Deschutes Steelhead Report
So this is the part where I'm supposed to say that steelhead fishing remains good on the Lower Deschutes, and that good casters and anglers are finding steelhead. This past week we had a good number of mid day opportunities, river temperatures are perfect, the flow is beautiful... honestly I am tired of writing the same old fishing report. So I am going to tell a fish story.
So there we were. Charels Gehr of Fly Water Travel and I were guiding day three of four on the Lower Deschutes, during a 30 mile float trip from Beavertail to the mouth. Fishing had been pretty good during the trip so far, with multiple fish each day. We woke up that morning at a camp that we had not anticipated camping in, but still offered amazing water during first light. Even with great water at our disposal, I felt just a little off my axis that morning. Maybe because we fished through several great peices of water without so much as a sniff. Very unusual for first light on a camp trip.
We fished our way down river until lunch. We took a break for about an hour to grill cheeseburgers and rest in the shade. During lunch I was plotting my next move. We really needed to find a fish, so I picked a reliable afternoon spot where the sun is at a great angle and most people don't fish. I left the lunch spot so that we would be anchoring at our "fishing hole" at 3:00 pm. It is a quick one guy spot so I had Stephen jump out and make a few casts with a skagit head and a sparse black pick 'yer pocket. Stephen started with short casts and gradually lengthened them until he was casting the entire 24 foot head. About a third of the way through the swing the line snapped tight and a huge belly formed in the line as the steelhead rushed up river.
I love big long runs. Especially upstream runs. This fish peeled line off the reel at a scary rate, hauling ass straight up river. Stephen was facing upstream and holding on for dear life. They say what goes up must come down. Somewhere deep into the backing the steelhead turned and headed back towards us just as fast as it ran up river. The line went slack and Stephen had a look of disappointment on his face. STRIP!!! I shouted, hardly containing my excitement. He let go of the reel and began stripping in line as if he was fishing for barracuda. By the time he caught up to the fish it had just passed us on its way down river. Stephen intuitively let go of the line and the reel went back to screaming. More backing flying off the reel, this time down river. After the second run Stephen patiently worked the fish back towards us.
At the end of the battle I scooped the ten pound chrome hen with my new rubber basket net... I am amazed how much easier it is on the steelhead to land with a net rather than make several attempts at grabbing the line and tailing the fish. Stephen lifted the specimen of a steelhead for a quick photo and sent her on her way. After releasing the fish Stephen had the expression of "did that just happen?".
This is why I guide the Deschutes for steelhead.
Here are a few recent photos of me and Nick with steelhead landed by John Cambria from New Jersey.
When I get the photo I took of Stephen's fish from this story I'll post it up.
Thanks for reading,