Well, here we are leaning into mid-May and at least one thing is as it would normally be: the salmonfly hatch is in full bloom on the Lower Deschutes River. Yes, this one thing we can count on when all the rest of it’s gone to pot. No matter your favorite beat of the river, from Maupin to the dams, the big bug is out. Until this little spat of funky weather, it was pretty much “game on!” for forty miles of river. The cold, wet days have slowed their activity down a bit, but the right fish in the right place at the right time will still be looking up, anxious for one clumsy enough to become a meal. We’ve had reports of some pretty epic sessions as the hatch moved through Maupin. And until a couple of days ago, similar stories were emerging from the Warm Springs/Trout Creek reach.
Another thing to keep in mind when the weather gets “changeable” is that the possibility for another big bug gets stronger. The Green Drake is the true “ghost hatch” of the Lower Deschutes, preferring wet days when the temps are in the high 50’s. This is a huge mayfly that the Redbands go crazy for. So if you’re planning on heading down and the weather looks iffy, take a few #10 mayfly dries. You never know, and if you’re there when it happens and don’t have the bug, you’ll kick yourself for some time down the road.
The flies to have for this upper 40 miles of the Lower Deschutes lean towards large. Pick your favorite Chubby, Blackout Stone, Rogue Stone or the like, put it on stout tippet, a short leader, and slap it down. Check your delicate presentations at the door. Make the fish FEEL the fly land. While this might not always be the best way to make up the numbers of fish, the ones you do fool will be big, nasty and a memory to hang onto for life.
It’s always worth taking some nymphs down there this time of year too. Some days the fish just aren’t looking up. I like to rig up a dry/dropper off the Chubby about three feet to a tungsten-beaded nymph-like the Jig Prince #14 or Duracell #16. Or both! Odds are the fish are over the big nymph, but if you want to try the stonefly crawler under a bobber, you’ll fool a couple. Just remember, that bug needs to be near or on the bottom…
Okay, that’s good news. The not-so-good is that as of right now we still don’t have ramps to put boats in at. The BLM has not reopened the ramps or the camps yet. We’ve been told that the 20th of this month is when we’ll hear about their re-evaluation. Obviously, we are hoping that the river will be officially “open”, meaning that we can get to work doing what we love so much, and also that everyone who enjoys a day rowing that river can have at least that much back in their lives. As for the drive-in camps around Maupin, up at South Junction and up to Mecca, they are officially closed to any overnight use. The bathrooms are locked and there are no trash cans. And as of now Warm Springs is not issuing nor honoring already purchased Tribal Permits. Now, we are neither lawyers nor law enforcement officials so we will not tell you what you can and can’t do. We are living by the rules as we read them. And we will continue to do so. If you need more information and/or clarification contact the BLM Prineville office. For Warm Springs Reservation questions contact 541-553-2014. I have tried to get all these folks on the phone to get definitive, up-to-date regulations and restrictions to no avail. I understand completely their aversion to predicting anything and I also respect the decisions they’ve made to this point.
We will update you as soon as we hear what is happening next.