Salmon-Fly Hatch Draws Fish, Anglers to Oregon

The Deschutes River boasts some of the best fly-fishing in North America. Anglers from all over the world travel to Central Oregon in search of the river's bounties of steelhead and trout. And late spring marks one of the best times to fish – when the salmon flies are hatching.

"Salmon fly" is a generic term for several species of stone flies, which are large river insects — really large. Imagine a four-winged fly the size of your pinkie finger and sometimes bigger. They spend most of their lives under water, but when they mature in spring, they crawl to the surface at river's edge and hatch, taking to the air in search of a mate. That attracts large trout, which is what gets anglers excited.

Jamie Zartler, a 40-year-old schoolteacher from Portland and an avid angler, says the salmon-fly hatch is one of his favorite times of year.

"You're always listening for your buddies or checking Web sites to find out, is this the weekend to go, is this the day to call in sick?"

The trout act differently when the flies are hatching, Zartler says.

"When these big flies come out of the water, they've really got a chance to chow down, and they take some risks that make them easier to catch," he says.

That makes the salmon-fly hatch one of the greatest hatches in North America to fish. It's a must-do for anglers everywhere.

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