July Steelhead on the Deschutes 2017

July Steelhead Season



This is a really cool fishery and honestly one of my favorite times to fish the Deschutes River for summer steelhead. This is a lower river game. By lower river I mean the lower 3 to 12 miles of the river. For years I’ve been doing a 4th of July float from Mack’s Canyon to Heritage Landing. Honestly, steelhead encounters are about every other year. In years when I can drag my jet boat up the river on the 4th, I’ve never been shut out. Keep in mind I’m usually the only one fishing minus a couple walk in dudes. Four years ago I went up July third with the local Fish Boy and we hooked five fish, two of them pretty big. The following year I got a fish on July 5th that I’ll never forget. Last two years were float trips and both trips were a bust.

The 2016 season was the poorest fishing I’ve been a part of since 1994 when I first visited the Deschutes River. July happened to be the best month of the season. I started on the 7th and we landed two nice hatchery fish and lost a big spring Chinook after a standoff. When all was said and done we hooked multiple steelhead in July and landed fish just over ¾ of the days we fished. Pretty impressive stats based on the every other day or worse scenario we had August through October. I could give you my theory on why fish returns were poor but that’s another story.

Steelhead will move into the Deschutes River in small numbers starting in May. The numbers don’t reach appreciable numbers until July. Some years it’s early July some years it’s the third week, but by the fourth week it’s on, always.

The Deschutes River is really a stray fishery. Most of the fish we catch down low are just visiting from the Columbia, their destinations remain way up river. I don’t know if it’s the cooler temps or just simply some flow which draws them in but they come in year over year. The larger the numbers over Bonneville and The Dalles Dams the more fish we get visiting. These fish come in several stages and most of the early fish are bigger than the one salt fish we play on in August. Not only are the fish bigger, they are hot, sometimes too hot. Keep in mind, the wild fish we catch get caught over and over through the season, they are biters, but in July, this is the first bite and the first fight. July steelhead on the Deschutes are nuclear!
Summers on the Deschutes are notoriously windy, especially in the afternoon. I use 6 weight and 7 weight spey rods on the Deschutes, but when it’s windy grains matter and 7 weight rods get most of the work done once the wind comes up. Dry line fishing is the draw pretty much all the time on the Deschutes with traditional hair wing flies and skaters. If you come to the Deschutes packing only a Scandi, that’s cool but Skagit lines, sink tips and winter flies work really well on the Deschutes once the sun comes up, something to keep in mind.

July Open Dates:  9, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 25

Single Day Rates: $525 plus boaters pass, Oregon Fishing License, Salmon and Steelhead Tag and CR endorsement required

Contact me direct to book, 50% deposit required.

Tight lines,

Sam Sickles
Steelhead Outfitters
(541) 400-0855

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