This is a busy time for change in our local rivers. From the Lower Deschutes to the Middle, “Town Water”, the Crooked, you name it, something has been altered. As irrigation season comes to a close, a bunch of flows are manipulated, some for the better, some not so.
Up at Wickiup Reservoir, the dam was corked from the summer norm of around 1600-1800cfs to 100! Hey, it’s better than last year’s 28cfs! This is the move that spurs the side channels drying up and calls into action all the passionate lovers of trout who were out there in the muddy pools last week rescuing thousands of fish. This is the third year in row the flows were drawn down at least this much. As sad as it is that the people who control the flows and diversions of water do what they do, it is heartwarming that so many local folk get involved to save the fish. On behalf of the Deschutes trout population and all of us here at Fly and Field we’d like to extend our most sincere “Thank You!” for your efforts. Another incredible element of this annual situation is how many fish re-populate the channels every year. It’s easy to imagine how insanely good the Deschutes would be if the powers that be would pay more heed to the river’s health and less to water rights holders “needs”. Here is a link to a Newspaper article about this year’s fish salvage. (warning: prepare for your blood to boil!)
As for the fishing, the river is closed from Benham Falls to the headwater. Considering that most of the river between Benham and Wickiup is now a muddy ditch, you’re not missing much. Below Benham, this is a great time of the year. If you like a little hike along with your wetting of a line, then this is your scene. From 1st Street Rapid here in town all the way to Benham Falls, the lower flows are perfect. We’ve got tons of tips for flies, time of the day and places to check out. Also, if you’re interested in getting shown the upper stretch of river, between Dillon and Benham, we have Guides who would love to motor you up to some excellent, hardly-ever fished zones. We do Half-Day trips up there all winter.
The Middle Deschutes is now in “Off-Season” flows, which means pretty much forget it! Those of you who, like ourselves, adore that stretch late in the spring and throughout the summer, know the river with somewhere in the vicinity of 100-150cfs. Now she’s at a solid 600-700 and won’t get lower until the first of the irrigation canals opens in the spring. There are occasional, weeklong periods when the ditches open and farmers fill ponds, but otherwise the Middle from town to Billy Chinook will be a big brawler for the next bunch of months.
The Lower D just got a nice little push due to grass growing season coming to a close. This is always a great time to be down there. The river gets a nice “turnover”, the salmon and steelhead make a move for their spawning grounds, the trout get super active, tons of water too skinny all summer is suddenly perfect! We’ve had some amazing trips recently, both Multi-Day Camp adventures and Day Trips. The random steelhead is falling for familiar rigs typically used for trout and whatever else might be interested! This is that special time of the year when that bobber goes down and you just never know what’ll be there when you set the hook! If swinging is your thing, there is only another week or so till the left side closes from the dams to the boundary. While there’s good water on the right side, most of our favorite swing runs are over there. If you want one more drift with one of our guides when you can fish both sides, pick the phone up NOW! 541-318-1616. We will continue to guide down there till the river closes on New Year’s Day. Yes, in case you haven’t heard, the tribe has insisted that the river close from Jan. 1 to April 22, just like the good ol’ days. While we are massively disappointed, and don’t agree with the stated reasons, we respect their position. Hopefully in time, all parties can come together and work out reasonable restrictions for seasons, methods of take and bag limits down there. The river is such a precious, magical place and needs protection from many entities. But for now, we are back to the way it was with the one exception that the river is open to ALL fishing until it closes. We’d love to get you down there this fall. It is the fishiest time of the year.
The Crooked River is down in its winter flow. It was dropped from the 250cfs range down to 74 and then adjusted up to 84, where we understand it will remain until the spring, unless… Let’s hope for a more normal winter this year. The events of last year will haunt the little river for another year or two. The good news is that after the disturbing conditions of last spring and early summer, the river is in killer shape, the bug life has improved dramatically and the fish have spread out pretty good throughout the system. The average size is down a bit, but with fewer fish to compete, the ones left should grow at a good rate. We’ve seen some crazy fun dry fly action out there on recent trips. Get a little overcast going, grab a few BWO and midge dries, a soft little 3wt and go have some fun. What, you don’t have a soft little 3wt? We know of a great Fly-Fishing Shop you could pick one up at! We will be running Half-Day Guided Trips out there all winter. If you’re “Crooked Curious” let us show you around, get the training wheels off, and set you up for what could be an epic off-season out there.
The Fall River is the one with consistent flows! That much we all know. What may come as a surprise is that the little, gin-clear gem actually has some nice fish in it. Our guides have been crushing it up there recently. This is another river we’ll guide and instruct on all winter. Few things are as fun as a snowy day prowling the Fall in search of rainbow trout sipping tiny bugs. We’d love to show you around up there. Get a Half-Day trip booked soon so you’ll have a head start on the tricky little river. Call the shop to get a trip in the books 541-318-1616