Swing the Fly Issue 2.4 Spring 2015 - Page 92

When he takes his clients out, he knows exactly where the fish are at different water level and color conditions.

This makes a very big difference. As noted John Day and Sandy River guide Marty Sheppard observes, knowing the local water conditions at different conditions is one of the major factors that determines steelheading success (Sheppard 2013. “Winter Steelhead”.  Swing the Fly, Issue 1.4, pp.18-119. 2014). My April fish on the Sandy with Marty proved that it pays to heed your guide’s advice, even when it goes against what you think you know.

August 2014: Deschutes, Triumph and Humbling Demurrer

After completing our annual 12 day backpack trip in the High Sierra (18 consecutive years), my good wife of 51 years agreed to return a few days earlier than planned to give me some extra room to catch my August (12th month) fish on the Deschutes. I arranged a three day trip with two of my most loyal fishing buddies with Taylor Made Outfitters.  Taylor Gareth was in the crosshairs. The pods of fish moving up the lower Deschutes had been sporadic, with some days of great success and other days and trips where few fish were landed. We didn’t touch a fish the first day, not even a tug, a pull, or even a peck!  In the early morning of the second day, on a long cast in turbulent and fast-moving water, a steelhead grabbed my fly soon after it hit the water and 30 feet before the fly reached the soft sweet spot in the slick I had in mind.  The fish headed upstream in very heavy water and became airborne 35 yards above my bellied line!  It is nothing I would have expected. Would the fly hold? Could I land the fish by myself, since no one was in sight to give me a hand? Taylor had gone up river to check on my fishing buddies. With two days left to fish and better water ahead, I was not in panic mode but I was puffing on my pipe extra hard. Maybe the rising smoke would attract some attention from Taylor!  No such luck. I took far more time than usual to land the fish and gave the fat 10 pound wild hen an extra love tap as I released the fly to continue the her journey upriver.  No one to witness my triumph and no camera to record my success!  But I reminded myself that the quest was for me and not for others.

Based on a true story.