has grown back but most of the camps are in poor condition do yo the high water late winter and overgrown noxious weeds. This July has been seasonably cool and very very windy. Water temps have stayed down under the 70 mark almost every day.

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.

New Site!

Welcome to the new Steelhead Outfitters website! I’ve been working with the boys over at Gorge Fly Shop getting a few pointers for the new site. I hope to make things a little more personal and provide a better experience for the new year. Enjoy. Sam Sickles Be sure to…

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