Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Fly Fishing: Back Home At Last...

 April 19th we left Dillon bound for Bend OR and the 2012 NOWA (writers/photographers) Conference. We camped the first night at Mud Lake (ID) having knocked off about 3 hours of the 12 or 14 hour trip. Next morning we detoured to downtown Idaho Falls to checked out the annual Fly Tying Expo. A must-do on any Rocky Mountain fly tyers bucket list we were somewhat surprised at the size and number of tyers and of course vendors of just about anything fly fishing related.

That afternoon we made a second dent traveling 4 hours or so to Three Island Crossing State Park (Glenn's Ferry). One of our Idaho favorites and a spot we've visited and hunted out of several times previously. Annie found the park quail covey particularly interesting. Had time permitted no doubt some of the Snake River carp would no doubt be nursing sore lips but...

Duty called and so on to Chickahominy Reservoir about 30 miles west of Burns/Hines where we stayed 3 nights. We spent the next day at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge photographing a slough of waterfowl and water birds (will post soon) and enjoyed some the emptiest (as in no folks) country anywhere. The southeast corner of Oregon is actually the least populated in the lower 48. The bad news Chickahominy fishing sucked...not only did I manage to eat skunk not a single rainbow did I see on the hook. The few other anglers I talked to boasted similar regrets...unlike most of us fisher folk excuses were about as scarce as hook-ups...

Arriving Bend the day before the gavel dropped I fished the Deschutes River and though it did fish better nothing even close to red hot our entire 6 day stay...who knows? 

Yes, this is the closest you will ever see me to participating in the activity we call golf. This is indeed "golf with a fly rod" though Orvis Bend prefers to call it simply "Our 18-station fly rod casting course" or something like that? Anyway upon finding not much else of interest in Bend, OR...you know the fastest growing mob scene in the WEST where "those who visit here tend to stay here"...LOL...One day during a rare free moment in the hectic NOWA conference schedule we decided to bite the bullet, risk the life-changing drive across town...an insane madness I'm somewhat at loss for words to describe...Scary as hell fits but still does not do justice...and check it out.

With wind gusts to 30 mph plus admittedly not the best day for slam dunking the course. Which is arranged on land and water about a 1.2 mile course around what is known as the "Old Mill District." I did somehow manage to at least get close every now and then and at this station actually landed a couple on target at the "Advanced (Expert) Distance" (50 feet or so, I think and yes I'm using the Orvis language not mine). With the wind the short "Beginners" targets were all but impossible.

The course is said to be the only 18-station in the country though there are several smaller renditions scattered about Orvis Land--I've no idea where? I actually did enjoy the challenge. And while I did not find time to complete the entire course I did scout a couple stations which would surely stretch the casting skills of all but the so-called "world class gang."

The rod in my hand is a loaner from the shop. A top-of-line Helios (I think that's right?) which I found to be the best Orvis casting machine I've ever handled...Despite the stiff head wind which at the above station was more a slight cross-wind than full head-on I had no problem turning over the leader, getting the windage right did take some doing. But one can hardly fault the outfit for that...right.

The course is free; open 24-7-365; just rig up and go. Keep score or don't, compete with your buddies or just practice casting. From where I sit, no way could you not come away a better caster...with due diligence hell you might even get your "expert" card...A course good luck surviving the road wars in downtown Bend.

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