Explore the lakes near Bend
November 7, 20238 minute read
Bend boasts an abundance of majestic rivers and lakes right in its backyard. Plus an amazing diversity of fish, some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Northwest, and year-round fly fishing opportunities. Anglers from all over the country come here to cast in our beautiful waters.
What makes Bend, Oregon, an impressive and unique fly fishing destination?
Let’s start with our premier rivers and lakes. Just miles from town, you can find cold, clear spring-fed rivers like the Fall and the Metolius that are chock full of rainbow trout all year long. Or embark on an adventure along the mighty Deschutes River as you float through a breathtaking wild and scenic canyon. If you prefer slower-paced water, loads of dazzling lakes with enticing fish are tucked into the Cascade Mountains.
Then there’s the diversity of fish species. Trout fishing is what draws most anglers. The area is home to rainbows, browns, bulls, whitefish, and more. The region also holds a native species called the Redband Rainbow Trout—known for the rosy red stripe along its side. A few warm water species also live here, like bass, catfish, and crappie.
Historically, anglers flocked here in the fall to swing for steelhead. Sadly, steelhead populations have significantly declined in numbers in Oregon. Check with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) for regulations and fish counts before you get your heart set on the big fish.
With so many diverse species and waters, there are plenty of fly fishing techniques you can try out or refine. Dry fly enthusiasts will love the morning and evening hatches in the hopes of watching a fish rise to the surface and take your dry. Subsurface or nymph fishing is popular here, especially on big rivers like the Deschutes and the Metolius. Get those flies deep and set that rod high when that indicator slips under the water.
Spring is the kick-start to the fly fishing season. Melting snow and seasonal rains replenish our rivers and lakes. As the days begin to warm, bugs start hatching–like blue wing olives and green drakes—and fish fill their bellies. Weather and conditions can be less predictable in spring, so pack your puffy and be prepared for high water flows.
The summer months are when fishing really comes alive around Bend. Endless blue skies, warm weather, and easy access make it the perfect time to grab your gear and hit the water. Not only do anglers enjoy the ideal summer conditions, but so do our fish friends. Warm weather and long days mean caddis, stonefly, and pale morning dun hatches can be frequent, bringing hungry trout to the table.
Summer also brings the potential for wildfires and hot weather. Trout need cold water to survive; therefore, rising water temperatures can be problematic. Invest in a stream thermometer to check temps (particularly midday and in the afternoon). If they’re too high or the skies are too smoky, have a backup plan.
Fall and winter fly fishing in Bend switches things up with the dropping temperatures and snow flurries. The trout aren’t as active (but neither are anglers), and you can put your fly fishing skills, patience, and curiosity to the test. We recommend calling a local fly shop to get the latest fishing and access reports. Don’t forget to bring plenty of warm, waterproof layers and a hot beverage of your choice!
Whenever your favorite fly fishing season is, remember to look around you between casts because the scenery will knock your wading socks off! Marvel at the wild Deschutes River carving through towering, rugged cliff walls, with osprey sharply whistling overhead. Or wind your way through shaded ponderosa pine groves, where you can catch a glimpse of trout rising and wildflowers popping along the Fall River. No matter where you cast your line, you’ll be surrounded by Central Oregon’s breathtaking scenery.
And a great way to maintain this breathtaking scenery is by practicing the Bend-specific Leave No Trace principles.
Are you hooked yet? (Yes, pun intended.) Great! Let’s talk about some amazing places to fly fish around Bend.
If you’re new to the sport or haven’t fished the area, hire a local fly fishing guide. There are plenty of fly shops with fantastic guides that’ll teach you valuable skills like casting, presentation, and safe fish handling. And a guide has loads of local knowledge and experience so you can make the most of your time on the water.
With such epic locations and year-round opportunities, anytime is a great time to fish in Bend. Before you plan your fishing trip, don’t forget to:
And above all, let’s enjoy ourselves and foster a friendly and respectful atmosphere on the water!