Deschutes Salmon Fly Hatch 2016

Ahhh, it’s that time. Dry fly fishing is here on the Deschutes. I switched over from having my 5 switch rigged with jimmy legs and a small copper john and my 5 rigged with some soft hackle (sometimes a small dry) to both rods rigged with big foam drys. Always having one chubby chernobyl, sometimes two, or another experimental stone fly pattern. Basically a chubby with a wing, more elaborate body, and more interesting legs. These fly’s are really fun to fish.

I hit the hatch on Wednesday, 5/4 and oh my was it good. I didn’t fish long but nailed 7 healthy adults in 2 different locations. The fish were feasting. I saw big stone’s and salmonfly’s flying and crawling on the shore everywhere in large numbers. I saw big mayfly’s in decent groups mid afternoon. I saw tons of dense caddis balls grow in numbers progressively from when I got there at 1pm until around 6pm. The fish had options, and seemed to be clued in. I only fished big foamy’s, but I saw and heard fish gorging constantly.

I got there and stopped at some nice big pools near some rough rapid that gave a few options for pools, recirculation, and rapids. The hike down was steep and gnarly, but infested with big stone’s. I setup camp on a peninsula boulder that gave lots of options to fish different water, and had a nearby tree creeping over the water. Scaling my way up the boulder I caught a glimpse of a fish devour something on the water. All I saw was a tail and a lot of water move, but the sound was music to my ears. I gained composure and my ninja like hunting instance kicked in, allowing me to safely and quietly creep into position. I was rigged and fully in hunting mode. As soon as my two feet supported all my weight, and I was towering on the boulder, my hands were carefully letting line out and prepping the rod and fly to cast. A quick one two, three four, hell probably 8 pseudo casts and then bam. 25 feet of line out dart past my ear into a narrow cavity between the water and tree only I can see. The line extends in front of me, telescoping until the tension hits the leader. The light tapering fluorocarbon leader takes the momentum effortlessly, rolling my fat foamy fly gracefully to do one last flip and land dubbing down. It barely made a wake and landed 36 inches under a tree branch. You see the fly hit the water for the first time and admire how buoyant the dubbing is at his time. Everything was as good as it gets, but I was still hunting. Fixated on the white yarn on the top of my fly, I gradually take line as the recirculation pool brings the fly back to me. And then, bam! I see the water around my fly build and a bow’s tail flash as my fly disappears. It truly was as good as it get. First cast in that pool I landed a healthy redside.

It continued like that, I pulled 4 out from that boulder. I found the more effort you put in each cast, and the hunt, the more effective. One nice cast to get you fly to land before the top of the rapids, and allowing it to take its course through rough water was essential to catching fish. I found them in deep pools, rough rapids, and under trees. The more confident I was that fish were where I was casting, the more fish I caught. I kept to only casting in the terrain I mentioned and often casted the same spot 4 or 5 times before getting a bight. Keep all that in mind and go fish a size 8 chubby on the lower d. Seize the opportunity.

I am headed back on Monday, probably to warm springs or maybe even the middle d. I hear the hatch will move to warm springs then, and I am also interested in the action on the middle d near redmond or terrabonne. There’s a lot of browns in the middle and upper and if they are clued in on the big bugs it could be a great time. I have heard that the middle part was going in late april so we will see.

here are a few pics from Wednesday:





######## UPDATE ########

I had a few more days after I posted the first part of this post, they were by far some of the best days I had every fishing the salmon fly hatch, and trout fishing. This year, the hatch was epic. I think anyone that was on the lower d in the prime of it can say this. The fish were clued in, and there were plenty of bugs. Here are a few photos from the hatch: