Steelhead Regulations on the Deschutes

What does this mean? It means the entire Deschutes will be closed to steelhead fishing in July 1 through August 15th, 2022. (please keep reading, this is not a death sentence) Going forward Deschutes Steelhead seasons will be open or closed in July based on prior year escapement over Sherars Falls.…

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Deschutes Fly-Fishing Report, 2019 Steelhead

November 23, 2019. Fall fishing on the Deschutes was good this year. We saw some really really good fish late in the season. The river and the weather made conditions pretty tuff, seems the White River was out the entire month but we managed. Cold weather killed the month late late October and spelled the end for me. Other brave souls continue to fish well into the cold season but I feel the fish leave either upriver or back to the Columbia when the water temps dive and dive they did.

I spent November on the Klickitat and it was solid with a chance or two daily. On the Klickitat River when the temps drop the fish do not leave but your feet get real cold. The Klickitat will fish until it closes December 1.

I’ve been playing around in the frog water on the John Day as well, well, it’s plum loaded with fish. Honestly the only good fishing left around here is on the John Day but it’s cold, usually windy and it takes some figuring out to find the fish. We are done guiding summer steelhead but will be guiding winter steelhead on the Sandy river and then returning to the Deschutes for a couple months of trout and trout Spey. Deschutes Steelhead starts July 6.

Thanks for a great year!

September 19, 2019 Deschutes Fly-Fishing Report. River clarity continues to be poor on the Deschutes. Between the White River and the late summer storms we’ve had a good deal of color in the river. Between then and now we has some good dry line steel heading but it’s been a tip show for the most part. We managed to hook 46 fish in the last ten days with three groups of two camping at Wagonblast, not great numbers by any means but fishing has been good enough. We’re starting to get snow up on the mountain and clearer water is on the way. We’ve started swinging up some chinook as well. B-runs are on the way and October should be a strong month based on what I’m seeing with late fish counts. Tight lines, report again in another two weeks. We have some open dates in October. SS

September 5, 2019 Deschutes Fly-Fishing Report. Lot’s of talk about the White River, off color water, even the river being blown out…that’s horse shit! The lower end of the Deschutes has been unusually clear since the 2015 draught but prior to that the Deschutes ran off color most of the summer. This is normal, once the snow is gone the glacier on the White melts, it’s dirty, it’s white, it colors the Deschutes, it’s part of the program so to speak. The river has been cycling from 12-24″ inches of river clarity for two weeks now. Dirty in the morning, clear in the afternoon, fishing has been best in the morning when clarity is the poorest. Fishing has been good, it usually is this time of year. Good fishing to me means we are catching some fish, some days several, some days a chance or two.

I don’t fish floating lines on the Deschutes when the White River is cycling. That doesn’t mean you couldn’t catch one on a floating line it just means I don’t mind fishing right behind you if you do. My attitude got this way a number of years ago after opening four days straight in the tailout of Wagonblast. Four days in a row I can’t get a grab. Day four I decide to fish sink tips behind myself…we got four. That was in 2015, the draught year, the year the White cycled two months straight, the river was empty. We caught a lot of fish that year, a lot.

When the river is cycling fish dark flies on your sink tips mornings and evenings. When the sun is up fish bright flashy flies. Slow down the swing, it’s OK to fish a fly sideways only if it’s moving slow, the slower the better. Move slower, fish can see better than we can in dirty water but they won’t move far, try not stepping past them. For now, better to fish a run once slow than twice fast. Don’t wade deep or you will be robbed of a swung fish and will receive a strip fish instead. Do not pay attention to the local reports, go to the river and see for yourself but remember it is cycling, clarity improves late in the morning and into the afternoon but that hasn’t seemed to matter.

Like I said originally, fishing has been pretty good, it usually is this time of year. I will be camping the next opening Monday through the following Wednesday. My next open dates are October 8, 11, 14, 17, 18. My rates are $300 per seat, I take three. If you would like to fish as a twosome my rate is $695. You can reach me by text (541) 400-0855.

Tight lines, Sam

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.


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

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  50% non-refundable deposit is required.

2019 Recommended Gear List: Deschutes Summer Steelhead

samsicklesJuly 21, 2018Deschutes Steelhead Guide, Deschutes Trout Guide, deschutesjetboatguide, Gear, Gorge Fly Shop, rods Summer Chrome Recommended equipment A big part of what you get with a good fly fishing guide is an opportunity to learn about equipment. Year in and year out I see people bring their own gear, most of the time this…

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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…

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