Thursday, May 25, 2017

Brief update - guides reported late yesterday afternoon that the White River had gotten very dirty sometime during the day yesterday. This will negatively impact the fishing in the lower part of the river below the confluence with the White. If the fish can't see well, they can't see your bugs on the surface.

Overall, the hatch has just been so so this year. We have been getting nice fish on chubbies and Clark's stones here and there, but the fish don't seem to be lined up along the banks waiting for their buffet of stoneflies like we have seen them in past years. Don't know why, hope it isn't related to the tower operations - but I suspect that the trout are eating worms and snails on the bottom of the river because that is the biomass that has resulted from the poor quality water that the dam operators have been spilling into the Deschutes for several years now. The majority of the trout that we land have black spot disease, which they get from eating worms. Before the tower, no black spot disease, after the tower, the trout are now riddled with parasites. ODFW did a report on the health of the Deschutes trout and failed to even mention black spot disease....hmmm, you would think that might come up on their radar. Aren't they fish biologists?

We will keep you posted on the condition of the White River - perhaps a little drone footage later today so you can see it for yourself. As for the salmonfly hatch, it was really chilly last night and temps didn't get higher than about 70 degrees yesterday, so that will slow down the bugs that are here and in the bushes along the river. Most of the bugs are now in the Maupin area and upstream. Of course, golden stones and salmonflies are not the only players in the game this time of year, we should also remember that mayflies such as the Pale Evening Dun and the Green Drake will steal the show if they start popping off. Little yellow sally stoneflies are the little darlings of the Deschutes and they will be entering the limelight in the weeks to come - we have several species of yellow sallies, which means that they will be on the menu for at least 4-5 weeks.

I know that a lot of anglers only come to the Deschutes this time of year to fish the salmonfly hatch. I see the traffic patterns in the store. In terms of traffic and behavior of fellow anglers - you are seeing the Deschutes in, perhaps, her worst light. After the hype of this hatch passes by, the crowds of anglers disappear and the really good fishing begins. The trout get a little shell-shocked during the hatch and tend to sulk a bit after being hooked multiple times. They perk back up again when the crowds head for other rivers. I was guilty of being a salmonfly hatch only angler when I lived in Portland in the mid 1990s. It is such a fickle hatch that it usually disappoints a bit - "all these big bugs and I can't find a trout willing to eat my dry? I guess I'll nymph fish." It is a fickle hatch and you have to hit it on the right day with the right weather and the right moon and so on, but when it all comes together and you are hanging by one arm in the jungle water slinging big bug after big bug to eager trout in the trees, well, it's pretty magical. The hope is still alive and those days are still out there to be had this season. We have always said that the beginning of the hatch and the very end of the hatch are the most productive times for the big dries. I don't know if we are nearing the end, but a few more hot days will probably do it. Weather in the high 70s and low 80s this weekend may not be quite hot enough to get them all flying, so I expect the stones to stick around for at least a week or two longer. My prediction. Take it or leave it.

Let's end this report with another lovely fly fishing quote. This one is from "A River Never Sleeps" by Roderick Haig-Brown:

"A river is water in its loveliest form; rivers have life and sound and movement and infinity of variation, rivers are veins of the earth through which the life blood returns to the heart. Rivers can attain overwhelming grandeur, as the Columbia does in the reaches all the way from Pasco to the sea; they may slide softly through flat meadows or batter their way down mountain slopes and through narrow canyons; they may be heavy, almost dark, with history, as the Thames is from its mouth at least up to Richmond; or they may be sparkling fresh on the mountain slopes through virgin forest and alpine meadows."

Tight lines, Amy Hazel and the crew at Deschutes Angler Fly Shop

I usually write these reports between 5-6 AM in my living room - which happens to look out over the river I love. Here are some pics taken just outside my back door (we have a 900 foot cliff in about 60 feet from the edge of the patio!)


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

After two very hot days with temps in the 90s, a bit of a cold front rolled in last night and cooled things down. The weather trend, however, is for things to warm up through the weekend. Saturday's high is supposed to be 80 degrees and there is nothing but sunshine for the foreseeable future. The salmonfly hatch is still going strong with lots of bugs in the bushes and now on the wing. Despite the abundance of protein on the wing, fishing has not exactly been lights out on fire. It's hard to put a finger on exactly why that is. I had a guide trip on Saturday and found all of our fish on the dry fly, but we had to hit a lot of good water in between hook ups. I had a couple of great guys with whom to spend the day, and they were on board with fishing dry flies all day in search of trout who were looking up. We got fish on purple chubbies, Clark's stones, and we also got them on the purple parawolf, which is a mayfly imitation. We switched to the smaller bug after seeing lots of PEDs in the air, and the trout were quite receptive. .The most important thing for our success was to fish the shade on the water cast by the few overhanging trees. It was warm, and the float was busy, so we had to pick and choose our water carefully and hope that we fished it before someone else got there. Boats were pulling in all around us - you couldn't expect to even have a hundred feet of fishing water before the next boat pulled on in. Unfortunately, lots of the boaters pulled into the shade of the trees to get out of the sun, and plopped their anchors right on top of some of the best trout holding water. I also noticed a lot of boats rowing right over the water they then stopped to fish. I guess they wanted to give the trout a heads up that they were coming in.

It's Wednesday - hump day - middle of the week. How about a great quote from one of my favorite fly fishing authors to give you all a boost this morning? Before I go there, I want to say how much I love this time of the year - the big hatch brings people from all over the world to our little town of Maupin. I get to see old familiar faces, and I have the pleasure of meeting new people every day. This past weekend, our friend, Jeremiah, got together his favorite group of bamboo rod builders and lovers of cane rods. They camped at Wapinita campground and fished hard all week. Massimillano (Max) from Italy and who lives in Smithers, BC, happened into the fly shop as John and I were catching up with Jeremiah. Max also happens to build bamboo rods and he brought them out for us to cast. His rods were fantastic, with bamboo ferrules, and light in hand. Jeremiah welcomed him to the brotherhood of boo camping fest and everyone bonded over boo and good times in camp. This brings me to the quote of the day, from Steve Raymond's The Year of the Trout, "The trout has a way of rising to the floating fly that takes your breath away, and I love it for that and for what it will do after the fly is firmly taken. I love trout because they are honest and uncompromising creatures; no man was ever cheated by a trout. I love them because they have inspired me to seek a wider knowledge of the natural world, and such knowledge brings immense satisfaction and pleasure. And I love trout because they have led me into friendships with others who feel about them as I do, and such friendships make a man's life immeasurably richer."

Here are a few pics - a little eye candy from the river.

Chris Obuchowski stands over his 4 and 5 weight boo.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

It is an absolutely beautiful day out here on the Deschutes!! The sun has just creeped over the edge of the canyon and the sunrise is magnified by a few scattered clouds in the sky. My weather forecast calls for a 0% chance of rain today and a 100% chance of catching trout on big bushy dry flies. Yep, it is game on for the weekend with salmonflies and golden stones thick in the bushes, grass and trees along the river. Also thick along the river's edge, anglers who have been pent up in rainy dark weather all winter long. The word is out, the hatch is here.

We have had a very busy stretch of days in the shop since the weather started to turn to the bright side. Lots of anglers are here and many are fishing this hatch for the first time. There are a lot of expectations and, seemingly, a lot of disappointment because the expectations of some anglers are way out of line. First off, if you have come to the river expecting to see fish boiling and slurping big bugs off the surface, and all you have to do is add your dry fly to the buffet line for instant will be disappointed. This is not a "hatch" as you have read about/heard about/seen in fly fishing films/ watched in youtube videos/etc. The stonefly emergence is not really an emergence as we see in caddis or mayfly hatches - stoneflies do not have a pupa stage, they go from nymph to adult in one step and they EMERGE by crawling to the edge of the river in their nymph body, up onto a tree or blade of grass, and they shed that body to become an adult. Unlike a mayfly hatch, which will take place in the mid-day and last roughly 1-3 hours (during which time the trout are steadily rising for emerging mayflies, cripples and adults) this hatch lasts several weeks. The actual emergence of the stoneflies has been going on for 3 solid weeks, but the weather has not been conducive - until now - to allow the stoneflies to be super active. They are really just beginning to actively mate and will be flying today here and there with a few beginning to lay eggs.

If you are deep in the jungle-like banks along the river's edge, you may see the odd trout slurp a struggling stonefly who has fallen off a branch or clump of grass, but it is more likely that you won't see that. You have to be the one to create the opportunity for the trout to slurp or gulp your stonefly imitation by casting it up and under the overhanging trees and tight to the edge of the grass.

I know you think the trout are not "keyed in" because you stood at a boat launch and you threw several adult salmonflies and golden stones onto the water and they didn't get eaten! What? You mean to tell me that you stood in slow flat water about ankle to shin deep where there is lots of regular human activity and very little cover and you threw live bugs onto the water and not one monster trout ate your offerings? Of course not, you are standing in the field of vision i.e. UPSTREAM of the trout, AND there is no depth or cover that would define good holding water for trout... and it's a boat launch. Steep and deep. That's what you need to find. Don't expect to find a single campsite along the river near Maupin this weekend, but expect to find trout if you go to the places that they like, not the places that you like. Believe me, you will not like what you have to go through to navigate yourself to the best holding water for trout during the salmonfly hatch.

I have a guide trip today, and I am looking forward to fishing some great water with my guys.

Tight lines! Amy Hazel and the crew at Deschutes Angler Fly Shop



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Awoke to a rather cold and blustery day here on the east side of the Cascades. The sun is out but the clouds are looming and the wind is already blowing hard at 8:20 in the morning. Of course, the weather can change and things may calm down, but the start of the day looks a little grim.

My fishing report yesterday was a bit bland and straightforward because I was exhausted. We slept down by the river in a tent the night before and my very cold feet kept me awake despite the -20 degree North Face sleeping bag. So, I wrote a quick fishing report after stopping by the shop and went home to take a nap.

Two very well known fly fishing authors, Rick Hafele and Dave Hughes, spent the night at our house last night and we had some great bug conversations as well as conversations about fly fishing authors. Picking through my library in search of some aquatic entomology books, I came across Steve Raymond's book, The Year of the Trout. This was a book I had read years ago which had torn pieces of Post It notes sticking out of it all over the place. I started paging through it this morning and was happy to reread some of my favorite written passages on fly fishing.

One of the greatest things about fly fishing, to me, is the wealth of incredible literature and history that comes with the sport. I hope those literary riches are not falling by the wayside because young people are more concerned about Instagram and Facebook posts than they are about keeping a journal of their fly fishing experiences, or some record of the time on the water that they can look back on years from now to relive the experiences of their youth. Yes, they say a picture is worth 1000 words, but having an Instagram account of 100 grip and grin selfies (you and a fish) cannot match up to having a journal of your fishing which encompasses everything that happened on that day leading up to the selfie.

Before we had a fly shop I was guiding frequently and I followed John's advice to keep a journal every day as he had done since the 1970s. I purchased a Write in the Rain notebook and recorded the events of the day, including weather, water temperature, hatches, fish hooked, what type of habitat I fished, who I fished with, etc. etc. Reading back though those journals now is fun for me because it brings me back to that specific day, place, and time and I get to experience the fishing trip again. When a client came out the next year, I could review my journal from the previous years to recall the details of that client's past experiences. As we floated down the river and pulled into a piece of water, I could remind him/her that this is the spot where we hooked that nice trout under the tree branch, or where we saw the deer swimming across the river, or the Golden Eagle that dived and just missed the Blue Winged Teal. Those memories would otherwise fade away, but they can be brought back to life again through our recorded memories.

Here is a passage from Steve Raymond's book, The Year of the Trout that resonates for me:

"...various entrepreneurs have begun selling printed page forms with neatly arranged columns and spaces in which a trout fisherman can record just about any kind of technical information he could possibly want - water temperature and clarity, hatches observed and the time they began and ended, fly patterns used and results obtained, weather data, trout species caught and the length and weight of each, and so on and on. I suppose such forms have a proper place, but it always has seemed to me they are better suited for accountants than for anglers. Certainly they do nothing to encourage free expression."

Raymond continues: "It's not that I don't keep detailed records in my own journal, but I do so in my own fashion - and once having recorded the information, I seldom refer to it again. 'You can look it up,' as Casey Stengel used to say, and I can; but I hardly ever do. For I learned long ago that the best reason for keeping a fishing journal is to preserve the treasured experiences of a fishing lifetime - experiences that might suffer from distortion or disappear if left to the mercies of a frail human memory. Now I read my journal to relive those moments from the past. Its faded pages bring to mind old names and familiar places and revive the vivid excitement of times gone by. In it I can find triumphant words I wrote after the capture of my first steelhead, or the joyful account of my first salmon on the fly - along with records of unsuccessful trips that led up to those happy days."

I love that last sentence. "...unsuccessful trips that led up to those happy days." I had a lot of those. There were many days on my own when I explored streams and rivers and came away from the weekend having caught one or two trout. Each trout hooked gave me a tidbit of knowledge and those tidbits added up over the years, but slowly. That is the beauty of fly fishing or, for that matter, any pursuit which is complex and which takes years of patience and practice before you can truly excel. Besides fly fishing, there are many other pursuits which demand lots of time and a broad range of knowledge and skill before they are extremely rewarding. Many anglers also play golf, or golfers take up fly fishing. There are complexities to both sports that demand a lot of time and attention to detail and there is no easy shortcut to get you to a high level in either pursuit - nor would we want there to be. Woodworking, painting in oils of watercolor, sailing, drawing, fly tying, bird watching, all these things take a dedication to the craft in order to become successful.

In our fly shop I try to give anglers a tidbit of knowledge that they can take to the river for better success. It may be a hint at how to identify good holding water for trout, it may be a tidbit on what fly has been working the best in the past 24-48 hours, it may be a rigging tidbit, any little nugget of knowledge may help make their day a little bit better. A guided trip with a guide who is willing to work with you on your casting and who can teach you to read the water for dry fly fishing or nymph fishing - that guided trip can offer the angler a full day of tidbits, in some cases more than they could possibly process. I wish I had taken a guided trip early on - before I spent countless hours and days cluelessly casting flies to places where fish do not hold. I cruise down river these days and see many people fishing in places that are simply not productive - they don't catch many fish - but it's okay because they are gaining their first tidbits of knowledge by just getting out there and doing it.

This weekend's weather looks to be quite nice. The big bugs are in the bushes and ready to fly as soon as the weather warms up. I hope this is the weekend that it happens!

Tight lines, Amy Hazel and the crew at Deschutes Angler Fly Shop.


Monday, May 15, 2017

I just returned from a fund raising event for the Deschutes River Alliance which took place at North Junction - as high up as you can drive above the locked gate. It rained yesterday off and on which brought on some decent mayfly hatches. There were still quite a few silvery steelhead smolt in the river up there and they were going nuts in the backeddies. The smolt splashes were small but easily distinguished from the larger fish who were also feasting on mayflies. We mostly saw pale evening duns and the guides who met us at North Junction reported that the clients hooked most of their big trout on dry flies. There were plenty of stoneflies on the grasses along the river - it was a pretty even mixture of salmonflies and golden stones. Since the weather was cold and rainy on Sunday the stoneflies didn't get up in the air to do much flying, but as we were driving out today, the sun was shining and things were warming up. We saw a few splashy rises in the foam lines along the river. Yesterday, the big bugs were working on the trout. Chubby dries caught several really big trout and this will only get better as the weather warms up.

Rick Hafele and Dave Hughes were the featured companion anglers for this DRA fundraiser, and they are two of the most well respected authors and experts on the Deschutes. Rick and Dave did a bug sampling this morning and spread out the bugs in a white tray for all to see. We saw big salmonfly nymphs, golden stone nymphs, cased caddis, web spinning caddis, a sculpin, a few worms, lots of BWOs and Pink Albert mayflies as well as Pale Evening Duns. I have included a few of those photos here for you all to see:

Here are some photos from the river this morning. Here is what the grass along the river looked like this morning - lots of stones and lots of empty casings of the nymph skins left behind.:

This is JHC guide Evan Unti rowing clients down the river in search of the next great fishing spot.

When we talk about fishing the foam lines along the river - this is a classic example of the type of water you should try to find.

The coming week looks like it is warming up bit by bit and it should be nice by the weekend.

Tight lines! Amy & John Hazel and the crew at Deschutes Angler Fly Shop


Friday, May 12, 2017

Cool weather rolled in yesterday and the rain fell for a short time. This weather trend looks to continue for several days - even a full week as far as I can tell. Not the rain trend - just the cool weather. It is sunny and beautiful this morning, though there are a few clouds lurking about. I don't want to mislead anyone here, so I will tell you up front that I am not a meteorologist and can't see into the future, so the weather may get warmer and nicer in the next week but the experts in the field of weather are calling for temperatures in the 60s for highs through next week. What will that mean for the weekend? It is probable that you will not see too many stoneflies flying around. They like hot weather. They are here but they are spotty. Some areas have lots of bugs in the bushes and on the grass and other areas seem to be completely void of bugs. So, you want to go to the areas where the bugs are thick? Well, you have to go out and find them. From about North Junction to well below Macks Canyon (that's about a 70 mile stretch) there are stoneflies here and there. They are not thick like we have seen them in past years, and we don't expect them to be thick or flying until the weather and the water warms up significantly. Guides are reporting to me that they have hooked trout on dry salmonflies/stoneflies on the warmer afternoons and most are fishing with a bushy dry stone with a dropper underneath it. Nymph fishing also continues to be productive.

The White River is more or less back in shape - or it was yesterday afternoon. Perhaps a lot of rain fell on Mt. Hood and that could impact the color and flow of the White but the graph doesn't show anything major this morning. I usually have one or two guides who drive over the White on their way to the shop in the morning, so I get a daily read on it, but they are all on camp trips for the next several days, so I won't have a read on it today. The water is high below the White but the guides I have spoken with who are fishing in the stretch below Buckhollow have seen good populations of Salmonflies and Golden Stones down there (at least on Wednesday when it was warmer) and they are hooking some nice trout on dry flies that represent golden stones or salmonflies.

I was guiding on our private lakes on Wednesday - probably one of the nicest weather days I have ever seen up there. The wind was just barely coming and going, the lake was glassy, and the fish were rolling all day long. We had an epic callibaetis mayfly hatch after lunch that lasted for hours. The birds were going nuts grabbing the bug bugs, as were the trout. We fished dry flies for hours. The average trout was about 18" with several larger slabs. I was using my measure net, so it was easy to see the actual length of the fish - which was good because they look huge when you have an eye for river trout. The lakes will be open into early June, so give us a call if you want to go up there to get your rod bent.

I learn a lot from the customers that come through the doors of the fly shop and yesterday a woman came in whom I have known for a few years and whom I saw on Oregon Field Guide as she is an expert biologist who spent her career working on bat research. As I counted her flies at the checkout counter, we talked a bit about bats and I learned some fascinating stuff. I always thought of bats as little mice with wings - little fanged mean mice with gross leathery wings. I was amazed to learn that bats are not rodents at all, they are most closely related to lemurs - primates! What? I also learned that those little guys have a lifespan of 30-40 years! Say what? That's amazing. I have hooked bats on a fly on the Deschutes while fishing in the evening and have swiftly broken them off for fear of touching them (rabies is a real concern when it comes to bats) but I never realized that the little guys who were hovering around me when I first started fishing this river in 1994 might be that same little guys who are still hovering around me in the predawn hours when I am steelhead fishing today. They may not be the cuddliest little guys, but I have a new found respect for bats and look forward to learning a little more about them. They have been declining in population over the years everywhere - due to a few diseases and environmental shifts, and I have to say that I would be sad if they no longer welcomed me to the river in the early mornings or hovered around my caddis presentations in the last hours of fishable light.

Tight lines! We will see you on the river!

Amy Hazel and the crew at Deschutes Angler Fly Shop


Monday, May 8, 2017 12:45 AM

The cold front that blew on on Thursday night, which I reported on Friday morning in this report, put a little bit of a damper on the big bugs being super active this weekend. I was out for half the day on Saturday and had a hard time finding a single adult stonefly. Things got a little better on Sunday as the weather warmed up a bit and a few more bugs were spotted, but the temps just didn't heat up enough to warm the river or to get the big bugs really moving. A few campers have come in this morning reporting that they have seen a lot more stoneflies on the banks today than they saw all weekend. The weather is nice, sunny and calm, but I wouldn't call it hot enough to really spur the bugs to hatch off in huge numbers.

To the guy on a certain bulletin board who is ripping on my fishing report because he saw the announcement that the very first stoneflies were spotted last week and he is really disappointed because came out here this weekend and didn't see the big bugs or didn't catch fish on big bugs: sorry buddy. I just announced the appearance of the first few bugs - didn't say there were lots of them. If you do read my fishing reports regularly, I think you will see that I don't hype things. If fishing is tough, I will say so. If the river is blown out, I report that. I even take the time to fly a drone over the river so you can see it for yourself. After a long wet, cold, horrible winter, especially for the people on the west side, it was nice to announce that the very first stoneflies had been spotted. This signals the very beginning of what is typically a long (3 week)hatch. It is a very difficult hatch to hit right on the money. You have to come out to the river often through the month of May and get lucky by hitting the hot muggy weather one day when the bugs are flying. To you, sir, who wants to tear down my fishing report on a public bulletin board, go right ahead - I can handle it. I encourage you to go find out your Deschutes information elsewhere, maybe from one of the shops that updates their fishing report four times a year. People who read this report regularly and who rely on our shop for information know that we report what we see and that no report can be up to the second accurate because weather changes (as it did the day after I announced the first sighting of stoneflies) water conditions change (they did - and I reported the changes along with aerial photos) and how well one person does fishing this river will have a lot to do with their knowledge of where to be, where the best trout holding water is, what bugs to fish, what time of day to be in a particular spot, etc. etc. If I cannot fish personally, I only base my fishing report on information that I get from the guides who work for me who are on the river daily, a few select anglers in town whom I can trust to tell me accurately how good/bad the fishing/bug hatches/water clarity is, and one or two other guides whom I see regularly who will let me know of anything interesting or notable on the river.

I am headed down to the river now to check on the stonefly population and to take a few photos. I also want to let you know that the condition of the White River has improved over the weekend. It isn't clear, it is still big, it has some color in it, but it isn't the solid mudball that it was last Friday. It will probably be fishable down there in a few days. The next three days of warm weather will be good for ramping up the stonefly hatch, though the cold weather is forecast to come around again on Thursday and is supposed to stick around all weekend. Cold weather hurts the bug hatch but doesn't mean that the trout that have already keyed in on big bugs won't still grab one if it floats past. Cloudy cool weather can be great for big mayfly hatches - which is your backup plan during the stonefly hatch. On warm days the stoneflies are seemingly everywhere but POOF they disappear, or seem to, as soon as the temps drop down into the 60s. In reality, the stones can bury themselves deep in the grass to wait out the cold weather and they can be difficult to find. Keep the faith, the hatch has started and it will only get better as the weather gets better.

Tight lines!

Amy Hazel and the crew at Deschutes Angler Fly Shop


Friday, May 5, 2017 12:45 AM

Lots and lots of phone calls today - so I need to give you guys an update on what is going on in Maupin. We had two beautiful, hot, sunny days on Wednesday and Thursday followed by a huge rainstorm and lightning show last night with plummeting air temperatures. The stoneflies that did manage to emerge in the last couple of days are probably hunkered down deep in the grass today waiting for the return of the warm weather.

The White River turned into a roiling mudball which is blowing out the Deschutes below its confluence with the White. We just flew the drone down there to give you a bird's eye view of the river, but I won't be able to process the video footage for a few more hours.

Some anglers are having good success fishing a bushy dry stonefly pattern with a dropper bead head nymph. Others are finding more success using big stonefly nymphs or green drake nymphs on the bottom, using a few BB shot to get the flies down deep.

Next week looks promising with super hot weather on Tuesday and Wednesday, but the cold front comes in again by next weekend. These cold/hot/cold/hot cycles will certainly make the hatch last a long time, but may prove frustrating for those of you who only have weekends off. This has always been a really difficult hatch to hit right on - so many factors come into play that need to align perfectly to have the amazing salmonfly day of your dreams. High water flows are good for this hatch, they keep the fish tight to the banks and that's where the bugs will be too. Hot weather is an absolute must to get the stoneflies on the wing and actively crawling/flying/mating/falling into the water. A muggy slightly overcast hot day is ideal, but those types of days also trigger mayflies and you have to be ready to change to a PED or Green Drake if they start to emerge. Oh yes, THE WIND, it can be brutal. It is howling today but is supposed to taper off by Sunday.

The temps out of the Madras station show the water being released at 53 degrees. It gets warmer as it comes down to Maupin. The water temps usually trigger more stoneflies to hatch in the Maupin area before they start to hatch upstream near South Junction or Trout Creek. We will keep you posted on their density as the hatch goes on.

Tight lines! Amy Hazel and the crew at Deschutes Angler Fly Shop


Tuesday, May 2, 2017 11:45 AM

THEY ARE HERE!!!! Golden Stonefly ADULTS have just been spotted fr the first time this year in the grass alongside the river just a few miles north of Maupin!!!


Monday, May 1, 2017

The river finally dropped and dropped quite a bit over the last three days - from 6500 cfs out of Madras to 5340 today (Monday). It is cool and a bit cloudy today and tomorrow is supposed to be cool as well but Wednesday and Thursday are supposed to be warm - nearly 80 degrees and that should be just what we need to kick off the salmonfly hatch. Some of the trout are already looking up and grabbing adult stones even though we haven't seen any in the bushes. Judging by the voracity of the trout eating huge stonefly nymphs, however, we know for sure that the stonefly nymphs are active and probably drift migrating through the river as they stage for their next big step in life. Stoneflies (which includes salmonflies, golden stones, and little yellow sallies) can live for as many as three full years as nymphs and they do not have a full aquatic insect life cycle - they go straight from nymph to adult without a pupa stage. In the case of the stoneflies, they will move towards the edge of the river and find a stick or clump of grass or a tree trunk to crawl up. Once they are out of the water, they stop moving and cling hard to their chosen perch until they are able to break out of their nymphal shell and instantly become the winged adult stoneflies that we (and the trout) love. This emergence takes place under the cover of darkness, so the morning you wake from your riverside slumber could be the morning that the bushes are suddenly laden with big bugs. We expect that magical morning to happen any day now - especially with the weather warming and the water soon to follow. The bearded one predicts the beginning of the hatch to coincide with 55 degree water temps. Temps out of Madras right now are peaking at close to 52 degrees and temps down at the mouth of the river are peaking at 56 degrees. These temperatures are rising about 1/2 to 3/4 of a degree per day, and Maupin is about halfway between these two temperature stations on the Deschutes. What does that mean? ANY DAY NOW!!!!! The hatch is probably already starting down near Mack's Canyon, and it now makes more sense that a few guys this past weekend came into the shop to report that they had been hooking trout on dry flies - big bushy stonefly imitations - down on the lower access road just above Mack's Canyon.

So, the prediction for bugs in the bushes is going to be May 5 - crack open a Corona or make a Margarita and celebrate the arrival of the big bugs on Cinco de Mayo! The next question that always follows WHEN IS THE HATCH? is HOW LONG WILL IT LAST? and that one depends entirely on weather. Look at the previous paragraph and notice the difference in the water temperatures between the Madras and Moody stations. Madras temperature (at the lowest) today was 49.8 degrees and the lowest reading at Moody (near the mouth of the river) was 53 degrees. So, the water is warming as it flows through the canyon but temperatures this year are far lower than last year at this time, which is the reason that we had lots of bugs in the bushes by April 29, 2016. Last year on April 27 and 28 the temps out of the dam near Madras fluctuated between 54 and 59 degrees. Compare that to the same days this year and you will see that April 27-28 fluctuated between 49.5 and 51 degrees. Today, May 1, the high temp out of the dam is going to be close to 52 degrees and on this day last year the high temp out of the dam was 61 degrees! That is why the hatch is coming a week later this year - the high water, cool air temperatures and lots of moisture this year have kept the temperatures lower than in the past six years. Fortunately, we planned for the hatch to be a little later and all of our guide trips are lined up to hit this hatch perfectly.

So, now to the question of HOW LONG WILL IT LAST? that truly depends on the weather. If it gets hot fast and stays hot then the hatch may only last from May 5 to May 15. That, however, is highly unlikely. We usually see a few warm days followed by a few cool days and the bugs seem to completely disappear (though they are just deep in the grass waiting it out) and then things warm up again the bugs are out and about again flying over the river. Warm/Cold/Warm/Cold this is the trend during the month of May. It rarely gets to 90 degrees until the end of the month or early June. SO the hatch typically lasts 3 full weeks or longer if you count the little yellow sally which can last into the middle of June or longer.

The other thing to never forget during the salmonfly hatch is that the trout do eat other types of insects when they become available during the hatch. Mayflies are a favorite of the trout, and they will practically spit a salmonfly out of their mouths if the opportunity to grab a pale evening dun or green drake becomes available. So keep your options open in the coming three to four weeks - have your fly boxes well-stocked and ready for whatever the river may throw your way.

Tight lines,

Amy Hazel and the crew at Deschutes Angler Fly Shop


Thursday, April 27, 2017

The river is holding steady at 6500 c.f.s. out of the dam and it shows no sign of dropping past that anytime soon. The fishing continues to be good on most days despite the higher flow. Nymphing with big stoneflies is the name of the game right now, in fact most people are now running a double stonefly rig. Split shot is mandatory in order to get the flies down, a big heavy nymph will not cut it. Back eddies have been the most productive with slow riffles being a close second. The weather also looks promising this weekend and we are finally entering a warming trend which bodes well for the stonefly hatch. We will be sure to let everyone know as soon as we start seeing the big bugs. Our best guess is the middle to end of next week. If you are interested in a guide trip be sure to give us a call ASAP because the calendar is pretty full.

We also wanted to let everyone know that we are now offering both single and multi-day bass float trips through the month of June and into early July assuming there is still enough water. The John Day is heralded as one of the best small mouth bass fisheries in the U.S. and it is also one of the most stunning canyons in Oregon. The fishing is non-stop action on a variety of surface and sub-surface flies with the chance to catch some trophies. These trips are also great for up and coming young fly fishers because of the abundance of fish to keep their attention. If you would like to experience the fantastic fishing and scenery of the John Day give us a call. (541)395-0995.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

The lakes have been fishing well particularly if you hit a day with light winds. The windy weather this week has made the fishing a little tougher but if you are willing to adapt your tactics fishing can still be stellar. The forecast for next week looks super good with warm weather and light winds. The callibaetis hatch is in full swing in addition to morning and afternoon midge hatches. The dry fly fishing is best on the little to no wind days. Chironomid fishing under an indicator or stripping buggers and damsel larva have also been super productive when nothing is rising. Availability is limited on the weekends as of right now but we have plenty of room in the middle of the week.

Tight Lines,

Deschutes Angler Crew


Friday, April 21, 2017

Thursday night's rain put a little color in the river but the fishing yesterday was still decent, despite some strong and blustery winds. Saw a few March Browns and Caddis, but the mayflies were having trouble sticking to the water through the big gusts. There are gazillions of steelhead smolt in the water this time of year as well as a few juvenile salmon, and they are eager to attack nearly anything on the surface - so try out a few bug bushy dry flies if you want to catch lots and lots of ten-inchers. This weekend is the first of two FREE FISHING WEEKENDS in Oregon for 2017. This is a great time to bring a friend out to the river to see what fly fishing is all about. For not much more than a fishing license would have cost you for one day, you can rent a rod and reel at Deschutes Angler ($25) for your non-fly fishing buddy and have a great day on the river.

Last year we had a very dry warm spring and the result was a very early start to the Salmonfly Hatch. This year, we have the opposite - it has been wet and cold (I had frost on the windshield this morning). So, our crystal ball predicts the start of "The Hatch" to be slightly later. Definition of "slightly" is maybe 4-7 days, but that could be shorter (hot temps) or longer (cool temps) depending on the weather. If your schedule is flexible, watch the weather for the hottest days in the late first week or second to third week of May and you should be right on the money. If you have picked your days, then be prepared to roll with whatever the river gods throw at you - and that could mean switching from the big bugs to smaller mayflies like PMDs or PEDs if they outnumber the stones. Don't get locked in on salmonflies/stoneflies just because that is what you have been dreaming about for months. Sometimes during the hatch there are bugs that interest the trout a lot more than salmonflies/stoneflies.

The private lakes are still fishing really well. The bugs are popping and so are the heads of the trout all over the lakes. We are getting pretty busy on weekends, but can certainly fit you in on nearly any day Mon-Thurs.Give us a call and we can arrange a lake for you to fish for the day.

The weather is absolutely spectacular out here today! Calm, sunny, and wonderful for camping and fishing. We will see you on the river! Tight lines,

Amy Hazel and the crew at Deschutes Angler Fly Shop


Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Deschutes has been fishing surprisingly well over the last week and a half despite the high water. The flow is right around 7000 c.f.s through Maupin which is intimidating but certainly fishable. I guided on Monday and had outstanding fishing for this time of year. We nymphed all day and every stop produced a number of quality fish. Jimmy legs and March Brown emergers were are top producing flies fished under an indicator with 2 pieces of split shot. The fish were congregated in slow moving water about a foot to two feet off the bank. Fish were found further out in some of the back eddies. The fast moving rip rap walls produced fish in the slow pockets but be prepared to lose some flies. There was a decent hatch of March Browns and Blue Wing Olives but I didn’t see fish feeding on them with the exception of a couple of 3 inchers. The fishing should continue to be consistent throughout the weekend and weather report calls for some nice weather with the exception of Friday.

The lakes have been off the charts good this last week, in fact the best we have ever seen it. The fish are big and there are plenty of them eating a variety of bugs. Every person we have sent up there has come back juiced up about how good the fishing has been. Early mornings are best fished with a sinking line and your favorite leech, streamer or woolly bugger pattern trolled around the deeper sections of the lake. Around 11:00 a.m. the midges begin to emerge and this is the time to either chironomid fish or fish cripples in the surface film. By 1:00 p.m. the dry fly fishing really takes off with cripples and adults fished on top or in the surface film. I had some fish hit the fly so aggressively they broke the leader before I even lifted the rod. The guy I was guiding continued to fish chironomids throughout the hatch and he probably hooked over 50 in 4 hours it was unbelievable! I did see some callibaetis floating around on Sunday, I wouldn’t call it a hatch but they should be in full force any day now. The weekends are pretty busy from now until early June but there is plenty of room during the week if you cash in on a sick day. If you want to get up to the lakes give us a call at (541)395-0995.

Tight Lines,

Deschutes Angler Crew


Monday, April 3, 2017

The river is finally starting to drop a little and the clarity has improved dramatically. Most anglers that were out this weekend found success fishing every little slow pocket tight to the banks. Almost every angler we spoke to was nymphing deep to find fish and no reports of the much anticipated March Brown hatch. This is is typically the time of year those bugs start to show so I have to believe it will be any day now. Jimmy legs and March Brown soft hackles were the top performing bugs primarily fished under an indicator with at least 2 pieces of BB shot. Hopefully the river continues to drop a little each day throughout the week which would put it at a prime level come this weekend. We will keep everybody posted.

The lakes are money right now!! Both Grass Valley and Shaniko have been fishing super well with a mix of tactics. Midges have started showing up in the mid-day offering plenty of dryfly opportunity. Chironomid fishing and stripping leeches has also been extremely productive throughout the day. All the lakes have fish of all ages from 10 inches to well over 20 inches and everything in between. We could not believe how healthy the fish looked and how well they survived one of the most brutal winters we have had in this area. The lakes were literally frozen over with 3 feet of ice for 3 months and the fish not only survived but somehow thrived. We still have availability for the cabins if you would like to spend a couple days on the ranch. If you are interested give us a call at (541)395-0995.

Tight Lines,

Deschutes Angler Crew


Friday, March 31, 2017

The river got a little color in it over the weekend and early this week due to a bit of rain. The flows out of the dam near Madras have dropped 1000 CFS in the past few days and the over all flows (from the gauge at Moody near the mouth of the Deschutes) are down 1500 CFS which means that the tributaries are also dropping a bit. The river is pretty mighty, though, and we urge caution for those who are fishing. One misstep and you could be going for a very ugly swim. It is spring break right now and we have seen a lot of families out and about. This is great! Get your kids outdoors! Just keep them close while you are along the river, especially with the high water.

Nymphing will continue to be your best bet for fishing the high water. It is raining again out here right now, so any bit of color in the water caused by runoff will make your flies a bit more difficult for the trout to see. Use black or bright red - at depth, black is the color that fish can see the best. Fishing high water requires weight, lots of weight, in order to get your flies to the bottom where the trout are holding. 4-5 BB shot minimum for these flows and you might want more. One trick I use is to wrap the BB shot in tungsten putty. We have putty called Tung Fu.

It's been a rough winter for many anglers - lots of rain, high water, blown out rivers, and more rain. If you want to cure those wintertime blues, dust off your trout rod and hit our private lakes. The lakes have been fishing really well this spring and they are only going to get better in the next six weeks as more and more hatches start happening and we get good dry fly action all day long. Last week we did a little drone flyover of the lakes in Grass Valley on the Justesen Ranch. This is one of three venues we have on the ranch, so we have lots of room to spread anglers out on the lakes in Grass Valley as well as in our other two locations, Shaniko and Jackknife Canyon. Check out the video here:

We look forward to seeing you all when you get out to Maupin! Thank you to all of you who have supported us over the winter by ordering fly tying materials, waders, and other items on our website. It truly keeps us alive all winter. Supporting your local fly shop is more important than you may realize now. We do more than simply sell you gear, we support local non-profits by donating gear and trips to their auctions, we fight for the river by supporting and volunteering for Deschutes River Alliance, we donate thousands of dollars in merchandise to fly clubs from Portland to Southern Oregon, we keep you up to date with fishing reports all year long, we update you almost daily on the condition of the White River during steelhead season, and we keep our doors open year-round to serve you when you arrive in Maupin.

If you like shopping for your fly fishing stuff online, you might take a close look at the store you choose to support. Is it really a fly shop? Do they sell flies? I am talking individual flies, not pre-packaged selections from manufacturers. If they do not sell flies, they are likely a warehouse "fly" shop. What is wrong with a warehouse fly shop? Well, they don't do much to give back to the industry, to teach classes, to donate fly gear to clubs or schools or to non-profits. They have poor knowledge of the gear because many of the owners don't fly fish. They are likely to push you to sell you what they have not what you need. They won't have some top brands of rods or reels because those top brands refuse to sell to them due to their poor business practices. If you call to order a brand that they don't sell, they often badmouth the brand because they are trying to sell you something else (these are horror stories I have heard from customers who have sworn never to go back to these warehouse shops again). Order a rod from this warehouse store and they take your money, try to order the rod from the manufacturer to be drop-shipped (they don't have a showroom and don't stock inventory - why would they? They don't have any place for real customers to come into the shop to talk about and then cast the rods.) If the manufacturer doesn't have the rod, then they hold your money while you wait weeks for the rod. They might offer you some percentage discount on your gear, but they will charge you for every little thing - like $15 for every 100 yards of backing, or even charge you for the service of putting backing on the reel you just bought from them. Your discount isn't really a discount if they overcharge you for backing which most "real" fly shops will actually put on your reel for free.

Okay, I got off on a little rant there! All I am saying is that this is a very small industry, and I am seeing good fly shops with hard-working, honest, die-hard angler-owners go down in flames. Why? Well, for many reasons for sure, but part of the problem is that anglers are sometimes unaware that the rod you buy at a big-box store like Cabela's or Sportsman's warehouse or Bass Pro, or dozens of other big-box store disguised as fly shops.....that exact same rod will cost you exactly the same at your small local fly shop. Your small local fly shop may also walk you out to the park to give you a few casting pointers. The small local fly shop will see to it that you understand how to set your new rod up with the proper nymphing rig, or dry fly rig, and they will even give you pointers on where you should go on the river to have the greatest chance at success. As those small fly shops that serve destinations like the Deschutes die off due to lack of support from the fly fishing public, so too will our sport. Please think about that before you make your next purchase. Cheers, and Tight Lines!

Amy Hazel and the crew at your local fly shop, Deschutes Angler.


Friday, March 24, 2017

The river is still running high - but the good news is that it is not dirty. When I say high, we are looking at about 12,000 cfs through Maupin. Many of the small islands are submerged or partially submerged and the river is moving at quite a fast clip. In some areas the standing waves are much bigger than you see when the river is flowing at half this volume, and other rapids have virtually disappeared. If you are familiar with the river, you may recall a gravel bar and small island mid-river just downstream of the Maupin City Park - the small tree on that island is the only thing out of the water. Many places where you can safely wade and fish during normal flows are 4-5 feet deep and running fast. Trees are standing in water with 10-15 feet of water between them and the bank. So, in order to fish this water effectively, you will need a couple of things. First off, it is going to be a deep nymphing game. You are going to need weighted flies and weight in addition to the flies. We are talking 3-5 BB shot size pinch-on lead weights on your leader about a foot above your point fly. Some people may find that 3 BB shot slathered in tungsten putty (Tung-Fu) will be most effective and will keep the split shot from spreading out on the leader. After all this weight on the leader, the fly can be of the slightly weighted or even unweighted variety (Jimmy Legs with San Juan Worm is a good fly combo) as long as you have sufficient weight on the leader in the form of multiple split shot. The fish are holding tight to the bottom of the river and in some cases in backeddies because these are the areas where they have to fight the strong current the least. The water on the bottom of a river is always a lot slower than the water on the surface so this is an easier place to hold if you are a fish. If you are not ticking the bottom or getting hung up once in a while, you do not have enough weight on the leader. Second, you will have to find the water that is fishable at these flows. Look for places where the water is deep right off the bank but not running super fast. I would not suggest wading out or even wading at all. The current is swift and the water is cold!

So, should you wish for a more serene experience that does not entail raging rivers, our private lakes are open and are fishing well. We were up there yesterday, and it was a little slow to start due to the cold water in the morning, but once the fish warmed up they started to eat eat eat and were were on them all day with midges, buggers, and even had some decent top water dry fly action. I was up there just to take pictures and JT flew his drone over each lake to get some good shots from the air - so the actual fishing was handled by John and fellow Deschutes guide Matt Carter and his friend, Lanie. It was a good day. We can get you up there any day this weekend or coming week. It is a great place to put a deep bend in your fly rod to start the season off right.

We will see you on the river or in the shop!!

Tight lines,

Amy Hazel and the gang at Deschutes Angler


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Well the river is running super high this week and it is virtually unfishable. Our guess it the Deschutes is right around 12,000 c.f.s. through town right now which makes for a quick boat ride. I wouldn’t expect conditions to get much better before the weekend based on the amount of rain we are predicted to get throughout the week. If you do venture out to the Deschutes, fish carefully because the river is moving super-fast. If conditions do improve we will be sure to let everyone know.

If you are still itching to fish, our lakes are open and fishing well. The weather up in Grass Valley looks wet but with light winds throughout the weekend which is a good combo. We still have availability at both the Grass Valley lakes and Shaniko. Give us a call if you need to scratch the itch at (541)395-0995.

Tight Lines,

Deschutes Angler Crew


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

I am sure with all the rain the state is getting that many of you are hoping the Deschutes is in shape. Unfortunately the river is pretty darn high and off color. I wouldn’t say it is completely blown out but the fishing conditions are certainly difficult. If you do decide to brave the big water focus your attention on any little pocket that slows down and be sure to fish your flies deep. Most of these pockets are only 5 to 10 foot stretches so you need to makes sure the fly gets down quick. Big stoneflies , San Juan worms and red lightning bugs are the best bugs to use in these conditions. There are Skwalla stones, Blue Wings and a few March Browns around but I would bet the dry fly fishing would be tough.

On the brighter side our Private Lakes are now open and fishing well if you apply the right tactics at the right time of day. This time of year it is critical to have both a floating and sinking line setup to maximize your opportunities. Mornings are best with a sinking line fished fairly deep 6 to 8 feet below the surface with any kind of leech pattern. The water is still cold so be sure to retrieve the fly on long slow strips. From about noon on there will be opportunity to fish chironomids in the shallower end of the lake. Typically an indicator is placed 3 to 5 feet above the chiromonid and tie the fly on a loop knot to give it the most realistic presentation. You have to be stealthy in the shallow end so approach as slowly and quietly as possible. Based on the weather forecast I would say Friday and Sunday are the 2 best days to fish the lakes. Saturday looks to be a bit windy with wind 20-30 mph and gusts to 40 mph so don’t even bother. If you are interested in fishing the lakes gives us a call at the shop (541)395-0995.

Tight Lines,

Deschutes Angler Crew


Friday, March 10, 2017

John and Evan did a little R&D yesterday on the Justesen Ranch lakes and the news is good! We were, frankly, a bit concerned that the long and very cold winter was hard on the trout. We have never had a winter kill, which is fairly amazing, and this year was no exception. The rainbows are thriving, fat, and happy. The variety of sizes of trout was excellent. All of the trout were fat and well-fed, thanks to the huge variety and abundance of aquatic insects in our lakes, and the older trout are pushing 20-24" while the younger ones are coming in at 15-16" but FAT. A few of the lakes still have a bit of ice in places, but today is a warm and beautiful sunny day, so the ice is short lived from here on out. We have dozens of lakes, so it is not a problem to get on the lakes at anytime and any day from now through early to mid-June. John and I are headed up on Sunday to see a few new lakes on a 9000 acre parcel that the ranch has added to their holdings. If any of you subscribe to Northwest Fly Fishing Magazine, you may have seen the article that I wrote about our private lakes in their latest issue.

The Deschutes River comes alive in March, and we have just the kind of weather to bring about some bug hatches. I am down by the river right now and there are caddis flying around as well as a few BWOs (despite the sunshine). The mayfly that we are waiting to show itself in the next few weeks is the March Brown (rhithrogena morrisoni) which is a large mayfly with a wing that looks way too big for its body. This hatch used to take place mainly in April, but the water temps being released from the dam are so much warmer in the past 6-7 years, that the March Brown might actually live up to its name. As per most mayfly hatches, the cloudy or slightly rainy