by: Charles Gehr
Before joining the Fly Water Travel team, I guided for five years on the Deschutes River for trout and steelhead. I was lucky to guide and learn the finer points of spey casting technique and tackle under the watchful eye of long time Deschutes veterans John and Amy Hazel. Guiding over 150 days a year for them gave me a graduate-level steelhead education that I will always be grateful for. In my opinion the Deschutes is one of the great steelhead fisheries in the lower 48 and over the years I really grew to enjoy sharing it with others. I had been away from guiding on the river for two years when Chris O’Donnell came to me with the idea of hosting/guiding a Deschutes steelhead trip with him. Neeless to say I couldn’t have been happier to have a chance to share my love for this fishery again so I jumped at the opportunity. Chris is owner/operator of River Runner Outfitters in Maupin, OR. Although he is one of the younger outfitters on the river he has already established himself as one of the hardest-working guides on the Deschutes providing an incredibly high level of service. Besides that he is just a really nice guy and so I was totally excited to get back on the water with he and his guide crew.
With only a few days left in the month of August we launched three guide boats for a four day float trip. I enjoy fishing the lower Deschutes at that time because steelhead are reliably entering the system and early September in central Oregon means long days of warm, stable weather. This time on the Deschutes also means favorable water temperatures for floating line fishing. True to form, nearly all of the fish on our trip were hooked on floating lines.
Steelhead days on the Deschutes generally start well before dawn and this trip was no exception. We rose early each morning in order to be standing in the water at first light and take advantage of prime steelhead hours. After fishing hard all morning and early afternoon our group would meet at a shady area by the river for lunch and an afternoon rest. By late afternoon we got back in the river for the evening session, fishing until dark.
So…how was the fishing? It was steelhead fishing. Our first two and a half days were what I’d call “normal steelheading”. That is, one or two fish per person per day and someone in the group having a blank day. On the evening of the third day our camp was set up on a very productive run. Comparing notes with the other guides, we had all witnessed steelhead rolling in our camp water. This was the push of fish we were hoping for. That evening the camp water started producing steelhead. Our final morning everyone in the group had caught at least one fish before leaving camp. That last day we all enjoyed productive steelhead fishing. It’s always nice to go out with a bang.
Like most of my best trips I learned a lot on this one, such as:
- Nick and Nate, guides for River Runner Outfitters, are both passionate anglers and guides who have their own unique skill sets and styles of guiding.
- Chris O’Donnell is a darn good cook.
- I still know how to catch steelhead on the Deschutes.
- I’m really looking forward to fishing with Chris, Nick and Nate more in the future.
See my pictures from this trip here
Chris and I have already set dates for our trip next year. Give me a call if you’d like to join us!