Report from the D: The fish are freaking stacked in the runs like sardines!! (Well, OK, that might be a wee bit of an overstatement, but there are most certainly some fish around!)
Charlie and I drove to the river in the pre-dawn only to find several rigs already parked and the best spots already staked out so we decided to head downriver and fish the water in the middle to lower sections of the run. I opted to start in above a gentleman who was fishing the middle run while Charlie continued further downriver and dropped in well below him.
I watched this fella go one for two in the heart of the run, and saw another single-hander directly across the river from us hook and land a fish just before he slipped, went for a short swim-about, then dragged himself to shore and headed back to his boat to dry out. Once the guy below me finished fishing his way through the run, he turned, gave a wave, wished me luck and headed out.
I continued fishing my way down, swinging an Undertaker on a dry line until I arrived at the holding lie. I decided my best bet might be to show the fish something different, so I tied on Todd’s now infamous “Little Wang” - black with a green butt.
At the lower end of the bucket, just as the LWGB was sliding out of the chop and into the softer water, a huge bulge appeared behind the fly, then a gaping white maw absolutely crushed the poor little penile creature. It was one of those super-hot fish that went totally ballistic at the sting of the hook, melted line off the reel at an incredibly insane clip, then exploded way upriver in a hell-bent for destruction, end-over-end catapult while the fly line was still way downriver, making me wonder if it was even possible that this was the same fish I was currently doing battle with.
It was one of the best tussles I’ve had in quite some time! I was finally able to tire her enough to lead her into shallower water. I could see she was a beautiful wild hen and I didn’t want to chance harming her just for a picture, so I quickly snapped this shot just before tailing her, slipping the hook out and gently sending her back on her way. Really a special fish - nickel bright, super broad across the back and perfectly formed. Although the picture makes her look a bit smaller than she actually was (they always do, don’t they?! =), I’d guess she was pushing the 10lb mark, maybe even a touch heavier.
Charlie fished a Pom Skater through the lower sections and at one point had a steelie absolutely explode all over his fly, somehow miraculously managing NOT to impale itself on the hook in the process. Unfortunately, try though he might, he was unable to coax it back for a second go-around.
As I finished fishing my way through the run I noticed that a sled had somehow sneaked in and parked just above me (My hearing must be even worse than I thought). It turned out to be Tom Larimer and his camera crew shooting some footage for an upcoming spey fishing video. Tom’s an old friend of both of ours and we had a nice visit with him and his crew, then we headed upriver to the uppermost run which had by this time been abandoned by it’s earlier occupants.
It was approaching noon and beginning to get really warm, but we decided to give it a quick go anyway, so we put tips on and divvied up the run with Charlie going up to the top and me starting in about mid-way down. I had neglected to throw my tube flies in the sling-pack (which is typically what I fish on tips) so for kicks I tried something really different and lashed a size 6 low-water Night Dancer onto six feet of 10 lb. Maxima and attached that to 10 feet of T-14, fully expecting never to see that fly again.
I’d made maybe half a dozen casts and had just reached the full length of my shooting head, when about midway through the swing, the rod darn near got ripped out of my hand. The take was so violent that even Charlie saw it from his station way upriver.
It didn’t take but a few seconds to realize that this was not a typical Deschutes river fish, given the super-long, super-strong runs even with mega pressure applied. After a lengthy battle, I was finally able to tire her enough that Charlie, who had come down to help land her, was able to get a hand around the wrist of her tail. I’m guessing this was a stray B-run fish from the Clearwater. We snapped a couple of pics and then allowed her to continue on her journey. I know, I know. She’s just a hatchery brat, but I have a soft spot where the Idaho bound fish are concerned and just couldn’t bring myself to harvest her.
We decided to run into town during the heat of the day to grab a burger and shake at Big Jim’s in The Dalles, then return to give it one last shot when the sun left the water - which we did, but unfortunately with no further excitement. Given water temps that were pushing seventy degrees by this time, the fish may have been less active than they were in the morning when temps were closer to the comfy sixty degree mark.
I gave Charlie one of my coveted Little Wang GB's to fish the evening session with, and he really liked it. (Shocker, eh?! =) In fact, he asked if I could get some info on the foam you use Todd, i.e. type, size and maybe where you typically get it.
Anyhoo - that’s the haps from the D boyz!Steve