Copyright 2020 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Donner and Blitzen
The Donner and Blitzen River is commonly referred
to as the Blitzen. The river rises on the lower slopes
near Steens Mountain at an elevation of about 6500
feet. It is located in the high desert region of eastern
Oregon and drains the southern portion of the
Harney Basin including the Malheur National Wildlife
Refuge. The river terminates into Matheur Lake.
The river has a unique and diverse setting, flowing
through both marshland and glaciated canyons.
Although Its unusual name makes you think of two of
Santa's reindeer, it translates in German to thunder
and lightning. There are many spring feed tributaries
including the South Fork Blitzen River, Little Blitzen
River, Big Indian Creek, Little Indian Creek, Fish
creek, Mud Creek and Ankle Creek.
Although the Blitzen flows only a couple of miles from
the little town of Frenchglen, it is truly a remote and
wild river that doesn't pass through any cities.
Eighty-seven miles of the river is designated Wild
The redband trout of the Donner and Blitzen is
known for its fine trout fishing. The trout average
about 10 to 12 inches but grow up to 18 inches. An
angler that is willing to hike and fish unfished water is
usually well rewarded.
The river can be accessed at the Donner and Blitzen
River Canyon at Page Springs. Hiking downstream
will put you in touch with new water as far as you
want to go. You can also access the river from the
Steens Mountain Loop Road off of highway #205.
Just upstream is the Little Blitzen and Big Indian
which forms the main river.
The season is year-round.
The Spring season starts off with good fishing.
Summertime is the best time for fly fishing the
Early Fall is good for the brown trout which spawn in
the Fall as well as the big migratory Redband
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Photo Courtesy Steven Lamb
Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 ft., 5 or 6X Nymphing: 71/2 ft.,
3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five
or Ultimate Six
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
Donner and Blitzen River Fishing Report:
11/06/13 Customers reporting some nice trout being
caught on our PF Brown Sculpin streamer. They
called to order more. Brown trout are spawning. Only
hatches are tiny BWOs, size 20 or less.
Fishing Report Updated 01/27/2020
(Bottom Of Page)
12/29/13 Upper section of the Blitzen is
closed to harvest and lower section is frozen
over. It is open only for Catch and Release.
01/11/14 Rain is in the forecast and warmer
weather. Conditions may improve some.
01/18/14 Upper Blitzen is, of course, closed
and the lower river still has some ice. No
reports of any fish being caught by our local
01/25/14 Some of the ice is gone but the
water is still barely above freezing. No
reports of any fish being caught.
02/08/14 Lots of rain and rain/snow in the
forecast will improve the fishing conditions
within the next few day. We think much of the
ice will be gone and we can give you a better
02/15/14 Thee is rain and rain/snow in
the forecast every day for the next week.
Water levels are high from recent rains.
Currently too high to fish.
02/22/14 Water levels still high and no
reports of fish caught this last week.
03/01/14 Levels are still high and the
water is still in the high thirties. No reports
of any fishing being caught.
03/08/14 Rain is forecast through
Monday. The water is still high but some
03/15/14 The water levels are down some
and only a little rain is forecast. The
fishing should be good but we have no
reports from anglers.
03/22/14 The water is still on the cool side
but we got some good reports of catching
from the lower to upper sections of the
04/05/14 More reports came in on the
good fishing taking place in the upper
river and Bridge Creek.
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (email@example.com)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $100 are shipped via
04/12/14 Stream levels remain good and
plenty of trout have been caught. Three
customers ordering flies reported
catching plenty of trout.
04/19/14 Two customers ordering flies this
past week reported great fishing. The are
using mostly BWOs and Sculpin Streamers
early and late.
4/26/14 We are still getting some good
reports on the trout fishing in the upper
sections of the river. We had a couple of
new customers this past week referred to
us by those that have been catching trout.
05/03/14 The action cooled down some
probably due to the cooler weather but
they are still catching some trout
according to our local contact.
05/10/14 Anglers are still catching
rainbows in the upper sections. No
reports of any large redbands caught yet.
05/17/14 The Blitzen and Little Blitzen is
still producing plenty of rainbows in the
upper headwaters. Two anglers reported
good fishing this past week and ordered
more sculpin patterns and BWOs in
05/24/14 Several species of aquatic
insects are hatching, including stoneflies.
Conditions are excellent and plenty of
trout are being caught.
05/31/14 Excellent fishing conditions
continue for trout. Two anglers
ordering flies reported they are
consistently catching plenty of trout.
06/07/14 two more good reports came
in this past week. Everyone is happy
and catching trout. Excellent conditions
remain and even some good hatches
06/21/14 Trout fishing is continuing to
get better and better. More anglers
ordering flies and reporting good results.
07/05/14 Much warmer weather is in store
for the next week. Some hatches ending
but terrestrials becoming important.
07/19/14 Conditions remain good. Water
levels have been low at times but plenty of
trout are being caught throughout the
system. Two customers reporting nice
catches and ordering more PMd and
07/26/14 Customer ordering more flies
reported he is consistently catching lots of
trout. PMDs and spotted sedges are
working, along with Little Yellow Stoneflies.
08/16/14 No reports from the past week
but the water should be cooling off a little
and fishing improving.
08/30/14 We received a couple of good
fishing reports. Cooler weather is forecast
and conditions should improve.
09/13/14 We don't have any recent fishing
reports. It should still be good or better
than it has been. The flows are good and
the weather a little cooler.
09/27/14 One regular customer reporting
that he has been catching several trout
using mostly terrestrials. The water temps
have dropped and fishing conditions have
10/11/14 No reports from the past week
but fishing should still be very good. BWOs
should be hatching.
10/18/14 One customer reporting he is
catching plenty of trout with BWO imitations
and our Brown Sculpin.
10/25/14 More good reports. The cooler
weather and cloud cover has kept the
fishing good and blue-winged olive
11/08/14 The water temperature has
dropped down in the forties and anglers
should start using small BWO nymphs and
midges, mostly cream.
12/07/14 No reports. The water has dropped
into the low forties. The East Canal, Bridge
Creek, Mainstem Blitzen above Bridge Creek
and the Little Blitzen River is open for
12/20/14 One customer reporting catching
plenty of trout on Midges. He is using
cream pupa and larva in tandem.
12/27/14 No reports from the past week.
01/03/15 Still no reports. Water temps are
in the mid to high thirties but should
improve this coming week.
01/10/14 Still no reports from last week but
conditions are better with warmer water and
01/17/15 One customer reporting tough
conditions. Water is still in the mid to high
thirties and stained.
01/24/15 No reports of catches but much
better conditions exist. It is a little warmer.
01/31/15 The conditions have been much
better, both weather and stream level
wise, but still no reports from any anglers.
02/07/15 The river is very high at this time.
It will take three or four days to return to
02/21/15 Stream levels are back down but
we didn't get any reports from anyone
fishing the past week.
03/07/15 The Page Spring area is
producing some nice trout. March Browns
and Little Brown stoneflies have started
03/21/15 Three good reports came in the
past two weeks. BWOs are also hatching.
03/28/15 No reports from the past week but
stream conditions and weather remain good.
04/11/15 Two good reports of several trout
caught by customers the past two weeks.
Conditions are very good for this time of the
04/18/15 Two more good reports. Dry flies
are taking a few fish. (BWOs), Little Black
04/25/15 Another good report came in.
Good stream levels and some hatches.
06/13/15 Lots of trout being caught and
lots of good hatches. PMDs, Golden
Stones, Little Yellow Stones, and more.
06/20/15 Good reports continue. Fish about
anywhere on the river and catch trout now.
07/04/15 Still getting good reports. Stream
levels down some. Lots of hatches but
terrestrials also becoming important.
07/11/15 No reports but conditions should be
better due to cooler weather.
07/18/15 One good report from customers
camping. Caught several nice size trout.
07/25/15 The river is not closed due to high
temps. No reports from the past week but
cooler weather should help.
08/05/15 Low water levels but trout still
being caught. It is best to fish early and late
but high water temps are still in the mid
08/15/15 No changes from the past week
except no chance of rain at all for a week.
08/29/15 Good chance of rain through
Sunday and that should perk up the streams.
It is still good but low levels don't help.
09/05/15 The slightly cooler temperatures and
better stream levels has helped. The river is in
good condition and trout are being caught.
09/12/15 Rain is expected from Monday
though next Thursday and that should help.
Lower air temperatures will also improve the
09/26/15 The rain of a week ago helped but
the stream is getting back low and clear.
Anglers are catching trout on a regular basis.
The cooler weather really helped.
10/10/15 Conditions are very good with
better water temperatures. October Caddis
are hatching. You can catch trout throughout
10/24/15 Good stream levels exist right now
but there is some rain in the forecast.
October Caddis are at the peak of their
hath and bringing trout to the surface to eat
the egg layers in the late afternoons.
10/31/14 Stream levels were up a couple of
days but are back down now near normal.
We added a USGS link on your upper left.
11/14/15 The water is about 48 degrees and
hatches mostly Midges and BWOs. Stream
levels are good. There is lots of rain/snow.
11/28/15 Stream levels are fine but the water
is very cold, averaging from 33 to 38. That
makes it very tough. Sorry, keep in touch.
12/05/15 The water is a little warmer and you
should be able to catch some trout using
Midge larva and pupa imitations in tandem.
12/12/15 The river is one of a few that is still
in good shape in the state of Oregon. Right
now stream levels are normal. Water is
about 40 degrees on the average.
12/26/15 The stream levels are fine but
there's snow forecast from Sunday through
Wednesday with a high of 24 to 35. Ice
along the banks and water at about 35
degrees equals very poor opportunity.
01/09/16 There is a chance of rain and snow
from tomorrow through Thursday. The USGS
gauge isn't working but the stream levels
and flows are okay at this time. Lots of ice is
in the water (slush) and around the banks.
01/23/16 The stream levels are very high
right now (blown out) and there is more rain
and snow through Tuesday.
02/06/16 The flows are down and the river
clear. The weather forecast shows no rain
or snow and warmer weather, in other
words, good conditions.
02/13/16 The river is on the way up and blown
out. You will just have to keep checking.
02/27/16 The stream level got back down to
near normal for a couple of day but it is back
up with more rain in the forecast. LIttle
Blue-winged olives are hatching.
03/12/16 It was fine until yesterday, but very
high. It is falling and warmer, with the water
temperature around 41 degrees and trout
were being caught.
03/26/16 Good conditions exist. The stream
level is good and the water reaching the high
forties. March Browns and Little Black caddis
will be hatching very soon. BWOs and Cream
Midges are hatching.
04/16/16 The river is back in good shape with
good stream levels and warmer water with
more hatches. Skwala stoneflies are showing
up in some sections.
04/30/16 Customers are catching lots of
trout. Stream levels are good, a little low, and
the water clear. Blue-winged olives, little
Black Grannon caddis, and some Skwala
stoneflies are hatching.
05/07/16 Good stream conditions, good
weather and lots of hatches make this a good
destination for this coming week.
05/21/16 Stream levels are good, easy to
wade and lots of trout are being caught.
There is some rain, so check the levels
before you travel very far to fish.
06/18/16 Conditions are great throughout the
length of the trout water. Customers are
reporting some very good catches. The Pale
Morning Duns and Pale Evening Duns are
the main mayflies, but there are two species
of caddis, and Golden and little Yellow
stoneflies hatching. It is a great time to fish
this river. We will be glad to send you a list of
flies to match the hatches.
07/02/16 The stream levels are a little low
and you need to use stealth and stay hidden
from the trout. Lots of hatches taking place.
07/23/16 Low water levels makes it easy to
wade. You have to use stealth and stay
hidden from the trout. Fish early and late in
the day. Late afternoon near dark is best.
08/06/16 The river is still low. Terrestrials are
working good but you have to stay hidden
from the trout. Stay low and blend in with the
background. There are caddisflies and PMDs.
School will start soon and the crowds gone.
08/20/16 Good conditions. The water is a
little low but wading easy. Just don't spook
the trout. Terrestrial imitations are working.
09/03/16 The water is a little low but much
cooler and trout are being caught in good
numbers. Terrestrials are working.
10/08/16 Our customers reported some good
catches this past week. Mahogany duns,
BWOs, some October Caddis, and other
insects are hatching. The water is a little low
but easy to wade and fish.
10/22/16 The stream levels are still in good
shape with easy wading and lots of trout are
being caught. Bwo's and Western Ginger
Quills are hatching very good.
11/03/16 The stream levels are low but fine.
Midges, creams and reds, and Winter
stoneflies are hatching.
12/24/16 Sorry for the lack of reports. There
is snow in the forecast from Tuesday
through next Saturday. The stream levels
are in good shape but the water is very cold,
just above freezing with lots of slush ice. We
don't recommend fishing at this time.
01/14/17 The water is still very cold, about
32 to 34 degrees with lots of ice in the water.
It is warming up this coming week. High air
temps will be in the high 30's and low 40's.
01/28/17 The stream levels are low and the
water clear but it is very cold, barely above
freezing with lots of ice. Suggest you wait.
02/11/17 The river has been very high but
back down to normal level. Fishing should be
excellent. The water is 39 degrees. Fish
Cream or Red midges, and Sculpin streamers.
02/18/17 We had a report that fishing wasn't
good from the past weekend. Reportedly, no
one was doing very well.
02/25/17 The stream level is in good shape
and the water clear but it is cold, barely
above freezing. We didn't receive any reports.
03/18/17 The stream levels are a little high
making it tough to wade, but still okay to
fish. March Browns and Skwala stoneflies
03/25/17 Stream levels are down to just a
little above normal and the water clear.
Good conditions should exist this week.
04/01/17 The flows are too high to wade, or
377 cfs at 3.19 ft. Normal is more like 140
cfs. It should be good when it falls out.
04/22/17 The stream levels are down to
normal and the water much warmer, about
49 degrees. Several hatches are underway.
04/29/17 The stream levels are in good
shape and hatches are taking place. Little
Black Caddis, Skwala stoneflies, little Brown
stoneflies and Blue-winged olives are
05/13/17 The stream levels are normal and
the water clear. Our customers reported
catching trout this past week. Salmonflies will
start hatching anytime now.
06/03/17 We received one good reports this
past week. The stream levels are still too
high to wade. Lots of insects are hatching.
06/10/17 The stream levels are down in good
shape for wading and the water is clear.
Trout are being caught in good numbers.
PEDs, Salmon and Golden SFs, caddis and
06/17/17 More good reports. The stream
levels are good and lots of trout being
caught by our customers. Good hatches.
07/01/17 The stream conditions are very
good with lots of hatches and trout being
caught. All sections of the river are producing.
07/22/17 Two good reports. Stream levels
are low and you need to hike away from
crowds and campers. PMDs and caddis
hatches and terrestrials working.
07/29/17 Stay low and hidden as much as
possible. Fish the higher section of the
stream. Fish early and late in the day.
08/05/17 The stream is still in good shape.
Late afternoon caddis egg laying and spinner
falls are producing some good numbers of
trout caught by one of our customers.
08/12/17 Stream levels are in good shape
and some insects hatching. Western ginger
Quills, spotted sedge and others.
08/19/17 More good reports. Good stream
levels and some hatches. Carpenter ants,
Japaneese beetles and hoppers are working
09/16/17 The stream levels are normal and
the water a little cooler thanks to the much
cooler weather. Conditions are good.
10/07/17 Conditions are very good. Stream
levels are normal and good number of trout
are being caught. We had two good reports
from this past week.
10/13/17 Everyone keeps calling wanting to
know exactly where to fish the river.
Anywhere but right in the campground area
should be good. A little hiking will do wonders.
10/29/17 Stream levels are in good shape
and wading safe (with caution) and easy.
BWOs, Mah. Duns, October Caddis and
Midges are hatching. Good reports.
12/04/17 The river is in good shape with trout
being caught. We received one good report
from a customer fishing this past week. BWOs
and Midges are the insects to imitate.
12/11/7 Stream levels are okay but the
water is cold. Midges, Creams and Blood or
red ones will work.
12/18/17 Winter stoneflies have begin to
hatch along with the midges. These
stoneflies are sometimes called snow flies.
Send us an email for a fly list.
01/01/18 The stream is in decent shape but
the water is a little cold, averaging about 39
degrees. Midges, creams and reds, and
winter stoneflies are hatching.
01/08/18 Fish midge larva and pupa rigged
in tandem. Fish the winter stonefly nymphs
near the banks. Conditions remain fair.
01/29/18 Good hatches of Midges, creams
and reds, and Winter stoneflies. Low
stream levels but okay.
02/05/18 A good week of weather ahead
and good stream levels. Fish near the
campground. Few anglers are fishing.
03/05/18 The stream is running low and
clear. Skwala stoneflies are starting to hatch.
04/02/18 Stream levels are a little below
normal but other than that, conditions are
good. Midges, Skwala stoneflies, little
BWOs and March Browns are hatching.
05/01/18 Stream levels are a little below
normal. You have to stay low and hidden
from the trout. BWOs, March Browns and
little Black Caddis. Salmonflies should start
hatching very soon.
05/15/18 Stream levels are low but
otherwise, in good shape. Golden stoneflies
are starting to hatch.
05/29/18 Stream levels are low and you
have to be careful to not spook the trout.
PMDS, Golden stones, Spotted and Green
sedge caddis and others are hatching.
06/19/18 The river is back down a little low
again. Stay low and hidden. There are
multiple hatches taking place. We are
getting some very good reports.
07/03/18 There are some very good Pale
Morning dun hatches among several other
insects. Stream levels are a little low and
you have to say hidden from the trout.
07/24/18 The river is very low and some
parts are too warm to fish, but others okay.
You have to stay hidden and avoid fishing
right around the campground.
08/06/18 The river is still very low. A few
good reports have come in but you have to
stay well hidden. There's lots of PMDs and
some other insects hatching.
08/21/18 The stream is still low and you
have to make good presentations and stay
hidden. Hatches continue and terrestrials
are also working.
09/04/18 Low water levels still exist. You
can still catch trout but you have to use
stealth. Terrestrials are working good.
10/15/18 The river is still low and the water
cooler. There are midges, Oct. Caddis,
Mahogany duns and Little BWOs hatching.
Good reports are coming in.
10/22/18 Conditions remain about the same.
We received two good reports from the past
11/15/18 You have to stay hidden from the
trout but they are being caught by the few
anglers fishing. Midges, creams and reds,
and BWOs are hatching good.
12/01/18 Good conditions exist. The water
is cold, around 38-41. Midges is th most
important flies - rig them in tandem - larva
bottom, pupa top fly.
12/22/18 Sorry for missed reports.
Conditions are good with good numbers of
trout being caught. Our Brown sculpin
streamers are catching the larger ones.
12/29/18 Stream levels are normal and the
water clear. There are some Midge and
BWO hatches. Rig the larva and pupa in
01/13/19 Good Winter stonefly hatches are
starting to take place. Stream levels are okay
and the waterin good shape.
01/20/18 We didn't receive any reports of
catches but conditions are fine except it has
been much colder. Midges are hatching
01/27/19 We received two very good reports.
Good numbers of trout are bing caught. This
coming week should be the best one in a
02/03/19 The stream has been up but back
down near normal and in good shape.
Conditions are very good at this time.
02/10/19 The stream levels are in good
shape and the water clear. Midges, winter
stoneflies and sculpin streamers are the flies
you need to be using.
02/24/19 Stream levels are up but
otherwide, the river in in good shape. The
water averages about 37 degrees.
03/12/19 The stream levels are in good shap
and the water clear. Water temp is a little
over 40 degrees and rising. Good reports
are coming in. This coming week should be a
03/22/19 The stream is in very good
condition with Mzrch Browns, BWOs and little
Brown stoneflies hatching.
04/20/19 The stream levels are a little too
high to wade but otherwise, okay. Trout are
being caught mostly on Sculpin streamers with
the water level high but therfe are hatches.
05/15/19 The river is running a little high with
los of insects hatching. We received a very
good report this past week.
06/19/19 Sorry for the missed reports. The
river is in good shape with good stream
levels and clear water. Trout are being
caught in all sections. Some good hatches
are taking place. Send us an email for a
recommended fly liist.
06/28/19 The river is in good shape with
good levels and lots of hatches taking place.
Trout are being caught in good numbers.
07/05/19 The stream is still in good
condition with lots of hatches and
terrestrials - Jap beetles, hoppers and
carpenter ants, are also working.
07/12/19 We are getting lots of good reports
from customers. Good number of trout are
being caught in all sections.
07/19/19 We continue to get some very
good reports from customers fishing the
river. All sections are turning out trout and
good hatches are contining to come off.
07/29/19 Conditions are about as good as
they get. Good catches are being reported.
08/05/19 The river is still in good shape with
good numbers of trout being caught. There
are still some hatches and terrestrials like
our Japanese beetles are working.
08/28/19 We are still getting good reports.
The stream levels is a little above the
normal low and trout are being caught by
our customers in good numbers.
09/08/19 The river is flowing a little above
normal levels and in good shape. We are
getting good reports. Good hatches and
our terrestrial patterns are working.
09/20/19 Stream levels are just a little
above normal levels and trout are being
caught by our customers in good numbers.
10/01/19 Conditions are still very good
with good numbers of trout being caught in
all sections of the stream.
10/20/19 Stream levels are just a little
above normal and good numbers and
sizes of trout are being caught by our
customers. Our articulated streamers are
getting the larger trout.
10/27/19 The river is running above
normal, but is in good shape. Great
weather and mild temperatures should
make this a good week for fishing. Sculpin
and Streamer patterns are working.
01/27/2020 Sorry for the missed reports.
The stream is very high right now but is
producing good numbers of trout for our
customers when the levels are fishing.
There are some good hatches occurring.