Targeting "Big" redbands on the Deschutes?

DerekWhipple

Active Member
This thread really seems like it would be good for west-fly, but since it is no longer, I'm posting it here. I'm wondering if anyone has noticed a pattern for where larger (approaching 20" or bigger) Deschutes redbands hang out or how to pick them up? Anything I have read or heard about catching big redbands seems like it's random and it's not a "hunt for big fish" river. I remember hearing Scott Richmond in an interview say his biggest D rainbow was caught within 3 feet of him. It's never been known as a "streamer" river (the lower D, anyway), and it seems like streamer fishing has only been picking up within the last few years because of trout spey fishing. On top of that, most of the streamers that appear popular are on the smaller side. Maybe this is just a sub-fishery that people are only starting to figure out, or maybe they all hang out in the middle of the river where people can't get to them. My biggest lower Deschutes and Metolius redbands both came to a green drake nymph in an eddy right before a hatch.

Anyway, if you've got a story about catching an honest 20" or bigger Deschutes redside (that was NOT a steelhead), I'd like to hear it!
 

Rob Allen

Active Member
This thread really seems like it would be good for west-fly, but since it is no longer, I'm posting it here. I'm wondering if anyone has noticed a pattern for where larger (approaching 20" or bigger) Deschutes redbands hang out or how to pick them up? Anything I have read or heard about catching big redbands seems like it's random and it's not a "hunt for big fish" river. I remember hearing Scott Richmond in an interview say his biggest D rainbow was caught within 3 feet of him. It's never been known as a "streamer" river (the lower D, anyway), and it seems like streamer fishing has only been picking up within the last few years because of trout spey fishing. On top of that, most of the streamers that appear popular are on the smaller side. Maybe this is just a sub-fishery that people are only starting to figure out, or maybe they all hang out in the middle of the river where people can't get to them. My biggest lower Deschutes and Metolius redbands both came to a green drake nymph in an eddy right before a hatch.

Anyway, if you've got a story about catching an honest 20" or bigger Deschutes redside (that was NOT a steelhead), I'd like to hear it!
Warm Springs to White Horse Rapids. Still some as far down as Maupin Below Maupin since and population fall off.

Steep banks and back Eddies. They are not in riffles often.
 

Shack

Active Member
7C54D8AB-974E-4C77-84EA-933793703E07.jpeg
my net is 18” wide and this one was a ~4 inches past it so I’m pretty confident it was 20”+. Probably the biggest I’ve caught on the lower d. I catch a lot of big (16”+) swinging sz 4 sculpzillas with my 6wt on an intermediate line in sept-oct. never needed to get a trout spey or a sink tip cause I never felt the need to fish more than 30 feet away or deeper than 5 feet of water. This one was after fishing an early morning dead caddis thing and then switching to a sculpzilla one the sun was on the water (size 8 actually). The only other time I’ve consistently caught bigger than 15” fish is salmonflies/golden stones into really hard to fish spots. And sometimes eggs in nov/dec


One thing that was cool last fall, I did catch one that was in the 16”-17” range stripping a crawdad next to drop offs and it ate at my feet, pretty rad haha.
EAF00A3B-7738-49A0-82F0-CDAD4F8B7867.jpeg

In my opinion it’s definitely a streamer river, and a nymph river, and a dry fly river depending on when you are there. There’s so much habitat and so many trout lol.
 
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Dustin Bise

reformed hot-spotter
Warm Springs to White Horse Rapids. Still some as far down as Maupin Below Maupin since and population fall off.

Steep banks and back Eddies. They are not in riffles often.
im not experienced with the D, but in other large rivers I have fished with redband populations I find big fish do use the heavy whitewater in the summer. Prime lies seem to be the transitions from the riffles to the deep pools below them for the big redbands.
 

Clarkman

Huge Fly Guy
WFF Supporter
My absolute largest redband to hand there came on a renegade sipping in a back eddy. This thing was old, but healthy and went 22.5" (odd since I rarely tape fish, just happened to with this one) in the Maupin area probably 15 years ago. Outside of that, most of my larger fish (anything over a legit 18") have come on streamers. IMO, if you're only after the largest fish in any system, & to get them consistently, you've gotta throw meat. Sure, you'll get the occasional really large one nymphing or throwing dries during certain times of the year, but day in and day out, my money's on pitching streamers. You just have to be willing to accept the fact that typically, your numbers won't be what you may be accustomed to.

It should also be noted that if you're stoked about the "18er" that you just caught, don't tape it....cause you'll often find that your 18er is really a 15 or 16er. ;)
 

long_rod_silvers

WFF Supporter
Don't forget your streamer starter pack:
1614892074162.png
I kid, I kid.

I wouldn't limit it to streamers only, I've seen a 20" RB Rainbow take a size 16 parachute adams. Doesn't happy very often though. Much more often the bigger RBs (I've seen caught or caught myself) have been on larger offerings. Streamers, October caddis, hoppers, mouse, etc.

I'd second @Dustin Bise - well oxygenated water with choppy surface = summer time holding water.
 

Dustin Bise

reformed hot-spotter
my biggest redband ever ate a olive chubby. ~24 inches. I caught one a few years back on a white sparkle minnow who was a known bread eater. another angler caught the same fish in the same spot a month later also on a white fly. the biggest one i know of ever came out of a plunge pool on the falls in downtown spokane. it was taped at 36" if i recall and released upriver by the bios after electroshocking.
 

skyriver

Active Member
My absolute largest redband to hand there came on a renegade sipping in a back eddy. This thing was old, but healthy and went 22.5" (odd since I rarely tape fish, just happened to with this one) in the Maupin area probably 15 years ago. Outside of that, most of my larger fish (anything over a legit 18") have come on streamers. IMO, if you're only after the largest fish in any system, & to get them consistently, you've gotta throw meat. Sure, you'll get the occasional really large one nymphing or throwing dries during certain times of the year, but day in and day out, my money's on pitching streamers. You just have to be willing to accept the fact that typically, your numbers won't be what you may be accustomed to.

It should also be noted that if you're stoked about the "18er" that you just caught, don't tape it....cause you'll often find that your 18er is really a 15 or 16er. ;)
This is so...Deschutes. You nailed it.

First time I took my newbie fly fishing friends to the D back in the late 80s. "This thing is HUGE!" while it was out in the river on their 5 wt. 2 minutes later to hand..."oh, it's like 14?"

If only every trout fought like a Deschutes redside.

One thing I would caution about fishing big streamers on the D, at least upstream of Trout Creek... You'll probably catch a bull or 2. Be kind to them.
 

MGTom

Living at the place of many waters
WFF Supporter
My absolute largest redband to hand there came on a renegade sipping in a back eddy. This thing was old, but healthy and went 22.5" (odd since I rarely tape fish, just happened to with this one) in the Maupin area probably 15 years ago. Outside of that, most of my larger fish (anything over a legit 18") have come on streamers. IMO, if you're only after the largest fish in any system, & to get them consistently, you've gotta throw meat. Sure, you'll get the occasional really large one nymphing or throwing dries during certain times of the year, but day in and day out, my money's on pitching streamers. You just have to be willing to accept the fact that typically, your numbers won't be what you may be accustomed to.

It should also be noted that if you're stoked about the "18er" that you just caught, don't tape it....cause you'll often find that your 18er is really a 15 or 16er. ;)
Thoughtful comment. Thx. I often give up on streamers. Probably why I find all the little ones.
 

DerekWhipple

Active Member
Thanks for the responses! It is interesting, that the standard big fish "rules" don't seem to be followed much on the river (big streamers, fish low in the system). Maybe it is because those rules are were written with brown trout in mind. My big fish info comes from Charlie Brooks and Galloup. Brooks hunted big fish around yellowstone in heavy deep water with big weighted nymphs. Galloup found big fish in lots of different places, some that went against conventional wisdom (not just deep dark water). He was the main early proponent of giant streamers, fishing shallow, and covering lots of water.

I pretty much stopped streamer fishing when I moved to Oregon since I don't fish brown trout waters unless I make the occasional trip to Bend. When I fished in North Carolina on brown-heavy water, I'd bring two rods, and fish nymphs or dries upstream and then quickly fish streamers back to the car. I'd only catch one or two fish, but often they were the biggest of the day.

Edit: I don't remember what magazine it was, American Angler or Fly-Fishing, but back in the 90's, there was a photo of a Deschutes redband that was something like 30 inches or close to it. It had more of a football shape, wasn't long and lean like a steelhead. I can't imagine catching a fish that big on a 5wt in that river. Maybe they nymphed it up while steelheading with an 8wt or something.
 

BC33

Active Member
Honestly, some of the biggest fish I've caught on the D are dry/dropper fish....like chubby with 3-4 feet to a perdigon......get out to that juicy slot that doesn't get fished.
 

DerekWhipple

Active Member
Honestly, some of the biggest fish I've caught on the D are dry/dropper fish....like chubby with 3-4 feet to a perdigon......get out to that juicy slot that doesn't get fished.
It's possible people don't really feel the need to "go big" when conventional methods regularly pick up bigger fish in the river and most people consider 20" to be where they top out.
 

Clarkman

Huge Fly Guy
WFF Supporter
Thanks for the responses! It is interesting, that the standard big fish "rules" don't seem to be followed much on the river (big streamers, fish low in the system). Maybe it is because those rules are were written with brown trout in mind. My big fish info comes from Charlie Brooks and Galloup. Brooks hunted big fish around yellowstone in heavy deep water with big weighted nymphs. Galloup found big fish in lots of different places, some that went against conventional wisdom (not just deep dark water). He was the main early proponent of giant streamers, fishing shallow, and covering lots of water.

I pretty much stopped streamer fishing when I moved to Oregon since I don't fish brown trout waters unless I make the occasional trip to Bend. When I fished in North Carolina on brown-heavy water, I'd bring two rods, and fish nymphs or dries upstream and then quickly fish streamers back to the car. I'd only catch one or two fish, but often they were the biggest of the day.

Edit: I don't remember what magazine it was, American Angler or Fly-Fishing, but back in the 90's, there was a photo of a Deschutes redband that was something like 30 inches or close to it. It had more of a football shape, wasn't long and lean like a steelhead. I can't imagine catching a fish that big on a 5wt in that river. Maybe they nymphed it up while steelheading with an 8wt or something.

a couple of thoughts come to mind here, 30"!!!! that's a tank of a trout regardless of where it is, but especially there! I've caught tiger muskies smaller than that!

In my experience in fishing both the valley rivers and the D pretty extensively is that some rivers have 'grabbier' fish (for lack of a better term) more consistently. I've had days fishing streamers on the D where it was a struggle to get just a few, but those few were typically big, strong and healthy. Then again, there have been other days where I absolutely railed them on streamers out there and in the process have seen fish larger than anything I've ever caught out there (including my own PB).

One final thing, if I'm serious about fishing streamers on any particular day, I'm not fishing a 5wt or a 6wt (my favorite rod for all around fishing there is a 5/6 Steffen Bros. glass....a streamer rod it is not) That's 7 & 8wt territory for me....it just makes things so much easier, especially if I decide to throw some of the bigger & more rabbity stuff.
 

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