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Fly fishing along the Crooked River in central Oregon | PEAK NORTHWEST: Episode 8

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Fly fishing along the Crooked River in central Oregon | PEAK NORTHWEST: Episode 8

I’ve never been much of a fisherman. (water sloshing) But Oregon’s rivers hold endless  appeal and one of the best ways to   enjoy them is by wading in a few feet deep  and casting a line into their chilly waters.

(music) This summer I made a trip to Central Oregon to  learn a bit about fly fishing along the Crooked River  with friend, colleague and avid angler Rosie Stein. I had only gone fly fishing once before so I leaned pretty heavily on Rosie’s expertise to see if she could help me catch anything besides bushes on the riverbank.

Aha, see I’ve done my first  catch-the-bush-behind-me which is a notable step on the fly fishing journey. Luckily for me the  Crooked River is an ideal spot to learn because   of its easy access, relatively shallow water  and minimal tall trees on its immediate banks.

   Rosie says the best and most accessible  fishing along the wild and scenic river   is found in a stretch extending roughly 10  miles below the Bowman Dam. That stretch of water supports large trout populations and is open  all year to fly fishers.

To get there, I started my  scenic drive from Portland the day before, passing through the high desert and the quaint city of Prineville, which is only a half hour from Poison Butte campground where I crashed for the night.

All right. Uh oh. Essentials. I think I’m gonna go without the  rain fly tonight because it is   upper 90s or maybe even 100 right now. Crocs and socks. All right, how many breaths? I’m gonna guess 24 and I’ve blown this up a couple times.

We’re at 23. I said 24. I’m  kind of light-headed. It’s a little   too warm for enthusiastic  sleeping pad inflating.   Good. I’m going to go to bed kind of early because we’re  waking up hoping to meet Rosie here at 5:30 a.

m.   So, early bedtime. It wasn’t long before it was  time for dinner. I made a refreshing peach, mushroom and goat cheese salad. Like my goat cheese  fingers? dug in, oh yeah and called it a night.

It was still dark when I got up the next day. I guess i have to eat more bread if you’re going to film me eating bread. I grabbed a quick bite,  brushed my teeth and waited for Rosie to arrive.   Good morning! It was so good to see Rosie.

Hug. Good to see you. So good to see you. We used to work together in the Oregonian newsroom but I’d only  seen her once since she moved to Bend last year.   Rosie walked me through some of the basics.

There’s not gonna be a lot of weight on these because they just need to hit the water and float. As soon as it sinks it’s not not attracting the fish .  And showed me how to set up my fly rod. So this is your floating line.

Yep. We got everything situated, I pulled on my waders and boots and we  made the short walk down to the river.   All right let’s do it. Let’s go see the water.   Once we arrived, Rosie gave me a quick casting lesson.

  Go back, you know, quickly, give it a little  hesitation, huh, boom, like a breath, huh, boom and then   come down and then if you’re planning on letting  it go into the water, still cast like you weren’t   you know what I mean, like, you feel like you’re  gonna backcast go forward cast and you know how   you’ll go right back for the second round just do  the same motion and then just stop and it’ll it   should float then into the water that way.

Okay. There, that was good. See how he had his hesitation? And soon after, I had my first catch  of the day. But, it wasn’t a fish. Gah. Catching bushes again, Rosie. Rosie reminded me to keep my  casting angle between ten and   two to help avoid catching bushes.

Stay at two, watch the wrist. It’s a lot about feel the casting is. And then  Rosie had the first real catch of the day.   See ’em? He’s a little one, but I got him. Tiny fish.  There he is. Looks like a very small rainbow.

  Little baby. We weren’t planning on keeping any  of the fish we caught and let’s be honest, this   one and all the others were super small anyway.  Shortly after, by some small miracle, I too, caught my first fish of the day.

Not bad. After that,  our fish catching momentum was in full swing. We periodically moved down river and  tried our lock at different spots. I’m trying to get in the river  without stumbling into the river.

   I got a decent arm dunk. I’m  the first to take a tumble. Eventually, I got lucky again.   C’mon. So that makes two for  Rosie, two for me. Loving it. I got a small little guy here that came with his own furniture.

Look at  that. Go on bud. That’s a boy. All right, now we gotta clean off this. After Rosie caught her third fish, we decided  to grab some lunch and debrief back at camp.   Uh, how’d I do? You know, casting is not  something you pick up in 10 minutes.

   You had some pretty good arm movement. You obviously have cast line before because I could see you   feeling when it wasn’t — the first step is knowing  when you’re not doing it that great, right?   Um, so like sometimes when you went too far back, you know, you’re really cocking your arm back you   get snagged out in the weeds and it’s also showing  you that that’s just way too much uh back cast.

  If you had someone who wanted to get into fly fishing  but uh you know unlike me didn’t have a friend to   kind of bring them out, show them what’s up, what  would you recommend that they do or get into?   You know, depending on where you are, you’re  really, the best place to start is to go visit   a local fly shop, take a casting class, you know, and  have them show you how to cast because fly casting   is completely different than bait fish casting and  so it’s something that you need to have at least   a little bit of skill with to get any sort of  success so.

   Rosie was the best instructor I could have asked for and I know I still have a lot to  learn. You might even say that when it comes to fly fishing, I’m still a fish out of water. (music)

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