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steelhead 2013... more from the d.


okay so i was planning to post another blog last week but ran into a few technical difficulties.  being the computer moron idiot that i am, i did not realize that i was editing the pictures on my camera memory card and had not saved them to the computer.  when i was done editing all the photos i deleted them from the camera and poof they were all gone foreverÖ nice.  that being said, on with steelheading 2013.


so after the last deschutes adventure, i spent a couple days in tigard with hayley, benny, and casey.  harold had a guided day of fishing on tuesday and we were to head out tuesday night to meet up with him and camp on the river for the rest of the week.  we spent monday and tuesday (the 16th and 17th i think) recharging our batteries with the help of the olive garden, red robin, and lots of dutch bros drinks.  before we knew it (and before we were really ready) it was time to head back over mt. hood to the deserts of eastern oregon.


day 4 on the d.

up at four am once again.  i fish the sage 7136-4 one.  this time the run i fish gives up nothing and just leaves me tired.  harold hooks two fish and lands one of them in the run up above me.  we split up and benny, casey and i spend the afternoon fishing assorted runs, well sort of.  benny and i were pretty tired from fishing the morning so we were content to send casey down to fish the runs we stopped at.  casey had been exempt from the morning fish and had gotten a good nightís sleep.  no fish for benny or me on this day.  casey got one brief ďpullĒ from a steely, but that was it for him.


can you see the deer?


day 5 on the d.

once again rudely awakened by harold at four. i make my way down the trail to the river just as the light is coming on the new day.  the mornings are getting a little chilly for this hawaii steelie boy.  iím fishing the sage 7136-4 one again because it didnít get bit the day before.  i begin the (now routine) cast, swing, step down, repeat.  not as tired today.  i think taking the afternoon off the day before was paying off.  i snapped off cast after cast and swung the fly well over the good holding water.  on one of these casts i am watching my line lazily swing in with the current when i see a fish roll at the surface downstream from the tip of my line.  in that same instant my rod bends over and the orvis cfo VI screams its rachetty song.  iím bit.  i carefully fight the fish and get the best of it.  it turns out to be a nice five or six pound hatchery fish with a flourecent pink tag in it.  sweet.  i finish the run and get one more pull from another fish which i could not find again.  i return to the car and find out that benny also hooked two fish in the run above me with his sage 8110-4 z axis switch rod.  one shook the hook but the other was a big nine or ten pounder that he landed.  later that day benny, casey, and i fished a run that deano named the bomber run.  it looked like a good run but we only got a few trout out of it.  still i really liked the run and wanted to fish it again on this trip.  my chance would to do just that would come later.


photo of a later steelie.  photos of the actual day 5 fish were lost in the computer mishap.


day 6 on the d.

i switch back to my sage 6126-4 one setup.  benny i fish one of the popular runs that i donít particularly like in the morning and donít encounter any steel.  we fish a little in the afternoon but nothing then either.  we quit early to get pizza at the deschutes pizza company and catch the oregon state football game (casey goes to oregon state).  my other friend grant showed up the night before in his camper.  he and harold pounded hard all day.  grant got two hatchery fish and harold got a wild steelie.  the pizza was great and the game was good to.  oregon state pulled off a miracle pick six in the final minutes of the game to beat san diego state.


one of the many views of the deschutes canyon walls


day 7 on the d.

fish the sage 6126-4 one on the same run as the previous morning.  this time i get two definite steelhead pulls but no hookups.  hayley, benny, casey and i decide to leave the river early and head back to tigard for some lunch at sharis and more dutch brothers goodness.  grant and harold stay until dark before quitting they hit a hot run in the morning and pulled  four fish out of it and got another one in the evening.


spent monday in tigard and manage to delete all of my pictures from the last four days.  oh well, sometimes like that.  i finally get to eat at my favorite restaurant the thai elephant in beaverton.  so good!  it rejuvenated my spirit and eased the pain of the morning photo disaster.  then it was back to the river that night.


day 8 on the d.

harold had a guide trip scheduled for the day so i dropped him off in the morning and headed out on my first ever solo mission.  iíve fished many runs on this river but this was the first time i had to find them on my own.  it was pretty late (well steelheading late) by the time i strung up my sage 6126-4 one and got started.  two of the runs that i figured would already be taken were, so i turned around and headed back up river.  i fished a good stretch of river but got nothing.  then i fished another run that i had fished in previous years and also got shut out.  either the fish werenít there, they werenít bitey, or i just didnít fish it correctly or well enough.  whatever the reason, it is not an uncommon occurrence in the game of steelheading.  i read somewhere that the average catch rate for steelhead is ĺ of a fish per angler trip.  i donít know if that includes all methods for catching steelhead, but if it does, swinging a fly for these elusive creatures must be even less than that.  kind of makes bonefishing in hawaii look like christmas island.


this run has some pretty rough water but a nice inside seam with lots of rocks for fish to hold in and take a break before continuing on their long journey up river.


anyway, it was around noon and it was a cloudy day so i decided to revisit the bomber run.  the run is not really named that but deano called it  the bomber run because it is one of the few runs where you can just cut loose and throw as long a cast as you can.  the reason for this is that the area that the fish could be in is huge.  i fished the run the other day and didnít get anything but i just really enjoyed fishing it.  i got to it and no one was in it so i started swinging.  i bombed out casts and let them swing slowly in.  it was dead silent and aside from a couple of drift boats that floated by i was the only human being for at least a square mile maybe more.  it was an awesome feeling and one I had not felt in many years.  probably since my trout fishing days in the early to mid nineties when i started fly fishing.  the run is pretty long and i fished down it for at least an hour (hard to tell because you lose all concept of time when you are alone in nature).  finally, i was nearing the tailout section of the run.  no signs of steel but it didnít matter.  i was enjoying fishing it so much i was almost sad to see the tailout.  i was in the rhythm that mesmerizes those who swing for steel.  then on one of those long swingsÖ bump.  hello.  i try to get that guy by changing the speed of the fly faster and slower then i try to show it the fly broadside.  iím not always sure if i accomplish that but i give it my best shot.  nothing.  i have yet to coax one into biting after the initial bump.  i take three steps down cast again and get another pull.  ďthereís fish hereĒ i think to myself.  i try to find that guy but yet again fail.  i step down and cast again.  this time i feel a long pull.  a slow but deliberate sweep of my rod toward the bank and i gotíem, a hatchery fish not very big but steel just the same and all good in my book.  a couple more plucks before reaching the end of the run.  still no one in sight so i go back up and fish the run again but this time the steelies are silent.  maybe it was just a pod of fish moving through.  who knows, but four pulls and a fish is good on any run.  more importantly fishing this particular run in total solitude was the best steelheading experience iíve had yet and one i will remember forever.


bent rod on the "bomber run".



"bomber run" steelie.


day 9 on the d.

with the six weight bit i go back to the seven weight one rod.  the morning run produces another hatchery steelhead for harold. i also got a  hatchery fish that was sitting on the outside edge of a deflection point. we each fish a couple of one man runs or onesies (as mike calls them) on the lower river.  in the evening, we pound a really really good long run but come up empty.  not a grab, pull, or pluck. thatís just how it is.  thatís steelheading. another great day on the river.


sage 7136-4 one spey bent.


the hard boney corner of the jaw.  hook a steelhead there and it's probably not coming off.


day 9 morning run steel.


the road down the steelheading journey can sometimes be be a long  and rough one.  click on this picture to see the exciting conclusion of my continuing journey down that road.



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