Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oregon Trip Day 3

6:00 am, met with Mark, the guide, at his boat in the parking lot of the resort. Wadered up and pole in hand. I was advised that I should use his pole instead of mine. “Why” I asked. His was bigger. OK, bigger pole, bigger fish? Pulled the drift boat down to the launch area on a road I had driven the night before and turned around because it was rattling my teeth and I have four wheel drive.

6:30 am on the water. Temperature 26 degrees, but shoreman was prepared. Long underwear, heavy socks, hooded sweatshirt (must layer in the cold) and new agua-stealth boots. Got passed the rod I was to use. This thing was so long, I couldn’t see the top of the rod. Mark got me set up and said I was supposed to use the Spey cast to get the fly out as far as possible. “What’s the Spey Cast?” So he showed me and spent the next 3 hours trying to get me to perfect the cast. Back, loop, swing around, cast forward, hold the rod close, whip with the butt of the rod, mend right, mend left, lengthen the loop, Jeez, what did I get my self into? All I wanted to do was fish for Steelhead, not take hours and hours of fly fishing lessons.

I finally got the fly out and drifted correctly a couple of times. I even got the first bump about an hour after starting. Of course, my immediate reaction, being a spin fisherman, is to immediately set the hook. Nope, not with Steelhead. That’s what the loop is for. Get the bump, release the loop, wait for the line to tighten, and then set the hook. OK, change the fly to a different color and try again. This time nothing.

Moved to a different spot and same thing. Back, loop, swing around, cast forward, hold the rod close, whip with the butt of the rod, mend right, mend left, lengthen the loop. Got one bump and set the hook. Again nothing. By this time, I’m having trouble holding this telephone pole. Why you need a 12’ rod, I have no idea. Probably has to do with getting the fly out far enough, who knows. All I know is that I was bracing it next to my body so I could hold it.

Moved to next hole. Oh yeh, I forgot to tell you that each time we got to a place Fred (the other guy I was fishing with, more about him later) and I got out of the boat and walked up and down the river lugging this telephone pole, trying to put the fly out there as far as possible. In this spot, I got another bump, but this time I let the loop go and waited until the line tightened (see you can teach an old dog new tricks), then set the hook. Nope, fish was smarter. I finally gave it up and went back to the boat. When I took a good look at the pole, I found out it was a 9wt, 12’ rod. No wonder I was having so much trouble carrying it. Thing weighted a ton. I think Mark got disgusted with trying to get me to cast the rod correctly, and took his other rod and fished the same area I just went through. He didn’t get anything either.

By now it was going on 11:00 am and we were heading back in, but stopped at one more spot so Fred (he’s much more experienced than me at this, besides, I was done) could take a dozen casts. The last cast he took, he hit one that bent his rod, then was gone.

Got back to the resort Noon and Mark told us that the other guide (Brandon) would pick us up at 2:30 pm for the afternoon trip, 2:30 pm until 7:30 pm. We changed clothes and had some lunch. It was at that point that I started pounding the Tylanol. I had parts of my body that hurt, that I didn’t know could hurt. When 2:30 pm rolled around, I threw in the towel and let Fred go it alone. Spent the rest of the afternoon sucking Tylanol and laying on the bed in pain.

Turns out that the afternoon session was a bust too. Actually Fred said that there were some places he was scared and I should not have been, taking in my inexperience at this. Guess it’s a good thing I stayed back at the resort. He didn’t get any hits at all in the afternoon. Me, I’m still chuggin Tylanol and moaning and groaning on the bed. It’s hell getting old.

At lunch today, Fred, a guy I met named Bill, and I had a discussion about fishing with the telephone poles. Now Fred has fished Steelhead a bunch of times and has a 7wt rod. He’s also younger than me (by a year) and has fished with his rod a lot longer, so he’s used to it. But the cruxt of the discussion was, that there is no reason I couldn’t use my 6wt, and had I used it this morning, would have been a lot more comfortable. This was part of the deciding factor I used in passing on the afternoon torture session. The moaning and groaning was the other. By the way, Bill said he caught several that morning, one 36” long that took him an hour to land. He was fishing in his special hole. Wouldn’t tell where that special hole was. Can’t blame him and would be hard to find him since there is about 20 miles of accessable river there.

Well, that’s day 3. Tomorrow is Sunday and the final day. More on that in the next post.



  1. Now that sounds like a real adventure. Those steelies can be tricky.

  2. Steelhead can be brutally tough to catch, Mark, especially on a fly. Actually, they are QUITE susceptible to a small maribou jig floated under a Thill float with a spinning rod! I can't imagine a guide taking you out and expecting you to be a proficient spey caster without telling you that in advance - Bush League! I spent about 2 months becoming proficient at spey casting after lessons from one of the best spey casters in the world before I went to Scotland and spey fished for Atlantic Salmon.

    Keep fter 'em, Shoreman - we're pulling for you!


  3. I have to agree with Wolfy here Shoreman. I am not sure what that guide was doing asking an inexperienced fly caster to set that learning curve aside and automatically become adequate enough to spey cast. Return customers for a guiding service depends on your success and enjoyment of the experience. He won't get much if that is his normal practice.