Fly fishing in Bend, Oregon


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Fly fishing in Bend, Oregon

Reel in some time on the water in Central Oregon

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?

Fishing minutes from town near Bend, OR

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. 

What else makes Bend an epic area to fly fish? Year-round opportunities.

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. 

Fly fishing on the Fall River in winter, near Bend, OR

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. 

Are you hooked yet? (Yes, pun intended.) Great! Let’s talk about some amazing places to fly fish around Bend.

Pro Tip

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.

Fly fishing on the Crooked River near Bend, OR

Rivers to fly fish around Bend

  1. The Fall River hosts a bounty of rainbow trout in its cold, clear spring-fed waters. This small river winds through stunning Ponderosa pine trees and is only 30 minutes from Bend. The Fall is a fantastic place for year-round fly fishing and makes for a great location for a guided trip. 
  2. The Crooked River is dam-released water that holds playful rainbow trout and whitefish. Located 45 minutes east of Bend, it winds through a striking high desert gorge dotted with day-use areas and campgrounds. It’s accessible year-round, although check flows first, as water levels can get quite low. 
  3. The Metolius River captivates anglers from all over with its gorgeous scenery, pristine water, and diverse trout species. It will also test your patience and skills, as it’s known to be quite challenging. Regardless of whether you land a trout, its sheer beauty will keep you smiling. The Metolius is near the town of Sisters and about an hour from Bend.
  4. The Deschutes River begins its journey in the Cascade Mountains, winding through dense pine forests and offering intimate, creek-like fishing opportunities. It then flows through Bend before entering a wild and scenic canyon, then eventually meets the Columbia River, completing its 250-mile journey. From walk and wade day trips to guided multi-day floats, the Deschutes offer diverse trout species, fly fishing techniques and dynamic water. 
Hosmer Lake near Bend, OR

Favorite lakes & reservoirs to fly fish around Bend

  1. Crane Prairie Reservoir holds an incredible diversity of trout, including rainbows, browns, brookies, and even its own unique trout called the Cranebow. A few creeks also gracefully join the reservoir, contributing vital nutrients, oxygenated water, and a mild current that keeps the trout thriving and healthy.
  2. East Lake sits nestled in Newberry Crater and captivates anglers with its serene, volcanic landscape and is home to rainbows, browns, and Kokanee salmon. And since it sits at 6,400 feet, it can make for a pleasant spot to escape the high summer heat.
  3. Hosmer Lake entices fly fishers with its diverse trout population and majestic scenery, including front-row views of the majestic peaks of Mt. Bachelor, South Sister, and Broken Top. The lake only allows electric and non-motorized boats and is designated for fly fishing only. 

This handy guide from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife showcases 50 places to fish within 90 minutes of Bend.

Fly fishing the Lower Deschutes River near Bend, OR

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: 

  • Check conditions and regulations by calling a local fly shop or check online with ODFW.
  • Research river access or book a fishing guide.
  • Purchase your fishing license online from ODFW
  • Be an ambassador on the river! Familiarize yourself with Keep Fish Wet tips and how to safely catch and release fish.

And above all, let’s enjoy ourselves and foster a friendly and respectful atmosphere on the water!

Leave No Trace in the River

  • Review fishing regulations for your chosen area so you’ve got the angler’s playbook down pat. 
  • Ensure anglers age 12 and up carry a valid fishing license. 
  • Want to boost your fishing game? A guide knows the home waters best, and has all the top tips!
  • During warmer months, be mindful of water temperatures to protect the fish. Carry a water thermometer to make sure the water is below 67 degrees. Fishing above that temp stresses the fish, greatly increasing likelihood of death, even if they swim away. 

  • Sharing the water and giving fellow anglers some elbow room is key to peaceful casting. 
  • Have a backup plan in case your go-to spot is busy. There’s plenty of river to go around!
  • Craving tranquility? Dodge the fishing frenzy by exploring waters in the fall and winter. 
  • Help protect fragile ecosystems by sticking to designated trails and river access points.

  • Learn how to identify and steer clear of trout redds.
  • Stressed fish don’t survive to make lots more fish, so choose barbless hooks and aim for a swift fish landing. Limit the fish’s time out of water to less than 10 seconds. If you must snap a pic, hold the fish in the water, then send them back to the underwater world.
  • Before touching your catch, wet your hands. It’s like a fish-friendly handshake, keeping that protective slime intact.
  • When you do hold your catch, cradle it gently, protecting its internal organs for a healthy release.
  • Make washing your boots and waders a post-fishing ritual, reducing the spread of disease.
Walking to the river near Bend, OR