The Central Oregon Thanksgiving fishing outing has become a tradition for the men in the family. Last year was the Fall River, and the year before the Crooked. This year we ventured down to Mecca Flats. Although summers have come and gone on the coast range, and winters are just about to come in, the fishing report said there were plenty of steelhead throughout the Deschutes.
Mecca Flats is outside Madras and is a pretty popular place, but a trail follows the river for miles, so there’s plenty of room for everyone to fish. It was overcast and gray, which doesn’t make for great pictures, but it wasn’t cold out for the end of November. It was also a little windy, which blew most of the fly fishers off the river, even ones with the over-compensating, trendy Spey rods, but it wasn’t a problem for a #4 spinner. I do have to say that all the folks we came across were very polite anglers. They all asked us if they could fish the next hole down, or which way we were working.
When we arrived around 10 a.m. fish were surfacing. We got caught up close to the parking lot, and didn’t end up exploring that far down river. I quickly caught three whitefish, one pretty chunky, all on a brown and brass rooster tail. When I find fishy looking water I’ve taken to cycling through colors and sizes until I find something that works, then generally stick with that color. What I’d read previously said that blue, purple, green, brown and black are all good colors for the Deschutes. That day it was brown.
My confidence in being able to look at water and tell if it’s good holding water has helped me in being able to more quickly find what color lure is bringing in the fish that day. If the water looks good, I’ll try a few casts, then switch out colors until I find one that works. What I’ve found so far is once I’ve found the color, it’ll be good for that river all day.
After the whitefish at the start, nothing happened for the rest of the morning. We did come across a lot of spawned-out salmon hanging out in the quiet water. One that looked to be about three feet long swam down a channel maybe a foot from my boots. Although it wasn’t much to look at, all mottled and white, it was still impressive to see such a big fish up close.
After a couple hours of nothing happening I set off further downstream. I was running out of time for fishing, but the water seemed to slow and deepen a mile or so down from the parking lot. Next time I come out to Mecca Flats, I’m bringing some more brown spinners and heading straight downstream, steelhead beware!