2013 Deschutes River Pig Trout

Without question the Deschutes River is an amazing place.  I have been blessed with opportunity to fish many of the West’s legndary trout waters.  My skills with the bug whipper are reasonable and my fly tying skills are about the same.  My ability to find fish and understand their desires is a lot better.  This comes from years working in the conservation field and the need to understand fish ecology.  It took me a while to figure out the Deschutes.  It is a big river, deep right off the bank, burdened with regulations, and loved to death by fishermen and women just like me.  Two things I have learned about the Deschutes that have improved my catch rates are:

1.  Get up early and get there first.  Sloppy seconds can be less forgiving.

2.  Slow it down.  Stop and think about what you are doing and dissect the river.  Then it will not seem so intimidating.

With that 2013 proved to be a good year on the Deschutes.  The steelhead run was pretty paltry.  Fall Chinook were off the chart due to the record return in the Columbia River. Trout were getting fat on all the food available to them over the course of the year.  Fall is the best time on the river because all the target species are present in the highest numbers and they are aggressive due to the uptick of their biological clock caused by the changing season.

I love this part.  "See you next year little fella"

I love this part. “See you next year little fella”

The combination of power and beauty within the redband trout population never ceases to amaze me.  Of all the wild creatures I cross paths with the Columbia River Redband Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdneri) are by far the most stunning.  Do not get me wrong chrome steelhead are a thing to behold, but the variation in coloring of the redband trout is a true representation of mother nature’s artistic power.

Dr. Robert Behnke in his book Native Trout of Western North America believes the origins of the Columbia River Redband Trout came from a mixing of coastal rainbow trout and cutthroat trout when the species came in contact after the last ice age.

Cutthroat or Rainbow? Good observation Dr. Behnke

Cutthroat or Rainbow?
Good observation Dr. Behnke

I make sure to save a bit of my “use or loose” vacation time for this time of year so I can spend a day or two reminding myself (and the fortunate few who tag along) of this power and beauty.

A true 20 inched

A true 20-incher

going home

Going home

Due to his infamy and paparazzi appeal I need to include some Russ Mitchell porn in this post.

It is tough for Russ to break away from his life of stardom, as a retired pro-athlete waiting for induction into the Hall of Fame.  His constant touring promoting the “organic only” lifestyle and autograph circuit from his days as an all pro snatchback for the Redmond State Sasquatch requires a bit of down time.  When Russ has the time he wants to fish, so he calls The Turb.

Russ choking on that smile

Russ choking on that smile

It was a good thing we had the discussion the night before whether or not we should bring the back-up rod.  Russ put the meat to the next fish and I jumped in for a rather rare over the shoulder shot.

Just after meat was given

Just after meat was given

I can't say enough about my water master.  Makes it all possible.

I can’t say enough about my watermaster kodiak. Makes it all possible.

With the growing fan base and the popularity Russ brings to The Turb Memoirs the board of directors for Turb Media Group unanimously voted to fund a full length feature film of Russ’s adventures.  Please take a minute to watch the trailer below.

Before I take Russ out for the day I always test fish to make sure it is up to his standards.  Nothing makes him more crabby than a day of sub-parr fishing.  Included below is a short selfie video of my test fishing.

Until next time.  Respect the river and try not to cry when you overpay for your 2014 Oregon fishing and hunting tags.


Holiday Float Season Finale

The excitement of opening day has made it through the season to the last waning days.  My excitement peaked when Russ Mitchell showed interest in a late season probing of the Deschutes.  Russ was fresh off an autograph and publicity tour.  Vintage sports memorabilia kills in the collectors circuit.  Russ is no stranger.  As an all conference snatch-back for the Redmond State Sasquatch, Russ developed a following.  Enough said.  A true legend!  He occasionally pulls and old jersey or some shorts out of the hamper for a ‘yard sale’  The die hards sniff it out days before any signs are hung.

I was excited to put him on some Rudolph redbands before the season closed. Instructed on the rigging, I directed him to the river and a likely set of seams and pockets.  At depth the action is quick and sporty.  Spit hooks and fumbles at the bank are expected and not appreciated.

I was seeing glimpses of spotted tail escaping me with repeated monotony all night.

Lots of tail today

Lots of tail today

The size of the fish impressed me.  The true pigs were still feading on drift and eggs in the prime lies.  A few large “nookies” were out doing their thing and enjoying the holiday gravels; the trout were aware and tuned in.  Mixed with steel it made for a fun day.

Russ  " I horsed 'em"

Russ ” I horsed ’em”

He thinks I dropped his leviathan Rudolph at the bank on purpose.  Either way the story is forever forged in our brain matter, and sworn to copyright ownership of Turb Media Group.

holiday present wrapped in the colors of the season

Holiday present wrapped in the colors of the season

Wading skill and stamina are required!  Sportiness cannot be under estimated.

hooked up!

hooked up!

I enjoyed watching Russ probe.  He figured it out as the trout schooled him lesson by lesson.  At one point I heard him say “I wish I caught a third of what you just hooked down there.”  I gave him the best water, and my custom flies that get to the zone fast and stay there…until WHAM fish on!!  That shut him up!

I had trouble with the hooking:landing.  I hooked, and landed several pigs throughout the day and shook-loose over a dozen more.  The combination of downstream angle to the fish, fast current, and instinctive well conditioned end of the season violent head-shaking behavior, left the trout winning the hook:land score.  Action was consistent and the fish seemed aggressive.

Client is happy happy

Guide says “Client is happy, happy, happy”

Action was callable in select locations.  Russ concentrated for the last few strikes.

Intense!!! Grab him look

Intense!!! Grab him look

By the end you are wet, cold, and tried of hucking the beaded monster and custom egg.

A sense of “I have had enough” starts to settle in as you realize how wet you are as the sun parts quicker and quicker.

Back at the rig we debriefed and loaded gear.   We make our peace until next spring and allow the river to rest and recharge.

debriefed dismissal still pending

Debriefed.  Dismissal still pending and no more autographs

Conservation does not need a paper weight.

Conserve our healthy places and support advocates of wild.

Have a Turbulicious Holiday!