When I got home from fishing on Saturday my wife asked how the day was. I told her I had fished hard all day and within the last 45 minuets before the sun went down I finally hooked a steelhead. She looked at me and said “I can’t believe…” and trailed off. What she was going to say is that she can’t believe that I am willing to be out all day casting and not catch anything. Sometimes when I am on the river and not hooking fish I wonder about what I am doing too. Is this the right fly? Right depth? Right run? All I can do is put on flies I trust in and work the runs I know always hold fish. It’s funny to think that just years back I would be totally ecstatic if I even caught one twelve inch fish in a day. Know I get bummed if I go out and don’t catch at least one steelhead.
Alex hooked five that day and landed two. He also caught the mother of all sucker fish. We saw Haddis Catch up on the river and met up with him in the pitch black back at the parking lot. We all headed to Double Mountain in Hood River for some killer pizza and beer and sat around discussing our obsession. One thing that I really thought was interesting is when Haddis Catch mentioned that more and more the Deschutes River steelhead are not cutting it excitement wise. “Maybe head to the Clearwater or the Dean for some monster steelhead?” was mentioned. It is funny that I can still remember just years ago the pure adrenaline rush when I hooked my first steelhead and now I am in the same boat wondering about where to go to test my skills on some larger fish.
ps: Yes I have fished the Clearwater (here is the post) and yes I landed several of the monster B run steelhead, but that was with a guide and not using my own flies, water reading, and knowledge to get the fish.
After an amazing report from Alex who made it out to the Deschutes on a Friday (must be nice to be your own boss) I was super excited to head out early Saturday morning. Yes it had been raining for several days and I knew the worst of the winter storm was going to hit while I was away, but I couldn’t resist. Everything was ready the night before. Car all packed, coffee maker set for 4:30am, water in the microwave ready to be nuked for some oatmeal. Unfortunately I got out of bed a few times to pop out a few flies that I had on my mind to test out, but such is the affliction of us who tie our own flies.
Rain was already in the tire ruts making driving ridiculously bad along I-84—the worst maintained road I have ever driven on. As the sun was cracking in the sky I had the spey and switch rod rigged and was heading to the water. Of course the bait guys were already down near the river gauge wire, but I jumped in below someone (after asking, come on people be nice, it’s just fishing) throwing a spinner. There were salmon jumping everywhere around me, but Alex said he had done well in this section with steelhead the day before so I swung on through the run. Just as I was near the end of the run my whole rod tried to leap out of my hands. I knew in an instant that it was not a steelhead. After a 30 minute fight on my 7 weight Beulah switch rod I managed to land this 30-odd pound king salmon. What a wild ride!
After I snagged a passerby to snap a photo for me I decided to get out of the salmon area and headed upriver above rattlesnake. You could see that the water was starting to turn off color from the rain and the White River. I settled into one of my favorite spots. I sat down to have lunch and watch the river. I got all rigged up and decided to start in the best part of the run and on second cast I had a large steelhead on.
I have been to the river many times and hooked a steelhead in the first few casts and not hooked another fish all day. Please, please don’t let this be one of those days I thought. I worked back up to the favorite spot and put a few more casts through. Nothing. I pulled the line in and inspected my choice of fly. Nah, leave it on. If one liked it maybe he has friends. More casts, nothing. Then after several minutes I got another fish on, YES! Alright let this one go, work back to the top of the run. Cast. Fish on! WHAT! Yep, that happened for five fish in a row. It was just silly. I sat down for awhile to give the run a rest and bask in the beauty of what just happened. While by the end of the day there were twelve (yep, twelve) steelhead hooked. I really wanted to stay Sunday, but could see the river getting muddy and the wind had become so bad you could hardly stand in the gusts. I did one of the scariest drives I have ever done through the sideways wind and rain to get home, ran into the house and cracked a celebratory Ninkasi (best beer). That trip will probably never happen to me again, but hey a guy can hope, right?
I had the whole Deschutes to myself the other day. Worked my way up one side and ran back down to the car and went up the other side. One nice tug, but no steel to hand. I may have to go one more time for my birthday, but the gauges out on the coastal rivers are catching my eye.
I finally won something! Back in 2009 I submitted a photo for a “photo of the month” with Big Y Fly and got an e-mail last week that they wanted to use my photo. They sent me a nice assortment of beadhead flies and a nice hat (the way I go through hats you can never have enough).
Here’s the photo I submitted (I have become much better with my photos, thanks to my wife, so no judging):
Just got an order of beads to refill my dwindling supply. The good guys at Blue Quill Angler in Colorado are doing free shipping the month of July and they have great deals on beads. 100 packs of brass beads are 5 or 6 dollars and tungsten 50 packs are 10 to 18 dollars. Get ’em while the shipping is free. Or stop in as they have the coolest little log cabin fly shop.
Last week the grandma-in-law had to head back to Virginia, but the day before she left I managed to sneak in one more day of fishing. I headed on over to what is quickly becoming my favorite trout river, the Deschutes. I can’t even count the amount of days I spent on that river getting completely skunked or being completely excited that I caught a few six inch fish. So much so that I gave up on it out of frustration. Than a few years back Alex and I hit the Stonefly hatch and since than things have just been improving. Now I have found really nice hefty trout every time I have gone.
This time I was fishing all the deeper spots I could find as it was a pure blue sky out with no wind (seriously, no wind). I was having a good time and found a few 12 inchers here and there. Than as I was fishing my way up a nice little run I saw a fluorescent green bait casters hook setup in a bush six feet or so out in the river. I went out to get it out of the bush and noticed there was a nice little beat up BH birds nest. It looked nice and tasty so on the line it went (and I removed the bait thingy). That little beat up fly produce six more fish in the 16-18 inch range. Just goes to show you can never tie your birds nest to beat up or too messy.
My dad went hunting earlier this year and brought me back some great tying material (He froze the skins until I got to Colorado over xmas). My sister-in-law and mom made a delicious meal with the meat. It was Roast pheasant and quail with apricots and dates.