Deschutes River Fly Fishing Guide: Licenses, Seasons & Top Spots

The Deschutes River in Central Oregon is a true fly fishing paradise, renowned for its wild rainbow trout, scenic beauty, and diverse angling opportunities. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a newcomer to the sport, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the essential information to make the most of your Deschutes River fly fishing adventure.

Obtaining a Fishing License for the Deschutes River

To legally fish the Deschutes River, you’ll need to obtain the appropriate fishing license from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). Here’s what you need to know:

License Requirements

  • Resident License: If you’re an Oregon resident, you’ll need to purchase an annual or temporary Angling License.
  • Non-Resident License: For non-residents, an annual or temporary Non-Resident Angling License is required.

You can purchase your license online through the ODFW website or at authorized license vendors throughout the state.

Additional Permits

In addition to your fishing license, you’ll also need:

  • Deschutes River Boater Pass: Required for any boat or flotation device on the Deschutes River.
  • Warm Springs Tribal Permit: Necessary for fishing on the Warm Springs Reservation section of the river.

Ensure you have all the required documentation to avoid penalties and fines.

Deschutes River Fishing Seasons and Regulations

The Deschutes River offers excellent fishing opportunities throughout the year, with different seasons and regulations for various fish species. Here’s an overview:

Trout Fishing

  • Season: The trout fishing season typically runs from late April/early May through October 31st.
  • Catch Limits: The daily bag limit for trout is five fish, with no more than one over 20 inches.
  • Gear Restrictions: Only artificial flies and lures are permitted. Bait fishing is prohibited.

Steelhead Fishing

  • Season: The steelhead season generally runs from late June through mid-November, with peak months being September and October.
  • Catch Limits: Catch-and-release only for wild steelhead. Hatchery steelhead may be retained, subject to ODFW regulations.
  • Gear Restrictions: Fly fishing only, with barbless hooks required.

Be sure to check the latest regulations from the ODFW before your trip, as seasons and limits may change.

Top Fly Fishing Spots on the Deschutes River

The Deschutes River offers a diverse range of fishing opportunities, from serene pools and riffles to challenging whitewater sections. Here are some of the top spots to explore:

Lower Deschutes River

The Lower Deschutes River, from Warm Springs to Trout Creek, is a popular destination for guided float trips. This 10-mile stretch offers excellent dry fly fishing during the summer months, with hatches of caddis, stoneflies, and mayflies. Expect to encounter wild rainbow trout, known as “redsides,” averaging 13 inches in length.

Deschutes River Canyon

For a true wilderness experience, consider a multi-day float trip through the Deschutes River Canyon. This remote and scenic section, guarded by the infamous Whitehorse Rapids, offers uncrowded fishing and opportunities to target both trout and summer steelhead.

Deschutes River Tributaries

Don’t overlook the smaller tributaries of the Deschutes River, such as the Metolius River and Fall River. These spring-fed streams offer crystal-clear waters and excellent dry fly fishing for native trout species.

Enhancing Your Deschutes River Fly Fishing Experience

To make the most of your Deschutes River fly fishing adventure, consider the following tips:

  • Hire a Local Guide: Experienced guides can provide invaluable knowledge, techniques, and access to prime fishing spots, especially if you’re new to the area.
  • Respect the Resource: Practice catch-and-release whenever possible, and follow all regulations to ensure the sustainability of the fishery.
  • Prepare for the Elements: The Deschutes River region can experience extreme temperatures and weather conditions. Pack appropriate clothing and gear for your comfort and safety.
  • Explore Beyond Fishing: Take time to appreciate the stunning scenery, wildlife, and natural wonders that surround the Deschutes River.

By obtaining the proper licenses, understanding the fishing seasons and regulations, and exploring the diverse fishing spots, you’ll be well-equipped to embark on an unforgettable fly fishing adventure on the Deschutes River.

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