Sunshine and Daisies
A group of us decided to head over to the Deschutes over Labor Day weekend and try our luck floating from Mack's Canyon down to the mouth. The first sign of how the trip would end up started with a text message on our drive out. Sam Sickles sent over a video showing the White River blowing thick pea soup into the Deschutes and not thinking much of it as we had packed sink tips and big flies for just such an occasion, we continued the quest. Upon arrival, yep, the Deschutes was blown out, maybe 4" of visibility; Josh was like, Meh… let's see how it goes, so we were off to make our first nights camp.
The next morning the water clarity had improved slightly. The clarity sat around 8" or so, and we took that as a win. Josh's first few stops immediately started producing fish. Jordan, who was riding in Josh's boat, hooked 2 steelheads within the first hour of fishing, landing his first Spey rod caught steelhead and on his own fly that he tied to boot- How sweet is that?! We were all super pumped for him. Next spot Josh gets another one right after stepping in. We are all thinking, yeah, it's on, this is going to be epic. Well, right about when you start feeling stuff like that, it typically goes downhill. After that fish, we never touched another steelhead the entire way down, which was fine. We just got all of the excitement of fishing out of the way early. And now there will be no living with Jordan!
The next day the weather seemed to change quite rapidly. Everything was sunshine and daisies till we started smelling smoke and the canyon began to fill rather rapidly. About when the wind started, and we still had about 8 miles to row out. At first, it was just a steady 20 mph or so, do-able but unpleasant, and then the 35+ gusts started to show that just plain sucked. Most of our last day was Josh and I pushing our guts out to keep the boats headed downriver. Eventually, we made it down and survived to head back home and find Portland covered in a thick blanket of smoke.
Lessons learned: always pack a sink tip and some big flies, as you never know what the conditions will be once you are out there. Even when others say the river is blown, remember that the fish are still there, so get to looking harder. Also, you never know when you might get a hookup steelhead fishing; the take could be the very first cast of the day or the last, but be prepared for when it does, as sometimes you might only get one shot to set the hook. And if you are lucky, the fish will be on your very own hand-tied fly! Congratulations, again, JF, maybe you should grow your mustache back!