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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  1. Know what you mean about light camping I’m there to fish not eat at a 5 star resturant,the salmon fly hatch first time I ever saw it was on the N. Umpqua in 1977 still remember it,hard to forget being bombbarded by humming bird size bugs.

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