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September Steelhead Fishing the Deschutes

September has arrived and with it hints of fall.  As I drove over Mt. Hood on hwy 26 recently the thermometer readout said 34 degrees- a welcome cooling from a long hot summer.  This part of the season we are setting camp on the lower Deschutes with the jet boat in the quest for summer steelhead. These fish are incredible and are in the prime of their life; athletes of pure muscle that can swim in bursts up to 35 mph. Each day we have been connecting with these amazing fish and almost every single fish is running out all our fly line and deep into the backing.  Below is a quick glimpse of camp in the morning last week.

Todd Rettman with the morning “go” medicine

The coffee was hot and welcome after just four days in camp I was getting a bit tired already and the morning sleep was hard to pry from my eyes.  The gray of dawn welcomed our two anglers Henry and Elliot. With a quick snack and something to drink they marched to their respective segements of the amazing steelhead run that we were camped on.  Todd and I prepped for the day tidying camp and preparing breakfast and lunch.  Not far into my first cup of coffee-with way too much French Vanilla creamer in it, we distinctly heard- “FISH ON!” from Henry down below camp.  I grabbed the rubberized catch and release net and ran downstream, my favorite type of excercise while on the river.

Henry was fast into a hot fish.  It ran far into this wide section of the Deschutes and jumped three feet in the air, landing with a spectacular twisting splash.  The reel surged and sang as line peeled off the reel.  Todd and I enjoyed the show as Henry wrestled with one of the finest fish out there.  Then I faintly heard it; was that a whistle?

Henry’s wild Deschutes Steelie

Elliot at 72 years young was equipted with a whistle on his waders.  Todd sprinted upriver to see what his status was while I enjoyed the show- the battle with Henry and the sprinting steelhead.  Finally, the chrome steelhead sucummed to the constant bend of the long rod and we slid a wild 10lb fish into the net.  Shouts of joy rang through the canyon.  This was Henry’s first fishing trip in over a year.

With the fish released and Henry back on his way to his next steelhead encounter I headed upriver to see what was going on.  I made it to camp and saw Todd.  He was wet.  “What’s going on?” I asked.   “We did hear a whistle, Elliot has a fish on too!  I did’nt have my waders on yet so I waded in anyway and helped Elliot land his fish” Todd relayed.

Elliot checks off a bucket list item- Deschutes Steelhead on the spey rod!

A double to start the morning; and that is how it goes when wild, amazing, powerful, aggressive steelhead show up on camp water.  Now all I need is a double shot of coffee!

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