Welcome to 2018, April. Arriving with you are cloudy, mild days and mayflies fluttering angelically around this desert oasis. Below the water’s surface, vulnerable stonefly nymphs tumble down turbulent riffles, and drift across vibrant weed beds where hungry trout enthusiastically feast on the bounty that warmer weather has brought. Hues of green replace shades of grey amongst the towering hills and canyon walls. Sunshine and rainfall exchange blows like two boxers in the ring. Spring has sprung.
Year after year, I realize it more and more: Spring is my favorite time to trout fish in Oregon. While high water and bipolar weather can pose a challenge to anglers, the fishing can still be outstanding, and there are very few people on the river to compete with. That’s not to say summer isn’t spectacular—in a few weeks time we will have gargantuan salmonflies making a scene on the grassy banks of the Deschutes. After that, hoards of caddis take to the trees and make for some technical but classic dry fly fishing. Until then, the mid day mayfly hatches and copious amounts of nymphs in the river will have to keep us busy. And this past weekend, the gang and I stayed plenty busy.
We floated from Trout Creek to Maupin, and although you cannot fish above the reservation boundary until April 28th, there is more than enough water on the latter half of the float to enjoy.
Spring is all about timing. Making sure you are in the right place at the right time when the March Browns and Blue Winged Olives begin hatching is crucial. This time of year, it tends to happen during the early afternoon (1pm). It is a sight to see; a riffle or back eddy that was quiet ten minutes ago can transform into a feeding frenzy. The duration is short, and it is sensational to witness the fish explode into life once the insects begin to appear–two characters of our natural world so mysteriously in sync.
A few of the dries we had the best luck with were the Heavy Hackle Parachute Adams and the H & D March Brown. Before and after the hatch, nymphing stoneflies and small mayfly patterns can be very consistent, especially on warmer days. We turned to Pat’s Rubber Leg Nymph and the Jigged Hare’s Ear to get the job done for us in these scenarios.
When you’re not fishing, the company in your boat, beer in your hand, Big Horn Sheep in the hills, and Bald Eagles overhead continue to leave you smiling no matter how many times you’ve found yourself winding your way through the desert canyon.