It was later in the morning but we still had shaded water. Duncan fished the lower section of the run while Rick went to fish the top. Armed with a floating line and a sparsely dressed fly Duncan worked through the run with a steady cast, swing, step down technique commonly used on the Deschutes River. The technique is an efficient way to cover a lot of water. Essentially the anglers casts down and across the river at a 45-50 degree angle, making a mend to slow the fly if the water speed requires it. The fly swings with a tight line in the current until the fly is below the angler.
September mornings on the Deschutes are a splendid time of year to enjoy the great outdoors. Mornings especially are calm and full of fish producing promise. The smells of sage and sweet over-ripe blackberries along the banks of the river mix to stir the senses and each cast could be the steelhead of your dreams.
Early season arrivals are often smaller fish 5-7 pounds on average. As September arrives the stocks of steelhead in the Deschutes is often a mixed bag of smaller early fish, mid-sized in basin hatchery and wild fish as well as the classic B-run strays from rivers in Idaho famous for their monster sized steelhead. These fish can range from 10/12lbs to over 20lbs.
Nearing the tailout or end of the run Duncan’s fly swung just above the fast water below. That middle zone of perfect current speed and depth; the resting place for fish just moving up from the rapid below. That’s where the line stopped. Mid-swing the line stopped and yanked tight. One, two pulls then a blistering rip of line came off the reel. As the blur of the reel subsided a large splash and erupted at the end of the line as a steelhead cartwheeled across the surface.
Fish on! Duncan held on for dear life as this fish ripped about the pool. Into the backing in a flash, the first run was impressive. After three strong runs it was a toss up for who was winning. Duncan’s positioning in the run was also a challenge. He had waded deep when he hooked up and needed to back upriver to find a suitable landing spot. The bank below him had a fallen tree with branches reaching into the water; a high potential for the fish to wrap a branch and come off the line. This is where the guide earned his keep holding up Duncan by the waders and literally giving him a “steelhead wedgie” as we kept steady tension on the back of Duncan’s waders easing upriver to a more suitable landing zone.
Finally the fish was in the net and the battle ended- Duncan’s most amazing wild steelhead catch in hand with photos to prove it. Congrats Duncan!
Water Time Outfitters, Inc offers guided fly fishing trips on the lower 100 miles of the Deschutes River with our Federally managed user permit. We offer guided jet boat or drift boat trips for multi-day fly fishing adventures. See more at: www.watertimeoutfitters.com