Before the hustle and bustle of the salmon fly hatch and long before the dog days of caddis fishing, there is fun trout angling to be had on the Lower Deschutes. Especially with the new 2016 regulations, you can now fish the water between Warm Springs and the reservation boundary, which you traditionally couldn’t fish between January 1-April 28.
A few friends and I did a quick overnight float between Trout Creek and Maupin and it was great to be back on the big river trout fishing. The river is certainly running higher this time of year than its summer flows, which is good. It was around 5300 CFS when we were down there. Rainy and cloudy weather on Thursday had me thinking we’d see mayflies hatching and fish looking up, but it was most certainly a nymph game on our float. We found a few fish rising, but we were pretty much nymphing the entire time. In a few weeks time, golden stoneflies and salmonflies will be covering the streamside bushes and fluttering around in massive numbers on the Deschutes. That’s why during the month leading up to the hatch, nymphing with stoneflies is the ticket. The rocks are covered in them right now as they begin to make their way to the banks to complete the final stage of their life cycle, and the trout love ‘em.
A two-stonefly nymph rig is all you need. We had good success with Jimmy Legs, Tungsten Trout Retrievers, Beldar’s Stonefly, and the Peacock Stone. However, any of your favorite stonefly nymphs will work. The redsides were in great shape and strong as ever. There are certainly steelhead and Chinook smolt around as well and you’ll get those too, as well as the occasional whitefish.
Overall, April is an awesome month down there and if you can find the time to make a trip before the salmon fly crowds hit the river, it can be awesome. The hills are green with the spring bloom and its quiet and peaceful. The fish are active and hungry, too. Remember to always handle the fish with care and use barbless hooks. They have a long summer of angling pressure ahead of them and how us anglers treat the fish and the river reflects on the quality of the area as a whole for everyone who wishes to enjoy it.
Have fun out there!