Well, we made it through the madness of Salmonfly and now venture boldly into summer on the Lower Deschutes. With the warming weather and perfect river conditions, this could be another epic caddis year. The high-water events of two years ago and this year have left the river between the dams and Maupin in wonderful shape. We’re already seeing more caddis and mayfly activity than we have in many years. The amount of insect life is really helping the health of the fish too! Both on the Day Stretch from Warm Springs to Trout Creek as well as the Camp Stretch on down to Maupin, we’ve seen more healthy, chunky, powerful Redbands this year that I can remember for years. And now the fish move back to their preferred lies in riffles, drop-offs, eddies and boulder fields. And eat! One thing about the smaller bugs of summer is that the fish have to eat a lot.
Last season the Day Stretch was as good as any of us had seen in years. Again, this is a result of the late-winter high water releases from the dams. The heavy flows turn over and scour the rocks, leaving both healthy bug habitat as well as better spawning grounds. Now, two years on from the first big water, we see more bugs and healthier fish than we have for a while. The caddis last season, especially on the hot days, was incredible. The millions of little bugs filled the air throughout the day, ovipositing in riffles and eddies. We fished dries and dry-dropper rigs most days, or drowned caddis dries under a little bobber. All summer long the fishing was so fun for fat Redbands, which were seeing little pressure. This year is shaping up the same. Even during Salmonfly, we were fishing caddis and mayfly patterns behind the Chubby and getting solid eats. And we expect great things this summer. It has already begun, but keep an eye on Madras weather and as soon as we have a series of ninety-degree days, get on it! The caddis will absolutely explode down there. For the DIY angler, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. If you’re hiking the trails either down from Mecca or up from Trout Creek be super mindful of the rattlesnakes. They are abundant down there. From some reason, they just love the trail for taking naps too! But anywhere you can’t see the ground, move slowly. Another issue is poison ivy. Looks like we’ll have a banner year for that. If it’s shiny, leave some space. Lastly, take a tone of water and electrolytes, it is so hot and exposed down there. Be prepared for anything. If you rather not deal with all the perils of hiking, let us take you down on a guided trip. Our guides all have the river dialed and will set you up to have a blast. Whether you prefer wet-wading in the riffles throwing little caddis rigs or headhunting in the eddies, we’ll cater the day to your interest and wants. And a gourmet lunch in the shade won’t suck either. So, if you’re interested in what it’s like in the big canyon during the summer months, give a call and we’ll set you up.
The real surprise last summer for me was how good the Camp Stretch fished. Again, I think this is a result of the high-water event. The river was just healthier, more buggy and stayed cool enough for the trout, at least as far down as Maupin. This year should be just as good, if not better. We’re already seeing higher flows deeper into the season, which helps water temps. The hatches have been awesome. The fish are plentiful and strong. The camps are epic. Not a lot left to say except, “Let’s Go!” If you’ve ever wondered what the canyon is like during the long, hot days, grab a crew and let us show you. There is hardly any fishing pressure. The camps mostly have rafters on the weekends and barely any traffic during the week. We usually take three or four days to cover the 34 miles. Our camp is super dialed for the hot, buggy days with a comfortable dining tent and cozy sleeping tents, although many choose to sleep out, under the stars. We’ll prepare warm evening fare for your delight and pamper you in true “glamping” style. Let us take you down for a mind-blowing adventure this summer!