Well we are back and with a wonderful report. The trip to the Crooked river of course started with a long plane flight during which I received a good omen if you believe in that sort of thing. For the last hour and a half or so of the flight I was treated to nature's laser show – the Aurora Borealis. The light show was primarily shimmering diaphanous emerald punctuated by occasional fine shafts that extended impossibly to the heavens fading out with a nearly imperceptible rose red.
The next morning we were off to Smith Rock and some world class rock climbing. Not being a climbing page I will leave the details out with the exception of a few items. The weather and scenery were nothing short of awesome. A flight of at least 30,000 geese at 5am is a great alarm clock. And finally, I got to be a knight in shinning armor and rescue a damsel in distress who was halfway down a climb when she ran out of rope.
The "rescue" cliff
From Smith Rock we made the 20 minute drive upstream to our fishing camp on the bank of the Crooked River. The river was about a foot lower and much clearer than is usual for this time of year and I was hopeful that would mean slightly warmer water and more insect hatches. The hatches never materialized and the most productive fishing was subsurface. The key to the catching was a bead head prince nymph in size 10 to 14 trailed by one of my home grown san juan worms. Both flies were equal producers with the larger fish seeming to prefer the san juan worm.
The infamous bat catching spot.
The first day Mike landed 58 using the above method while I insisted on occasionally using drys and managed only 37. My ego took a bit of a blow being so savagely beaten in the numbers game. (I know many outgrow the number thing but I can’t seem to shake it. I feel no shame about it and will continue to get a thrill from each fish – “dinker” trout to toothy salmon and beefy striper.) So I announced that I was going to reach the century mark for the first time on the next day.
I got up early and cooked breakfast for the three of us and hurried the group along so I could meet my goal of 100 fish. By 8:30 I was on the stream and starting the long count. I fished harder than I ever have in my life and I was beyond exhausted by the end of the day. I had to make every cast count and it was a great exercise in water reading and cast placement but I missed a lot of the beauty of the day. (Hmmm, perhaps I am starting to learn to let go of the numbers thing just a little bit.
) My last cast had me wading precariously deep in a ripping current casting to a difficult to reach riffle. It was pretty dark at 9pm and I was fishing mostly by feel when my 100th fish took the san juan worm and eventually came to my hand. It was like all the others from the day a beautiful fish with dark spots, chrome sides, a stripe of red on the lateral line, and just a hint of orange on both sides of it’s throat. I almost literally stumbled back to camp to announce my success and a vow to never intentionally do it again.
The Crooked near our campsite.
The next half day I put away the nymph and san juan and stuck to drys. The fish were not rising but I enjoyed the challenge and the four fish that graced the end of my line were all the more special.
A great trip and I can’t wait for next year’s adventure.