Down South on the West end of East Lake

There’s a nice little lake just south of Bend Oregon, two awesome lakes actually, East Lake and Paulina Lake. They are both crater lakes in the Newberry Caldera within the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Paulina Lake is at just over 6,300 feet elevation while East Lake is slightly higher at just under 6,400 feet. Give or take on each of those measurements. Not trying to Wiki it here, just trying to give the general idea. The caldera was formed by an eruption over 500,000 years ago. The main inflow for the lakes are rain, snow and some hot springs. The hot springs are what gives the cautionary warning on consuming too many fish from them – natural occurring mercury. I’m not for fishing stillwater fisheries all that much, so no worries on over exposure and consumption and turning into some sort of mutant super fisher with a fly rod for an arm and a net for a sac. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful place to hike, camp and sometimes fish.

Newberry LakesI prefer East Lake myself, it covers slightly less area and is much smaller in depth and volume, which gives a feeling of intimacy with the water and fish. It’s not too massive and deep where you loose yourself or targets, i.e. fish. Not to mention the weed bed that pretty much encompasses the lake allowing for copious amounts of said targets. One of the big reasons to head there is the Callibeatis hatch. Massive amounts of bugs and fish feeding on them. Another good reason is the lakes elevation.

We’ve been getting some unusual, or maybe it’s the new norm – global warming and what not, high temps for this time of year around here. Just last weekend it got near a 100, they’re still hovering around that gnarly three digit number. That’s above 15 more degrees than the years past averages. So when a buddy offered to take his canoe up there for us to fish it I said… “Sure why not. I guess we could.” Like I said before, I’m not much of a stillwater fly fisher which is why my enthusiasm for the proposition seemed less than optimal.

However, the more I thought about it as I readied my gear for the next day the more I thought about the predicted temps and the elevation of East Lake. Temps up above would be cooler than down below. Fishing this stillwater started sounding better. Especially when compared to my original plan of battling the massive swarms of black blood sucking clouds of mosquitoes in the heat on the Upper Deschutes for brookies. The next morning we loaded his boat and were off to slightly lower temps and swarms of friendly grayish Callibeatis. Upon arrival my mood swung around again – “Holy crowded ramp / lake / bank / campground Batman!” People everywhere. With motors going and diesel and gas smoke rolling. Dang! I knew it would be crowed but… dang.

Nevertheless, we put in and started paddling. Another friend met us at the lake and was going to join us with his float tube. We where heading towards his “spot” as he called it. He was up at East the weekend before and said he did really well/ I noticed there where fewer people over in “the spot” which made me sort of skeptical. Given this crowd, and If it was a sweet spot, why wouldn’t there be a line and a ticket dispenser to fish it? But I shrugged off the skepticism in hopes of shaving the cynicism. At least we were paddling away from everyone.

As we paddled over some deeper water I looked down into clear glacier blue water. I felt bad for the fish’s volubility from overhead predators but took great joy in the ability to view such a beautiful underwater world. The crowd was dwindling in view, sound and mind. We were engulfed by swarms of delicately fluttering Callibeatis. I spotted a riser, then another. I heard a take behind me. I looked down and spot fish cruising. I started taking line off my reel and wondered if I’ll be able to connect to the electricity of my current surroundings.

East Lake - TomI missed a handful of takes. Remembering stillwater ain’t my game. I had a talk with myself and actually listened. Setting the hook stillwater fishing has a subtle difference to it than doing so river fishing. Everything has a slightly slower rhythmic feel. The fish are methodically cruising in search of food, rather than a rushing trough of water conveying food to them. You have to give a split second more for the fish to take the fly. Their lurking towards it not darting out of a lie to nab it. Hook up!

I might try to fish stillwater a bit more, but it would take a more comfortable flotation device. Like a drift boat. Not that there’s anything wrong with a canoe.


Netting It Out

I’m not much for using a landing net. I have one, I just rarely use it. Heck I rarely even take it with me. It seems to cause more headache than not. The hook sometimes snags on the mesh while still in the fish, causing for a hair raising situation and very concerning handling. I’ve always managed to get the hook / mesh / fish untangled and the fish safely released. But it’s nevertheless… well… a chitty situation. Additionally, the net gets caught / snagged / hooked on every branch / bush / shrub.  So I opted to hardly, if ever, use it anymore.

It could easily be said that I’m just carrying the wrong type of landing net. And I should look into one of those rubber bucket nets that are easier on the fish’s mucoprotein protective slim coat and don’t snag hooks. It is an option I’m considering. However, I still have reservations about carrying and using one. I stopped using a vest awhile ago, which was sort of the catalyst to stop carrying the net all together. Without the vest I lack a D-ring to hang it from. I use a hip-pack or lumbar pack or whatever you want to call it. I just know most people fear and avoid the term “fanny” pack, for good enough reasons I suppose. Utilizing this sort of pack means sticking the handle into my wading belt or pack belt, which means it gets in the way every time I need to swing the pack around and change my setup. So, I have to let it dangle by my side tethered by a cord, then replace it back in it’s holding position when I’m done changing my setup. This is were I started thinking a little harder.

Although I’m inconvenienced when I need to change my setup, or inconvenienced to come up with a different system to carry the net, I started thinking about the fish. Really. I mean, how can my insignificant inconvenience compare to the fish’s? There the fish is, just merrily going about daily business, when suddenly a morsel comes along that isn’t exactly like the others, but the fish nevertheless, for some unbeknownst reason, is fooled into chomping on it. Then… BAM! Next thing the fish knows it’s impaled by something and is being directed against it’s will hither and thither. Then suddenly it’s pulled toward the surface and out of the water in the gleaming sunlight unable to blink (no eyelids and all) towards some sort of bipedal animal with a chit eating grin. The fish feels a somewhat overly firm grip, borderline grope, around it. The impaling thing is removed and the fish is placed back into the water; stunned, confused and feeling slightly violated with less mucoprotein protective slime and with a new hole in it’s head. Now that is one heck of an ordeal.

Rubber Bucket NetConsidering what the fish goes through for me, I think I can be inconvenienced every so often to change setups or come up with a new carrying system and carry a net. After all, carrying and using a rubber landing net is at least going to lessen the inconvenience the fish goes through. And that’s more of a priority than me personally being slightly inconvenienced. So, after these considerations I guess I convinced myself to head down and see my friends at Fly and Field Outfitters and peruse new nets, one with a rubber bucket. Time to purchase a fish helping device rather than a fish catching one.

Just my thoughts. Who knows, perhaps I can exchange those thoughts for $0.000002 towards the new net… I’m know where near getting a penny for any of my thoughts.


Great Short From OBP

Here’s a great short from Outside Bend Productions. There is an additional level of greatness to this short other than the awesome videography. It’s vol. I, meaning there’s more to come. Which is great, cause after viewing this, I’m in need of more.

I am eagerly awaiting vol. II and hearing more incorporation of The Stones. Make sure to check out OBP’s other great works by clicking above link or – here


A Bus Ride Away (Pt 2)

It’s been some time since I posted, been sort of a whirl wind lately. However, it’s been even longer since I posted part one of A Bus Ride Away. I haven’t forgotten about part 2, I just haven’t gotten around to it. So…where was I?… Right, my nerves were frayed from a lack of fishing and too much concrete. I played some billiards, tossed in fitful sleep, then awoke to discover salvation lay just outside the city confines on the Clackamas River…

After discovering Milo McIver State Park and TriMet’s ability to get me close to it, I hurriedly grabbed my gear, albeit meager, and head for the door. My gear simply comprised of an old musty canvas army rucksack, Coleman pup tent, a tattered sleeping bag, a cheap two piece rod and reel from a certain catalog that shall remain unnamed, an old dented aluminum mess kit and some random flies in a 35mm film canister. Really not much. My apparel is simple, some leather Carolina work boots, well worn Korean War issued fatigues from my step-father, a wool flannel and whatever t-shirt from my laundry pile I deemed clean enough. I have no waders, fancy fly boxes or nifty paraphernalia. No lightweight tent or a sleeping bag overly stuffed with down. The thought of a sleeping pad entered my mind once, but my meager bank account let it slip right back out. Quick drying synthetic apparel isn’t even a real conceptualization to me. The upside to a meager, stripped down gear supply is my ability to literally get out the door in minutes.

I walk down the sidewalk towards the bus stop at a pace like Kramer hopped up on Cafe Late’s, I think about my provisions. I wrestle with a dilemma; pick up some grub for the trip while I was still in the city or find a store in Estacada, the last stop on the bus route and the beginning of my hike. I decide against spending a second longer than what was absolutely necessary in the city. Besides, having a lighter load for the bus ride would be easier to manage. With that in mind, I flashed by the Safeway and continue towards my open bubble waiting room.

Beat Up and Booted

It starts to rain as I approached the covered bus stop. And not the rain Portlanders boast about not needing an umbrella or rain parka for, it’s an actual rain. Forceful and not the usual mist of a grizzly pissing on a rock. The rain prodded those who where standing around the stop to huddle under the bubble. I didn’t need nor want to pry myself into the huddled wet ash stray smelling herd. I am about to spend time beside a river sleeping on Earth’s pine needled mattress; I want to keep myself in the environs, no need to escape them. I was jittery with excitement like a boy on Christmas morning awaiting to tear into the big ticket item. I anxiously pace, peering up the street every five seconds in an attempt to will the bus early. It was on time.

After jostling my way onto the bus and through it’s isle, I plop myself down on a seat near the rear exit. With the rucksack on the floor between my feet and the fly rod tube telescoping up from the floor by my side next to the window, I take a deep breath and sigh relief. I was heading outside the confines and away from the hustle, street noise, buildings, scattered city parks, hipsters and strippers that is the compound known to me as Portland. I was officially heading towards my destination and to my goal. With another deep sigh I could hear my tinnitus start to subside, although it won’t subside to a greater degree until I get off the bus and start hiking, it was nevertheless a relief.

“Excuse me. Excuse me sir.” I was tuning everything out, just staring at the passing landscape. Watching building after building spiral down to miles of sprawling strip malls to house after house to finally sporadic clumps of houses and then to a familiar setting of few houses with miles of greenery and spacious land and tall majestic firs – the country.

“Excuse me sir!” I turn toward the seat next to me. I didn’t notice anyone sit down next to me. I had no idea how long the teenager had been sitting there. I look at him with what probably seemed like a slack-jaw stoner expression to him and slowly drew out, “Pardon.” I am completely relaxed and have no idea why I said what I said in the way I said it. He replies, “Well, I was just trying to ask you what’s with the tube?”

Fly Rod and Reel“It’s a fly rod”

“Fly rod?”

“It’s a fishing rod you use for fishing with flies.” I let out of my mouth while simultaneously realizing that it’s a nondescript answer.

“Cool.” He quickly replies and reaches across to pull the bus stop cord. “Well, I hope you catch some while you’re out fishing. Have a good day.” He proclaims as he leaps up while the bus is coming to a stop and darts out the door. I’m officially out of the city. The landscape has greatly improved along with the people. Politeness and genuine interest in people from others has been lacking in most of my encounters lately.

My stop was approaching, Estacada…

…To Be Continued…Some Time…Hopefully Soon….

I promise the next installment, Pt. 3, will be the conclusion of this.


Meetin’ an’a Greetin’

Last Tuesday I got a message towards the end of the day from some of the usual suspects of the Bend Casting Club: Brian O’Keefe from Catch Magazine and Gabe Parr from Deschutes TU board. I was told there was someone in town that I should meet, Paul Moinester from An Upstream Journey and I should come out and grab a beer and talk fish. I’m generally up for hanging with friends and talking fish and I’m always game for meeting new fisher folk. I couldn’t say no. I leapt up and darted downtown to one of Bend’s great breweries for a potation and bs’ing.

In short, the meet up was fun. Hearing Paul’s adventure is one for the books. Going 20,000 miles from Florida to Alaska and back, meeting people and fishing great places along the way is grand in-itself, but there’s more to it than that. However, I’ll save Paul the disservice of me telling you his journey.

Paul and I met up again on Friday to talk more and plan some fishing for Saturday. We discussed many options, all of which are what makes Central Oregon well known, but decided on a slightly unknown area of one if it’s most famous rivers. It’s a spot just far enough off the main road away from any sort of town with a little hike in but nothing too atrocious, the perfect mix and spot.

Usually after I solidify plans for fishing I go back home, gather the appropriate gear, maybe tie a couple skill lacking flies and prepare a lunch. But somehow, some unknown reason, I didn’t. I stayed out a little late, ended up back at my house cooking an even later dinner and found myself with even more potations in hand. Didn’t gather the gear nor pack a lunch and there was no way in hell I was going to wrap some thread around a tiny fly with my new found coordination. Needless to say I woke up late with no lunch ready and gear scattered about. I gathered gear that was close to hand, snatched two granola bars from the counter and foggily shuffled out the door to pick up Paul.

The big lesson on my part – I can’t drink like I useta could. Age generally creeps up on most of us. Some times it’s a slow retreat of hair follicles or a slowed metabolism that sneaks something resembling a pony keg in place of a stomach. I know I’m getting older, the date on my driver’s license keeps track of that and my son’s rapid growth is always a reminder. It just never really hit me upside the head like that horrific hangover did. I was sour most of the day, and my fishing suffered for it. And it was with that suffering that I realized I have stepped into a different age bracket. I used to think nothing would stop me from fishing, not even a horrible hangover. Wrong.

My casting was a hot mess of plastic coated monofilament braid. It was everything short of resembling anything of a cast. And my fishing in general was just a fumble; dropping flies, tangling up with my fly pack, weak knots tied with shaky hands and much more. All in all, it wasn’t a pretty sight. Was I out fishing? Yes. Was I having fun? Sure, I was out fishing? Am I going to tip libations back like that again the night before fishing? I’ll make sure to tip as many to the fish deities as I do down my gullet to assure a more balanced consumption rate.

Photo curtesy of Paul Moinester

Photo curtesy of Paul Moinester

If you’re wondering what that hot mess of a cast looked like, Paul was gracious enough to get a pic of it. Paul’s a great photographer with a good eye. I just wish I didn’t booger up his nice shot by flailing a stick around trying to get line out. Kid’s this could be your cast on a hangover. Drink responsibly. Sorry, Paul. Next time I’ll get a stunt double with better form and a functioning liver. Or, I’ll just do my best to not be that hungover.

In the end, I learned I am as old as my license stipulates and my wife repeatedly reminds me of. I’ll keep the hangover to a minimal or hopefully nonexistent. Cause it is now apparent I can no longer function like I useta after a night of rounds.