Tag Archive | Fly Fishing

River Ready

It’s been a cool, foggy summer on the central California coast, and we are ready for a few sunny, hot days to warm up and dry out.  So we loaded up the raft and gear in the truck and headed north to the high desert of central Oregon.

The Deschutes River threads through Oregon all the way to the Columbia River.  There are several stretches known for fun whitewater rapids and great fly fishing.  We are looking to do both, so we put in at Trout Creek, outside of Madras, and ended at the Maupin City Park.  Although you can float several miles past Maupin, we opted out at the city park to avoid the crush of daytrippers.

To read from start to finish, click here to start at the first entry, and then read forward.

Camp, Rapids, Camp

Sunrise at Camp

The night was chilly, so we rose as the sun cleared the ridge behind us. We got warm quickly. Steve pulled out his fishing rod while I heated water for coffee.  As the family fly-tier, I decided to try tying a few flies in the field, to better match what we saw hatching along the river.  I was surprised how easy it was to do this, having previously only tied flies at a little Ikea desk at home.  I had prepped a lot of materials ahead of time, which made it easier to pull out an already prepared feather or bit of fur for dubbing.

Breakfast was the usual: coffee, juice, yogurt, granola, an orange.  Before completely loading the boat and pushing off, Steve tied my newest fly onto his line – but, alas, still no nibbles.

Fishing in the hummocks

Not far below camp, we ran Whitehorse Rapids: 1/2 mile long chaotic jumble of rocks.  We threaded our way through, ending at a series of rock gardens with grassy hummocks. Steve landed us on river right to fish.  I didn’t rig my rod right away – I waited to see if there were fish to be caught.  The skies have been unpredictable so far, and so have the fish. Steve has tried various caddis, and prince nymphs and hare’s ear nymphs.  Still nothing.  But, Steve did find several piles of crayfish shells, both on the river bank and out on the hummocks.  We have seen a fair number of great blue herons this morning – perhaps they are the shellfish diners.

We had a decision to make: just go four or five miles a day until the last day, or we could stop at the last nice camp before the BLM fee area, and layover for a day.  We checked a few campsites as we went, and checked in with other boating groups we had met in the past two days.  Around the bend, we came on Davidson Flats camp – long, riverfront property, with 3 large sites below: plenty of room further down the river if others wanted to land and camp.  We tucked up under some hackberry trees with our lounge chairs and lunch, and pulled out the cribbage board.

Late in the day, a large group (about 15 people) landed at the top end of our camp.  River etiquette says that when you run across another group in a camp, you move on.  Or, you make polite contact and discuss the options. Granted, just two of us had a rather large piece of real estate, but there were plenty more camps just below us, separated by distance and shrubbery.  But, this group’s attitude was river etiquette be damned.  One of the group walked right into our camp and blurted, “You don’t have any problem with us camping here, do you?”  No hello.  No pleasantries.  Steve expressed what would be the polite thing to do is to move down to the next camp.  But, this person rebutted with, “We stayed here last year,” and, “We paid our money, too.”  It was clear that they were determined to stay in the same spot they stayed last year, and started unloading their boats, including more than a dozen coolers.

Wispy Half MoonWe kept playing cribbage until we were ready for dinner, when we essentially reoriented our camp to place our backs to the interlopers.  As we feared, they were loud and they were up late, and there was no vegetation to provide a visual or audio screen.  But the sky had cleared, the moon was wrapped in the wispy clouds remaining, and somewhere in the night I woke up to see a shooting star streak across the sky amid the tree branches above our sleeping bags.

Nydiver Nirvana

The view from Whitebark Pass (10,175 foot) gives us an eagle’s eye view of where we’ve been for the past two days, and where we are headed for the following two days. While the route is short if done horizontally, there are passes and talus and streams to navigate along the way.

There are numerous wildflowers along the shore of the upper lake, but it’s clear that we are a few weeks late for the height of the bloom. We skirt the edge of the uppermost lake and come to a granite bench between that lake and the next one below. There is a small channel nearby connecting the lakes, and a low wall to shelter us from westerly winds. It’s perfect!!

Even though the clouds are scattered, Steve sets up the fly “just in case.” But the air is warm, and Steve rigs his fly rod and works the lake shore to see if any golden trout live in these high lakes. I strip off my boots and socks to wade in the lake, surprised to find that the water is not bone-chilling cold. Encouraged by the warmer waters, I strip off the rest of my clothing, rinse out the sweat, then go for a dip. It’s refreshing to get rid of that sticky/salty feeling, and dry out in the warm sun.

While it sprinkled a time or two, we were not forced under the fly for drippy hours on end. The lowering sun cast a heavenly glow between the peaks, and we dined on the bench overlooking the lake below. With the fly peeled back, we slept under the stars for the first time on this trip. It was heaven!