Great fly fishing.
Great craft beer.
Deschutes is not only home to one of the best breweries around (Deschutes Brewery), it’s also home to one of the best trout waters in the state.
So we sat down with Damien Nurre, owner of Deep Canyon Outfitters (deepcanyonoutfitters.com, 541-323-3007) in Bend, to get his insight into what makes the Deschutes so special, and what it takes to have a special day on the water to make sure you have plenty of stories when you belly up at Deschutes Brewery later that night.
Fish on the Deschutes River
The Lower Deschutes River has a number of different species, but Nurre says it’s probably best known for its rainbow trout and summer steelhead.
Nearby, he says Cascade Lakes produce trout, landlocked salmon and largemouth bass, while the Upper Deschutes offers brook and brown trout for the most part.
Also nearby, the Crooked River offers up rainbow trout, while the Metolius River is full of rainbow and brown trout, Nurre added.
About Deschutes River
The Deschutes River runs for about 250 miles, originating high in the Cascade Mountains at Little Lava Lake.
And these waters produce one of the most beautiful trout in the country, redsides, rainbow trout with beautiful, scarlet bands down their sides.
The river can be broken down in sections: running modestly from Little Lava Lake to Benham Falls, then Crane Prairie Reservoir to Wikiup Reservoir. From there, the Deschutes becomes a big, free-flowing water with monster trout around every bend.
But once the river hits Bend, like the Owens River when it hits Southern California, much of the water diverted for irrigation by the Central Oregon Irrigation District.
Flies for Fishing the Deschutes River
Matching the hatch is critical on the Deschutes throughout the year. Some popular hatches include stones, caddis, salmonflies, mayflies, midges and terrestrials when things dry out in the summer.
Weather can often be a factor in Oregon, but when the weather cooperates, summer evening fishing on the Deschutes can be second to none.
Depending on what portion of the river you’re fishing, you could use anything from a 3- to a 6-weight rod, so it’s probably best to bring a solid, all-around trout rod for your next Deschutes River, siding with a larger, more castable rod if you plan on floating the river.
Floating the Deschutes River
Nurre will hike in and wade the Deschutes from time to time, but he typically recommends anglers float and enjoy larger stretches of the river to ensure they get the most out of their Deschutes experience.
“On the Lower Deschutes, float and camp the section from Trout Creek to Harpham flats,” Nurre recommends.
The reason, Nurre notes, is because floating is only allowed on a select number of rivers in Central Oregon.
“We use drift boats to access the fishing holes,” he said, “then fish from shore or in the river.”
Enjoy this piece? Check out our other "From the Guides" articles on:
Fly Fishing Ascension Bay: Sight fishing for bonefish and other saltwater species over the white sandy bottoms in Ascension Bay, Mexico.
Fly Fishing Northern New Mexico: The Chama River and other fine fisheries make New Mexico a hidden gem for fly fishers.
Fly Fishing Cape Cod: A look at some tips for for shore fly fishing Cape Cod.
Fly Fishing Cranberry River: All about fly fishing the tasty river in West Virginia.
Fly Fishing Colorado River: A closer look at the 16-mile stretch from Lees Ferry to Glen Canyon Dam.
Fly Fishing British Columbia: Pemberton gives anglers all sorts of fly fishing options.
Fly Fishing Helton Creek: The fishery out of Jefferson, N.C. provides some of the best fly fishing North Carolina has to offer.
Fly Fishing Owens River Valley: A look at the three different sections of the Owens and nearby fisheries in the Eastern Sierra.