Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Lower Deschutes

Early morning swing

My girlfriend, Domi, is sick.  Doc said bronchitis, complete with a nasty cough and headache.  He prescribes the usual antibiotics, so we head to Raley's to fill the prescription and the pharmacist says it'll be about 25 minutes.  Definitely needing the drugs we decide to wait it out and head over to the magazine rack to kill the time.  She grabs a Cosmo or something like that and I pick up a fly mag off the shelf.  Low and behold, what's the first line I see??

You Could Die

"Rowing the Deschutes - You Could Die There"

Naturally Domi catches sight of this and her mind races.  I try and calm her down saying it's probably one of those sayings like "the fishing is SO good you could DIE there and be happy."  Not until after reading the article I realize that yup, the author meant it in the most literal way.  Having put his driftboat sideways into a rock and having a ton of water crash over the gunnel, he most definitely meant it in the most literal way possible.  So I explain to Domi that I'll be taking my raft which is more capable of handling whitewater than a driftboat. Deep down though, I was kind of nervous, with excitement and fear.

Flashback to before the trip was planned.  My buddy, Rick, and I had been trying to plan an Oregon steelhead trip for awhile.  During a trip looking for a house to buy up there, he shot over to the Ump for a few sessions.  Lightning struck, but he didn't think the Ump was in great shape overall.  This low water year, which we are all feeling the effects of, obviously hit the North Umpqua as well.  Many of the usual runs just aren't there this year.  Naturally we try and think of a back up plan.  Ironically, we both mention the Lower Deschutes.  Neither of us had ever fished it, let alone even been there.  Rick and I, being the "let's do this, we'll figure out the details later" people we are, both agreed that this float trip was happening.  Our buddy, Dennis, had already taken time off to fish the Ump but soon realized that the Deschutes sounded like a better option, so he came along with us as well.  After committing, the planning started to come into full effect.  I naturally hopped on the internet and quickly realized that this float was 31 miles in the desert without any roads nearby to bail out on.  Also, it was littered with quite a few Class III rapids.  Rick and I both have very limited experience rowing, so I thought this could get interesting.  As it turns out, sometimes trial by fire is the best teacher and none of the rapids were way above our ability level.  Albeit I did have one rapid that ejected a big water canteen and made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, but hey I'm alive and kept my boat upright.  Anyway, I'll shut up now and let the photos do the talking!

Canyon country
Trout on the swing
My ride
Camp 1
Battle wounds
Sunset after a big pull
The cast
Morning sky
The fight
Pure joy
The product of 10,000 casts

These next two photos I just have to give some backstory on.  Rick had just got a grab but the fish came off.  I was standing next to him shooting photos when he made his very next cast.  After he shot out his Scandi head, did a pull back mend, and dropped his rod for the swing, he announced, "I'm getting a grab right here."  Just like Babe Ruth calling his shot,  not even a second after Rick said that, BOOM.  He got a grab and his reel was screaming.  After I got back home and was checking out the photos, I saw in the metadata in the photos there was literally 14 seconds between these two photos.
Setting up the swing
2 seconds after saying, "I'm getting bit here"

Downstream Run
He called it
Little fella
The Release
Screaming Reel
Rose a fish!
Last Cast

Stay fly



  1. Looks like an epic trip! Lots of skaters in those boxes... love the shot with the steelhead/muddler-- 4th from the bottom. Great depth of field!