Ambassadors of Fun

Spring is pretty much done-skies and Summer is in full swing and I think that we’re due for a fishing report from the Royal Treatment Fly Fishing Ambassadors of Fun, “Thelma & Louise”, “Lucky Day & Ned Nederlander” or just us the Callie & Shandy s&%t show (just don’t call us Shirley). 
Personally speaking, Spring was a really big build up for me being my first “Spring Fly Fishing Season.” There was so much hype nestled in my newly promoted 3rd-grade fly-fishing brain. Promises of insane amounts of fish caught, big fatty Red Sides, huge bugs swarming the skies, ticks, snakes and wild waters with rapids. My Spring calendar looks like how Mother Nature wanted it to look--not dependable with a very good chance of frustration.

Our most wonderful weather God Huey decided that a 10 day forecast of rain and wind in May would be a great idea to bring my selected road trip rivers back up to the “way too high and fast moving to fish CFS” for 2 trips that I had planned on the Lower D and in Northern California. This Spring has been a season of shuffling, canceling, revising and execution but I’m thankful to say that it all worked out!!! Ok, Ok, maybe not for the Salmon Fly hatch for me personally, but I’ve had a blast expanding my selection of targeted river species and in my own back yard to boot.
Callie was able to sneak up to the Lower D to throw some flies for the Salmon Fly Hatch with Candace aka., “Dusty Bottoms” about 2 weeks ago and that landed her right smack in the prime of the hatch. To quote her texts, “So I had 7 rolls on my flies that I missed, wasn’t much action.’  The Husband and I each caught 1 but we fished from like 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  I feel like it might have heated up tonight after we left.  Hot and Sunburned.  I also dropped my phone in the river and had no idea as I was retrieving my fly from my fish’s mouth.  I MISSED 7 FISH, SHANDY!!! (Glass ½ full is that Callie had 7 bites so she was presenting well and choosing deadly drifts, glass half empty is that Callie’s trigger finger wasn’t connected to her fly fishing brain.  Glass ½ full part II is that Callie found her phone ;).  I’d say that’s a win-win for my fishey wife.
Ok, back to another fishing report… I got to float the South Santiam 2 weeks ago, doing some R&D for the Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Salem Chapter who I volunteer with. The water was amazingly gorgeous, green and aqua hues homing some pretty spectacular Willamette Valley Cutthroats, trophy sized Rainbows, a white fish or two along with some feisty smolt!!!  This was really good timing…as the Royal Treatment Oregon Trout Trail had just opened up 2 days prior so it was time to start ticking some boxes!!!  This was an epic day for me, pretty much the first time that I could say that I lost count and yes, I know that numbers don’t count…but they do… well, they did on that day because each fish made my smile grow and took away my previous days questioning of “is this all really worth the time, money and frustration that is called Fly Fishing?”.  Hell to the YES it’s worth it! This was a day of growth and focus, taking note to a wealth of instruction on the water among our flotilla of 2 drift boats and a 12’ raft with a handful of veterans and volunteers on a gorgeous Spring Day. The Green Mirage tied by Kent Toomb (PHWFF Salem and the Santiam Fly Casters) was fish candy people…literally all of the fish that I caught were on that single fly, a dropper set up hanging off a Prince Nymph. Lethal.
So who has had a drink of the Shad Kool-Aid that Mr. Skittles is serving up?!!!  I certainly have and I have no regrets.  Mr. Skittles and I rendezvoused for some bank fishing below the Bonneville on Sunday morning along with Brian and The Kid and I’m telling you… that Shad hunting is fun, don’t care who you are or how cool you think you are (Nymph Czar, I know your secrets).  Callie, I get it now.  This was a pretty special day as I brought my partner's 17-year-old son (aka The Kid) who has never held a fly rod or a fly for that matter… and who has not been fishing since he was probably in his first 10 years of life, so no connection to the natural environment, the air space and the potential that could possibly line his future if the process comes organically (IE I drag him fishing every time I go).
Mr. Skittles, of course, was “first fish on” guy, as usual, and was ever so generous handing over his rod to The Kid to bring in his first Shad.  Well, the Shad had another idea and went for the “self-release option” and bailed on him.  But this is the thing about Shad…there’s WAY more than one out there…not 3.5 million like Mr. Skittles professes, but at least 6 that we caught in the 1.5 hours that I could fish.  I was given a trout Spey rod to use … got into the rhythm, got into a couple snaggy situations, got back into the rhythm and did my newly acquired “Shad Thang”…which meant I was actually catching!!!  Same take spot on all 3 fish.  The end of the full swing just as I was about to strip my line back for another cast…literally 3 feet in front of where The Kid was roll casting off the bank.  One average sized male Shad down, brought in, netted, fly spat out, pic was taken, jitters gone… now time to hone in and make this count.  Second take and this one had a little more oomph to it with a couple of fun runs…but wait…I need to hand over my rod to The Kid right?  That’s the right thing to do for a beginner, right?  This will be the gateway to the obsession for him, right?  So…I did it…I called him over and gave him the rod…with my Shad on it…and he did GREAT…brought in the fish, listened to now “Coach Skittles” explains how to hold the Shad, the #keepemwet discipline, how to tell if a male or a hen, eggs or no eggs.  It was a pretty special moment…and he even smiled.  Shad rule. (I think Shad should be on the Trout Trail…so what if they’re part of the Herring family).
Well, that’s enough out of me.  Next week’s fishing report should be pretty eventful… you see, The Three Amigos are hitting the road and heading to Craig, Montana to fish the great Missouri with the United Women on The Fly gathering!!!  Oh, and I’m taking the 14’ Cataraft and the Small D.O.G.  The good news is that I don’t just spin in 360s anymore rowing it.  By the time you’re reading this, we are hopefully at least passing the Dalles and on our way to make memories!!! There’s a whole lot of open road for Thelma & Louise to get into trouble on out there!!!
It’s Pau Hana time!!!

Shandy Hart Danford
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