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Salmon Fly Hatch

May 18, 2014

Fishing in Bend, Oregon – The Salmonfly Hatch on the Deschutes River

stonefly1.jpgThe Salmonfly are the largest of the Stonefly species that emerge on the Deschutes River in Central Oregon.  Because of their sheer size upon maturation (growing up to 3” in length), brilliant orange underbelly, and persistence in making their terrestrial emergence during mid-Spring, the Salmonfly hatch is an exciting time to be an angler on the Deschutes.  It’s mid-May and the Salmonfly hatch in Central Oregon has just begun.

Whether they are in pursuit of this particular Stonefly nymph before it leaves the water, or open their mouths to chomp on the adult version struggling on the surface of the water after falling from streamside grasses or trees, the wily native trout of the Deschutes River have the Salmonfly at the top of their food chain list.  And what trout wouldn’t?  Referred to as the “T-bone steak” of the bug world by Deep Canyon Guide, Michael Divita, this Stonefly species is prime meat.  

Living below the surface of the water for years before they crawl onto the rocks and brushy sides of the shoreline to shed their exoskeleton, the Salmonfly hatch is fished with many nymph patterns as well as the coveted dry fly.  Just as steelhead make their way up to spawning grounds in the Deschutes from the mouth every year, the Salmonfly hatch evolves upriver.  Stoneflies, in general, hatch all the way up to the spring-fed origin of the Deschutes at Little Lava Lake, high up in the Cascade Mountain Range and west of Mt. Bachelor outside of Bend.  Salmonflies don’t make it as far upriver as their other stonefly relatives but are prolific on the stretch of river between Warm Springs and Maupin.  Primarily accessed by drift boat fisherman, this stretch of river is designated Wild & Scenic and houses the biggest concentration of this exciting hatch.  After mating, female Salmonflies make a dramatic display of dropping their stonefly caviar “bricks” into the water, where the eggs float downstream and eventually lodge in the underwater rocks and topography of the Deschutes. 

 

 

stoneflies.jpgWith an abundance of prime grade meat making its way to land this time of year, the Deschutes River comes alive and is literally rippling with activity.  One can see the after affects of a trout going after a female that hovers above the water to drop her eggs from a distance of up to a quarter-mile.  The fish go after these bugs with an effect that looks “like a bowling ball that has been dropped out of the sky” relays Divita.  “It’s almost a little unnerving, being surrounded by thousands of big Salmonflies during this time of year…they are everywhere.  On the shoreline, on your boat, on your clothes, hovering above the water.”  Are you itching to get on the river, yet?

The famous Salmonfly hatch on the Deschutes is just getting going.  With temperatures predicted to be in the mid-seventies and with mostly sunny skies on the overnight stretch this week, this Central Oregon springtime affair will definitely be turned on for the coming few weeks.  If this larger than life hatch isn’t enough, the biggest and most beautiful Mayfly found on the Deschutes River, the Green Drake, makes its appearance at the same time as the Salmonfly.  Unlike the Salmonfly which captivates fisherman closer to shore, the Green Drake tends to emerge out in the riffles and further off the shoreline.  

The Salmonfly hatch presents itself as a grand buffet for fish, and fisherman, to feast on. “Salmonfly hatch is one of those bucket-list experiences that people plan for months in advance”, relays Deep Canyon Outfitters guide and co-owner, Damien Nurre.  If you aren’t booked on a Salmonfly trip this year, well, there’s always 2015.  The Deschutes River will be here.

To book a Salmonfly Hatch adventure - please call (541) 323-3007 or send us an email at info@deepcanyonoutfitters.com



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