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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!

Pass Creek

Joel La Follette - Thursday, November 16, 2017

Pass Creek from Native Fish Society on Vimeo.

Trailer Trash Thursday Westslope Cutthroat Edition

Joel La Follette - Thursday, June 23, 2016
We're ramping up the Oregon Trout Trail adventure this week as the guys head to far off parts of Oregon. This is a beautiful video features a Trout not often found in Oregon waters, but there are a few places...


High Country Gems from scumliner media on Vimeo.

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.

A Shy Fish

Joel La Follette - Wednesday, March 02, 2016
Inspiration comes in many forms. A simple story passed on for generations or a scrap of paper marking the location of a special place. Whatever it may be, it has caught your eye and now you are easily distracted as you attempt to peel away time to uncover the true details. Somewhere beneath the moss and bark are the roots you are seeking, held fast in history, set in stone.

But even stone turns to dust making the truth even harder to find. The whole story may never be found, but the adventure is in the attempt to uncover what has been forgotten. The pieces now are spread farther from where they once stood. Details mixed with the dust and pine needles of time require more patience to reassemble. It is a challenge.

As I brush away the years to discover my roots as an angler I hope to share some of this journey as it unfolds. We will start with my inspiration, a short story about a boy, a fish and a forgotten place in the Ochoco.

Dale La Follette Sr.  on the Metolius circa 1912

This story was originally printed in "The Creel."
The bulletin of the Fly Fisher’s Club of Oregon Volume 3, No.1, July 1964

An excited jay sent his warning echoing through the pines of the narrow valley but the red-tailed hawk riding the thermals above didn’t see anything to get agitated about. It was too hot.

The Upper Ochoco wandered there below, first in a sweetgrass meadow, then in brush pasture dotted with random pine. The stream was not impressive, just shallow pools separated by thin riffles but in places there were deeper, narrower runs under the cut banks. Thick willows lined most of the bank but frequent openings gave a young fisherman access to the stream.

The lad, about eleven, moved quietly along the shady side of the willows. Once in a while he slipped through an opening to return with a trout wriggling from the short length of line which hung from the tip of his old bamboo brush rod. The trout were slipped into his small creel, and he advance to the next opening, careful to keep his shadow away from the stream.

He faced an old problem up ahead, however, and his mind was fixed on a pool set below high cut banks where one large trout constantly eluded him even though the boy knew every detail of that pool. It was surrounded on three sides by overhanging brush, and the lone opening was toward the afternoon sun. The problem trout would be out there in full view, finning to maintain his feeding position in the Ochoco’s currents. Where the water flowed into the pool, a large red-horse sucker would be examining the debris in the deeper slot, and the water would be so clear that the fish would seem to be suspended in air...he always saw the fish’s shadow, in fact, before he saw the fish.

He walked through the grass pondering the problem of how to present the fly without frightening the trout. The slightest motion-the shadow of a head thrust above the edge of the cut bank-would spook him back past the old red-horse into the shadows. It happened many times before and he feared it would happen again today.

So he waded a shallow riffle and continued toward the trout. Then, just above the pool he swung away from the stream and seated himself against a pine trunk to examine his tackle. The snelled McGinty tied to the enameled salt and pepper level line seemed sound. He was innocent of Mucelin; besides, there was no room for a cast or a float. Dibbling or dapping was the only technique he knew.

He started to rise, but halted. He would assume the trout was there. So he started toward the opening above the pool on hands and knees. Several feet from the water’s edge he gripped the butt of the rod in his right hand with the fly pinched between thumb and fingers. Then, thrusting the rod ahead like a foil he began to squirm forward with one cheek to the ground, his heart thumping in anticipation.
He resisted the temptation to peek at his quarry, and edged forward cautiously, extending the rod forward slowly until all but the butt overhung the edge of the cut bank.

Slowly then, he lifted the tip of the rod and released the fly. In his mind’s eye he could see it swinging out just above the water. Then slowly, from the wrist, he lowered the tip as his heart thumped against the earth.

The splash of the striking trout frightened the boy and he responded instinctively by putting both hands to the rod grip. Then he threw that trout over his head. The old line parted and the fish fell in the pine needles. There was a brief scramble but he finally hooked his thumb through the trout’s gills, and he ran for the ranch house!

There, in the sheet iron sink he pumped cold water over the beautiful trout to loosen the pine needles.
It was a picture I would never forget.


About the author, Dale La Follette Sr. (1907-1984):
Since the days when he pondered the ways of trout in the Upper Ochoco pastures where the hawks used to dive at his head unpredictably, Dale La Follette has cast for trout and panned for gold in many waters. The biscuits he bakes and the dry flies he ties please all who try them. He impressed the 1963 Dean River Expedition with the gourmet flavor of his smoked trout and his daring boatmanship at The Rapids. (The Creel July 1964)



ODFW Pulls Controversial Proposals

Joel La Follette - Thursday, September 03, 2015
The power of the written word shined this week as public opinion on a few of the controversial proposed changes to regulations overwhelmed ODFW with angler input. Both the Deschutes and Metolius won victories of sorts by maintaining the regulations that have helped improve angling on both of these rivers. While some fought to make the Deschutes a catch and release fishery for wild fish, maintaining the current status is at least not a step backward. 

View the revised proposals here.

There is still time to let ODFW know how important our wild fish populations are by letting your voice be heard. Take a minute and request that in future management decisions ODFW continue to focus on protecting and enhancing our wild fish populations. Copy this note and then click the email link to send it. Be sure to voice your personal concerns and sign it.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE
Salem, OR 97302

September 3rd, 2015

Dear ODFW Directors and Commissioners,

In the past ODFW has developed strategies to successfully manage the wild trout populations on the Deschutes, Metolius Rivers and other rivers. When earlier proposed rule changes threaten to undo the progress that has been made anglers spoke up and you listened by pulling those proposals.

I encourage ODFW to continue to prioritize the protection of wild fish on all Oregon rivers. These fish are our future.

Sincerely,
Joel La Follette
Royal Treatment Fly Fishing
West Linn, OR




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