Luck on a trip to Maupin, Ore., yields fishing pliers — and a broken rod

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Abelted kingfisher studies the water for dinner.

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A hidden waterfall off the Deschutes River near Maupin, Ore.

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Columnar basalt stands tall in Mack's Canyon near the Deschutes.

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A lost pair of fishing pliers finds a new owner.

Editor's Note: Part 1 of this April 30-May 2 report from Maupin, Ore., and the Deschutes River appeared in this space last Wednesday.

A gleaming pair of fisherman's pliers, for removing hooks and crimping barbs, lay in the grass on the Deschutes River bank.

"Some poor dufus lost his pliers," I tut-tutted to Nora the Schnauzer as she nosed around a few feet away.

I picked them up and fastened the clip to my vest. I pulled and released the retractable line.

Smooth.

That episode occurred late on Sunday afternoon, and Darlene dampened my good luck by wondering who lost them.

We had started the sparkling clear day with bagels, cream cheese, orange juice and coffee in our room at River Run Lodge.

At 7:38 a.m. we set out for a 26-mile drive downriver to Mack's Canyon Recreation Site, counting the nine miles from Maupin to Sherars Bridge.

That would be the scenic tour, then I would fish the enticing spots on the way back.

At the canyon entrance I cautioned Darlene and Nora to clamp their teeth to avoid biting their tongues "on a world-class rocky road."

So, we rolled onto thick gravel with jarring wash-boarding but none of the cantaloupe-sized rocks that I remembered.

"It will get worse," I mumbled.

But it didn't. It got better.

And the columnar basalt, rugged rim-rock formations and the massive cliffs drew expressions of awe from Darlene. They drew an eager angler's shrugs from me.

Nora said nothing, but she watched and sniffed intently from an open window.

We stopped several times to ogle fascinating rock formations and one slim, nearly hidden waterfall.

With the wet spring, the hillsides shimmered green. Turkey buzzards, osprey and other raptors kept sharp eyes alert for prey.

Actually, buzzards use smell to find their feasts. Makes sense, considering their tastes.

Once we counted six Rocky Mountain sheep, all ewes, high on the canyon across the river.

We reached sun-drenched Mack's RS at 9:22 a.m., and I chose a dry stonefly as the ticket for trout.

I rigged up the Sage 5-weight with a floating line and a mature stone-fly imitation. I squeezed Goop onto my fingers and applied it lightly to the fly to help it float.

Well, I fished seven enticing spots on the way back and caught 15 fish: 12 steelhead smolts in the 6-to-10-inch range and three rainbow trout in the 10-to-14-inch range. None of the rainbow had the deep-red stripe that indicates the fabled Resides of the Deschutes.

The pliers appeared at the final riffle of the day.

For dinner that evening we visited the Maupin City Market Deli for thick, tasty sandwiches.

We packed early Monday, and I donned waders to fish along the nine miles to Sherars Bridge before climbing the steep canyon road toward home.

At the first stop, I carried the Sage rod toward the water as two adult geese with six goslings vented their snooty attitudes at Nora.

Then, darn it, I lay the rod in the grass, fetched the camera from Darlene and snapped photos of the geese.

"Did you break your rod?" Darlene asked when I returned the camera.

"Huh?"

"You were walking on it," she added.

I picked up the rod and flicked it. It cracked. Half of the tip section dangled like a broken wing.

Neither of us said anything.

"Only a dufus lays a fly rod on the ground" meandered though my mind.

"Maybe you can send it in and get it fixed," Darlene said. "You did that before."

When I called Nora, she tilted her head, "What, no fishing?" she wondered.

"Sorry," I shrugged.

As we headed up the steep canyon-side, Darlene avoided looking over the edge as usual.

"Well, Maupin's nice," she finally said. "And we had a good time and saw really impressive scenery."

And I had a shiny pair of fisherman's pliers with a retractable line, unless the owner claimed them.

Contact Don Davis at dondavis@wwub.com. More of Don's photos can be found online at www.tripper.smugmug.com .

If You Go

It's about 190 miles from Walla Walla to Maupin, Ore., via Washington Highway 730 through Irrigon to Interstate 84 and Biggs Junction. Take Oregon Highway 195 south to Grass Valley, and turn right for a 22-mile drive to Sherars Falls. It's a nine-mile drive along the river to Maupin. For information about river conditions, weather and fishing, Google ‘Deschutes River Canyon Fly Shop.'

For information about lodging and camping, Google ‘Maupin, Oregon' then click on Chamber of Commerce and Member Directory.

Scott Richmond's book "Fishing in Oregon's Deschutes River," published in 1993 by Flying Pencil Publications, 33126 Callahan Road, Scappoose, Ore., 97056 (504-543-7171) remains in print.

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