Madras, OR 97741
- 30 miles
- 3500 feet
Public ownership in this stretch of river is primarily a combination of BLM, USFS land, and three state parks. Most of the public land is included in the Deschutes River Recreation Area within the Crooked River National Grasslands, administered by the Ochoco National Forest. In some spots the river is wadable, and in other areas bank fishing is the rule. It is a preferred area for fly-fishing, this section is not open to bait fishing; however, lures are permitted. All fish in the river are wild, including rainbow trout up to 18 inches. Brown trout can be found in all sizes, including a few monsters pushing 8 pounds. Bull trout are present below Steelhead Falls, and profuse numbers of whitefish are available throughout the river. Crayfish are common. Boating is not possible due to low flows and frequent waterfalls farther downstream. The only navigable expanse is in the Deschutes Arm of Lake Billy Chinook.
From the north end of 1st Street in Bend down to the North Canal Dam, the river is accessible along the west bank, and fishing can be good when water levels are low in the summer. Deep pools and slow runs between rock-strewn stretches produce mostly small fish. In the winter, the river rushes over big boulders. During summer low flows, it swirls slowly past the same rocks. Water levels fluctuate greatly with the irrigation season. Fishing is best in between and around the boulders.
As the river leaves Bend, it passes the last man-made obstruction for 40 miles and becomes a wild, canyon river. More of the riverbanks are public land. Shorelines vary from flooded, marshy ground to blocky talus with some heavy vegetation of willow and alder. Around Lower Bridge, 25 miles below Bend cattails and sedges dominate. Springs below Lower Bridge help to stabilize water levels, as does inflow from Squaw Creek. The uplands are covered with juniper trees and bitterbrush, and the basalt canyon is of varying depth. Outstanding wild rainbow and brown trout habitat exist from Lower Bridge downstream 10 miles to Lake Billy Chinook. The deepest part of the canyon below Lower Bridge has excellent slots and pools and the best potential for a fishery if flows could be stabilized. Instream structure in the form of rocks, woody debris, and occasional weedbeds are plentiful throughout the canyon. The area is rich in wildlife.
The largest concentration of wild fish is from about a mile below Lower Bridge to Lake Billy Chinook. Steelhead Falls is about 5 miles below Lower Bridge. At Lake Billy Chinook, the Deschutes joins the Crooked and Metolius rivers.
1940 at Lake Billy Chinook
Bait/Lure Fishing Methods : Night crawlers, eggs, crayfish tails, flashy lures, spoons, and spinners. Benham Falls to Lake Billy Chinook are restricted to artificial flies and lures only.
Map + Directions
Sawyer Park in Bend, Cline Falls State Park, Highway 126 crossing the Deschutes River, Lower Bridge Rd. crossing of Deschutes River.
Most access is by trails from Steelhead Falls parking area and from the vehicle access's