The Dechutes ,Salmonfly’s,whitehorse rapids and a wooden boat PART2

June 25, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The next night was much the same. We fished at whiskey dick till dark but the fish seemed off the bite or they were just full from eating so much. The next morning came and it had rained so we waited for the sun which came out and dried our things. We loaded the boat and I kept saying I think we are still too heavy.

Now I want to say something here because this is important. If you even think that the boat is over loaded this is the time to get rid of things you might not need. This could be coolers, this could be clothes, anything weighing down the boat. You should know the weight capacity of your boat. This should have been taken care of the first day, but if you feel it is too heavy get rid of things you can live without !!!!!!!! If you feel like you are littering trust me someone else will put it to good use at some point.

We got the boat ready and started rowing, it was lighter but she still wasnt moving right. We came around the bend to the whitehorse and you can pull over to check it out before you go through. This is a class IV rapid so it is a good idea to check this thing out.

Things you should do before you go over the rapids, take off your waders, make sure you have a whistle. Wear a life vest!  Have through ropes ready in the boat. Look for loose items in the boat. Stash loose gear in dry bags. Secure your bags and make sure not to have too much weight in the rear of the boat, try to balance the boat out. This helps a drift boat maneuver. Do not exceed the weight capacity of the boat.

At this point in the journey you have the option to walk around the rapids, if that inner voice is telling you something isn’t right you should listen! This will also help lighten the boat. This helps the oars man maneuver through the rapids. It is better to be safe then sorry!

The next thing is to help the oars man by staying in your seat, never stand up even if you are going to hit something, this is a fatal mistake. It is the one thing that the oarsman can’t control and that is you the passenger. If you do stand up you will set the boat off balance. If you hit you have the chance of bumping off. If you don’t then is the time to make decisions.

So here is what happened to me and some friends. We headed out behind another friend who hit the line but wasn’t over weight. At the top of white horse you have to go through a channel which sweeps to the left toward rocks they call the knuckles. We were over loaded! As we went through the channel the sweep caught the rear of the boat. We had the line picked out fine and were on a good track, but the weight of the boat caught, which took the rear of the boat into the knuckle. This pushed us toward the rocks below the knuckle they call the can opener. I corrected the boat as much as possible in the rapids but was headed for the can opener. Just before we hit the old man in the front stood up and had a push stick and tried to push us off the rock. This was the worst thing he could have done. As soon as he stood up the boat tipped and swung us up on the can opener, throwing me from the boat.

I was shot out and driven back at the boat, which was laid up on the rock and the other passenger was on top of the boat. I slammed into the side of the boat and was sucked under the boat and down under into the rapids.

This is where it got really crazy! I hadn’t thought about it and had my waders on. This was a huge mistake. I had not respected the river enough to even think about what could happen. The waders filled instantly. Moments are lost here for me from the time I went under the boat and then surfaced again. I know I was under then in a wall of water and then came out somehow by the grace of God, to tell you the story. God you say? Let me tell you if you don’t think there is one take a ride through the whitehorse and you will know! When I came up I caught my breath and was taken down again. Something snapped in my head and said fight! That is all I remember and I started swimming. I came up again and laid backward and stuck my feet forward then rolled and swam toward shore and rolled over on my back again some how I made it to shore. My waders were filled to the top !

I got lucky very lucky, I shouldn’t be typing this to you all now. I am typing this to hopefully make you think twice about what you are doing when you are out fishing. I’ve been in boats all my life and this one time, when I got lax about safety something happened. We got lucky no one died and some people where there to help us out. We were in the middle of nowhere out there.

Some of you out there will make fun of me for crashing.  I’m going to say this I learned from this. Go prepared, be ready for anything, because out there it could happen. Two way radios or even a tracking device could save you. One of the guys was washed down stream pretty far. He didn’t have a whistle with him so we didn’t know if he was ok till much later. Personally I would never do this in a wooden boat again. If we had been in a raft or a cataraft we would have most likely just bumped off the rock.  Think before you act and remember to listen to your oars men. As a passenger you endanger everyone on the boat if you don’t listen.  This was one of the scariest moments of my life. If you think you are stronger then the water I’ve got news for you.  Mother Nature has all the control out there and the river could take you at anytime. Even experienced guides die out there as well so think before you act.


The Dechutes ,Salmonfly’s,whitehorse rapids and a wooden boat PART1

June 16, 2010 at 7:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

So this month I’m going to talk about my adventure on the Dechutes and being prepared for an accident ! The trip started out with the great expectations of the salmon fly hatch. I have a custom nymph designed to look like a salmon fly nymph (petronarcy californica ) Which people here in the Northwest get very excited about when they start to hatch. It is the sign of summer starting to most fishermen and it is the sign of a great trout bite. So I tied up an awful lot of them in the early season before the hatch. My one friend called me and asked if I was going to go for the trip and I said sure .

I called a few days before and my friend said the other half owner of the boat wanted to go. This is where things start to get interesting. I go with it though.  So I’m a laid off cabinetmaker and I had alot of time to prepare for the trip. I tied up to the last minute because the friend I usually go with said he had everthing covered and to just bring my sleeping bag and tent. I was cool with that .

Well they came and picked me up and off we headed for the great big Dechutes River where the largest hatch of salmon flys on the West coast happens. We went to Mecca flats where everyone was saying the hatch had come off already and when we got there it did seem like the bugs had taken off or moved on through. It started raining about a half hour after we got there and that put all the bugs and the fish down. The first night it rained hard and in the morning the sky was overcast and grey and the wind was blowing .

Now when we floated the first day the other half owner of the boat, who had brought everything and the kitchen sink to camp with him, and wanted to eat eggs and bacon and potatoes and it took till 11:30 to just get going. I’m a fisherman and when I camp I go pretty light I could bring coffee and freezed dried food and cliff bars. These guys want steaks and pork chops, eggs and bacon. Do any of you see where this is headed ?

So my fishing time became limited, mind you I’ll eat in the dark if I have to and can cook over a small bunsen burner if I have to. Well the first day I manged one fish and missed a few on the top water. Then we set up camp and it was windy but I decided to fish above camp anyway, I hooked a huge sucker about five pounds.  I thought  I was latched into a huge trout till he finally came to the surface. Ever tried to move a a five pound rock with a five weight rod?  Well that is how a sucker feels when they fight you! I kept fishing  and my friend had come up when  a fish hit and hit hard. My reel was screaming. I was thinking  oh man this is going to be a nice fish well I reeled him in a little ,and then bam! off and running. I was impressed, then the fish broke top water below me but I still couldn’t make out what it was. Reeled in some more and then bam! off and running. Now I was really impressed and thinking cool I have a nice one on  as it broke top water again. Well this time I got him in closer and could tell it was wearing out slowly bringing  him in and low an behold it was a huge white fish! Now who would have thought a white fish could fight that hard ? To boot I had hooked it in the fin does anyone know how these fish get hooked in the oddest places ?me fighting the white fish

Well that night it rained again and it came down hard like buckets, I don’t know when it finally stopped but it got real strange being in your tent listening to the rain come down like that. The morning came and it took awhile for things to dry out, so that made for another slow morning. We fished islands for most of the day and I hooked a few on the top water but nothing to really write about. When you are fishing these huge stimulator patterns on the top you get a lot of hit and misses. They grab it spit it or you react to soon. I was working a seam at the bottom of one island and accidentally  dropped one of my flies in the water.  There it went floating down the seam and wouldn’t you know it GULP fly gone. I was just like you have to be kidding me. Sometimes you wonder how these bugs ever make it to breed .

Well we made it to our next camp site. It was nice. It had a few pine trees growing in it large enough for shade. Well we started unpacking gear and we all got out of the sun, hung up our waders and were chilling out. My one friend went over to do something by his waders when I heard something like a maraca. It went something like shink shink shink shink. I looked up and half said what was thaaaaa! ? and saw the rattler not two feet away from my friend with his tail up and his head in the strike pose. I yelled look out and he kind of jumped and ran. There right in the middle of our gear was a three foot rattler. Talk about a close call! My friend was quick to action and tried to remove the snake from camp by lifting it with a stick .and took it about two hundred yards from camp.  Well I was still uneasy with that and not five minutes later he was back in camp. Well these guys were like ok Mr you’re gone! I’ll leave the rest to your imagination!

That night the trout went off and the water came to life outside our camp. This time though it wasn’t for salmon fly’s – a huge hatch of drakes and caddis seemed to come off all at once. The guys were trying everything. I just sat back and watched for awhile and went down to my friend and said hey try this elk hair caddis. He tied it on and Bam! he was into fish. For that matter it was his first fish on a dry fly. I had been helping him to learn to cast which he had never done before so it was cool to see him get into his first bunch of fish on the dry! Late that night two others who were to join the group caught up to us.

The next morning was much the same as the last few a long slow start. By now im starting to get tired of the weather as it has rained on and off for days. The sun would come out and then go away. We started out and headed for our next camp well I decided to switch over to my nymph and throw on a trailer fly of a drake nymph. The sun came out and the bugs went nuts! We got into fish at every stop we made that day, Nymphs, Dry, you name it. The trout were hungry! Bugs you hear about the salmon fly hatch, alot of people say “oh it wasnt big last year” or “I just missed it”. Well we were well into it and it was unreal. When you looked into the sky it was like the scene from Apocalypse Now with the helicopter battalion coming into the beach except this time it was millions of stone flys just heading up river! It is a sight to behold if you are a fly fisherman. That night we camped at Whiskey Dick camp ground. There is great anticipation when you are at the Whiskey,why you ask? because the next day would be the white Horse rapids ! A class IV to V rapid !

Stay tuned for my next post it is going to be a wild ride !

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