Wind and Waders

A serious trout fishing trip to the Deschutes River is skunked by even more serious wind.

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Nora leads the way to a small back eddy on the Deschutes River on a windy day last week.

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A view of Mount Hood from between Grass Valley and the Deschutes River.

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A tiny soft-hackle fly should draw action during the mid-day hours.

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A rig rack helps an angler switch rods with some ease.

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A cormorant launches for a rock near the mouth of the White River.

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A bald eagle soars along the canyon walls near Sherar's Falls.

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Strong winds raise Nora's ears along the Deschutes River.

Late on Sunday of last week, I clicked "Fishing Report" on the website of the Deschutes Angler Fly Shop in Maupin, Ore (www.deschutesanglers.com).

I read the first sentence of the latest entry (Feb. 14): The Deschutes is in prime shape ... with strong BWO hatches coming off on those overcast days.

'Nuff said.

I would seriously throw flies at redsides trout.

Darlene agreed.

Nora the Schnauzer agreed.

Wind never entered our thoughts.

I opened The River Run Lodge site (www.riverrunlodge.net), a clean well-lighted place run by Dani and Mike Foreaker. They had made us feel welcome last spring.

Someone had the Salmon Room. I registered for three nights in the Steelhead Room. Mike would leave the key in the room and the door unlocked.

We packed quickly on Monday. A gray, consistent drizzle accompanied us to Pendleton. It persisted, mixed with snowflakes, to Biggs.

From there, the gray remained. The drizzle ceased.

On the drive upstream from Sherar's Falls to Maupin, we stopped twice for Nora to ramble and me to photograph a bald eagle soaring and a dark cormorant launching.

We ate lunch at the Maupin Market's deli (a homemade breakfast casserole for Darlene and a breakfast beef burrito for me). Nora crunched kibbles in the truck.

I crossed the street to the Deschutes Angler Fly Shop, and John Hazel offered a serious plan: fish the back eddies, look for foam. Use nymphs early and late. Use tiny soft-hackle dry BWOs (blue-winged olives) from about 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

I loved it. I bought six of the tiny flies (pinkie-nail-sized).

I also bought magnetized rod-holders. They stick to the vehicle's hood and cab and hold two-or-more rigged rods.

Being serious, I could move from eddy to eddy and switch rods quick and easy.

We crept seven miles upstream to Locked Gate. I mentally catalogued about 42 back eddies with foamy riffles.

My lips stretched wide in anticipation.

At the lodge, a group of mule deer watched from 20 yards up a hill while I lugged gear to the room.

Eventually we dined at the market again, and I walked Nara to the city park at dusk.

Tuesday morning arrived calm, gray and in the high 40s. I rigged up two rods: one with two bead-headed nymphs (one on a 12-inch dropper) and two tiny split shot; one with the No. 20 dry fly on a new 9.5-foot, 5x leader.

I clunked the rod carriers onto the truck and attached the rods. I dressed in long-johns, waders, green wool shirt and snap-brim wool hat.

Redsides, beware!

By 8:44 a.m., after breakfast at the deli, we motored upstream. At four miles, workers replacing telephone poles blocked the road.

We turned around.

At a nearby eddy I picked the rod with nymphs off the rack. Nora and I went fishing and Darlene read.

Nora watched while I drifted nymphs. In less than an hour, I hooked and released two 10-inch undistinguished trout.

Then, hard winds blew.

Still, a few tiny caddis flies emerged below alder trees laden with olive-colored catkins. I fetched the lighter rod with the small fly and fished until a gust almost flipped my hat away.

Nora's ears rose often as she sniffed among flailing grasses.

I stepped from the truck at the next hole, and the wind blew me back a step.

So, I drove down the river looking for a cove and found none. Finally, we took deli sandwiches to the lodge and napped until I walked Nora to the park at windy dusk.

Winds thumped the door that night but eased by morning. I again dressed in waders, ready to fish.

During breakfast at the market, a fellow angler said the wind blew him "off of the river yesterday, but it looks much better today."

It did.

Yet, as we drove toward Locked Gate, weeds and trees waved frantically.

I cast briefly onto a favorite rifle there. Gusts often blew the line back at my knees.

I drove downstream into Mack's Canyon.

I stopped at Lone Pine, stepped from the truck and the wind nearly blew me over the bank. My itch to fish seriously waned.

"Let's go back," I said. "I'll change and take Nora for a trek up a hillside."

I did.

We dined that evening at the Stonebridge Bar and Grill. Beautiful photos of animals and birds lined one tall wall.

Darlene gave the food five stars, lauding the quesadillas the cook made special for her. I had a five star Southwest chicken salad with homemade potato chips, along with a smooth Black Butte porter, or two.

After dinner, I hustled Nora back to the park, to assure that she would sleep well.

She did.

Thursday morning, the sun shined and the trees and grasses relaxed quietly. Alas, we loaded up, fetched coffee and rolls at the market deli and headed home.

"Too bad about the fishing, but we had a good time," Darlene said. "I liked the Stonebridge."

Nora and I agreed.

After unloading and picking up tree limbs at home, I checked the latest Deschutes Angler fishing report (Feb. 23).

Guess what?

It said, "The fishing over the last few days has been downright tough due to some of the heaviest winds I have seen in this area. Fortunately the weather has calmed down and the sun is shining today without a breath of wind."

'Nuff said!

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

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