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Fishing Reports

Ode to Smelly Cat

Joel La Follette - Thursday, September 27, 2018

Kinetic Type // Smelly Cat // Final Iteration from Emma Thompson on Vimeo.

Report by Josh Linn, the Fly Czar

I spent another weekend floating the familiar water of the Deschutes from Mack’s Canyon to the mouth. I first started making this trip nearly 20-years ago. Every year new stories layer on making it more and more special. Sadly, this year the lower 24 miles was ravaged by fires from canyon rim to canyon rim all the way to the water. I’ve seen fires down there before, but nothing like this. To add insult to injury the run is at an all-time low. Now that sounds ominous, but the only way to catch a Steelhead is to actually go fishing, and I want to catch a Steelhead.

So we packed up the truck and made a mad dash to the river after work. We pulled at sunset, packed the boat, and pushed off from the boat launch in the dark, heading for our first night's camp. It was cloudy and warm making me suspect that fishing had been good earlier in the day.

We made our meager little camp of a couple of cots and chairs and were all set. A small camp that’s fast and light is the best way when you are on a Steelhead mission. You can be out of camp at first light, no dishes and very little packing to do. If you fish with me there aren’t going to be many luxuries. I come to fish, not camp.

We fished our camp water at first light and were running and gunning all day. There were very few other boaters around and we had our choice of prime water. We cover about 10 miles of water by the time we got to camp with zero fish to hand. By mid-afternoon, the wind was howling and I wondered if the evening fishing was even going to be a possibility.

We made camp at the Corral, in prime Steelhead territory. In years gone by I’ve guided quite a few people into steelhead there and even caught some myself. Sadly, this wasn't going to be one of those times.

The next morning we pushed away from Camp at first light and rowed for one of my favorite spots, a steep ledgy run right at the bottom of a hard corner. I let Eric fish the run first last time so this time it was mine. I had been fishing a Green Ant for the past few days with no success and decided it was time for a change. I don’t carry a lot of flies so the choice was pretty easy. I pull out a size 5 Smelly Cat, my purple and chartreuse go-to fly.

I started by fishing short making every cast count. I got to about 10 strips of line and start working my way down the run. I came to a small boulder section about halfway down the run. I know this spot to be one of the buckets, I started fishing more intensely. If it’s going to happen, now would be the time. At that moment I felt it, that familiar feeling. A little tug, not hard, but I knew it was a fish. It kept pulling slowly. I’m not 100% confident it’s on, so I don’t set the hook, I keep waiting. All of a sudden it jumped out of the water. Woo-ha! Fish on. It made a few more jumps and a couple of hard runs but in the end, I won the battle. We snapped a couple of pictures and sent her back on her way. 

We finished up and pushed off in search of more fish. By the time we got to the boat launch we had put three on the beach and I’m feeling like we had a successful trip. Fishing might be tough right now, but they are harder to catch from the couch.

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