Fishing the Deschutes for steelhead has been interesting this year. With low flows, warmer water and glacial silt coming in from White River the angler who adapts and changes their approach will do much better.
White River a tributary to the lower Deschutes has been dumping in chocolate milkshake colored water this year. Some days more than others. Often it is but a trickle and doesn't effect the big Deschutes river, however some days it can make the entire lower 50 miles look the color of concrete. We have been hearing of many anglers getting blanked on the lower Deschutes. We have found that switching our strategy and flies has produced consistent results even in the murky water.
As fishing guides who make a living finding steelhead year round we have found a comfortable switch for us has worked; diving into our winter steelhead strategies has made a difference. Get the fly down where fish can see it seems to be the ticket lately with water clarity as a mere 20" some days. T-11 sink tips and big flies have created some lasting memories and slimy hands for many of our guests this season.
Top flies have been the Crandall's Wedding dress in cerise and the Crandall's Devil Candy pattern. Both these flies have delivered for us quiet well during limited visibility times.
You can find these patterns at: Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn, OR or at www.spiritriver.com