Buffalo Nickel Camp

When I close my eyes, I try to do more than simply remember; I want to feel it all again, to be there with what wisdom found from pains and successes. I long to see, smell, taste, and touch every moment that has captured a treasured place within me that is now forever timeless. More than anything, I think about the light, and although I can’t always see it, its faithfulness remains.
This is my first time fishing the famed Owyhee River. I know it holds a large quantity of quality rainbow and brown trout, plus the added benefit of being surrounded by beautifully unique geological formations. After driving around quite a bit and realizing, to our misfortune, that this was, indeed, spring break for all of Oregon and Idaho, we were relieved to secure an excellent campsite right along the river at the bottom of the big return eddy. That afternoon, while setting up camp, we watched dozens and dozens of happy fish taking tiny flies off the surface; while nothing was said aloud, Joel and I were making a mental note of which feeding lanes the most active fish were showing in their comfort zone. We couldn’t believe that no one else was around. Each soft rise formed dazzling, symmetrical, expanding rings, stretching out across the tail waters and beckoning us to select our most delicate tippet and smallest flies.
While gearing up, a few more aggressive splashes were heard, and I could feel the excitement surge through my chest, certain my brand-new bamboo rod was soon to hook up for her maiden voyage with midges on the menu. Ohhh, how I love this type of trout fishing! Without getting my boots wet, I made a short cast…4,3,2, EAT! Yes! Fish on! My little Green Hardy Princess was singing, and I smiled with delight getting to feel the fine reed rod flex and pulsate, right along with the fish for the very first time. I turned to call for Joel to grab a photo, but he was already halfway to me with the camera out. Good man. You know a fly rod has extra good juju when it catches a fish on the first cast!
A few photos snapped, Joel, too, was anxious to get his game on. Within minutes of us both getting our boots wet, dark, ominous clouds rolled in above us as a gentle rain began to fall, and we both made the short jaunt back to our truck for rain jackets. The afternoon was still young, and we were eager to play. The muted reflection of light and shadow amongst the rises and raindrops made it challenging to differentiate between our midge patterns versus the new hatch of BWOs now blanketing the silvery glass before us. A few more splashes, and it seemed like every time I looked up, both Joel and I were hooked deep into another fish, and we couldn’t have been happier. Don’t get me wrong, the last 12 days of epic adventures had been checking off several bucket list items, but getting back to the basics of iconic tailwater fly fishing was the reset button we both were craving.
That night, the clouds cleared, and we enjoyed our favorite Good-To-Go meals and rehydrated underneath a star-filled sky. Our Ignik Firecan provided plenty of warmth with a clean outdoor ambiance that ushered in our newfound fireside delicacy~ caramel, dark chocolate, and sea salt, Stroop waffle s’mores. Yes, say that three times fast. We were shocked when we got home, and our scales revealed we hadn’t gained any weight at all and actually lost a couple of pounds! To celebrate, we pulled the Firecan out onto the back deck, and ate the rest of those delicious Stroopwaffle desserts, and agreed that this really indulgence should be an “on the road, camping splurge only”. Sigh. That evening, we fell asleep, listening to the gentle serenade of the river and the unique hoot calls of a western screech owl. The next morning, we were up early to catch the moon setting before the sun came up, only to repeat another fish full day.
An abiding presence flashes across my eye, sometimes too bright to see. Other times, I squint hard with hopefulness, knowing that it’s all just about to change. And with it, everything changes. There’s no way to sum up our entire 15-day road trip, but the 2 1/2 days we spent on the Owyhee River brought about a deep satisfaction; a soul-yearning peace that will both carry in my heart and remain with the river’s solitude.
Jennifer La Follette
06 Apr 2024
Joel La Follette
James, just don't go on the weekend. All of Idaho is there...
06 Apr 2024
Joel La Follette
Trust me, Clint, the Owyhee is not a secret...
05 Apr 2024
This is awesome! I can't wait to go fish the Owyhee. So much Oregon water for me to check off the list this year.

04 Apr 2024
Clint Brumitt
What do you think, is it too late to keep that river a secret?
One of the wonderful things about fly fishers is they take care of a resource
better than most others of our species. Glad you had a wonderful introduction
but it will lead to therapy, when you can not get back as often as you would like.
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