Good food, great camaraderie, and fly fishing…can you think of a better way to spend part of the day? Recently, five of my colleagues and I had the opportunity to experience all of that.

We started our afternoon with lunch at the Paragon Room at McMenamins Hotel Oregon. Hotel Oregon is a fabulous, historic four-story brick building built in 1905, located in the heart of Oregon’s wine country in downtown McMinnville. The Paragon Room features two large superbly handcrafted pool tables and saucer-shaped light fixtures complete with blinking lights above each table. The fixtures are incorporated within the décor to honor the annual UFO Festival that takes place every May. The UFO Festival began as a tribute to the famous 1950 Trent sighting in which two locals photographed a UFO in McMinnville.

I ordered the Grilled Portobello Mushroom Sandwich. It came with my choice of soup or salad and fries or tater tots (I picked the fresh vegetable soup and the tots). Yum! I was very impressed.

After lunch we departed for Red Hills Lake in Dayton where we were met by Larry and Dot Hays (owners of the gorgeous private four acre lake), our fishing instructor, Jeffry Gottfried, and his daughter Benna. Jeffry is the Executive Director for Educational Recreational Adventures, a non-profit organization that offers science, environmental education, outdoor skills training and outdoor adventures of all sorts to a wide variety of audiences. Jeffry and Benna provided all our fishing gear – waders, boots, rods, reels, lines, leaders, float tubes, and even a canoe.

After a short introduction to the difference between fishing poles and fly fishing rods, we donned our waders and boots and set off down the hill to the lake and our lesson. All six of us lined up on the bank and tried our hand at casting. We each received individual instruction from Jeff and his assistant, Taylor. By the way, you do not cast a fly rod like you cast a spinning rod. You cast the fly line. A fly rod is merely an extension of your arm.

This being said, let me tell you what I learned – first extend the rod and point the tip towards the ground in front of you with your forearm and rod in a straight line and your fishing line hanging straight down from the rod. Raise your forearm smoothly to the “10 o’clock” position. Now bring your forearm quickly up to the “2 o’clock” position and STOP. This means stop, not pause. This action projects the line to its full extension above and behind you. After the line straightens out behind you quickly lower your forearm to the “10 o’clock” position and STOP. Again, this means stop, not pause. This action projects the line forward and allows it to straighten as it falls toward the water. Follow through with the tip of the rod so the line lands tight, straight and quiet on the water.

Note to self: Do not bend your wrist when you cast, EVER! I tried to remember that. I really did but time and time again, my rod made a whooshing sound and my line, leader and fly all hit the water with a noisy splash. Not good. The whole idea is to finesse the fly into the water with minimal displacement. Needless to say, I did not quite get the whole concept. I’m pretty sure I spooked a whole lot of fish! Another note to self: If you can’t cast a fly line sufficiently you might as well not fish. Anything less than casting well gets you fresh air and perhaps a sore arm or shoulder. I sure enjoyed the fresh air but my shoulder still seems to be a tad bit sore…

The others, however, quickly picked up the technique and were actually able to attempt to catch fish. Their lines did not make a “kerplunk” sound as they hit the water. Sean and Petra meandered around the lake in float tubes, Lisa and Teresa took turns in the canoe, and Chris fished from the bank on the other side of the lake. Once she got out of the canoe, Teresa was even daring enough to wade waist-high into the lake. Wow, you should have seen her last couple of casts! She looked like a pro. I was perfectly content with putting down my rod and avoiding the water by photographing the efforts of the others. Ah, my kind of afternoon. We had a great time. Later, I overheard Teresa tell someone, “I can see why Kevin (our Consumer Marketing Director) and Todd (our CEO) are so addicted to it. Once you get the hang of it, it is relaxing and fun!” Even though I didn’t get the hang of it, it was still relaxing and fun. Maybe next time I will get it and find myself wading out into the lake and casting like a pro.

For more information on events and attractions in the Willamette Valley, please visit our Explore Oregon section.

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  1. Jeffry Gottfried says…

    Thanks for the posting. This was a great day for us. We enjoyed meeting you and working with the group. Please keep us in mind for future outings (birdwatching, ancient forest hikes, native plant tours, archery, cross-country skiing, etc.)

    Best wishes,
    Jeff and Benna

    Written on November 8th, 2007 / Flag this Comment
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