Friday, August 17, 2012

Steelhead Sisters

H: August 17, 2012: It was sad leaving the Deschutes river and parting ways with Kat, Michele, and George. You couldn't ask for better fishing and traveling companions! But thoughts of a long shower and laying on crisp cotton sheets, cooled by the cold blast of some a/c made it somewhat less painful. (I guess I'd make a horrible dirtbag ;). After a quick stop at the Deschutes Angler in Maupin, Kat, Michele, and George headed back to Portland. I drove north to the Columbia River gorge and the Dalles.

I was scheduled to fish with Mia Sheppard and Jenn Mitchell on the lower Deschutes the following day. Mia and Jenn both own and operate fly fishing guide services in Oregon and Washington (Little Creek Outfitters and The Evening Hatch). Our original plan had been to float the Klickitat river across the border in Washington with Jenn as our guide. But the recent spell of hot weather called for Plan B. The Klick could blow at any moment. Mia suggested an area called Kloan on the lower Deschutes. The 3 of us would just meet up and fish.

Steelhead Sisters: Jennifer Mitchell, Hyun Kounne, and Mia Sheppard
The Steelhead sistas! (Jenn, Hyun, and Mia :)
Mia stayed over in the Dalles with me. For some reason I expected her to be a tall girl (an Amazon flyfishergirl). Turns out she's about my height. We met up with Jenn (the Amazon ;) at 4:30 am the following morning and drove to the Deschutes. The drive down to the river was an adventure in and of itself. The only way in (besides by boat) is on the worst possible, pothole-ridden, narrow, one lane dirt road you can imagine. It snaked steeply down into the canyon. To your left was an unobstructed dropoff straight down to the mighty Deschutes. The views were breathtaking, especially with first light slowly creeping up behind the canyon walls.

There was 1 other vehicle there when we arrived. 2 guys were camped out by the river near the parking area. They were up, drinking coffee, and walking around in just their tighty whities. I'm sure the last thing they expected to see early that morning was 3 flygirls getting out of an SUV, donning waders, and rigging up their rods ;). They disappeared from view momentarily and emerged shortly afterwards fully dressed and very curious about who we were. They were very sweet. Apparently they've been coming to the Deschutes to fish for over 20 years. Thanks to them, we have a picture of the steelhead sistas :).

Lower Deschutes Rivers, Kloan
The lower Deschutes, Kloan.
There was tons of great water to explore. We spread out and fished run after run. In hindsight, I wish I had taken a break to watch Mia or Jenn fish, hang out, and take some pictures... But for some reason, put me on a river with fly rod in hand, and I just can't help it—I lose myself—and all other intentions fall by the wayside. I must confess I was nervous casting in front of Mia and Jenn. I generally feel very uncomfortable when people watch me cast and Mia being a champion spey caster didn't help ;). My first few casts were pretty clunky. But they quickly put me at ease with their warmth and encouragement and even gave me a couple of pointers. By morning's end, I was relaxed and my casting was much improved. We fished till late morning but unfortunately, none of us hooked into any steel.

We hiked back to the car. By some miracle, Jenn had cell service. She heard that the Klick was still fishable (1-2 feet of visibility), so we made our way out of the Kloan and drove over to the Washington side of the Columbia river. Mia would join us later after she took care of some pressing work emails and phone calls. Jenn and I drove upriver, stopping along the way to check out conditions. As we went further upstream, Jenn noticed the water clarity deteriorating. So we drove back down river and managed to fish a couple of spots before we had to call it a day. It sure would have been fun if one of us had hooked a "hot" Klickitat steelhead. But I still had a great time with my steelhead sisters! Hope to fish with them again next time I'm out west.

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