Aug 1st, 2019
A guided overnight jet boat trip on the lower Deschutes with the Renton family is an incredibly unique experience in the steelhead angling world. The high desert canyon offers unbelievable scenery, a remote feel, consistent weather and a run of aggressive summer steelhead. Guided jet boat trips are done on the lower 25 miles of the Deschutes River, where motorized boats are allowed for limited days during the prime window of July through September 30. After September 30th there are no restrictions on motorized boats. The Renton family has dedicated decades to learning and guiding the Deschutes. The foundation of this family-run outfitting business centers on incredible camps, great food and a deep commitment to quality instruction. A comfortable base camp will be set up before guests arrive. From there, guests will set out to fish some of the most famed steelhead water in the West.
Much of the steelhead fishing here is done with floating lines and small traditional flies. Deschutes steelhead tend to be aggressive, chasing flies swung across the even currents of countless seductive runs. A typical steelhead here weighs five to six pounds and there are good numbers of fish in the 8-10 pound range as well. A few fish in the 12-15 pound category are seen each season. Be prepared for long days on the water. Catching tends to be most productive in the low light hours of the day. Your guide will typically have you out on the water at the first hint of light and you fish hard until mid-day. At that point you’ll stop for a streamside lunch and perhaps a siesta. In the afternoon your guide will have you back out on the water for the evening session.
Contact Andy at 800.552.2729 for more information on the Deschutes River
Top reasons to go
1. Experience a fabled Pacific Northwest river with aggressive summer steelhead.
2. Quickly and efficiently access the prime water at the right time of day in the lower 25 miles of the Deschutes river via jet boat.
3. Increase your knowledge and skills targeting steelhead using swung fly techniques.
4. Stay in the Renton’s unique and comfortable riverside camp, featuring gourmet home-cooking, a solar shower and spacious Montana Canvas wall tents.
5. Immerse yourself in the stunning high desert landscape of the vast Deschutes River Canyon.
Where is the river?
The Deschutes originates high in the cascade mountains of central Oregon. It flows north 252 miles to its terminus at the Columbia river just east of The Dalles, Oregon. The Jet Boat Camp focuses on the lower 25 miles of the Deschutes River between Macks Canyon and the mouth at the mighty Columbia river.
How do I get there?
Guests fly into Portland, OR where they rent a car and drive 3 hours east to Macks Canyon. Macks Canyon is a campground and boat launch on the Deschutes 17 miles downstream of the town of Maupin, OR. You will meet your guide here. You can leave your car at Mack’s Canyon while you are on the river.
When should I go?
The second week of August through November. Steelhead fishing on the Deschutes begins to get productive in mid-August and spans the duration of the Fall, with prime time being September and October. November can also be a great month, with angling pressure vastly decreased compared to late-summer/early fall.
Where do they fish?
The jet boat trips on the Deschutes focus on the lowest 25 miles of the river between Macks Canyon and it’s confluence with the Columbia river.
What are the accommodations like?
Camps include spacious tents with cots, dining tents and shelters for shade. Guests do need to bring their own sleeping bags. Solar showers are available for clients who wish to bathe while in camp.
Who is best suited to this destination?
The Deschutes River Jet Boat Camp is a wonderful trip for those who wish to swing flies for steelhead. Those who have minimal experience fly fishing for steelhead will appreciate the guide’s emphasis on education and instruction. Anglers who are willing to stay in a camp-style setting as opposed to luxurious accommodations will enjoy this experience. The Deschutes is a wade-mandatory river, so it is best suited for those who have wading experience or possess moderate balance and stability to wade this large river safely. Fly fishing for steelhead is challenging; those that understand that a fish per day is good fishing will get the most out of this experience.
What are the meals like?
The Deschutes River Jet Boat camp provides guests with delicious and well thought out meals. Breakfasts are typically a simple affair to ensure that you are out on the water and making your first cast when it is just light enough to fish. After the morning session (typically around noon) you and your guide will return to camp for a delicious, freshly-cooked lunch. After this midday meal (and maybe a short siesta!) you will venture out again for the evening session, where you will fish until dark. Upon arrival in camp that evening, appetizers will be waiting for you and soon after you will sit down to one of Debbie Renton’s unforgettable, hearty dinners in the camp’s dining tent.
How would you describe the general vibe and atmosphere?
The general vibe is that anglers can expect to fish long hours and move around a lot in the jet boat during prime fishing hours of the day. This is an incredibly scenic trip as well, with jet boat rides up and downstream being a great way for clients to observe the beautiful canyon and look for wildlife. The atmosphere around camp is laid-back, casual and comfortable.
Is there an on-site manager, owner or point person at the lodge?
Renton River Adventures (permit operated through All Star) is a family run operation. David (father) and Dillon (son) are the guides of the operation while Debbie (mother) and Knut (son) are the camp hosts and chefs. It is not uncommon for all 4 members of the family to be on site during your trip, depending on the size of your group.
Is there internet and cell service?
How do they fish?
Swinging flies is the primary method employed. Most of the season floating lines can be used and small traditional hairwing patterns are productive. When the sun is high or when water temperatures drop, sink tips become more involved in the fishing.
How many fish will I catch?
As is the case in most steelhead systems, a fish a day is considered good fishing.
What are the guides like?
David and Dillon Renton are enthusiastic, knowledgeable and have a passion for the Deschutes. They are the type of guides who head to the river on their days off to fish themselves. Furthermore, both are expert boatmen emphasizing safety above all else when navigating the Deschutes River.
Will we see other anglers?
Yes, there will typically be others enjoying the river. However, the lower Deschutes river is a large waterway so there is plenty of space for all.
Is there wade fishing?
All fishing is done while wading. The jet boat is used solely for rapid transportation between prime spots.
How far is it to the fishing grounds?
Often times, camp will be set up on the banks of productive steelhead water, so it can be as short as a 2 minute walk from your tent to a 20 minute boat ride up or downstream.
Does the lodge provide equipment?
Rods/reels, flies and terminal tackle are provided. Guests will need to provide their own waders and boots, as well as a valid Oregon angling license, steelhead tag and Columbia River Basin endorsement.
Does the lodge provide flies?
Yes, the guide will have a selection of hand-tied, proven patterns that are tied specifically for the Deschutes.
What is your favorite rod(s) for the trip?
6-7 weight spey rods between 12-13 feet are perfect for the Deschutes. 7-8 weight single handed rods between 9-10 feet are great as well.
What are the top flies?
Anglers who want to tie or bring along their own selections should have traditional hairwing patterns in size 4 to 8. Examples of traditional hairwing flies that are standards on the Deschutes are the Silver Hilton, Green Butt Skunk, Purple Peril, Lady Caroline and Macks Canyon. Size 4-6 Muddler Minnows in black, tan, purple and olive are great as well. When fishing sink tips, marabou tube flies or leech patterns work well in black, purple and olive.
Are there other activities?
This is definitely a trip best suited for anglers who wish to spend long days on the water targeting steelhead.
What is the cost?
$2,400 per person for a 3 night / 3 day package. Trips of varying length are also available.
Does this trip combine well with other trips?
Yes. Beginning the last week of September through October it combines well with a multi-day float trip on the upper section of the lower Deschutes River. The upper river trips are multi-day drift boat trips where the focus is on both trout and steelhead. We have had great feedback from clients who have spent a few days at the Renton’s Jet Boat Camp and then proceeded to do a float trip. This gives you the full Deschutes River experience!
What are the physical demands?
Because there is no fishing out of the boat, anglers must wade while fishing on the Deschutes. While there are no long hikes, I would consider the wading to be moderate to difficult. The guides know the water well and will have you in the spots that offer good fishing and match your ability.
Dangers and annoyances?
There is some poison ivy along the river banks, but your guides are aware of areas that should be avoided and have a keen eye for spotting it before you encounter it. During the warmer months, rattlesnakes can be seen among the rocks and riparian vegetation. They are typically docile and let you know where they are before you get too close. You can also experience periods of windy conditions while in the canyon, making casting more difficult.
What am I forgetting?
Don’t forget your sleeping bag, waders & boots and a headlamp for walking around camp once the sun has set.
The summer steelhead of the Deschutes are aggressive, hard-fighting and willingly eat a well-swung fly.
Jet boats allow you to quickly and efficiently access prime water at prime times both upstream and downstream of camp.
The Renton’s are passionate instructors who welcome clients of all levels. They love increasing the knowledge and skillset of every guest.
Streamside camps are comfortable and positioned on or near prime steelhead water.
The high desert canyon offers incredible scenery, a remote feel and ample opportunities for wildlife spotting.
Note: Lower Deschutes River jet boat trips operated under a BLM special use permit issued to All Star