Deschutes Advice Needed - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-06-2019, 08:59 PM Thread Starter
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Deschutes Advice Needed

I am a relative newbie in the spey/steelhead world but am going to the Deschutes 10/18-10/21. I have never been there and would appreciate any advice. I heard fish counts are down, but still hoping for the best. We do not have a guide, even though I know it's best way to shorten the learning curve. Can anyone suggest where/what sections I can find road access to the river? I have both heard limited access, but also lots of drive to spots. I could bring inflatable if its safe and would help access more good spots, so especially appreciate advice on whether it's safe to drift an inflatable. I do a lot of ocean kayaking, so comfortable in water craft, but rivers can introduce many risks I may not be prepared for. Finally, any advice on techniques, tactics, flies would be appreciated. Should i use floating or intermediate line, with poly leader or mono leader? Should i use Skagit with T8 tip? I know it's an awful lot of questions, but books can be written on the things I don't know...
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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-06-2019, 11:27 PM
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You say you don't have a guide, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't get one. John and Amy Hazel can answer all your questions in spades, get you to the best waters, and see to your every need.

If you were a grizzled veteran to spey fishing, the Deschutes would still be a challenge, so newbies - I'd be booking a guide.

Pull the trigger and get a guide.
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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-06-2019, 11:56 PM
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I was there last weekend. I had the same concern about the fish counts...but I kept a positive attitude and landed 2 fish. I focused on the stretch between the mouth and Mack's Canyon. Which is tough because unless you hire a guide for jet boat or float boat you're hiking in. Which is what I did. I got a good workout.

Go to the BLM website and print out some maps for the Lower Deschutes. I would say focus from Sherars Falls down to Macks Canyon via the access road and then the mouth upriver as far as you can walk. Without knowing how to run the rapids at the various spots, I understand floating the river can be quite dangerous.

The Deschutes Angler Fly Shop in Maupin is an excellent place to stop, gear up and get some additional intel. It is one of the nicest and well stocked fly shops I've ever been to. John and Amy Hazel own the shop and have guided the river for a long time. Amy writes a regular River Report that you can check on current conditions.

Deschutes Angler Fly Shop Fishing Report

The beauty of the river is the fish will actively take a swung fly higher up in the water column. Skagits, heavy sink tips and heavily weighted flies aren't necessary. I used a 13'6" Meiser Highlander Spey rod with a 500 grain Beulah Elixir Scandi line, a 10' sinking polyleader, 3 ft of 10# tippet and small traditional steelhead wet flies. Black and purple are solid color choices.

Be safe, wear studs, carry a wading staff and have a positive attitude. Watch out for poison ivy along the river. Don't ask how I know. And enjoy every moment there.
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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-07-2019, 12:43 AM
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I'll echo the advice: take a guided trip! It'll make your trip a great learning experience rather than an exercise in futility or frustration. It is indeed a tough year, but there are some fish around. A two (or three) day float with a guide will get you to uncrowded water. You'll be fed, put in a good camp or two, and be able to fish some of the best water with little to no competition. They do the work while you do the fishing! You'll hopefully get some great casting instruction. More expensive than DIY, but You'll likely figure it was well worth it when the trip is done.

Studded felt boots, a wading staff, and a sharp eye out for the poison oak and snakes that rattle will serve you well.

The bighorns are getting antsy. We had a good group across from our camp last week with three young rams starting to feel their testosterone. Great entertainment.
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-07-2019, 01:48 AM
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There is road ”access” from Maupin down to Mack’s canyon, and there are campsites. So if you want to explore there is that. You could park at the campsite areas and other pullouts and give it a go. But there is a ton of rock of mostly volcanic origin (it is right under Mt Hood after all) and the wading can be very tough even when you are moving from place to place with a knowledgeable guide. I’ve only been on that river a dozen times, but from that experience it definitely would not be at the top of my list of rivers on which to ”wing it”.

A popular way to do it as mentioned above it is to use jet boats and camp for several days, but you might be able to find a guide through one of the fly shops in Maupin to do a more economical, last minute walk and wade for a day.

I know I have seen some people who just stay at the campground at Mack’s canyon and fish there. The area is very remote, and distances large, so that might be the best low maintenance choice. There is the old abandoned railroad river right for use for foot access going down river from there if you want to explore a very little bit more of the river. Be extra careful. While there is plenty of traffic I still would not want to get seriously injured in that location by trying something foolhardy due to lack of knowledge of the area.

Good luck.
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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-07-2019, 02:44 AM
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I wasn't a new steelheader when I first started going there, but had never fished with guides. I haven't fished with a guide on the D yet. There is lots of access from Maupin to Macks Canyon, and while the paths and wading can be a little iffy/stumbly, my 61 year old ass continues to have fun fishing it and enough success to keep going. It's spectacularly beautiful morning and evening, and expect gusty winds on warm days. This time of year fish all day.

Scandi and mono leaders or sinking polys, or skagits and a light to medium tip-though you're then missing the fun of fishing a floating line. It'll be winter soon enough. Stop at the Deschutes Angler in Maupin for a report and fly suggestions- they have given me the most accurate and timely reports of any shop I've ever visited.

Small to medium flies- 4-8's, Skunks or Steelhead Coachman, or that little purple and silver bug I think John Hazel first tied. Fish Tacos and small Klamath intruders if you want something more contemporary.

Waste deep, slow walking speed water. There's salmon around now that may well push the steelhead to heads and tailout of runs. And MAKE SURE YOU DON'T WADE IN/THROUGH REDDS! They are the brighter ovals of recently turned river bottom, may or may not have salmon on/near them

If you can swing a guide, it'll shorten your learning curve. But earning the learning is pretty damn fun. Go looking to learn something about a new river, a fish would be a bonus.

Have a great trip!
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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-07-2019, 09:18 AM
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Tons of access between Maupin and Macks canyon. Stop into Desschutes Angler and ask for a little help. Awesome shop with great people! We have done the "do it yourself" 4 different trips and have landed at least one or two between us each trip. Fish flies in the #3-#7 range and have fun. Im jealous! Cheers, Chris

ps- I like a floating line w an intermediate poly leader and classic wets during this time of year.
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-07-2019, 10:05 AM
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If you bring an inflatable, a boater’s pass is required, which you can purchase online. Any floating device in the Deschutes requires it.

Mark
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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-07-2019, 11:29 AM
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Just keep in mind that according to Amy there is no place to buy a steelhead license in Maupin. Keith

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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-07-2019, 12:24 PM
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Welcome back Lacheng, 2 posts in 6 yrs. thank you to the kind fellows who responded to your post. Hope you have a great time. Couple critical questions for you. Do you know how to handle trout/ steelhead in the case of landing one? Pinch bards, wet hand thoroughly, minimal handling if any. Can you identify reds and avoid them. Your location says American, I’m assuming California. Have you cleaned your wading gear, almost all California waters are infested with invasive species. Will you please take care to pack out what you pack in. Have you heard the term low holing? You won’t be alone on the D and knowing river etiquette helps. Lastly the D is a very dry desert canyon which charred last yr, please be careful with flame. Have fun and bring a tarp for shade.


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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-08-2019, 12:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chainsaw510 View Post
Welcome back Lacheng, 2 posts in 6 yrs. thank you to the kind fellows who responded to your post. Hope you have a great time. Couple critical questions for you. Do you know how to handle trout/ steelhead in the case of landing one? Pinch bards, wet hand thoroughly, minimal handling if any. Can you identify reds and avoid them. Your location says American, I’m assuming California. Have you cleaned your wading gear, almost all California waters are infested with invasive species. Will you please take care to pack out what you pack in. Have you heard the term low holing? You won’t be alone on the D and knowing river etiquette helps. Lastly the D is a very dry desert canyon
which charred last yr, please be careful with flame. Have fun and bring a tarp for shade.
A nice warm welcome like this will probably assure you won't hear from him for another six years.

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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-08-2019, 01:01 AM
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Lastly the D is a very dry desert canyon which charred last yr, please be careful with flame. Have fun and bring a tarp for shade.
By mid-October, the fire ban has lifted and you can have a campfire in established fire rings. Less need for shade. Enjoy your trip and welcome to a special place!

Mark
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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-08-2019, 02:09 AM Thread Starter
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Many thanks for all the generous and valuable insights from so many! This is truly a great family of wonderful people pursuing and sharing a common passion. I hope some day I will reach a level that i will be able to give back to this community.

I have checked in with Deschutes Anglers, as suggested, but also need to check with my fishing buddy if he wants to go guided.

I appreciate the many responses to my questions, and also advice on etiquette and stewardship of our precious resources. I may not have steel headed as much as many, but have been around long enough to know we have to respect and care for our rivers, habitat and fellow anglers (no low holing).

I am excited to get out and explore the famous Deschutes. Hopefully, this will be the first of many trips, and perhaps some day meet some of you in person and return the kindness.
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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-08-2019, 03:56 AM
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Be careful out there and good luck.
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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-08-2019, 08:40 AM
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Definitely go the guided route.
Not only will it add considerably to your overall experience but it is much safer as well.
Trust me, the Deschutes is not an easy wading river.

Emel
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