Swing the Fly Issue 2.4 Spring 2015 - Page 93

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

that 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 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.

I reminded myself that the quest was for me and not for others.

The final night of our trip at “Hot Rocks” on the lower Deschutes had extremely high winds, much too strong to cast. So we settled into an early evening of cigars and scotch to celebrate the quest.  The next morning was viewed by all as the perfect ending to our trip: one of the very best runs on the lower Deschutes with absolutely no pressure to land a fish. Taylor was so relaxed that he took us to the run, helped us identify the right spot to wade across the undulating lava troughs and returned to prepare eggs benedict with crab patties left over from the night before. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t touch a fish. More unfortunately, I choose the wrong line wading back to shore, lost my footing and began floating downriver!  I finally decided to abandon my rod and swim to solid footing, losing my Hatch reel and Beulah spey rod to the Deschutes depths, a fitting end to my quest!   Why fitting? Because nothing hard should be easy? Because you need to pay attention to what you are doing?  Because fly fisherman over 70 should be wearing floating devices?  Because Taylors’s egg benedict is worth dying for?  Well maybe and maybe not.  My demurrer to my insurance company was that I deserved recovery of my loss because steelhead are worth dying for!