The Fall River in Central Oregon south of Bend is a pretty spring creek that is strictly open to fly fishing only with barbless hooks.
The stream, a tributary of the Deschutes, is a favorite among fly anglers and a great spot to hone your craft. In fact, we have it listed on our popular run-down of Best Fly Fishing Rivers in Oregon and also on our more localized list of Best Fishing Rivers in Central Oregon.
The river from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fall River Hatchery upstream to its origin springs, running through the Deschutes National Forest, is planted with a fair number of those locally raised rainbows every few weeks starting in the spring and continuing well into summer.
The cold, crystalline river is just 12 miles in length before entering the Deschutes River, but also supports naturally reproducing rainbow, brown and brook trout that may be retained, with the bag limit applying to the rainbows.
At this time, the entire stream is open all year, and thanks to its consistent temperatures as a spring creek, it can be fished even in the winter, although catches are often better spring through fall.
Access is best on that upper section in the pine-shaded areas of national forest above the hatchery. South Century Drive (Highway 42) follows it pretty closely, and there also are good trails in the vicinity. Lower sections of the stream pass through more private property, but you might find more brown trout in the reaches below Fall River Falls (near Deschutes River Road).
Local fly fishing legend Harry Teel, in his Fly Fishing Central & Southeastern Oregon, recommends that anglers use lightweight presentations and keep a low personal profile due to the extremely clear water conditions. Trout can be wary.
While most fish here are pan-sized, Teel said that larger trout might be found lurking under a fair amount of downed timber in the stream.
Teel said of Fall River trout in general: “These fish are usually dining on midges and mayflies. Caddis and small stoneflies are also productive patterns. Weights are not permitted so use Woolly Buggers and Beadhead Nymphs in a dropper setup.”
Make sure to carefully review the ODFW’s definition of fly fishing before angling here. Hint: Fishing a fly under a casting bubble with that spinning rod won’t cut it when the fish and game trooper shows up.
There is a Fall River Campground where you can stay on the river, although you’ll have to spread out from there to find the best fishing. You also can stay in the Fall River Guard Station right next to the headwaters. Plenty of other camping is located nearby at Twin Lakes and Wickiup Reservoir in the Deschutes National Forest and at LaPine State Park.
While you’re there, the Fall River Hatchery raises several kinds of trout used in stocking programs, including trout that are air-lifted into the region’s high mountain lakes. Some of the grounds are open to visitors, and you can have access to fish the river here … although this spot might be too crowded for many anglers’ tastes.
The hatchery section of Fall River is only 15-20 minutes driving southwest from Sunriver. It’s only about a half hour driving from Bend to the north and even closer to La Pine if you’re heading up Highway 97 from the south. It’s a little over two hours to reach it from Eugene and about three and a half from the Portland area.