Friday, October 17, 2014

October Cast and Blast

Picture of a man fly fishing on a large river in Oregon's high desert.
Doug Fly Fishing the Deschutes River
Our annual 5-day float trip down the Deschutes River was filled with great camaraderie, success, some disappointment and a mild confrontation. Thankfully, we were graced with fabulous weather that featured little wind, a warm blue sky and an impending full moon. Expectations were high as we set up our camp at the Box Car run, but the water was higher than normal. Nonetheless, we fished the first evening hoping to hook a few summer steelhead, but nary a fish came to the fly.

Three men dragging a buck through high desert grass country
Isaak, Shannon & Paul with Isaak's Buck
Early the next morning Paul and Izaak headed out to find some deer and Shannon and I went fishing. Our casting efforts were to no avail, and after several hours of flogging the water we gave up. This was of some concern because this water was usually productive, but since we had four more days left, we reeled in and fixed some breakfast. Later that morning we heard several shots, and our two-way radios confirmed that Izaak had a 3-point buck down. Shannon went up to help him drag it down from the canyon and I monitored the camp. Paul also had an opportunity when he spotted two nice bucks running up and over a saddle, but he passed up the opportunity for fear of wounding one of them.

The second day Paul and Izaak headed back to locate another buck. Luckily it came sooner than expected. A small herd was feeding at the top of Peckerwood Canyon, and it had several nice bucks in it. But, in order to get a good shot, Paul would have to keep a low profile because he had little cover. Izaak was at a position where he could see the herd and advise Paul of its activity. So Paul began to crawl behind sagebrush, tall grasses and rocks to inch 50 yards closer to a nice buck that was quietly feeding. Tension gripped the scene as Paul sighted in on the animal at 200 yards. Suddenly a shot echoed down the cannon as Paul brought down a husky 4 x 3 buck. Teamwork and stealth was essential in making this event a classic stalk!

Later that day I decided to do some trout fishing, and since there were no risers, I put a small split shot on my leader and tied a Girdle Bug on the tippet. I waded out into a riffle, and after numerous casts I felt a slight pull and set the hook. Suddenly a 9- or 10-pound steelhead rolled on the surface and shredded my 5 pound leader. I immediately went back to camp and re-rigged my steelhead rod with another Girdle Bug and returned to the same riffle. After only a few casts I got a hard take but the hook pulled free. I guess it just wasn’t my day.

We pulled out Monday morning and headed downriver to a campsite called Weinhard’s Drift. It has classic fly water that contained slow glides and ledge water that usually held steelhead, but when we arrived another party had the campsite. Fortunately, another camp was available below called Wagonblast. We set up camp and when the sun was off the water we started to fish. Shannon went upriver, Paul and Izaak went below me and I fished our camp water. Soon another angler began to fish behind me. I stopped and went up to chat with him. Suddenly he said, “You’re not at a legal campsite and you’re fishing in our water!” I was stunned and said, “I’ve been fishing and camping here for years and your camp is 100 yards above us." “Well,” he said, "the Weinhard camp includes all the water below it." I snapped back, "Does that mean you own this water all the way to the Columbia River?” With that statement he just shook his head and fished on through without saying another word. In spite of this confrontation, it still was a great trip even though fishing was disappointing. Hopefully, this will all change in the future.  

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