your favorite central oregon river


Will Atlas

I am planning a trip to central oregon in June. Obviously there is a ton of water in the area, and still water isn't really my bag. I dont have a boat, so the options are middle descutes, Crooked River, Fall River, Upper Descutes, and probably Metolius. Whats your favorite and why. Salmons and Goldens should be up the, so it should be pretty awesome. I just have never been and I only have a couple days, 2 1/2. Thanks for any input.
Tightlines, Will
I have fished all of these rivers and all I can say is that they are heavily fished, technical waters and you have to be good to score. It takes years to learn them, particularly the Deschuttes. You should get a guide if you can afford it. He will put you on to some fish or least some good techniques.
Good luck and my best to you. File a report on your return.

Bob, the I'd like to go down there but I'm not feeling well. :hmmm:


Slow and Low

Can't disagree with you more. The Crooked River must be one on the least technical rivers on the planet. If you can't catch fish on the crooked pick a new hobie. The Crooked below Bowman Dan hold more fish per river mile than anywhere else in Oregon (which is far higher than anywhere in Washington).

The Deschutes From Mecca to the mouth is also a very basic trout fishery.

The Middle Descutes (west of Terrebon) is easy fishing.

Don't reccommend the Metolius for anyone concerned with quantity. That being said, you will not find a more beautiful place to fish, and there are some absolute pigs in there. This river is technical.

My money is on the crooked, don't show up looking to fish salmon flys, show up with small stuff, and be ready ro nyph fish very shallow.

If you are looking for fish reports check out

Some thought from a Central Oregon Junkie.


Active Member
I too have fished all of those streams on many occasions and love them all. I would rate the Metolious as the prettiest but the most difficult to deal with by a newcomer. For a brief stay like you mentioned the Crooked might be a good bet because it is easy to walk and wade. But be advised that the Crooked is not a clear pristine looking mountain stream. It is often clouded with a collodial silt from upstream and runs off color. Still the fish are willing and feed regardless. It is a tailwater below the dam so green rockworm caddis make a pretty good living there. Be sure you have some of those patterns and get them down in the water column. The fish will find them cloudy water or not. The river is choked with scuds as well so that is another staple for those fish. And dry fly action can just be wonderful at times. Evening hatches are magic once the light is off of the canyon and the fish seem to lose some of their caution and come willingly to the top.

Be sure to try the dry and dropper method for fishing through riffles-sometimes you will double up on those. Enjoy your visit and tight lines all the way, Ive
The Met can very very technical and frustrating. then again it is extremely rewarding when you start to get into fish. The beautiful surroundings are really hard to beat. There are not too many rivers out there that have browns, brookies, bows and bulls in them. You might even tangle with a few bright Kokes in the fall as well. It is my number one river to fish in Central Oregon. The Crooked would be my second. Although the fish are small they are feist and when you hit it right, the fishing can be magnificent. One of my fondest days of fishing came during a snow fury in February. Despite the snow there were BWO coming off and fish were still taking them on the surface. That was a blast. The Lower Deschutes is fun, but for some reason I just do not get too excited about fishing it. Then again I did catch my first steelie there several years back. It can also be very tyechnical at times due to wind and back eddies. You might not catch as many fish as on the Crooked, but those fish are really strong. After all they grew up fishing fast currents. Your average fish on the Deschutes sure fights harder than most fish from other streams.
Just FYI, ODFW does not allow guides to work the Met. I am not sure why, but an very grateful for it. Good luck and tighlines! :beer2:


AKA Joe Willauer
go do the metolius. Far and above one of the most beautiful rivers i have ever fished. Not a ton of numbers, but quality over quantity
The Deschutes From Mecca to the mouth is also a very basic trout fishery.
I somewhat disagree with this statement only in relation to the Mecca-area. The Deschutes from Mecca to the mouth, in my opinion and experience, contains three different river types to fish. The stretch from Mecca downstream (to South Junction perhaps?) is overrated, has very heavy pressure on it and has fewer fish per mile than most other parts of the river. Before '00 or so, it had the highest fish density but has since dropped off considerably. Theories abound as to why- ranging from hatchery escapement out of the Warm Springs River, change in habitat attributed to run-off from the town of Warm Springs (not likely) or even the NA-only open-to-bait season that occurs from Nov to April. I think it's more due to the water fluctuating so much from Pelton Dam for the past few years but YMMV.

The stretch from about North Junction to White River, I think, is likely the best stretch. The river is big, the fish are numerous, and there are more hiding spots for them. As you can tell, this is my favorite stretch (with the exception of the D upstream of Bend) and, I believe, is approachable without the help of a guide.

From Sherars Falls to the Mouth, the river get's bigger, deeper and the fish density lowers. There's still plenty of Fish to go around (the Fish density down there is probably as high as the stretch of the Yak just upstream from Roza. Don't quote me on that), but it's tough to know where they are. The hatches are different down there as well, so that can throw a wrench into things.

Everyone's comments on the Met are absolutely true. It's highly technical, very frustrating and every fish caught seems like a trophy. That being said, I've never had so much fun while being skunked. For me, bringing more than two fish to hand on the same day is a moral victory. I'm saddened that Washington doesn't have anything comparable to a fishery like the Met or Fall Rivers. A few stretches of the Little/Big Naches and maybe even Rattlesnake Creek resemble the Met, but the fish density and year-round season blow them away. Oops- I take that back- the upper Tucannon resembles the Fall River. Accessability on the Tuc is a much different story. :)

Everyone is right about the Crooked too. Highest fish density (2,000+ fish/mile- it's only for 7 miles though), decent-sized fish (is it just me or have they been averaging larger over the past 3 years?) and 'easy' fishing. I put 'easy' in quotes because, while you're almost guaranteed to catch fish, the Crooked is not the kind of place you can just tie on a Stim or an EHC all day and expect to have decent success. I learned how to fish emergers on that river. The stretch of the Crooked just upstream of LBC is ignored by alot of people and worth checking out. Bigger fish and no crowds.

The Fall River is awesome and I have a special place in my heart for that stream. While a spring creek, it is nowhere near as technical as the Metolius. One minute you're catching fish with 6-7x tippet and size 22+ dries, the next with a size 12 Stim or Paradrake. Crazy.

The Middle Deschutes upstream of Bend is definitely a place to get a guide. The section of the D between Bend and LBC is not fishable right now until the irrigation season is over. The D between Crane and Hosmer and above it is a nice stretch and reminds me of high-altitude meadow fishing in WY. or CO.

Don't know how many or how important Goldens and Salmonflies will be by mid-June. Last year, the trout at Maupin were ignoring them by that time and were keyed in on Caddis and PEDs for the most part. Depending on temps, the Crooked might not be fishable, but with all the precip we've had since April it just might stay cool enough. I've never fished alot of stones on the Upper D, but anything's possible I guess.
I am pretty much a newbie to Central Oregon rivers. but I have fished the D now for the past three months and I can tell you just from that little experience it is at the top of my list for Trout Rivers. I love that river. Its got great Camping there too!. the last trip I took was last weekend. I camped at Rattlesnake towards Macks Canyon and fished that stretch up there. It is awesome! I have averaged about 20 fish per trip, with two or more Redsides 18 inches on all trips. As far as the Crooked River. I fished over by Chimney Rock and they are right it is definitely an easy river to fish. I have to agree with the previous post or maybe I just had good luck but, the fish I caught ave. between 10 to 15 inches. with the whitefish being about the same. I am planning trips for the Met and the fall river this year too. If anybody is interested in joining me just drop me a pm.
I fished the Metolius, Fall, Deschutes and the Crooked rivers 2 weeks ago. Had never fished any of them before. The Met is a beautiful river. Lot's of people fishing and not a fish did I see taken, which included the 4 of us fishing. The small fly shop at Sherman Camp said it was to early. Fished the Fall from the hatchery up. The lower river below the falls doesn't open until Memorial Day weekend. Again pretty river but no fish. To be fair it is difficult to just walk into a river and expect to do well. It never really bothers me to not catch fish as long as I can enjoy some beauty and some good company so both those rivers were nice to fish. Fished the Deschutes below Mecca Flats for a long day and my success was again zero. Lot's of wind and no hatch. Talked to several fly shops about the Crooked and they all said don't go there because of the flow. It was running 1300 when we left Renton and 3 days later it was down to 735. One guy we talked to had fished it 2 weeks prior and it was 85. We went anyway and had the river to ourselves except for one other guy. Had a ball on size 18-20 adam para. Weather was nasty and the BWO were to be had. When it started to rain it was like someone turned on the dinner bell. When the birds hit the water we knew a good time was to be had by all and it was great. So much for high flows. I was told the bait fishermen can start at the end of May so the larger fish will be gone by end of summer
The trick to catching fish on these rivers is nymphing. Of course everyone prefers the dry, but even with a great hatch you're not guarenteed fish. So if you're not having any luck on the surface, go deep. You can catch fish anytime on the crooked, Deschutes, or Met if you know how to nymph. Go deep with golden or black stones, pheasant tails, etc. You will catch trout. If you go Crooked, fish scuds.