Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Beloved River

The "Dog Days" have arrived early this year and here we are in early July with the temperature expected to be a "toasty" 102 degrees. The water temperatures makes it too warm to ethically fish for any fish that one would expect to release and so what does a bored fly angler like me do?
For twenty seven years I really dreaded the beginning of the warm season. I toiled in an aluminum foundry and toted molten metal up and down a concrete catwalk pouring casting for the big class 8 trucks such as Freightliner and Peterbilt. To quote John Wayne from the movie "The Quiet Man" when he was talking about his days in a Pittsburgh steel mill "It's so hot that a man loses his fear of hell"
So when a days like we will have this week approaches I would dread it. When I retired I swore that I would never again complain about the summer so I won't...mostly I won't
I do love the summer nights here in the northwest though. It just seems as though the world is sighing in relief after being mercifully released from the heat. The sounds of the night are alive in the summer and I often listen to them as I drift off to sleep.
I'm a night person you see, and so I've spent many an evening listening to the chirps of the crickets or the croaks of bull frogs. Everything just seems to come alive at evening time after a hot day and I've always had my most enjoyable days casting a fly at dusk. The nocturnal bats that take flight at dusk would be fooled into thinking my fly, as I cast it, was some insect for them to eat. I am surprised that I never accidentally hook one.
I've been watching the steelhead counts as they go over the Columbia river dams and have started getting the "Deschutes urge".The good fishing is still at least a month off though but it would not be unheard of to venture over to Heritage Landing and take a stroll upriver once this relentless heat loosens it's stranglehold on Oregon.
It's really a magical place the Deschutes. When one thinks of Oregon they might think of lush rain forests and green hues that dominate ones view as they travel the Willamette Valley or cross the coast range. It's a whole different scene though once you get to The Dalles and beyond. It's a beige desert landscape that has it's own special beauty. I'll walk the mile or so distance up river to where I want to begin my stalking of the famous Deschutes summer steelhead and even on a moderately warm day the coolness of the water as I wade in is a welcomed respite.
I've found that anglers that love the Deschutes fiercely protect her like a loved one would. It breaks our heart to see our "beloved" soiled or abused in any way. The Deschutes is showing the strain of this abuse in certain portions. The litter that those so thoughtless and uncaring leave along the streambank makes you sad after you get past your rage of the insult to your beloved river.
You begin to care for this river the first time you fish it because it has a dangerous attraction of the wild western stream that it is and you find yourself drawn to it as one who might be attracted to a romance that is dangerous. To some it becomes the familiar friend you've missed all winter. You'll fish it time and time again without really putting much thought into the fish you didn't catch because you are just glad to be there.
So summer is truly upon us and those anglers that pursue the fall coho and chinook are planning their tactics for the lower Columbia. The families on vacation are planning their trips to dreamed about places and as for me I'm thinking about sagebrush. swinging flies, rattlesnakes and the beloved river just east of here.

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