Two-River Days

Swinging a fly for Oregon steelhead
Springtime in Oregon is a bit of an enigma, particularly for meteorologists since they can't seem to get anything right around here. The sun is trying to stab its way through the clouds while winter fights for every last cold day it can get. Sun, clouds, rain, wind, hail, snow, sleet. It's all here and many times all in one day. When you go out and fish you go prepared.

Hoping for some good weather, but preparing for what we would probably get, my buddy and I headed east for a multiple river float. They key to this is proximity. You must find two rivers within a 15 minute drive of each other that have two floats short enough, but worthy enough to take time in each run. On the road by 6 am we headed towards the salt and stopped about 20 miles short. We set up our shuttle for 8:30 for the first river and 2:30 for the second. River 1 is lesser known, but just as intoxicating when she has you in her grip.

One thing almost all of these rivers that dump into the ocean have in common is the tricky boat ramps. Tricky is a modest description for wooden ramps that go down at about a 70 degree decline if not greater. One of us had to walk the raft down making sure it didn't flip over like it did last time, while the other stands at the top slowly guiding the raft down by letting more and more rope slide through his hands. This is an awkward situation. Not only are these ramps extremely steep, they were built for drift boats. Seeing as our ramp is wider than the slots built for boats, we have to lower Katrina down sideways. She makes it with a smooth entry into the water and we're off and running.

This river has quite possibly the single greatest run of swinging water I have seen on any river. This one run alone is worth the float. It didn't happen today, but just like I knew I was going to stick a steelhead, I know now I'm going to eventually get into one here.

After the weather was more on the sunny side on the first river, it was a nice change to see clouds roll in on the second. I caught my second wind after downing a sandwich and a couple Session Lagers. We were fishing hard and well and throwing our sink-tips deep. My fly was ticking the bottom in several runs.

I was definitely in a casting groove enjoying the sound of the coarse running line rub as it rocketed up and out of the guides and over the water.

Run by run we spent swinging heavy and deep until finally something in the river impeded my fly's swing. That something was undoubtedly a steelhead. It gave me one giant tug and that was it. Before I could get excited about possibly catching my second steelhead in as many trips it was done. I cast back in the same spot four or five times, but there was no second round. That is just one of countless battles that I will lose with these great fish. All you can do is be patient and wait for the next chance to stick one.

Wet Boots Are a Way of Life.