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?