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Camp Water

Camp water is close to home. Here you will find information on stuff happening here in the shop and on our local waters. You'll also find our weekly newsletter feature, Trailer Trash Thursday, a fun collection of fly fishing videos, perfect for a midweek distraction. If you don't get the newsletter, be sure to sign up today!

Trailer Trash Thursday Old Monkey Edition

Joel La Follette - Thursday, October 05, 2017

Imagine having to fly thousands of miles to enjoy the wonders that are the Deschutes River. Take a look at our special river through the eyes of a traveling angler.  

My First Steelhead Trip in Deschutes Riv. TEST Ver. from CONCRETE WILDERNESS on Vimeo.

Pelton Dam Brawl

Joel La Follette - Thursday, September 14, 2017
Heppner Gazette Times ~ February 12th, 1953

Pelton Dam Brawl
A public hearing on the Pelton Dam controversy Friday brought crowds of irate witnesses and rooters that rivaled the oleo hearing throngs of the legislative session. The large hearing room and wide halls leading to it became sounding boards for sub human behavior. Police were called to keep order.

Two bus loads of central Oregonians who arrived an hour before the time scheduled for the meeting were not all able to find seats. They came to rah for the Portland General Electric Company's proposal to build a dam on the Deschutes River.

Proponents testified that dam would provide 100,000 kW of power. Opponents testified it would only be 42,000 kW and at best would be only a drop in the river to alleviate the power shortage. A proponents said the dam would build up a sportsman's paradise. Others said the dam would ruin fishing for sportsman and commercial fishermen would suffer the loss of spawning beds above the dam that would ruin the planned build up of 3,000,000 pounds of salmon a year.

New Trout Fly Called "Williams' Special"

Joel La Follette - Wednesday, May 31, 2017
New Trout Fly Called "Williams' Special"

Stone Fly Made True to Life By Portland Tier - Comes in Two Size Hooks

A brand new trout fly has made its appearance in Maupin and by those who have tried them have proven to be the best ever. The new fly is called "Williams' Special" and was made after a pattern supplied by Johnny Williams of this city.


Last summer Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Motley, Portland, were visitors at the Maupin Camp grounds. While here Mrs. Motley told of being a fly tier and Johnny Williams caught several small stone flies and asked could she duplicate them. The lady said she could, thereupon the camp ground man gave an order, specifying the flies must be true to the sample. Saturday he received an initial shipment of the flies. They have been tried and exceeded all expectations, those using them making good catches of good trout. The flies received by Johnny come in two sizes - 12's and 14’s - and are as true to nature as is possible to make them.

Mr. Motley writes that among her orders for flies this spring has been one from President Coolidge, while Congressman Hawley has ordered many for friends at Washington, D. C.

Meier & Frank of Portland want the exclusive sale of the new fly. The hook on which the fly is tied comes direct from Oslo, Norway, none of the kind desired being made in this country. The first order for hooks placed by Mrs. Motley brot but 1500, and as these have been tied and the demand so great, the lady has ordered a large supply to be delivered as soon as possible.

Multnomah Anglers club members who have used the Williams Special, are enthusiastic over them. Mrs. Motley searched the state over for the right feathers for the special finally securing what she wanted from near Roseburg.

The Maupin Times April 26th, 1928

WARDEN ASKS THAT ALL FISHERMEN OBEY LAW

Has No Desire to Arrest Violators
Therefore Asks That the Laws Be Adhered To


With fishing season now open Harold Clifford, state game warden, make an urgent request that all citizen observe the law that have been made for the protection of fish.

"We have no desire to arrest men or women for violation of the law," he said last week. "We want them to know, that all citizens of Oregon they are harming their state and themselves by angling in closed streams, taking more than the legal limit or catching fish under six inches in length. Our warden make it their business to educate the fishermen. They make arrests only when they find fishermen willfully and viciously violating the laws. If a man is angling for trout he is entitled to sixty fish in one week they are his fish if he can catch them. When he takes more than that number he makes it necessary for the warden to do his duty and make an arrest that will mean punishment."

The Maupin Times April 25th, 1929

Trailer Trash Thursday The Stones Edition

Joel La Follette - Thursday, May 11, 2017

This is kind of a throw-back Thursday as we revisit a short film that came out over 4 years ago. The Outside Bend Productions crew has evidently had to get real jobs as we haven't seen much from them in awhile. That's really too bad as they do good work and even took home a Trashy Award a few years back. 


the stone sessions vol. II: expectations from Outside Bend Productions on Vimeo.

Trailer Trash Thursday Decline of the Deschutes Edition

Joel La Follette - Thursday, February 02, 2017

The Deschutes River Alliance has released this short film documenting the decline of the Deschutes River. Please share this video with friends, family and all those who love this very special river. 

The Deschutes River is facing a battle for it's life. Changes to the drawdown at PGE's Pelton Dam are seriously effecting the lower 100 miles of river. These changes are doing nothing to improve water quality in the reservoir itself, yet are the main reason for the new mixing tower and operation policy. While the reintroduction of anadromous species above the dam is a wonderful idea, it was just a carrot dangled to the tribes and other user groups to sign off on this plan. What is the cost? Will we lose Oregon's premiere Trout stream in the process? Until we address the issue of the water quality in the Crooked and Deschutes basins we will never improve the water quality in the reservoir. Flushing this water into the lower river is not the solution. Learn more at the Deschutes River Alliance.



The Rapid Decline of the Lower Deschutes River from Deschutes River Alliance on Vimeo.

Trailer Trash Thursday Mecca Flats Edition

Joel La Follette - Thursday, July 07, 2016

I was doing my normal search for TTT videos and suddenly realized "I know that guy!" Kevin Callaway makes his acting debut in this short film that documents a peaceful trip to the Deschutes at Mecca Flats... This might not win him an Oscar or even a Trashy  Award, but he can at least write off the fishing trip now. I'm not sure if we'll see more of Kevin in similar rolls in the future as his press agent didn't return my calls this week. It is likely though that you will catch a glimpse of this rising film star on a Trout stream near you so you can at least get an autograph.  

 

Fly Fishing Mecca Flats - Deschutes River, Oregon from Last Great Road Trip on Vimeo.

Green Drakes make a showing/Salmonflies slowly depart

Joel La Follette - Thursday, May 19, 2016
The Deschutes is the focus again this week as the Salmonfly hatch garners most of you Trouters attention. The big bugs are slowly fading away below Mack’s Canyon, but fish are still grabbing plump offerings bumped off the grass and brush. Same holds true in the Maupin area, with spotty clumps of Golden Stones still hanging on. Those of you venturing to these areas may wish to arm yourself with a collection of other spring patterns just to have your bases covered.

On Tuesday, I was the guest of Marty Sheppard who chauffeur Shane Blitch and  myself downriver below Mack’s Canyon to do a little exploring. There were hanger-ons in the bushes and a few dropping eggs, but the 2016 Salmonfly hatch was pretty much over. Fish still rose to Goldens, but March Browns, PMDs, Caddis and Green Drakes were more prevalent. Flocks of Seagulls working like Swallows over riffle water are a sign that something big is hatching. After observing several mid-air grabs I was able to spot a few Green Drakes taking to wing even on a bright sunny day. I even convinced a few fish that those might be a good idea.


Above Maupin fishing has been very good as the big bugs continue to be the main course in dining rooms next to the bank. Josh and his buddy Eric did the Trout Creek to Maupin run with great success this past weekend. They reported that the set up to run with is a Hopper/ Hopper/Hopper rig, which for the less adventurous of us is a Salmonfly dry, with a Yellow Sally Dropper, with an Elk Hair Dropper. Not the easiest collection of fluff to toss into the brush, but it does offer fish dining options. Just take a lot of flies with you.

Continuing up the creek we find the hatch is spotty in places and off the hook in others. No doubt this is due to the changes we’re experiencing in the post Pelton Dam mixing tower era. Consistency is not a word that describes any of our insect hatches and that may be the new normal until the issues facing the Deschutes are  rectified. Look for Salmonflies and Goldenstones to continue to hang around for a few more weeks in places up and down the river before fading into memory. It's time to start thinking about that other fly box filled with the bugs of summer and prepare for a variety of hatches over the coming months.

Have fun and be careful! 

DRA Notifies PGE of intent to sue

Joel La Follette - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Press Release from DRA

On May 13, 2016, the Deschutes River Alliance (DRA) sent a sixty-day notice of intent to sue to Portland General Electric (PGE).

The primary allegation in the proposed suit is that PGE has knowingly violated the water quality requirements in the Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification for the Pelton-Round Butte Hydroelectric Complex. We have documented over 1,200 violations of the water quality requirements embodied in the Section 401 Certification.

We have met with PGE 25 times since March of 2013. Not once has PGE been transparent about these violations. We discovered the violations after extensive and exhaustive research and data collection.

The violations are reflective of broader water quality problems created by operation of the Selective Water Withdrawal (SWW) Tower at Round Butte Dam. These problems have caused, and continue to cause, ecological harm to the lower river, negatively impacting aquatic insects, algae and other river conditions. In addition, there have been economic impacts to the communities dependent upon the lower Deschutes River.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has not demonstrated any willingness to enforce these violations. Instead, ODEQ has worked privately with PGE on a yearly basis to weaken the §401 Certification’s requirements. These yearly “interim agreements” were made in violation of Oregon Administrative Rule procedural requirements, altering the water quality requirements as they were agreed to in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license for the Pelton-Round Butte dam complex.

The SWW Tower was constructed to create surface currents in Lake Billy Chinook to guide juvenile anadromous fish to a collection facility where they are captured and trucked around the dam complex. We have been, and remain supportive of the anadromous fish reintroduction effort. However we believe that given the lack of success of juvenile fish migration through Lake Billy Chinook, and the serious negative impacts to the ecology of the lower Deschutes River, that it’s time to reassess surface water withdrawal in Lake Billy Chinook as the principle method to facilitate fish reintroduction.

If you need further information, please contact Jonah Sandford at Jonah@deschutesriveralliance.org or Greg McMillan at greg@deschutesriveralliance.org . You can also learn more about the issues facing the Deschutes by visiting the Deschutes River Alliance website.

The Legend of Kenny 5 Legs

Joel La Follette - Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Have you ever wondered how a special fly pattern goes from the obsessed mind of the creative tyer to your own fly box? I am not talking about welcomed gifts from your more talented friends or the millions of clones tyed commercially to perfection by trained hands that have never seen a trout or held a fly rod. I’m referring to that one in a million fly that somehow possesses something a little more than all the others. That fly that stood out in the bins of your favorite fly shop and called to you drawing you to it and establishing itself as part of your collection because it was different than all the others. It had something special about it that your subconscious mind picked up on and reach out for. You may not have known it at the time, but looking back you now know it was your destiny to cast this fly to share in this part of it’s journey. 

Sometimes the story of this migration borders on the unbelievable, yet buried in the tale I’m about to share is enough truth to make you wonder what secrets lay waiting in your collection of feathers, fur and steel. This, my friends, is the legend of Kenny 5 Legs.


In the very early hours of a cold winter day a tyer sat at the vise trying to pull the vision that had possessed his fevered dreams and transfer it to the hook locked before him. Scattered among the materials across his tying bench were photos and sketches of the creature that had caused his nightmares for many years. Some had been done when his mind was clear and he could focus on the task at hand. Others were hastily scratched on any surface that was available and ranged from cocktail napkins to the tossed off packaging of a newly acquired waffle iron. Bottles of insects preserved in various liquids peered down on him from the windowsill as he worked, seeming to mock his attempt to create what they had been in their short life. In frustration he sat back and sipped cold coffee from a pilfered diner mug and turned to watch the sunrise over southern Oregon.

Dark clouds that had blanketed the valley parted briefly as the glowing orb mounted the sky scattering into a thousand beams cutting through the gloom. His hand went up to shield his eyes as a laser of light focused on the window illuminating the dusty room in which he worked. He had to turn away and in doing so saw a vision on the wall before him. The outline he was looking for was being projected in great detail by light that had traveled 93 million miles. There between his hanging leaky waders and favorite poster of the pirate Jack Sparrow was the shadowy answer. He just had to get it right.

Months turned into years as the process of bringing his creation to the public plodded on. Samples were tyed and rejected then tyed again. Finally, all parties were satisfied and small boxes filled with flies made their way from distant shores to fly shops across the land just in time for the annual Salmonfly hatch.

As a shop owner I feel that part of my duty is to test many of the new patterns that come into the shop. While some are simple enough, others seem born from the philosophy that anything worth doing is worth overdoing. These tend to get my attention as I’m a firm believer in the “Keep It Simple Stupid,” principal in most things and become suspicious of complicated creations. As I poured though the new offerings and distributed them into the bins, one fly destined for the “Morrish Fluttering Stone” bin popped out and landed on the floor. Retrieving it and tossing it towards it’s new temporary home it bounced off and again landed perfectly on the floor. Upon closer examination I was convinced that this was a pattern far beyond the level of talent and time that I would personally dedicate to it’s creation so I grabbed this stubborn sample for my box box.

The Salmonfly hatch on the Deschutes is like a combination of the opening day of duck season in Louisiana and Carnival in Rio. Anglers who’s gear has been left idol for 12 months withdraw it from spiderwebbed storage and descend on the river armed with a collection of newly acquired flies. All professed by their friends and friendly shop owners to be much better than the ones they fished last year which still hang in the trees along the river.

When the population of big bugs booms up and down the Deschutes River, places like Maupin, Warm Springs and Mecca become trendy destinations with Range Rover wantabes double parked in front of fly shops and purveyors of liquid refreshment. Parking at boat launches becomes competitive, but by 11:00AM shuttle drivers have things under control and peace is restored to the land for the most part. It’s a social event not to be missed, but I do try.

While I prefer to fish in solitude, it is hard to escape the draw of the Big Bugs and so a few days each year I pull out my box of Salmonflies and hit the river. I drift or road fish depending on the day, but never take the adventure too seriously. It’s a time to run into old friends, reconnect to the river, take photos and test out a few new flies. Sometimes it’s about reconnecting with an old fly.

Kenny 5 Legs has lived in the same spot in my Salmonfly box for three years now. His stubbornness in refusing to be left in the bin with the others of his kind set him apart in the beginning, but his prowess at convincing big Trout to grab earned him a permanent place in my Salmonfly rotation. He has survived excursions deep into stream side vegetation and trees, always returning with the help of a good yank on the fly rod. Strong 3x tippet and well tied knots have been his salvation over the years. He lost a leg the first year in a battle with an overly toothy Trout, but seemed to still fish well, and thus maintained his ranking. I’m convinced that Trout aren’t mathematicians so the loss of an appendage was no matter and earned him his nickname. Another leg was lost in the second year, but nicknames are never modified and so Kenny 5 Legs he remained. Close friends came to know of him and often asked about his successes. Some wished to acquire him, promising cash or other custom creations in exchange. None would meet my price so Kenny 5 Legs continued to build on his legend.

This past Monday I stood on a basalt knob 15 feet above the river and surveyed the water bubbling around a grassy archipelago splitting the river a very long cast from shore. I had remarked to Brian Silvey about my infatuation with this island while drifting by one day several years ago. A few weeks passed and a customer came in wishing to pay the toll for fishing Joel’s Island as he had been directed to do by Mr. Silvey. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about, but soon deduced that Brian had made landfall and successfully explored the island kindly naming it in my honor. I waived the Island fee and called Brian. Since then Brian and I have fished it together a few times, but today I was separated by 75 feet of raging water.

Optimism is perhaps the most important ingredient in the building of an angler. Not knowing that it can’t be done or not caring and doing it anyway pushes the limits set by the less adventurous. I stripped most of my fly line from the reel and coiled it at my feet. Checking the knot that secured my old friend to the tippet, I launched into a series of false casts to build up line speed. The breeze abated for just a second and I released the cast. Kenny 5 Legs flew as gracefully as his non-aerodynamic body could. He bounced off the grass on Joel’s Island and into the waiting grip of a very large Trout.

The battle won it was obvious that this hook-jawed encounter had taken it’s toll on these bits of rubber, foam, deer hair and imagination. Kenny 5 Legs was pretty much used up and had earned a rest. I clipped him from the tippet and replaced him with another version of the dream. I neatly snipped away one front  leg before making a cast towards the Island. Expecting the same result is the optimist in me, but the realist knew when the second fish rose the story would be different. The line ran deep into the island and went slack. The fish and fly were gone, but the legend lives on.

Jerome Bonaparte La Follette

Joel La Follette - Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Our history, our story is there hidden in the pages of time just waiting for us to open the cover and discover where we came from and who we are. For some, the story is written in music; notes played and handed down from one to another and shared with the world telling all who hear this melody the story of their lives, their history. Others find their yesterday in the brush strokes of a painting; the scene recording an event that determined their path and led them to where they are today.

We all have a history that goes back to when the tale was told with languages now unspoken or motions of the hand in the light of a fire. Drawings on cave walls tell our tale as do the stones shaped into monuments that mark our heroes, our accomplishments and our passing.

Have you ever set out in one direction only to find yourself somewhere far away from your original destination? I set out on a simple journey, or so I thought, and now find myself unraveling a historical record of the La Follette family in Oregon just to locate a patch of land and the creek that flows though it. What was all about finding and fishing this small creek on the old family homestead has become a glimpse into not only my family history, but the history of a large section of central Oregon.

My great-great-great Grandfather, Jerome Bonaparte La Follette, came overland to Albany, Oregon, in 1862 from Indiana with his wife Sophia and sons Thomas, John and Charles. In 1871 they moved on and settled a homestead on Camp Creek near Prineville, which at the time was simply called Prine. Later, they moved to a ranch on McKay Creek, with the family eventually having land holdings scattered across the county.


The La Follette family were farmers and if County Fair ribbons are any indication, fairly good ones. They brought fruit stock to the east side of the Cascades from the valley and shared it with the pioneers of what would become Crook County. They raised grain, cattle, sheep, chickens, pigs and fruit for trade and barter. Jerome also had a horse ranch near the Deschutes and took pride in raising strong stock to pull wagons and provide transportation for the growing population. Sadly, Jerome was found dead on the road near the Tethrow Ferry (now Lower Bridge) on November 6, 1884, having fallen from his wagon as he hauled feed for the horses from his ranch on McKay Creek to his place on the Deschutes. La Follette Butte, located a short distance from where he died is named for him.


This report was sent to the local paper.

Prineville, Or., Nov, 6, 1884
To the Editor of the SUN:
It is my painful privilege to report to you a very distressing accident which happened to Mr. J.B. La Follette, one of our most esteemed citizens, which has probably resulted in his death. Mr. La Follette left his place this morning with a load of hay, intending to go to his horse ranch near the Tethrow Ferry on the Deschutes River; distance about 24 miles. When within about 300 yards of Mr. Tethrow’s house he from cause fell from his wagon, and is supposed sustained fatal injuries.
The team which he was driving was seen coming down the road at a slow walk by Mr. Jesse Tethrow, and seeing no one driving it he suspected some harm had come to the driver and started back up the road. When about 300 yards up he found the body of a man and some blankets and bedding laying in the road just at the foot of a steep little pitch or hill. Upon lifting the head of the body he saw the face was very pale or white, and that the man was yet alive. After taking a second look he discovered that Mr. La Follette was the person before him, and then asked him if he could speak, calling him by name. Mr. La Follette then moved his lips as though trying to say something, but could not articulate a sound. Jesse placed his head upon some of the blankets found with him and ran for his mother and sister to assist the wounded man, while he saddled a horse and went for other assistance. His sister, who had preceded him, told him as he came by the place of the accident on his way here that the man was dead. So he hurried on, notified parties near the accident. He arrived here at 7:15 this evening.

Mr. La Follette came to this country some 14 or 15 years ago, and by industry and fair dealing had gained for himself quite a competence and the confidence and esteem of the entire community. He was about 53 years old, but was in robust health, and seemed good for 20 years of life yet. His wife and children are near here on their home place on McKay Creek. The heartfelt sympathy of the whole community goes out to his bereaved family. A good man is gone.
Respectfully, T.W.V.




While a good man was gone, a family lived on to helped shape Crook County and continued writing the history that would become my story.  A story that was just waiting for me to open the pages and step in. Now in all fairness, much of the family history was passed down to me as living members of the clan tried to interest a very young man in the dusty tales of those times. In addition, books have been written on the La Follette linage providing a simple trail to follow as I try to connect to the past. Yet, those did not provide me with the touchstone I was looking for to begin this project. I needed to visit Prineville and see it with the eyes of my family.

I had learned where the family final resting place was before making the trip east, so I spent most of the day searching records at the County Court House. I was looking for the location of the two ranches where they lived, worked and in some cases, fished. My research could have gone on for days as each document I opened offered some answers, but even more questions.

With miles to go and wanting to at least wet a line in the Metolius, I clicked off the county clerk’s computer and headed home. As I started towards the setting sun with plans to catch the last of the day with my boots in the river, something made me turn around. I phoned my wife, Kellie, and had her send me the address of a little cemetery just north of town. Soon I was turning in between the gates and confronted with the monumental task of finding my family that now rested here.

The older gentleman in charge of the place looked like he would be more at home on a horse tending cattle, but pecked at the vintage laptop and noted the locations of the La Follettes on a Post-it Note. After consulting a map and getting his bearings, I followed him through the maze of stone until we stood with Jerome, Sophia and young son, James. A weathered sagebrush pushed up between mother and son, but Jerome’s white marble marker stood alone and seemed out of place. I had known that the local historical society had replaced the stone many years ago when the original had become unrepairable. Over one hundred years in the rugged Central Oregon weather had taken its toll. At the time I had felt a loss that I didn’t understand, but standing there I knew why. This stone, while marking the memory of the man, did not resonate the love and respect shown by his family and community at his passing. 

I had previously inquired as to the location of the original stone, but try as I could I was unable to find anyone that knew what had been done with it. I had lost hope in ever seeing it, accepting this truth, but feeling the emptiness of history lost. I asked my guide if he had any idea what had become of it or where it could have ended up. Soon his weathered hands were fiddling with a large collection of identical keys trying to convince an old rusty lock to open. It seemed the question would go unanswered yet again. Then success, the gate swung open to reveal a forgotten collection of broken bits of ancient granite and marble showing through sagebrush and dust. I was somehow drawn to a particular stone that lay shattered in an opening in the brush and weeds. There, lit by the late afternoon sun lay the touchstone I was seeking. Now the adventure can begin.


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