Fly Fishing South of Bend Oregon
Feb 18, 2014
FLY FISHING in BEND OREGON - South of Town
by Damien Nurre
Truly, Bend Oregon is the best fly fishing towns in North America. The accessibiltiy for anglers to catch a vast variety of freshwater species, from the famous wild red-band rainbow trout to 8+ pound large mouth bass, is unmatched. I can drive within one hour of my house, in any direction, and cast a fly to 10 species of salmonids, 4 pan different fish, and even a carp or two. On any day from May through November, I can fish rivers, creeks, streams, lakes and ponds and expect to catch a memorable fish. I’m yet to discover another fly angling destination with this amount of diversity - ok... maybe Chilean Patagonia.
My favorite fishing opportunities are found in the Deschutes basin - the Upper, Middle, and Lower sections, and other tributaries of the Deschutes river. Famous for the wild rainbows and summer steelhead, the Lower Deschutes is the most recognizable fishery in Central Oregon. While the Lower "D" is and will always will be my “home” waters, there are lesser know and equally as great fisheries elsewhere near Bend Oregon - many closer to town.
One of these is the Upper Deschutes River. The “Upper D” is really four segments, each with a distinctive character - the Headwaters, the Reservoirs, the Tailwater, and the “Town Run”. All four sections offer an opportunity at catching a trophy trout.
The Headwaters section begins at Little Lava lake, about 40 miles South West of Bend Oregon, and flows 7 miles, feeding into Crane Prairie reservoir. The most common access is from Cascade Lakes HWY, where numerous pull outs allow for easy entry to the river. When fishing the Headwaters, I recommend you use streamer techniques and cast your fly dangerously close to the down timber and under the cutt-banks around the bends in the river. The largest brook trout hide in the hardest to reach areas and are extremely opportunistic when they see a large streamer swim by. Dont be shocked when you pull out a 20+ inch brookie.
The Reservoir section consists of Crane Prairie reservoir, a short section of the Deschutes river, and Wickiup reservoir. All three fisheries hold HUGE trout! Crane Prairie is home to the famous “Crane-bow”; a strain of rainbow trout that grows to giant proportions. It is common for trout of 12-15 pounds to be caught out of Crane. The river between the reservoirs will fish best in June and early July. Again, I suggest streamer patterns to entice the trophy brown trout that inhabit this part of the river. By, mid July and August, most of the fish will have migrated back into Wickiup reservoir. The section of Wickiup, know as Sheep’s Bridge, will fish well until the end of August (September 1, this part of the river/reservoir is closed to fishing). Each year, trout and Kokanee salmon seek refuge from warmer waters in the springs that flow in this area. By the end of August, Kokanee will begin to spawn - giving the large rainbows and browns an easy food source. Angling in this area during the last days of August, can produce some of the biggest trout of the year.
The Tailwater begins below Wickiup dam, and begins the section of the Deschutes River that angling from the boat is allowed. The Tailwater was once fabled for it’s quality and amount of large brown trout, but due to drought and high water, the fishing is not what it once was. For the hardy anglers, looking for a solitary experience within a 40 minute drive of Bend Oregon, this is still a great option. While there are not as many trout per mile as other sections of the Deschutes, the few fish you will see, will be large... some very large.
Running from Wickiup dam, through Sunriver Oregon, the river winds it’s way into Bend Oregon. Just south of Bend, there is a series of waterfalls and rapids. Located only 10 minutes from town, this is the start of the “Town Run”. When water levels are right (aim for 400 cfs) the fishing in this section is world class. I’ve experienced afternoon/evening adventures in the section that have yielded more trout over 20 inches than anywhere else on the Deschutes. Despite it’s close proximity to town, it is uncommon to have much competition.
As you can see - there are many great angling opportunities near Bend Oregon. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites in the area south of town. In the coming weeks, I'll feature other great fishing opportunities near Bend. For anglers traveling to Central Oregon, be sure to give Deep Canyon Outfitters a call. The guide staff and I would enjoy sharing more information about the great angling opportunities near our hometown. We offer guided fly fishing trips 365 days a year, with the best fishing from mid April through mid November. For more information about a fly fishing trip in Bend Oregon, please contact us at 541-323-3007 or send us an email at email@example.com