While it was once the prime time of the salmon fly hatch, June is now a transitional period when it comes to insects on the Lower Deschutes. However, just as the salmonflies begin to thin out, so do the crowds, and that is why June can be phenomenal on this desert oasis of a river.
The story of our float from Warm Springs to Maupin last week is an interesting one. With rain and mild to warm temperatures in the forecast, we really did not know what to expect. Would there still be salmonflies in the upper river? Would the mayflies be out due to the forecasted conditions? Would we be lucky enough to see some green drakes? The answer is yes, to all of the above.
In terms of weather, we had stints of rain and mild temperatures, which would quickly transition to sun and warmth. It was very “fishy” weather, and extremely conducive to lots of insect activity. In the upper part of the river there were still fish willing to eat a golden stone dry, but I think that in the past few days that hatch has tapered off completely. Once we got below Whitehorse Rapid it was an assortment of bugs. Whenever the clouds would roll in and there’d be a sprinkle of rain, there were tons of PMDs and a few drakes fluttering around. Once the cloudy skies gave way to sun, the caddis would be out in numbers. It was fun, constantly-changing fishing that kept us on our toes the whole time, but there was no denying that the fish were willing to eat on top so long as you were able to determine what each individual fish was rising to. And of course, nymphing was producing fish as it so often does on this river.
Some of our favorite flies for June on the Lower Deschutes are the Peacock Caddis, X-Caddis, Sparkle Dun PMD, Sparkle Pupa, Clarks Stone, Outrigger Yellow Sally, Extended Body Green Drake, and the Jigged Tungsten Prince Nymph.
The most memorable part of our float wasn’t the fishing. It was spending the duration of it with great friends and taking our friend Nick down the Deschutes for the first time. He was blown away, and rightfully so. In my opinion, there are few places as stunning as the Deschutes between Trout Creek and Maupin. It’s truly tough to beat a river trip with your best friends. If one of us was fishing up a riffle or tree line, the rest of us were wading along behind, wishing more to experience those times together than each of us splitting off and fishing solitary.
Whether you can carve out time to head to the Lower River this month or anytime this summer, regardless of the fishing it never ceases to amaze. As these consistent, hot days become the norm, caddis will become the standard fare down on this stretch and that can be some of the best dry fly fishing of the year, especially at last light. Cheers to Summer!