Floated the lower river from Pine Tree to Monday over the Labor Day weekend and have this to report:
The Access Road (Shearars Bridge to Macks Canyon) is good. Drifting through (we didn't stop to fish, but probably should have), we saw several fish being played. Pressure Friday was light, and anglers reported good numbers of fish.
The region between Macks Canyon and Bull Run saw lots of sled traffic coming down from Macks Canyon. Fishing was reported fair, and pressure was moderate to heavy.
We camped in the middle of the stretch between Macks and Moody, and just stayed put until Monday morning, as I figured, with the traffic on the river, we wouldn't find any place better downstream; and we did have several good drifts close at hand with little competition.
Friday afternoon, after setting up camp, my friend Ted walked to the "Home Pool" and proceeded to hook and land two steelhead in the next twenty minutes. Things certainly seemed to be starting out right.
As most of you could predict, those were the last fish we hooked for some time. We apparently camped right between concentrations of fish, and it wasn't until Sunday evening that things really picked up: a strong run of wild fish made its appearance and brightened our prospects considerably. We floated out Monday and enjoyed good fishing in the places that weren't already occupied by bikers, sledders, drifters or hikers. The farther down the river we got, the more pressure. The bottom of the road at Kloan looked more like a Wal-Mart parking lot than the goat pasture it really is. Lots of anglers, good numbers of fish (mostly wild), and fair fishing morning and evening.
The fish we landed ran from about 10 pounds (very dark hatchery buck that a spin-fisherman caught and killed two days after Ted released it), to around six. Our best flies were Max Canyons and Ackroyds, and since we had almost constant overcast, time of day didn't make much difference, but we were most hopeful early and late.
The water was high, but very clear. Next weekend is a sled-closure weekend, meaning that power boats are not allowed from Thursday through Sunday. This used to be a god-send, but now there's often more traffic on the closure weekends than on open weekends and I've started avoiding the closure weekends because of it. What this means to me is that closure time needs to be extended to alternate weeks, since it's obvious there's a real attraction for many people wishing to experience the lower canyon without the roar and wash of sleds. But, since this is the only section of the river left open to power boats, and since sleds have a long history of traditional use, this won't happen any time soon.
Another thing I noticed: until this year, you didn't see that many double-handers around. Maybe 10% of the anglers, at most. The percentage using big rods has now shot up to well over 50%, which really surprised me. Spey-action double handers are certainly the most effective tools for fishing the Deschutes and it's wonderful to see them being used so effectively by so many. Perhaps the day of Lee Wulff and his six foot salmon rod are finally over.
Bottom line: fishing's good, but not red-hot.
Feel free to contact me directly for further info, if you wish