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Fall Steelhead on the Deschutes River

Updated: Oct 16, 2020

Bill Matthews Outdoors Deschutes Steelhead

This past week I had the opportunity to fish with Rocky Conroy, Dan Radke and Kelly Reichner on the Deschutes River in Central Oregon. Rocky and Dan are both with Big Rock Sports out of Clackamas Oregon and Kelly is with Fisherman’s Marine Stores in the Portland area. We left Troutdale, OR around 4:30 AM and headed East on I-84. We met up with guide Forrest Foxworthy at Celilo Park near the mouth of the Deschutes and were headed up river by 6:30AM.

The Deschutes is unique in many ways, in particular, on this stretch or the river you are not able to fish from a boat. So unlike most guided trips, on the Deschutes your guide is

a white water expert, river taxi service and a world class steelhead guide all rolled up into one.

It only takes one trip up the Deschutes River to understand that this is a place for expert boaters only. Driving a jet boat through massive rapids with huge boulders on either side of the boat is a very unique experience, and you will be happy that you are in the hands of a expert boater as you travel both up and down the river.

After a lengthy boat ride we pulled to the side of the river, and Forrest directed each of us to different areas of the bank to fish. Another unique trait of this river is the terrain of the river itself. The Deschutes is a cold, bouldery, slippery, river with lots of current. It is almost impossible to see where you next step is going to be so you need to take small steps to maintain your balance. I will admit that I usually fall in at least once...and this trip was no exception. I would strongly advise bringing a change of clothes along when you fish this river.

So why would you brave whitewater rapids, slippery footing and the possibility of getting soaked? Because the Deschutes River is one of the most beautiful rivers in the United States and it offers world class Steelhead fishing in a setting that is unparalleled in all my travels. This trip is a true gem of a fishing trip, one that you will never forget.

I started off throwing a Norman Deep Tiny “N” in the Nite Train color, Dan and Rocky were throwing spinners and Kelly was using a fly. I got a bite within the first 10 minutes but missed the fish. Dan and Rocky both landed fish on spinners and Kelly was so far up the river that we did not know how he was doing.

We fished this spot for an hour or so before heading up river to try some other holes. Dan, Rocky and Kelly continued to hook fish so I eventually gave up on my beloved

Bill Matthews Outdoos Deschutes Steelhead

Norman lure and switched to drifting, which was much more productive on this day!

The wind picked up around 1:00 and made fishing tough. We had all landed fish, and I was the only one to get wet

Bill Matthews Outdoors

(luckily I had a change of clothes).

After a couple of hours of fighting the wind, we called it a day. Dan and I both have sons playing High School Football so we had to get home in time for the games anyway.

It was a great day in one of my favorite places!

Thanks for reading,



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