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Fishing Reports

Deschutes Temperature Research

Joel La Follette - Thursday, July 16, 2015
Last week while I was researching water temps and opinions regarding the safe temperatures for angling opportunities, I learned that one of my contacts has a built-in thermometer. No, not a cyborg like implant, but a uncanny ability to read the water temps accurately with his bare skin. I decided that this revelation required further research so I arranged to meet up with him on the river and put this superhuman skill to the test. Besides, a day of fishing in the name of research is not a bad thing.

I met up with Mr. Silvey in Maupin and we loaded the required equipment into his rig before heading upriver. I carried several rods, reels, fly boxes, misc. tackle, sunscreen, rain jacket, cameras and my handy FishPond thermometer. Brian had a couple rods rigged up, tippet, nipper and a box of flies.

Knowing beforehand that the water was rumored to be 58-59 degrees we both decided that wet wading would be uncomfortable, especially with darkish clouds to the south threatening to rain on our research. While Brian launched his modified Cataraft I took a temp to set a baseline and reported our starting temperature to be 59 degrees. Brian stepped into the water and reported the very same. Like I said, uncanny.

At our first stop we split up, with Brian heading upriver, while I fished the water near the boat. Caddis shucks covered the shallows and a variety of adult insects fluttered from the stream side brush. Misc. small Mayflies also took to wing and danced in the morning light. After covering the water and raising a few fish, unsuccessfully, Brian returned and reported that in his opinion the water was perhaps a degree cooler that I had previously reported. He had not taken into account the insulating properties of his Simms G4 waders and to confirm his suspicions had ceremoniously stepped into an indentation in the river bottom exactly 3 inches over the top of said waders. With a much better sampling of the water he was able to accurately place the water temperature at 58.5. This number was confirmed when I calibrated my thermometer the next day and recorded a +.5 degree difference. Taking that into account, the maximum reading at the end of day was 60.5 just above Sandy Beach. A very good range for healthy interactions with fish.

While to many this exercise may seem trivial, it is an example of the kind of dictated research I have often found myself involved in all in an effort to bring you up to date angling information.

Once we had established an official baseline for water temperature we continued to sample the fishing and temps as we worked our way downriver. Caddis patterns on the surface, or Hopper Dropper combos with a Caddis Pupa or Silvey’s Super Sinker fish around 19 inches below proved to be the ticket, requiring very little from the multitude of fly boxes I carried. All of the many fish we sampled were healthy, happy and very active. All were played quickly and carefully released.

It is important to note that very little angling pressure (none) was observed during this float. At the same time, several rafts filled with yellow helmeted Minions did splash the giggle their way down river, but they did not cause any ill effects on the angling while providing some interesting comic relief.

Overall, the success of this trip was solely due to the knowledge and dedication of my guide and good friend, Brian Silvey. His understanding of the river, it’s invertebrates and it’s fish proved to be the winning combination for a great day on the water. While low water and high temps threaten many rivers and streams across the west, the Deschutes from Warm Springs through the Maupin area is in fine shape and capable of producing some very memorable days. Contact Brian if you'd like to see this very talented river guide in action.

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