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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Me and my girlfriend are looking into floats in the Oregon area in mid to late August. We've floated the Deschutes from Warm Springs to Maupin, but I'm interested in trying the lowest section from Buckhollow to the mouth.

My main question is will there be good opportunities for both steelhead AND trout in this section? My lady is a relative newbie and I would like where ever we go to have both good dry and nymph fishing for trout to help build her confidence. On the other hand, I'm kinda selfish. I definitely have the steelhead bug and after spending the last year toiling on Puget Sound rivers I would love to spend a few days throwing the 2 hander for Deschutes steel.

Is it realistic to expect a decent shot at both steelhead and trout in this section at this time? Or would I be better off focusing on one over the other? Would focusing on another section be more prudent?

Thanks
 

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There should be both. It's not the easiest fishing, and it is challenging wading. That's what makes it fun. It's a gorgeous run. Enjoy! P.s. Pro tip: try to time it so you miss the jet boat days if you can.
 

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Make sure to get your float permits in advance. It can sometimes be very difficult to get one in the summer months as they are on limited availability until mid September. Other than that should be good fishing for both species provides the water temps stay ok down there.


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9x Puget Sound Steelhead Guide of the Year
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Passes are easy to get, they are released on a fixed schedule.

Bigger concern is you must know your shit on the sticks, some serious white water in the lower section. Seen some scary events, even from the guides who have run it hundreds of times.
 

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I think calling the Lower Deschutes serious whitewater is maybe an overstatement. There are 2 rapids that are probably class III. If you're a newbie, I could see how it could get slightly sporty. If you've run it hundreds of times, there are no excuses whatsoever. Run the gut on everything and keep it straight! Or sideways or backwards, it doesn't really matter out there.
 

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I think calling the Lower Deschutes serious whitewater is maybe an overstatement. There are 2 rapids that are probably class III. If you're a newbie, I could see how it could get slightly sporty. If you've run it hundreds of times, there are no excuses whatsoever. Run the gut on everything and keep it straight! Or sideways or backwards, it doesn't really matter out there.
There are probably 3 or 4 rapids that are upper level Class 3 or lower level Class 4...certainly more than 2 of them. I can't recall the names right now. You certainly should know what you are doing and understand the lines you will need to take prior to entering the rapids. You CANNOT go through them sideways, backwards or however you want (per you description) or you will end up in the water chasing your boat and gear, or worse. It's not what I would describe as "serious whitewater" as it really isn't sustained and none of the wave trains require maneuvering of any major kind as long as you enter them properly. The rapids are spread out generally by at least a mile or more.

Summary: if you're a decent rower do some research on the lines to enter the rapids (all are named), bring a map (the BLM has a good one online I think) and you will be fine. But don't take it lightly, or you will get burned.
 

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Yeah, going through any of them sideways because they aren't full 4's isnt going to work out very well. Few guys dump every year, and in many different places. Nothing to take for granted.

As stak240 said, if you have a clue on the sticks and enter them right they are pretty straightforward. Enter them wrong and you could be having a very bad day.

Here is a view from the other direction of one out of two I would call the tightest moves on that stretch, especially from the other direction. Entry position is key. It surely isn't crazy big whitewater, but you get out of position its not going to end well.
 

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9x Puget Sound Steelhead Guide of the Year
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I think calling the Lower Deschutes serious whitewater is maybe an overstatement. There are 2 rapids that are probably class III. If you're a newbie, I could see how it could get slightly sporty. If you've run it hundreds of times, there are no excuses whatsoever. Run the gut on everything and keep it straight! Or sideways or backwards, it doesn't really matter out there.
This is the dumbest comment I've read on this forum, and that is saying something. I saw five boats/rafts/toons flip in four days, and the boat my buddy was in almost became #6 despite being rowed by a guy who's done it well over 300 times in his life.
 

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Everybody fucks up sometimes, so can understand a random mistake in 300 trips. But I will stand by my statement in that someone with actual class III rowing skills would have 0 problem reading and running (and styling) that entire run. Getting down Class III doesn't count as class III skills either; the technical skills have to be there. The OP has run the Upper Deschutes, which has Whitehorse (or something like that) which is substantially more difficult than anything on the Lower.

It's okay that those people flipped in Class III. I would be totally ashamed to admit I was that bad at something too, so I get why you're trying to defend them. But 5 boats flipping doesn't change the fact that there is nothing over the definition of class III in that section. It's okay to admit you're bad at something. I suck at golf.
 

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Everybody fucks up sometimes, so can understand a random mistake in 300 trips. But I will stand by my statement in that someone with actual class III rowing skills would have 0 problem reading and running (and styling) that entire run. Getting down Class III doesn't count as class III skills either; the technical skills have to be there. The OP has run the Upper Deschutes, which has Whitehorse (or something like that) which is substantially more difficult than anything on the Lower.

It's okay that those people flipped in Class III. I would be totally ashamed to admit I was that bad at something too, so I get why you're trying to defend them. But 5 boats flipping doesn't change the fact that there is nothing over the definition of class III in that section. It's okay to admit you're bad at something. I suck at golf.
Nobody is talking about who's bad or who's good, what meaningless class skills someone claims to have, etc. Literally none of that matters here. You can be the best or worst rower in the world and still get yourself killed there if you're not paying attention. Don't let your internet ego lead this guy into a dangerous situation.
 

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Talking to people unfamiliar with the river isn't about attitude or how good you are. Its about common sense and helping to make sure people know what they are getting into.

I would have to second golfmans comment, and I have many hundreds of runs on this lower 100 miles both gravity fed and under power. Yeah, I can do any piece of it with with my eyes closed. Doesn't make me think any less of it, in fact the opposite with the number of accidents I have seen over the years, and especially when giving recommendations to people with unknown skills and experience asking.

Closest I've ever been to sinking on this river was when I thought I was too cool. I used to gut Colorado with a fully loaded 17 Alumaweld. I'm talking straight gut, down the center of the biggest wave train on the lower section. (12' river left of Yard Sales pic). Did it god knows how many times until the timing of the waves thought otherwise, bow went under and I filled. Boat was dead straight or it would have been over. Barely made it to the bank to bail out thankfully. That was my reality check to show a little more respect for these "puny" rapids and that was 20 some years ago. I probably sounded like you at the time but thankfully there were no internet forums to advertise it.

Shit can happen out there no matter how good you are. Be safe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
To add some input on my skill level. I'm not an expert, though I wouldnt consider myself a novice. I have a steelheader II toon (2 person 12 foot toon) . I've floated sections of pretty much every PS river, the yak, and cowlitz to name a few. About 3 years of consistently working the sticks at this point. No formal training whatsoever, just watching guides, reading and using common sense. I'm definitely game for a little more adventure but don't want to get over my head either so I appreciate the feedback.
 

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To add some input on my skill level. I'm not an expert, though I wouldnt consider myself a novice. I have a steelheader II toon (2 person 12 foot toon) . I've floated sections of pretty much every PS river, the yak, and cowlitz to name a few. About 3 years of consistently working the sticks at this point. No formal training whatsoever, just watching guides, reading and using common sense. I'm definitely game for a little more adventure but don't want to get over my head either so I appreciate the feedback.
Sounds like you will enjoy the challenge of all of the OP rivers. Start with the Sol Duc then hit hells half mile on the Callawah. Those rivers have a reputation for eating hard boats just because of the boulder hopping that is involved.
 

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You'll be just fine on the D. Just because I said its class III doesn't mean to be reckless or an idiot, or to not respect it. I've worked and played for 10 years on whitewater and I have nothing but the utmost respect for it.

Someone with your experience will have a great time out there. When in doubt, scout. At this level there isn't much push so with your boat you'd have a lot of time for plan B or C if reading and running.

People get into huge trouble or die in class III all the time. More people die in class II than class V (obviously a numbers game, but good to remember). Whitewater is dangerous as shit, and diluting the rating system by saying the D is anything but class I-II with some easy III doesn't do anybody any good.

Have fun, catch some steel, and let us know how you do. Might see you out there.
 

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First time I ran the lower I went through Maupin and stopped at the Deschutes Angler. They were great and gave me a low down on the 4 big rapids which are all at the end of the float. For the most part it is just entering in the right lane. Only exception is Gordon's Ridge where its more like a 3 stage section that you have to make one move in. Take some notes and you will be fine.
 
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