by Randal Sumner
The last of April provided some beautiful hot weather, and as
the temperature went up so did the Yakima River. Spring runoff:
the bane of trout bums everywhere. The Yakima turned from low, clear
and perfect to brown churning soup.
The trout bums have a contingency plan for this annual event:
we take a road trip to the Deschutes River in Oregon. Our day started
with a healthy dose of bacon and eggs. The bacon grease surging
in our veins, we loaded the gear in Mark's Suburban, Goldie and
drove like the wind. The trip to Maupin is only about two and a
half hours. Dropping down the hill into Maupin from The Dalles you
get your first glimpse of the nasty old Deschutes boiling down the
canyon. It's big, it's fast, it's deep, the color is emerald green,
you instantly recall the misery and frustration of fishing here,
there is some hyperventilating. I used to have the same gut response
cresting the road to the North Shore of Oahu and first seeing the
surf at Haleiwa, surf bums, trout bums.
After buying a fishing license at the lumberyard we cross the
river and make a stop at Canyon River Fly Shop. The owners John
and Karen Smeraglio are both there to chat. I like these people
and I have an idea John is a fine angler. The shop's inventory is
no nonsense, just the good stuff. John gives us his usual vague,
dreamy fishing advice. I understand, after all he is a fly fishing
Here is what I know about fly-fishing productively on the Deschutes,
you will be nymphing all day. Yes there are hatches and they can
be fabulous, but mostly its deep water dredging, which I personally
love. Real men Nymph. Fishing from a boat is illegal so you will
be wading and walking all day. The wading is tough. Huge slimy boulders,
deep pockets, fast currents and really steep ledge drop off's take
there toll. As for the walking it's no picnic either. The Deschutes
River canyon is perfect rattlesnake habitat. Unless you're from
Australia most people I know find it a tad disconcerting to stroll
among the vipers, bit dicey mate. Then there is the relentless wind
howling through the bottom of the canyon, which is blessing considering
the blast furnace air temperatures.
Why do we bother to fish here at all? I suppose its simple; this
is great trout fishery that demands your full attention, skills,
and respect. When you think you know something about trout fishing
take it to the Deschutes and see how you do.
With all of that said this is the time (15th of May to the 15th
of June) to be down on the Deschutes to fish the salmon fly hatch.
Huge dry flies fished in the late afternoons, if you catch this
hatch right it can make you look for real estate in Maupin.