Lower Deschutes River
5 DAY FORECAST
PRIME FEEDING TIMES
The Deschutes River in central Oregon is a major tributary of the Columbia River. The river provides much of the drainage on the eastern side of the Cascade Range in Oregon, gathering many of the tributaries that descend from the eastern, drier flank of the mountains. It provided a major route to and from the Columbia for Native Americans and later pioneers on the Oregon Trail. It flows mostly through rugged and arid country, and its valley provides a cultural heart for central Oregon. Today the river provides irrigation and is popular in the summer for whitewater rafting and fishing.
The headwaters of the Deschutes River is Little Lava Lake, a lake in the Cascade Mountains located approximately 26 miles (42 km) northwest of the city of LaPine. The river flows south into Crane Prairie Reservoir then into a second reservoir (the Wickiup Reservoir, from there it heads in a northeasterly direction past the resort community of Sunriver into the city of Bend. In Bend, much of the river's waters is diverted for irrigation; as a result, the river is much smaller when it leaves the city.
The river continues north from Bend, past the city of Redmond. As it heads north through the central Oregon desert; the river carves a gorge. By the time it reaches Lake Billy Chinook west of Madras, the river is approximately 300 feet (91 m) below the surrounding plateau, Little Agency Plains and Agency Plains. At Lake Billy Chinook (a lake formed by Round Butte Dam), the river is joined by the Crooked and Metolius rivers. There is no fish ladder at Round Butte Dam.
Beyond the dam, the river continues to flow north in a gorge well below the surrounding countryside. It passes through the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, including the city of Warm Springs and the Kah-Nee-Ta resort. There are two main sections of the river that are popular for whitewater rafting. The upstream section is a short segment upriver from the city of Bend. The lower and more heavily used section is from the town of Warm Springs downstream to just above Sherars Falls. The river ends at its confluence with the Columbia, 5 miles (8 km) southwest of Biggs Junction.
The river is world renowned for its fly fishing. It is home to a unique wild and native strain of Rainbow trout known locally as "redsides" or redband trout. The redsides grow larger than most and also have a distinct darker red stripe than most wild rainbow trout. They are abundant in this stretch of the river, which has counts of 1,700 fish of 7 inches in size per mile (1,100 fish of 18 centimeters in size per kilometer) above Sherars Falls, and they are noticeably stronger than trout who do not have to cope with life in such a big, powerful river. The average catch for these fish is 8 inches (20 cm) to 15 inches (38 cm), and some are much larger. These redside or redband trout are found throughout the river. Fishing for them is most popular from Warm Springs down to Macks Canyon. (Warm Springs Reservation owns the entire Deschutes West Bank from 16 miles (26 km) south of Maupin to Lake Billy Chinook and on up to Jefferson Creek on the Metolius River arm) below Pelton Dam. Fishing from Tribal lands requires special permits. From Pelton Dam to the mouth the Deschutes is one of America's most productive trout waters and a top producer of summer steelhead, managed primarily for wild trout. This 100-mile (160 km) stretch of river drops 1,233 feet (376 m), carving a volcanic rock canyon 700 feet (213 m) to 2,200 feet (671 m) deep.
Fly fishermen come from around the world in the last two weeks in May through the first two weeks in June to take advantage of the Stoneflies (both salmonflies and golden stones) hatch. These bugs are in the river year-round; however their large adults are a major food source for the fish. Weighted stonefly nymph patterns are a staple for Deschutes anglers and produce year round.
Sport fishing for Steelhead occurs in the river from the mouth to Round Butte Dam. Sport fishing for spring and fall chinook salmon occurs from the mouth to Sherars Falls. Tribal fishing for chinook and steelhead occurs at Sherars Falls.