Wednesday, December 25, 2013

An Innocent Intruder

Doug Stewart fly fishing for Steelhead on the Deschutes
The sun had just ducked behind the western ridge of Long Canyon and my two clients began to don their wading gear. It was a perfect evening—shade on the water, no wind and fly fishing one of the best runs on the Deschutes River, the Box Car run. Compared to other water types it was quite long, stretching from an upper riffle that flowed into a long glide. From there numerous large rocks broke the surface creating ideal resting areas for steelhead. It was a classic run.

As my clients were rigging up, out of nowhere a lone fly fisher abruptly walked into our camp and said, “Good evening fellas,” and then proceeded to wade into our water. We were stunned, and as I went to confront him he hooked a steelhead on his first cast but lost it after one jump. I quickly confronted him and said, “Hey, Buddy, what in the heck do you think you’re doing?”

Well,” he said. "No one was fishing it, so I just….”

I rudely interrupted him, “You can’t just barge right into someone’s water!"

He dropped his head slightly and said, “I’m sorry. I’m new on this river. Please forgive me.”

I accepted his apology and told him that to avoid a conflict ask other anglers first before you step into their water. As he turned to leave, out of empathy for him I said, “Listen, you made an honest mistake, so why don’t you go to the riffle above and fish behind us.”

As my clients stepped into the water and begin casting, we heard a holler and looked upstream. Amazingly, the novice had hooked and was playing a nice steelhead which he eventually landed. Unfortunately, my clients didn’t hook any fish the rest of that evening which prompted some light-hearted bantering. “Yep,” one of them said. “You pay a guide to get you into fish and you get skunked.” 

But,” the other one countered, “he takes pity on a complete stranger and for nothing gets him into fish. Can you beat that?” Fortunately, I was able to get both of them into fish the next day, so in spite of my embarrassment, it turned out to be a successful trip. 

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