The short answer is YES. The Upper Deschutes River in Sunriver hosts fair numbers of redband trout, mountain whitefish, and non-native brown trout. The river is closed at Sunriver from September 31st through May 22nd. As the river approaches Sunriver, it loses velocity and becomes more sinuous. Fishing this section via a boat is ideal due to the marshy banks and the private property along the river.
Trout populations in the Upper Deschutes River were once phenomenal. Unfortunately, they have declined since the creation of the Wickiup Dam. Irrigation water is stored in Wickiup Reservoir during winter and is released during spring and summer. This results in 100 CFS winter flows and 1800 CFS summer flows (CFS = Cubic Feet per Second). Historically, the river rarely flooded and flows were steadily 600-700 CFS year-round. Thanks to efforts made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the local irrigation districts, and countless other stakeholders, more water is being allocated towards winter flows. By 2026, the Upper Deschutes will have winter flows of 200 CFS, which will drastically improve conditions for trout. We are very excited to see more water in the river for our trout to enjoy.
Thankfully, trout are resilient and there are still lots of fish to be caught on the Upper Deschutes River. In fact, every year trophy brown trout are caught in the stream and there are definitely some that lurk in the waters near Sunriver. As mentioned before, the river slowly meanders through Sunriver. The fish here are spread out and there aren’t many places that the fish collect in large numbers. Logs, seams, anything that provides good fish habitat is worth throwing a cast at.
You’ll want to use mainly large flies. Streamers are definitely a favorite for searching for the bigger browns. Using streamers ensures that you’re covering lots of water and the chances a fish sees your fly is much higher. Nymphing can also be effective; however, nymphing techniques do not cover water very efficiently. It’s best to use large attractor nymphs to try and get the attention of some fish. Fishing with large terrestrial patterns can be effective during the summer months.
Your biggest advantage to fishing the Deschutes around Sunriver is patience. There are amazing fish that lurk in the waters but they are moody and smart. With enough casts, your fly will be lodged between the teeth of a big brown.