Thursday, September 22, 2011


Life has been busy and a bit off for me lately. The extreme drought in Texas seems to have coated my soul with ash and grit. My desire to be outdoors tempered with the sadness of seeing wildlife, trees and rivers slowly consumed by heat and lack of rain. I have not visited my normal local fishing spots for many weeks because I just can't stand to see them in such a sad state; not to mention all the people who have lost homes, lives and property. Just last night I had a vivid dream that my home burned while attempts to put it out with a garden hose failed.

In times like this, sometimes the only thing you can do is go on a bender...or in my case go to Bend, OR, the town famous for the saying "it's a drinking town with a fishing problem".

I am fortunate that in my role as a chapter president for Trout Unlimited, I am invited to attend the T.U. annual meeting. This year it was held in Bend, and it was my first visit to that particular part of the country just east of the Cascades. If you are pressed for time and want to skip the rest of this post, here is the executive summary: Bend is simply one of the most beautiful and friendly places I have ever visited.

Our accommodations for the week were at the Oxford hotel downtown. Our TU meetings were held here and across the street at the Phoenix hotel.  The Oxford is a family owned business, and they must allow employees to be part owners, because I have never experienced a more hospitable and friendly staff, from management to maids.I would definitely stay there if I was ever in the area again.

Trout Unlimited, not surprisingly, has a lot of anglers in its ranks of volunteers, and so Wednesday was a designated fishing day. I think over the years the organization realized that if we don't get a chance to fish before the meetings begin, attendance will suffer.

The three representatives from Texas chose to fish the famous Metolius River, home to a very robust population of Bull Trout, a threatened species. These are large predatory trout that require large heavy streamers, sinking lines and hefty rods to bring them to hand (though there are stories of people catching them on nymphs occasionally). The Metolius is a fast moving river, so the weight is needed to get the flies down deep.

We were hosted (read - guided by TU volunteer Michael McLandress), so that we had some help finding a spot to fish. The Metolius bubbles out of the ground near Black Butte, and rolls into a beautiful conifer forest. The woods around smelled like those candles everyone burns at Christmas to make their houses smell festive. After smelling smoke for weeks, it was cathartic.

We arrived at the Camp Sherman store and flyshop, to gear up , study maps, and plan our strategy for the day..

Across the road from the store was this...where you can watch kokanee salmon swimming up on their spawning run (none today)

And looking upstream, this beautiful scene...

Informational sign at the fish overlook...

GRTU member and national grassroots trustee Mick McCorcle with his bull trout game face on...

Looking downstream from the footbridge. The flows are deceptively fast and strong with lots of deep holes. No place to lose your footing.

An old cabin just feet from the river. At this point much of the flow is spring fed, and are pretty consistent 

Phil Dopson, GRTU  treasurer plying the water for bulls with large streamers

None of our party hooked any fish on this day, but later in the week we headed to the Deschutes River with much different results. I will post those pics later.

I left the Metolius that day worn out from casting large flies in a deep, fast-moving current. But I felt renewed.

"I have fished through fishless days that I remember happily without regret.” – Roderick Haig-Brown


Justin said...

I really enjoyed how your personal voice came out in this post :)

Mark said...

Thanks JP. More pics than I usually post, but it IS too beautiful a place not to share the visuals.