Another Deschutes Report
Just got off the river yesterday after a four day trip with my friend, Ted, from Florida. Thought I'd pass on some observations for the edification of those of you who might be inclined to want to hear from a biased and unreliable source.
Put in at Pine Tree to avoid driving all the way down to Macks Canyon. The road last week was pretty terrible and I didn't want to blow another pair of tires.
The Deschutes is as clear as I've seen it in years, and the levels are about perfect for fishing most drifts. The thermal barrier between the Columbia and the Deschutes must still be persisting though, because, inspite of the general cooling trend over all of central Oregon of late, there still are not many fish in the river. In the area where we camped, about half way between Macks Canyon and the mouth, we had consistent fishing, if poor, by Deschutes standards. We hooked about a fish apiece morning and evening, although most of the hookups resulted in lost fish. We were fishing out of a driftboat, and so did not have the mobility of the sledders, who were doing better than we were, but ranging over quite a lot of river to do it.
There were many groups, both sledding and drifting, on the river, and this cut down quite a bit on our opportunities. We're accustomed to walking up and down the river along the road to various drifts within two or three miles of our camping spot. Virtually all the drifts we knew about were being fished heavily, either by groups camping near them or my sledders converging from upstream and down. Consequently, we fished pretty close to home most of the time.
The majority of people we talked with reported slow fishing, although a couple of sledders claim to have hit concentrations with resulting fast fishing. The Water Tower drift in Harris Canyon was one of the spots consistently named as "hot" (big surprise).
And speaking of hot, boy, were these little fish hot. The ones I landed were all smallish, "wild" (i.e., non-clipped) Type A fish between four and six pounds, but just incredible brawlers. Long runs, lots of jumps, lots of zip. They really made the old Hardy scream.
Our most productive flies were No. 6 and No. 4's in purple or black/green combinations (as in Green Butt Skunk and Purple Peril). Fish also showed interest in Thunder and Lightnings and purple General Practioners. While goofing around in the middle of the day trying to learn how to cast the thing, I caught a nice fish on a copper tube fly dressed with lemon dyed squirrel tail. Bully for me.
Grass fires are still a problem. There was one that started Tuesday afternoon and burned the top of the ridge just beyond rim of the canyon. We couldn't see the base of the fire, but had fun watching the bombers line up for their dousing runs.
Bottom line: lots of anglers; too few fish. The weather is cooling, as is the river. Things should get much better in the next couple of weeks.
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