Over the July 16th weekend, Ari and I were able to take advantage of the one-day guided Deschutes trip that we had won in BackCountry's drawing this last April. After spending a very pleasant night camping on the Metolius River near Camp Sherman, we met Mike Boyd of Deschutes River Outfitters in Madras, made the short drive to the Warm Springs boat ramp, and were drifting down the river before 10 AM Saturday morning. For the first 20 minutes or so, we floated close to shore keeping our eye out for rising fish while Mike described his strategies for summer trouting on the Deschutes and laid out the general plan for the day. Since the action on the surface had been good lately, we decided to spend most of the day (all of the day, as it would turn out - fine by us!) sight-fishing with dries and casting to likely lies along both the reservation and state sides of the rivers.
At our first stop, we were able to cast to several nice fish sipping drifting bugs along a cutbank, with two nice fish just missed and one landed in the 14" range, all on small caddis imitations. As we continued working our way down the river, alternately drifting and wading up through hand-picked spots, the action continued pretty steadily throughout the day. While the fishing was very good, the guiding was downright great. At each stop, Mike would place one of us on a good spot and worked one-on-one with the other, stalking up the river with us and clearly explaining where the fish should be and why, and how best to present the fly to them. At one stop, Mike and I crept up on a large rising fish in a tight spot and tried to work a cast in to him for at least 20 minutes, switching flies three times. We finally got a perfect cast in with a size 18 or 20 royal wulff, and were rewarded with a blistering run which almost took me into my backing. Unfortunately, after about 5 minutes of fighting, that fish was so far down river it was able to swing under a bank and pop the fly off. I wouldn't complain for a second, though, as the take alone was a great memory, and losing some of the big ones is always part of what keeps us coming back! Plus, we did have a 'trophy' anyway - one very roughed up royal wulff with the hook shank bent at about 45 degrees away from the point!
As promised, we finished up the day's fishing in a near blizzard of caddis, surrounded by splashy rising fish, and kept our flies on the water until we couldn't see them anymore. From there, it was a short drift under the stars down to our takeout at Trout Creek, and a quick drive back to Madras to end the day. All in all, we had a fantastic time and learned a lot, and are looking forward to making our way back to the Deschutes ideally later this season - as I like to say, I've got a few scores to settle...I think Ari might also, although she did land quite a few more fish that I did this time(!).
We also can't say enough good things about our guide. Mike was courteous, good-humored, patient with us and the river, very knowledgeable and just a really nice guy - plus he grilled a great lunch for us. We would not hesitate at all to go out with him again or recommend him to anyone wanting a top-notch experience on the river. (Deschutes River Outfitters) And, if you do go, here are a couple of other recommendations. First, make sure to get your licensing taken care of before the morning of - you need your regular Oregon State fishing license (of course), a Deschutes River boater pass, and a Warm Springs Tribal pass (in order to fish on the reservation side of the river). The last two are easily obtained on line, and you can just bring the printed out final form with you on the day of the trip. This will save you time and hassle the morning of your trip, and there is never a good excuse for running around trying to fill out paperwork when you should be fishing. If you're interested in staying in the area but the weather is not the greatest for camping, we would also recommend the Inn at Cross Keys Station in Madras. This is a relatively new hotel with very comfortable rooms, a pool and hot tub, and free continental breakfast. Room rates were also reasonable, at around $100/night.
Last, thanks especially to Jerry and Cathi for holding their Trout Madness drawing. That was a really generous prize (I would have been thrilled to win a box of flies!), and really made some memories that will last a lifetime. Thanks guys!
Matt and Ari
Thanks so much to Matt and Ari for this great blog and photos!
P.S. from BackCountry Fly Shop: We would love to book a trip for you with Mike Boyd/Deschutes River Outfitters! Give us a call or stop by!