Saturday, March 26, 2011

How To Rob a Bank... Deschutes Trout

Part 1
The Deschutes River is unlike most western trout rivers.  First of all, you can’t fish from the boat… It’s the law.  Consequently, you can’t just float along with a nymph rig and catch enough trout to pad your ego.  The Deschutes is a proving ground for trout anglers.  Second, it's a river that carries a lot of flow especially in the spring.  It's not unusual to have 7000 cfs or more rolling down the river in April and May.  In order to find success with the river’s wild trout in this big water, you need to approach the river the right way, fish it with total precision, and stay diligent.  Our series on “How To Rob a Bank” focuses on the fine points of fishing the river’s most productive water; the deep bank water.  We hope to share the secrets we’ve learned from fishing and guiding the river for over 40 years.  Stay tuned to the blog for new articles in the upcoming weeks.
Classic Deschutes River Bank Water

Bank Water Breakdown
Bank water is the best place to find not only the most trout on the Deschutes, but you’ll also find the biggest trout.  When we talk about bank water, we’re looking at places in the river were all the right elements come together for Deschutes Trout will hold and feed. First off, good bank water needs to have cover and depth. As Charles Brooks would say, “a bomb shelter", a safe place to go when threatened.  You should be looking for big rock, -the bigger the better.  Large boulders will create current seams, pockets and mini back eddies.  Rocks will also break up the surface giving the trout security under a protective ceiling.  If there are trees overhanging the water, all the better.  Next, it has to have a great food delivery system. (See upper left section of photo.)  Often times productive bank water will be on an outside bend of the river.  All the food is forced into the bank and is delivered in a gravy trout off foam to the trout. Caddis, mayflies, midges, crane flies and stoneflies will get funneled into the foam lines as they float down the river.  The trout will move with the foam lines and savvy anglers take advantage of it. The foam not only collects food but it acts as overhead cover as well.  The trout feel very comfortable feeding in the foam lines even in the brightest sun of the day.  Finally, great bank water must posses a soft easy current so fish can hold and feed effortlessly.  Remember, trout don’t like to work any harder than they have too. Most of the time, this soft water will be right next to raging fast water.  The lane of soft water may be as wide as ten feet and as narrow as one foot.  If you can find all of these elements you will find Deschutes trout, often times you’ll find lots of them.
Now it’s time to go find the bank water.  Do yourself a favor, either hire a guide to show you the goods or spend an afternoon looking at the river without your fly rod.  Walk the bank and look for good water.  Often times you will see a lot more and learn more if you’re in observation mode rather than fishing mode.  Take your time and watch for active trout.  You’ll be amazed at the number of fish you’ll see if you’re looking in the right spots.  Once you start recognizing good bank water you’ll realize the Deschutes has tons of it.  Our next article in our “How To Rob a Bank” series will cover how to approach bank water…  Stay tuned!

-Larimer Outfitters Staff


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