White River, OR

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Mudded Out
Tiers Rendezvous
Tail Gunners Get Even
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White River doing it's worst.

Two weeks ago my Deschutes season was over.  Then I got a call from an interesting sounding fellow named Bob, who said that he wanted to spend a couple of nights camping and fishing my part of the river.  In further conversation, he disclosed that he had fished steelhead before, knew how to spey cast and would be by himself.  This sounded like a fun trip, and besides, I was looking for an excuse to set up a camp below Mack's Canyon.  This would allow me to take some of my best friends and employees fishing and field test new equipment and take the time to generate some product photos.  The water conditions and weather predictions looked favorable for every purpose.  Bob consented to meet me at noon and would attend the first three days of a six day fishathon.  Preparations included coordinating all of the participants, repairing some camp gear, taking my boat in for an oil change, and the food and fuel acquisition.  The day before the trip, the weather changed from clear to heavy rain with the freezing level rising.  White River, a glacial tributary to the Deschutes, can become a real negative factor to water clarity during this kind of weather pattern.   I called Brian Silvey who I knew would have the most up-to-date information on water conditions on lower Deschutes.  He had fished it that evening and the conditions were perfect.  Very early the next morning, I crossed Sherar's Bridge with a jet boat and Ford Excursion heavily loaded with tackle, cameras, food, fuel and camping gear.  The light was barely coming up when I parked by the first outhouse on the access road and peaked over the bank at the river.  There was that light-colored sheen to the water that has become all too familiar, White River puke.  Not wanting to lose travel time making my next decision as to how to adapt to this situation, I continued to drive downstream toward the launch point.  Just above Jones Canyon, the morning light disclosed that the river was brown enough to be unfishable.  At this point my well-organized plan began to fall apart.
No jet boats are allowed upstream from Sherar's Falls, which is downstream from the mouth of White River.  I had the wrong boat.  Checking my log revealed that the phone number registered for Bob was not a cell number...no way to communicate.  I remembered that he mentioned that he was spending the night at The Oasis in Maupin and made the ten mile drive there to discover that he hadn't checked in the previous evening.  Mark Malefyt, the proprietor, was gracious enough to call the other two motels in town, but Bob was nowhere to be found.  Mark handed me a piece of cardboard and a felt marker and a sign with Bob's name was constructed.  The ten mile drive back to the access road was uneventful.  After turning around at the outhouse, I parked the boat and tow vehicle facing back toward Maupin and leaned the sign against the front bumper.  Bob showed up in less than a half hour.  It was now about 8:00 o'clock.  We both agreed that we would figure a way to fish upstream from White River where the water was crystal clear. It was decided that he would go to town and check into a motel and I would take my boat and stash it at my friend Bob Larsell's ranch (another Bob).  Larsell and and his wife Laura welcomed me and showed me where to park the boat.  While unhitching, we discovered that the left rear tire on the Excursion was going flat.  No problem. My two friends pitched in to get me going.  The leak was deemed slow enough that if the tire was at full inflation, it would make it to a service station about five miles away.  An air compressor was brought to the scene to inflate the tire.  But the long extension cord that supplied electricity drew too much juice and continually tripped the circuit breaker. After many failed attempts, enough air was put into the tire so the vehicle could be backed along side of the garage so the tire could be changed.  We were all painfully aware that my client  was waiting for me to show up in a business-like manner. An electric impact wrench quickly removed the lug nuts.  Unfortunately, it spun out of control and threw the last lug nut out of the socket to an undisclosed location. Being exactly the same size and color as the gravel in the drive way, it disappeared.  This was a low point. However, no voices were raised and after the vehicle was moved away, Larsell found the lug nut and I was soon on my way. Let me tell you, "I've got one hell of a fine pit crew!"  I called my wife Patty on my cell phone and she agreed to deliver my drift boat to the ranch while I spent the rest of the day with Bob "road-fishing".

Bob's second steelhead.

The drive to the motel was uneventful.  Bob was ready to go when I got there.  He seemed unperturbed by the changing events which took some of the tension out of me.  When White River goes out of whack, it removes 3/4 of the steelhead water that is easily accessed from Maupin.  This tends to compress a fairly large angling population into a comparatively small area.  Competition for water can become extreme. For that reason, I had forsaken this area and had not fished any of it for nearly ten years, but still remembered some of the key holds. While transporting the jet boat up and down the access road, I had passed a very good piece of water that had been unoccupied all morning.  But, just as Bob and I got there another angler was getting ready to fish it.

Fortunately Larsell had clued me into another spot that was just upstream. It was during this short walk that a downstream gale began to blow. The edge water in this short run is a narrow bed rock ledge which drops off to uncertain over-your-head depth.  This is bordered by a twenty foot high, steep, brushy bank that can only be fished well with a single spey cast. The downstream wind prevented this approach.  Bob had to use a double spey cast which aimed the D-loop at the bank. 

Support crew getting ready to fish.

Bob's second cast came off smooth, and I stood high on the bank and watched the white wing of the fly as it came sliding across just under the surface of the water. Directly under my feet a green and red bullet intercepted the fly and the line leaped from the water as the rod bowed.  The buck steelhead twisted and turned below the surface and was eventually brought to hand and released.  The skunk was gone, and my tension disappeared with it as I realized that against overwhelming odds my client had caught a fish.  Bob looked at his watch and remarked that it was 12:15, then said, "By our original plan, we would have only met at the boat ramp fifteen minutes ago."

25-million year old Deschutes River Canyon.
High quality clients can put a positive spin on the most demanding circumstances,
and caring, supportive friends make every task easier.  It is a lucky fishing guide that has both.

Please Attend!
Fly Tiers Rendezvous
November 12, 2005
9:00 AM  to  4:30 PM
Glenn Otto Park – Troutdale

Please attend. Celebrity Tyers - Tying Demonstrations
Don Nelson Mark Bachmann
John Hagan Pete Gadd
Jack Hagan Mike Duley
Henry Hoffman Russ Seaton
Harry Gross Rob Russell
Jim Schollmeyer Larry Nichols Marc Williamson
Jim Teeny Scott Richmond --and many more
Big Prizes !!!  Raffles!!!   A chance to buy stuff really cheap!!!
Programs are FREE !!!
Sponsored by: Northwest Flyfishers Club
Be sure to come and visit The Fly Fishing Shop table where Mark Bachmann and Pete Gadd will demonstrate the tying methods for steelhead flies that are proven fish catchers!

Tail Gunners Get Even
By: Bob Larsell

 “Old Flies” Work, maybe even better when fished in a new way.

As we got out of Kevin’s Jeep, I inquired of the fellow who was heading for his car whether he had finished fishing, he replied that he had, so we moved down to the water, a favorite spot of mine on the Deschutes upstream from Maupin. 
Kevin asked to observe my spey casts for a few minutes before he began fishing, so I was maybe twenty feet downstream from where I had entered the river when I called out, “There it is! Fish ON!”
Kevin had moved in below me by then, casting a good distance with his hand built spey rod, but he reeled up immediately and came upstream to watch, asking, “What can I do to help?” 

I answered that he could use my camera to record the catch, and handed it to him as I fought the fish.  After six or seven minutes of deep down pulling, the steelhead showed itself, and we were both thrilled by the size of this fish.  I had to pressure her to me three times as I worked my way back to shore because each time, she wanted to run again, going out into mid-stream and taking line from my big reel.

Finally, she grew tired enough to allow me to tail her and extract the fly.  It was a size four Muddler Minnow I had tied on as a trailer to the Purple Angel Tail Gunner I was using as an attractor.  Most times, I won’t use a skating setup behind my floating line, but this time it was the right combination: Tail Gunner, 30” of 10# Maxima then the Muddler.  During the battle the fish had,  applied enough pressure to open the gape of the fine wire hook about 1/8 inch.

My Winston spey rod and Rio WindCutter line had finally brought me a trophy, and BOY, was I ever grateful!  My favorite river had given up a hatchery hen weighting nearly ten pounds from water that had already been fished by another angler, and on a skated fly!  Kevin got some great photos of the battle and landing, as the camera battery died.  I have a very nice fish to remember and a true fishing friend for life.
Thanks Kevin

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Fish long & prosper,
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