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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!

Deschutes Troutflies

Joel La Follette - Thursday, August 03, 2017

This week's Blast from the Past comes from the May 9th, 1907 issue of the Crook County Journal. Great Uncle Guy La Follette, the editor/publisher of this weekly publication, once again shares the family's fondness for piscatorial pursuits with his readership. One hundred and ten years later, I share it with you.
 
Someone reported last week that the flies of which the trout of the Deschutes River are particularly fond during the early summer had hatched and several Portland nimrods visited that famous stream. Unfortunately the report was untrue and the fishermen were unsuccessful.

Upon their return the anglers said that almost any day now the troutflies, as they are commonly known, may hatch along the Deschutes River following which for a few days there will be fishing unexcelled in this or any other country. This particular period lasts not longer than a week and during that time it is no exaggeration to say that the fish can be caught as fast as a hook and line can be cast in the water.

The trout fly is larger than the salmon fly. In the Deschutes River there is a large caddis worm from which originates the troutfly. When the weather becomes warm enough the worms come to the surface of the water and their thin lobster like shells split in the back and out crawls the troutflies. The insects are beautiful and have four long gauze wings. The insect just after they are hatched are very weak and when they attempt to fly often fall into the stream or fly near to the surface which is just as fatal. For five or six days of each year the flies are numerous.

It is a very easy matter to catch the flies, and when placed upon a hook they are certain death to a trout. When a cast is made the trout will often jump two or three feet in the air for them. it is no rare occurrence to see several large trout jump for the same fly.

During this short period thousands of trout are caught in the Deschutes River. After the flies become less numerous the trout become more wary but can be caught with artificial insects with good results, but nothing like the initial opening of the fly season.

The Yellowstone River is known as one of the greatest fishing grounds in the country, but those who have fished in the two streams declare that the fishing in the Deschutes River is the better. The trout in the Yellowstone River where it connects with the Yellowstone Lake bite with the rapidity of a swarm of sun-perch. How ever as they are so numerous and as the water is warm coming from the Yellowstone Lake, they are not so gamy as the trout of the Deschutes River where the water is always cool.

Along the Deschutes River but few fish are lost when once hooked if the troutflies are about. The fish will swallow the hook often before the line becomes taunt, and while they put up a noble battle, they are easily landed. The only thing to guard against is the line which may break if the fish are pulled in without being given time to exhaust themselves.

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 32oz Edition

Joel La Follette - Thursday, February 09, 2017

The calendar pages are flipping fast and soon the Salmonflies will take wing and Trout will rise for one big gulp.



BIG GULPS from Montana Wild 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! 

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.

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