Monday, February 15, 2010

The Mother River

I was talking to a friend today and he was lamenting the early closure of the Skagit river in Washington. He called it the "Mother River" and I found that interesting.
What would the designation encompass and what other rivers would fit that description?
To me it would probably take on the obvious designation of a river of beginning. A clear cold and pure place to be sure. Maybe it would entail origins or legendary populations of wild fish. I think that is what my friend had in mind.
So to me the Deschutes would my mother river. I'm pretty sure others would feel the same about such streams as the North Umpqua for instance.
Folks with abundantly more creative writing skills than me have written volumes about the Deschutes. Nearly everything that can be said has been said about this legendary river and I have said plenty about the Deschutes. It's the home of the redside rainbow trout, massive hatches of salmon flies and an ecosystem that is home to both the rattlesnake and steelhead trout. The headwaters of Deschutes is high in the Cascade mountains and where it begins is vastly different to where it ends, draining into the Columbia river near The Dalles. I've never seen another river that can equal the rugged beauty and the wildness of this river.
It is the river where many an angler comes home to. I cannot tell you how many stories I've heard about fishing trips to this river with fathers or grandfathers that many a longtime resident of Oregon will tell.
"I remember when my dad and me used to camp out on the Deschutes" is how many of these stories begin.
I have no such tales and in fact did not fish this river for the first time until I was 20 years old and it scared the hell out of me the first time I fished there. I put my fears aside and decided to trek up the railroad tracks with expectations of yard long rattlers crawling out from every rock.
It was not until I was well into middle age when I actually saw a Deschutes rattlesnake up close and he was not a yard long but maybe a foot long.
Although I got a late start, the Deschutes has always been a river that I want to return to. I have had good days fishing it and I've been thoroughly skunked and humbled by it but I always want to come back and I will until I am no longer able to do so.
We old guys get sentimental about such things as our Mother River. We are fiercely loyal and protective of it in much the same way as one would be towards his own mother and do not take kindly to anyone one abusing her. A river like the Deschutes never falls out of favor even with the onslaught of uncaring river users like has been scene the last decade.
As I was wait winter, the first river where I cast a fly to rainbow trout will be the Deschutes. I mean where else would I go?
There are other rivers I like but they come and go depending one crowds and how favorable the "swinging" water is.
The Deschutes is always favorable in my mind and even though I might get blown off of it during one of it's fickle wind events I don't count that as a lost trip at all. Hell it was worth $60 of gas to get there and back.
I know I've gotten more sentimental over the years, The things that stir a fond emotion in me these days would have scoffed at just a few years ago. Well that is fine by me because in these days of what I call the "Costco" mentality where everybody is out to get all they can with the least expense and effort, an old boy like me always needs to go home to his mother.


  1. "Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
    Through caverns measureless to man
    Down to a sunless sea,"

  2. I'm pretty sure mine would be the Clearwater in ID.

  3. Hey Shane. I've only fished the Deschutes once (last year), but I would return for another go at it. I was not impressed with the whole trip, but that was the fault of the, so called guide and accomodations. The river, on the other hand, has a lure that bring me back another time. How come no one told me about the rattlesnakes?