Klamath River Club

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Talk about a weekend getaway! Dax, Marlee and I had the opportunity to spend some time with dear friends and clients Anthony and Tom on the middle-lower Klamath river. Situated on a side road off the State of Jefferson highway, it boasts river front property with epic home water for swinging flies.

While the river was high and turbid, we still went for a leisure float and checked out some new water. After all, we had just towed their new raft down from Medford. “Betty” as Anthony christened her, needed to take her maiden voyage. After being baptized with a Sierra Nevada beer (of course!), we pushed off.

One thing is for sure, with all the high water, there are quite a few more braids and side channels! It was a short float, and aside from crazy hydraulics and reversals, there wasn’t much in the way of technical water. However, for all of you who are thinking of floating somewhere, be careful! We did see some big rapids in certain sections of the river while driving. Most of the West coast rivers have a lot of run off at the moment and can be very dangerous! Proceed with caution.

The rest of the weekend was spent; cooking amazing cuisine in the commercial outdoor kitchen (which is set under a sweeping pavilion), reveling in great company, and delighting in a bonfire for our last evening.

While Tom describes his property as a work in progress, I quite frankly see it as the perfect weekend retreat. A great place to bring friends and family for some quality time outdoors. From the amazing kitchen and bathrooms (see photos), to the fully appointed wall tents with porches and string lighting, KRC truly is camping with an upscale comfort and polish that is rare to find.  Thank you again Tom and Anthony for hosting us at your amazing camp! Can’t wait to make it back there soon.

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A room with a view

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Chief Anthony hard at work!

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River view shower? Yes please.

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Steel plate window coverings, perfect for the zombie apocalypse….

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Reclaimed wood, modern fixtures and historic photography adorning the walls give the washrooms a rustic feel

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Extremely thick steel doors stand sentinel to the kitchen when not in use.

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Cheers to next time!

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Just in case…

After a long day of work, I’m gazing at my laptop screen again; my mind eases back to my last adventure. It started in Denver. I was there on business for a few days and I couldn’t wait to wrap things up and escape into the Rocky mountains; trading the city lights for those of the Milky Way. Many of the river reports I had read reported high flows due to run-off on most of the rivers. I’ll have to fish the Gunnison on my next trip. Trouts Fly Shop in Denver gave me some pretty solid advice, in addition to the advice I got from all of my lovely Coloradoan followers. The day after meetings were wrapped up, I was on the road to the South Platte River.

Wine and camping....pure bliss.

Wine, fishing and camping….pure bliss.

An hours drive out of Denver, Deckers, CO was much smaller than I had expected it to be when I’d looked at it on a map. I absolutely loved it. A place where cell phone reception doesn’t exist and there are 4 shops in town, one of them being a fly shop. After buying my Colorado fishing license and sharing fishing tales at Flies and Lies, I headed to find a campsite and fish. Whipping together my tent with the efficiency of an expert and haphazardly tossing together my bedding, camp was set and I was ready to fish within the hour. The flows were about 250% above optimal fishing levels, but word on the river was the nymphing was still productive. Typically, I like to drive and hike a bit to find fish that haven’t had every fly and the kitchen sink thrown at them, but the water by my campsite looked too good to pass up. I waded out in a few hundred feet from my tent and made a few casts. The river bed was a very yellow color, with lots of fine gravel. Despite keeping an eye out, I didn’t see any fish. Until I looked directly below my feet. I had two big rainbows following my wake just a few feet downstream. My pet fish. Avoiding the temptation to thrown on a San Juan Worm and fish by my feet, I continued to fish upstream, sans indicator. Frank and Ethel (Yup, I named my pet fish) kept me company until I caught my first fish by dead drifting a salmon fly nymph. They scattered as I landed the first rainbow of the trip; a fat well-fed 16 incher.     The rest of the afternoon went by with only one more fish caught, another similar sized rainbow in a riffle upstream from camp. As twilight crept over the canyon, I looked across a the river to a promising bend in the river. The water was too fast to wade out very far, and fishing from the other side wouldn’t give as good of a presentation; a conundrum to be sure. Unless you happen to have packed your spey rod, just in case. I jogged back to camp and set up my graceful 13 foot Anderson Custom spey rod. Second cast out, a few feet into the swing, I felt the familiar jolt lightening through my rod, waited a few beats to make sure the fish has eaten the fly, and then set the hook. Immediately I could tell this fish was bigger than the ones I had caught earlier in the day. My reel screamed like only a Hardy can as the line zipped off the spool. And a few minutes later I was netting a beautiful 21″ rainbow I caught on the swing. Not bad. I knew there was a reason to lug the Spey set up halfway across the country, despite a shortage of space in the car.     It just goes to show that when the fishing is a bit slow and the flows aren’t cooperating as much as you would like, there is always a way to productively fish a river. Fishing is a combination of knowledge, observation, skill and creativity. A bit of imagination and thinking outside the box can truly elevate your fishing experience to the next level.

Paying it forward

A few days before I headed into Ennis, MT for the Fly Fishing Festival, my fishing buddie Annie stopped by Beartooth Fly Fishing just outside of town. She came back to the ranch later that evening with rave reviews of the shop, their personel, and one of the guys’ phone numbers for me to call when I got into town. She’d mentioned I would be passing through and one of the associates she had talked to, Dan Greene, offered to take me fishing on the Madison while I was in town.

After shooting him a brief text explaining who I was, Dan and I meet for a beer to chat and arrange fishing plans. We schedule to meet early the next morning at the shop to float a section of the Madison.

A lovely sunrise greets me on my drive to the shop

A lovely sunrise greets me on my drive to the shop

My alarm beeps at me and after a few sleepy yawns in the pre-sunrise dawn, I pop out of the tent and put on the coffee. After all, there are fish to catch, so I’m not inclined to linger over lost sleep. Twenty minutes later, I am on the road to the shop. I head inside and am greeting by fly fishing mecca (custom rods, flies galore, gear…) and a dozen or so smiling faces; its hardly seven and these people are all fully awake. One of these days I will learn the art of being a morning person. Until then, I will just have to rely on copious amounts of coffee; the fish aren’t going to wait for me to sleep in.

It’s a misty morning, and there is not a fish rising or a bug hatching. I gear up with a few nymphs and load into the boat. I hook into a few fish almost immediately, but they don’t find their way into the net. It’s already turning out to be a great day. While we drift down river, Dan tells me about his passion for fly tying and shares his adventures of extreme skiing in Big Sky and all the bones he’s broken; a tail bone here, a disc there…. nothing too serious. Lol. It amazes me that he is still fully hooked and amped on the coming winter season. An adrenaline-junkie fly fisher, who would’ve thought?

A healthy brown :)

A healthy brown 🙂

 

 

We put in the anchor at a bridge to wade, and both Dan and I land some nice fish. We hop back into the boat and push off again. Another rainbow downstream, we decide to stop for lunch. Dan made some pretty awesome turkey sandwiches and we sit on the bank and watch other drift boats float by as we eat.

Such a pig, look at that belly!

Never met a fish that had rolls before. What a pig!

While we sit there, I thank Dan for taking his day off and going fishing with me. His reasons are simple and the philosophy behind it makes me smile. A) He’s been fishing new places before and people have offered him advice, fishing tips, and taken him under their wing; he thought it would  be nice to pass along the favor. B) he laughs that another day spent on the water is a good day. You can be sure that this has inspired me to pay it forward next time I happen upon a fisher in uncharted waters.

Not expecting to be floated down the river all day like the queen of the nile, I offer to row the boat after lunch. I’ve never tried it before, mainly because I haven’t fished many rivers where I was on a boat. A few zig-zags down the river and some unavoided rocks, and I finally start to get the hang of it. Rowing a drift boat is seriously fun. A bit of a work out, but made enjoyable by the breath-taking vistas and near proximity to fishing.

What a view!

 

Nice work Dan!

Nice work Dan!

 

It is near dark when we pull into the boach launch, and I smile at a great day spent fishing from dawn til dusk.

Thanks Dan for being such a positive, stoked guy and taking this gal fishin’. You have a friend and fishing buddy whenever you make it out to the West Coast 🙂 Until then I won’t forget to live life large!!

Crashing guides’ day off

I certainly have been fortunate to meet some wonderful people on my journeys. This past week, I enjoyed the fly fishing festival in Ennis, and met some pretty awesome people. After my arrival into town and checking into camp, I decide it’s time for a bit of dinner and a cold one. I meander down to the local watering hole, the Gravel Bar. I recognize quite a few fishing folks who must be in town for the festival; identifiable by the fishing shirts and hats with various fishing logos.

I’m too late for dinner, but an ice cold PBR hits the spot. The vibe is divey with a hint of country. The live music in the background starts peoples’ feet a tappin’ and soon, quite a few people are dancing. Sipping my beer and enjoying the local vibe, I’m content to catch up on emails, listen to the music, and watch the swing dancers swirling and twirling around the room. I walk up to the bar to order another beer and one of the guides comments to me how us “kids” are always on our phones these days.

Reluctantly, I put the phone down and look up to see the commentator is not much older than myself. All the usual pleasantries are exchanged, and am soon I am cracking jokes and sharing fishing stories with Dario, Jordan, and the rest of their motely crew of fishing bums. A small world, it turns out that Dario is originally from Reno, about 20 minutes away from the town where I grew up. Impressed that I’m out here on a solo trout bum mission, they invite me to fish with them the following day. Hmmm, I’m supposed to work the next day, but I’m sure I can manage something.

The gang is headed to a concert in Virginia City, 30 minutes down the road, and invite me to tag along; but its getting late and if I’m going to figure out a way to fish and work tomorrow,  it’ll mean an early morning.

I walk back to camp, and fall instantly asleep. The blaring of my alarm wakes me at 6 am followed soon after by gun shots. Drawn in by the tasty willows, a mama moose and her calf have wandered into camp. The game warden scares the moose off with a few warning shots.

My boss kindly agrees to let me work a halfday, and then finish my hours later in the evening when I’m done fishing. Dario and Jordan to pull up as I close my computer; looking a little tired (hungover), but ready to fish.

On the drive to Wade Lake, I am regaled with tales of the previous evening at the concert. Apparently I missed a pretty good time. Quickly launching the boat, we get ready to head out and fish. The three of us and three dogs. It’s a full boat, but the more, the merrier! As we’re pushing off, Jordan waves to the boat next to us. “Hey man, you missed a good concert last night!” “Dude, I saw you there!” he responds.  Oh man, I did miss a good night!

 

Gorgeous!

Gorgeous!

 

The water out on the lake is clear and turquoise. I can see the bottom easily in the flat shallow section we will be fishing; I also spot fish cruising. The clearness of the water and the technique of spotting fish from a distance and casting to them bring to mind fishing the flats for tropical fish. The first few casts, and wham, double hook up! Both Jordan and I haul in two nice fish!

 

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The rest of the day the fishing proves to be slow, but guides day off still manages to be a success. After all, when the fishing gets slow, that means it’s time to crack open a beer and enjoy the sunshine. Thanks again dudes, for taking this gal fishin’!

 

Dario and Jordan are guides for Wild West Fly Fishing out of Bozeman. If you’re in the area, take a trip with them, and tell them Gal Gone Fishin’ says hi 🙂

 

Pinch me, I must be dreaming

Ahhh, back on the road again, exploring new waters and absorbing the grandeur and brilliance of the new places I visit.  Along for the ride with me for a bit is none other than Jordan Romney: guide,  conservationist, fellow fly fishing enthusiast and undoubtedly one of my favorite people to go fishing with.

Jordan with a giant brown

Jordan with a giant brown

I drive through the night and we arrive in the early hours of the morning at a river I had never heard of, and one which I have been sworn into secrecy not to share; the river who’s name we shall not speak. All I can glean through the darkness of the night are steep canyon walls silhouetted against the starry sky and the sound of a river nearby. Its late and the moon has already set; camp is quickly thrown together for a few hours of sleep before the sun rises and it is time to fish.

I awake to the sound of birds and bright light pouring through my tent. I open the flap and am momentarily rendered speechless. It’s as though I have been transported to a different dimension. I know we had headed north but the landscape brings to mind the canyons and shearing rock formations of New Mexico or Arizona. Red earth, steep canyon, a brilliant sunrise and amazing rock formations carved into the canyon meet my gaze and astound my still sleepy thoughts.

The savage desert beauty is still assaulting my senses when it occurs to me that I’m going to be fishing in a desert canyon. Fishing in a desert? Ok, sure, I’m game; there is always a first time for everything. As we grab our gear and head down to the river I’m not sure what to expect. And then I see it; the river.

I feast my eyes upon a plethora of noses slurping bugs off the surface. I am immediately taken aback at the size of these fish!  Then I see the way the fish swing their tails out when they eat and I know not only are these big fish; these are big browns.

Next stop brown town

Next stop brown town!

It turns out these fish are gorging on Tricos, scientific name Tricorythodes, which are a small crawler mayfly. In my experience, Trico hatches are a pain in the ass; trout get picky and the tippet you must use  (6x-7x) can be the difference between landing a fish or breaking it off. Despite the frustration of the Trico hatch (aka the white winged curse), I still catch a fish on a beetle. Ha, take that Tricos’.

The hatch is over by around 10 am, and then the fishing becomes more versatile. While at this river we caught fish on terrestrials (ants, hoppers and beetles), PMD’s (late afternoon hatch), and various nymphs.  Different from fishing most rivers in California, all the fish I caught were good-sized browns. Not a single rainbow to be had. Also not a small fish to be had.

I can’t believe a place like this exists: the abrupt, jutting architecture of the canyon walls, the vivid colors of the landscape  and insane fishing. It’s juxtaposing contrast of cold water and hot dry air along with the astounding scenery is the stuff of fly fishing dreams.

Jordan, thank you for sharing this amazing spot with me; thanks for also putting up with me two energy drinks deep and then exhausted the next day after a crazy long drive. Such a trooper 🙂

Farewell and it’s been swell

Well, I certainly have dropped the ball lately on blogging my fishing adventures….. but in my defense, I’ve been too busy fishing. Dad and I finished up our trip in Oregon with the Fall River and the headwaters of the Rogue River. We only spent a few hours on the Fall River, but it was beautiful and chalk full of fish; one day soon, I will be back to spend more time here.

The headwaters of the Rogue was a special place. Back in the wilderness near Crater Lake, it’s hard to believe that these waters will draw thousands of steelies further downstream. I have always wanted to fish this river for steelhead. I actually had no idea that the headwaters were such an excellent fishery for wild brooks, bows and browns. Both nymphing and dries caught us abundant fish back in the wild beauty and cold waters of this river.

 

A little brookie

A little brookie Dad caught

Since we were in the area, we checked out Crater Lake; unfortunately a fire near the Deschutes made for a pretty hazy view. Regardless, the grandeur was stunning, and the brilliant blue water reminded me a little bit of the waters of home; Lake Tahoe. I really want to come back here and fish. When we were leaving the park, we saw a guy heading down with some conventional fishing gear. Apparently there are rainbow trout and Kokanee in the lake. Fish were stocked there in the 1850’s and they are trying to return the lake to its natural fishless habitat; so if you do catch a fish here, you are required to keep it. Not a fishing reg you stumble upon every day. I love catching fish amid gorgeous vistas, its one of the many allures of fly fishing. Crater Lake would be a great place to bring lunch, a good camera, fishing gear and spend a day soaking in the scenery.

 

A view from the top of Crater Lake

A view from the top of Crater Lake

Reminds me of home!

Reminds me of home!

 

That evening we make the last campfire of the trip and enjoy a game of cards. I can tell by the content smiles upon our faces that this has been a trip that neither of us will forget; and will take again for years to come. Coming up…. Idaho, Wyoming and Montana!

A picturesque end to a perfect trip.

A picturesque end to a perfect trip.

 

Never a dull moment…

Just as I suspected I might, all these days on the road have made me to lose track of time. I’m not quite sure what day it is, or how many days consecutively I have spent fishing. And I couldn’t be happier.

Days 12-16 Metolious River, OR

This river has been one of the places I have been anxious and ridiculously excited to fish. It is the first river I have fished that has bull trout. We set up camp next to the river; its about mid-day, and as soon as the tent is pitched and site is deemed livable, I grab my rod and rush to the river. For being a spring creek, this river sure does have some power and it’s icy cold. After my time at this river, I will later decide to describe the Metolious as an ice queen with a heart of gold. We have a complicated relationship.

The view from the head of the Metolious River

The head of the Metolious River

As I walk the path of the river in search of a nice deep pool to throw my streamer (courtesy of Fly Fisher’s Place fly shop in Sisters, OR); I am lost in the gorgeous surroundings. Trees and meadows with a hint of snow capped mountains in the background, deep pools surrounded by jutting canyons. Gorgeous. This first day, I am fishing just downstream from Camp Sherman in the riffles, pools and undercuts.  And both Dad and I get skunked. Not what I had in mind.

Wet wading past the gorge, despite the icy cold water.

Wet wading past the gorge, despite the icy cold water.

The next morning, after dreams of catching and fighting a glorious bull trout, we decide to head downriver to 99 bridge. This place looks exactly like where I would catch a nice fiesty bully; a deep, swirling, aquamarine pool. I start hucking a giant double bunny streamer with a ton of split shot to get it down (I will later find that the right tools for the right job would have indeed come in handy), and to my excitement a fish comes and looks at my fly. But I set too soon and miss the fish. The anticipation of catching a bull is giving me twitchy hands.

I continue to huck away with my trusty #5 Red Truck Diesel, giving it a work out with the weighty load at the end, until I hook into something meaty. Myself. Yep, damn. I look at my right arm and see the hook is deeply embedded. I try multiple times to yank it out, to no avail. I did debarb this sucker, but it’s looking like I did a pretty crappy job. This thing is in there good.

Caught one!

Caught one!

I walk up to the car where my dad is switching to a sinking line (smart!), and ask him try the mono trick. It usually never fails. Usually. Down pressure on the bottom of the hook with a hard yank up with the line tends to do the trick when this sort of thing happens. But it doesn’t work this time; and Dad insists on heading to the doctor. It really doesn’t even hurt and I kinda want to just keep fishing, but Dad wins and I drive us to the doctor.

Check out the new piercing.

Check out the new piercing. So trendy!

The doctor tries the same trick a few times with floss and some hemostats, and still it doesn’t come out. Eventually after many attempts at wrenching it out (thank god the area was numbed) he just pushes it through and cuts off the tip… There is a bit a lag time while he sends the nurse to the store for wire cutters, since the hook is too big for normal tools. Had I known we were going to do it that way, I would have just grabbed a bottle of Jameson, taken a big pull and done it myself (not exactly Dad approved). I might have also saved a ginormous bruise.

Is it over? Can I go fishing now?!

Is it over? Can I go fishing now?!

Just a scratch. Back to the river!

Just a scratch. Back to the river!

The next day, we head back to the river and dad catches a few red band rainbows, and I catch none. Now I am pissed. There is no way I am walking away from this river having myself being the only thing I catch. That afternoon, we take a brief intermission from the Metolious and head to the Santiam River. Off the beaten path, this stream has some great fishing. Both dad and I catch red bands into the double digits. Just what I needed to bolster my mood; but I’m not done with the Metolious yet, not by a long shot.

We were hauling 'em in all afternoon on the Santiam!

We were hauling ’em in all afternoon on the Santiam!

After breaking camp the next morning, we head back to the Metolious, at my insistence. I will catch a fish here. The Metolious fishing gods finally smile upon me. After a few casts, I hook up on what looks to be a brown, but upon landing it, turns out to be a white fish. I then go on to land a beautiful red band, and hook into two more. Ahh, finally. Not the bull trout I was lusting after, but there’s always next time.

White fish!

White fish!

Finally!!

Finally!!