Fly Fishing Bend Oregon - Middle Deschutes River
Mar 14, 2014
Fly Fishing in Bend, OR - On the Middle Deschutes River
You already know that Bend, OR has been voted as one of the North America’s top fly fishing towns. And, I given you taste of why in my previous blog post, when I shared some fishing highlights in the rivers/reservoirs south of Bend. To keep your appetite in check I’ll move further down river and explore the fishing opportunities in town and north of Bend, OR. This section of the Deschutes rive basin is know locally as the “Middle Deschutes River”.
I’ll take a brief side bar to share the boundaries of the Upper, Middle, and Lower Deschutes river. In the previous blog post, I shared fishing knowledge of the Upper Deschutes river. The Upper “D” starts at Little Lava Lake and flows 7 miles into Crane Prairie Reservoir. The “Crane” the river flows about a mile into Wickiup Reservoir, and then from Wickiup, it flows north to the city of Bend, OR. On the north end of Bend, irrigation diversions move the river across the basin, leaving the river as a fraction of it natural flow. From the diversion point north 40 miles the river is know as the “Middle Deschutes River”. The Middle “D” is in much better health now than it was 10 years ago, and the fishing opportunities are rebounding... but we’ll get to that. Lake Billy Chinook is a giant reservoir created by the confluence of the Middle Deschutes river, the Metolius river, and the Crooked river. From Lake Billy Chinook, and the Round Butte Complex (a series of dams the create the lake) the river begins to flow again. For the next 100 miles, the Deschutes River will flow with obstruction. This section is know as the Lower Deschutes River. The Lower “D” is the most recognizable river in the Oregon. Chances are, if you’ve read an article about the Deschutes river, it has been about this section of the river. A true Blue Ribbon fishery, anglers have the opportunities to catch wild rainbow trout and summer steelhead. The Lower Deschutes will be the focus of the next installment.
Back to the fly fishing in Bend, OR... There are numerous parks along the Deschutes river in Bend, but only a few of them offer great fly fishing. Places like Bill Heally bridge, First St. Rapids, Sawyer Park, and Tumalo park offer the best access with the best fishing. A large section of the Deschutes River in Bend OR is a giant lake (pond) called Mirror Pond (you may have drank the Pale Ale with the same name). While there are fish in the pond, there on too many and the productivity is limited.
Between Bend OR and Lake Billy Chinook, the access to the river is more difficult. There are large sections of private property and ruggedly step canyons that limit the access. A few of the best places to access the Middle “D” is at Tethrow Crossing, Lower Bridge, and Crooked River Ranch. My favorite time of the year to go fly fishing on the Middle Deschutes is in late April and early May. This is when the famous stonefly and salmon fly hatch happens. Both browns and wild rainbows eagerly eat the giant sources of protein.
In past 10 years, this section of the Deschutes has experienced a huge rebound in fish productivity. The work of the Deschutes River Conservancy has helped return over 150 cfs of water back into the river. They have accomplished this through collaboration with multiple stakeholders, to create water conservation projects that benefit both the river and those who need the water. Prior to the work of the Deschutes River Conservancy, the Middle Deschutes flowed at a faction of what it does today. With low river flows, the trout populations diminished and the in fishing productivity was poor. Now, the fishing in the Middle Deschutes river is great through out the summer.
If you would like some more information about the Middle Deschutes river, please give us a call or send us a message via email. Happy Fishing.