Zen and the Art of Fly Fishing
It was last week, on one of the first sunny warm days of the year. We floated the Deschutes River from Warm Springs to Trout Creek. My favorite part of the adventure turned out to be gazing at columnar basalt rimrock in the distance, smelling the sweetness of new leaves on poplar trees, watching the slate-colored river water slap at the drift boat’s hulls and dreamily soaking up the sun and the silence of the natural world.
But, okay, the fishing was pretty great, too.
My guide was Damien Nurre of Deep Canyon Outfitters, a fly fishing expedition service out of Bend. Damien has been fly fishing since his Montana college years and guiding nearly as long. Ron, 71-years-young and a fool for fly fishing, rounded out our party. He spent the entire day grinning like a sixth-grader, cracking jokes and fishing. Ron was a very happy guy. As Damien rowed into our third fishing stop, midday, Ron smiled and said, “This is so good for my soul.”
Fly fishing is the Zen branch on the fishing family tree. More effort than bait fishing, fly fishing takes skill and time. That’s part of the fun. A fly rod is a lightweight precision tool, a magic wand, a maestro’s baton. Casting it is part choreography, part athletic prowess—different every time. “Fly fishing is active and interactive,” says Damien. “You are connected to a wild animal for a few moments—it’s really a thrill.”
If you can catch a wild animal, that is. This time of year, the Deschutes is all about rainbow trout—the subspecies known as Redsides. Introduced steelhead smolts are more eager to be caught, though. I caught one of the former and two of the latter on my day-long adventure. Damien was especially helpful at the moment of truth. I’d finally gotten the hang of fly fishing, but catching was an entirely different matter.
And yep—it was a thrill.
Deep Canyon Outfitters offers one- to five-day trips on the Deschutes and other Oregon rivers. Steelhead season, in the early fall, is reported to be a wild and crazy good time. All year, Damien not only helps clients wade into the middle of a strong current, he imparts oodles of fly fishing wisdom and cooks a mean lunch. Did I mention the amazing scenery? See www.deschutesflyfish.com.
about author Kim Cooper Findling
Kim Cooper Findling grew up on the Oregon Coast but became a Central Oregon girl in the mid-90s, taking in the sunny skies and never looking back (expect a few wistful glances at the ocean). She is the editor of “Central Oregon Magazine” and the author of “Day Trips From Portland: Getaway Ideas for the Local Traveler” and “Chance of Sun: An Oregon Memoir.” Catch her around the state sampling microbrews, hiking river trails, taking silly pictures with her iPhone, and camping with her husband and two daughters in the family tent trailer, Brutus.
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