Meet Baby Paley, Fishing Around Bend, and Deschutes Steelhead Report

Another long time in between posts... sorry!!!  Well in my own defense there has been a lot happening in our house lately.  On July 19th Cairn and I had a baby girl, Paley Loran O'Donnell.  She weighed 10 lbs 4 oz!!!  And in the 98th percentile for here length - 22 inches.  She is beautiful and amazing.  Bright, alert, strong, and active.  She sleeps through the night.  She doesn't cry much.  Is that normal?  For the first time in my life there is a place I would rather be than on the river... I can't wait until I can take her down the river with me!  Cairn went through a lot, much more than usual, but is recovering quickly and doing awesome.  We have entered a new chapter of life and couldn't be more excited about it.  Now I really have to work hard... so lets go fishing!

We showed up in Bend for a doctor appointment on July 3rd.  Cairn is dilated.  So we decide to stay in Bend to avoid any scrambling to get to the hospital from Maupin.  Well long story short we had Paley July 19th.  She was nine days overdue.  So what does a guy do while hanging out in Central Oregon for three weeks?  It didn't take long for me to begin wandering around the Upper Deschutes River watershed.  I spent time with good friends and family chasing big rainbows, browns, and even largemouth bass!  It helped pass the time and it was good for me to break away from the Lower Deschutes and enjoy some of the other fisheries I used to hit when i lived in Bend.

In other news (as if there is any other news!) steelhead season is well under way.  Good fishing began while i was waiting in Bend for baby to come.  I got phone calls, emails, and text messages about how good the fishing was.  My first trip was after Paley's birth on July 28th.  Since then I have been on the river swinging for steelhead just about every day.  Fishing has been all over the board.  I have had some incredible days and skunk days with no rhyme or reason.  We have been finding a couple of fish most days, with more experienced anglers taking the lion's share.  A few highlights from the past few weeks include a good number of first ever steelhead, a lady angler who hooked around ten or twelve steelhead over the course of four days while here male fishing partners each landed two fish.  The anglers shall remain nameless to avoid embarrassment!  At least one of the two fish one of the guys landed was a 15 lb monster buck... that was also a highlight.  Fred Patton's daughter, Cathline, caught a whopping 14 lber from a tiny riffle on a super short cast.  Last night, after a long fishless day, Ryan Nelson hooked up on his last cast!  The fish left the run, cartwheeling all the way, and we had to chase her.  After a short but super hot battle we were cradling a six pound immaculate wild hen that brought tears to Ryan's eyes.  That is a hell of a way to end the day.  The good news is that we will still be running hard for at least two months!

We have a few spaces left for both day and camping trips between October 25 and November 6 if anyone is interested in putting together a fall trip with us.  Fall is time for big fish with almost no fishing pressure.  Call Cairn at (541) 720 - 2633 for the fastest service.

Thanks for reading,



Salmonflies gone, fishing good on Deschutes River

Trout fishing has been pretty good on the Lower Deschutes the past few weeks.  The big bugs have disappeared for the most part.  One could go on fishing big bugs and still find spotty success but we have been doing much better on smaller bugs like yellow sallies and caddis type stuff.  A size 14 purple para wulff is a killer hot fly this time of year.  My last three day float started off with action on golden stone dries the first day, although we had to bow cast them under trees.  Casting way out towards the middle of the river in broad riffley water was also productive.  The action definitely switched to caddis and mayfly as we drifted closer to Maupin.  Trout are making their way into summer time "small fly" spots that include foamy backeddies and slack water where tiny bugs collect by the millions.  They are not thick in the eddies yet but I have been keeping a close eye and they are just starting to nose in to the slow foamy stuff.  Natural colored clothing and a stealthy approach will become crucial in the upcoming weeks.

I have run into a couple of really tough days... we still caught a pile of trout but they were really concentrated in one or two spots.  One other note - the trout are hammering caddis pupae/emerger patters like LaFontain's, Silvey's prime time pupae, etc.  Fish 'em with a couple split shot just a few feet under a small indicator.  You can fish this rig in all kinds of water, not just nymphing water.

Bend native Bruce Fox doing what he loves

A wild fishing spot and a nice fish

Rick Stiggins with a nice one... go Stick!!

Good times with Dan Drazan and friends!

Our clumsy little friends


Bam! Fish on. A perfect salmonfly spot.

Brian Sera and a dandy redside

In other news Cairn is almost there!  In theory our baby girl will be born in 26 days.  I couldn't be more excited for anything.  Cairn's sister took some amazing maternity photos with us the other day and while not fishing related I will post one when I get my hands on it.

Thanks for reading,



More Salmonfly Hatch Photos from the Deschutes River

The salmonfly hatch is peaking out near Warm Springs right now.  Yesterday was incredible... should have been here yesterday!  The hatch is thinning out around Maupin and really winding down below Sherars Falls.  Thats not to say fishing isn't still good on the lower river, the trout are just keying into other smaller bugs like yellow sallies and caddis.  I have been on high alert for green drakes, but haven't seen more than a couple each day.  Yesterday was overcast and rainy and still no drakes!  WTF?  Oh well, we had plenty of action on salmonflies.

Tip of the day:  fish something besides a chubby chernobyl... the trout could tie them better than we can right now.  Every angler I see is casting a white cotton ball.  Try something different.  Use classic flies like the Clark, Norm, and Kaufmann bugs, or be creative and come up with something different.

Fun times!  Thanks for checking in,



Deschutes Salmonfly Hatch Photo Report

A few recent photos from the Deschutes River...


Looked away for a second but heard the splash!

The Deschutes

Remarkable spotting

A fly I've been tying the past five years or so


Behind the alders.... classic salmonfly water

Why do rainbows love purple?

Wild rose

Thanks for checking in,



Spring Steelhead, Secret Salmonfly, and Fishing with Bob Clay

I am in no way, shape, or form ready to leave the coast and spring steelhead.  But we have to split for Maupin and the Deschutes River in a few days to be closer to the hospital in Bend for lots of upcoming doctor visits.  Cairn begins her third trimester next week!  She is doing awesome.  Beginning to get a little uncomfortable at night but otherwise it has been smooth sailing.  We went fishing again just a few days ago... very proud of her!  So we will be heading back to Maupin to plant our garden and start tying my killer salmonfly pattern (major procrastination!).  I have been holding out on this fly for five or six years now, only tying small handfuls for my clients to fish.  But I think the time has come to post a few photos and maybe a tying video.  you will want to whip a few of these up if you enjoy fishing the big bugs, so stay tuned.

Anyways, this has been a winter steelhead season of highs and lows.  The rivers were in constant fluctuation.  I lost more guiding days than I am used to and feel bad for the folks who didn't get to fish.  That is the price we pay for such a remarkable fishery here on the Oregon coast.  When the rivers were in shape the fishing was as good as I have seen it.  Very few kelts and lots of beautiful wild fish.  Also lots of genetic diversity much like I saw on the Deschutes last summer and fall.  A coincidence?  What I mean is we caught fish from 18 inches to 15+ pounds.  Having a huge range of size and age class is incredibly important to the fitness of the wild gene pool.

Speaking of wild gene pool, we have several trips in tonight's Native Fish Society auction at Motgomery Park.  Our seventh annual "Drift in to Green Valley" trip with Lange Winery and chef Richard Gherts has been a very popular item.  This year our three day Mack's to the mouth trip for four rods will be hosted by legendary Kispiox River guide and bamboo rod maker Bob Clay.  To say that I am stoked to spend a few days on the river with Bob is an understatement.  As always our crew will be involved with these trips and we are very proud of their commitment to wild fish.  They don't get the recognition they deserve.  It will be interesting to see how the big protest goes.  We are proud supporters of the NFS among other conservation and humanitarian organizations.

Here are a few shots from the river...

Casting Beulah's 13' 2" 7 wt with their 500 grain Tonic head. Bruce Berry photoA surprise visitor... Western Toad. Little creatures like this guy make for an extra cool day on the river. Bruce Berry photoSteve O'Brien with a fresh spring chromer. I suggest booking a trip with this guy, as he is yet to get skunked! And he is a fun guy to hang out with.

To my loyal clients and friends, dear fishing buddies, my dad, and my wife Cairn... THANK YOU for fishing (and putting up) with me this winter and spring season (or at least attempting to!).  It is inspiring now that I look back on it.  Time to put away the big sticks and heavy junk and get out the five weights!!  Very happy to go hunt big redsides for a few months and looking forward to becoming a dad this summer.