Chronicles of Adventure: Oregon

Sometimes fly fishing is a hard thing to explain to people. Why we can be found standing in a river waving a stick, as John Gierach puts it. Even harder to explain is the trying art of Steelhead fishing.

This was precisely one of those adventures and the Deschutes River was a mean mistress this time around. Steelhead are elusive to begin with. Add in constant 20-30 mile per hour winds with gusts upwards of 70, 6" of rain at the rim of the canyon, and perpetually pissing rain, we had ourselves a nice strong cocktail of hellish conditions. You see, fish need to be able to see to eat. Muddy waters from heavy rain rushing at twice the rivers normal rate of speed make it nearly impossible for them to see our tiny flies swinging through the river.

We'll chalk most of this one up to uninhibited adventure; to spending time with good friends and family (this is how I welcomed my younger brother to fly fishing out here after his recent move). You never know what you are going to get on a fishing trip, but you know it's going to be better than being at work. I wasn't built to sit on a beach. For me, I would trade 85 and sunny with umbrellas in my drinks for 36 degrees at dawn with camp manhattans to stay warm every time. There is also something great about getting off the river after a long trip with your friends. A bonding occurs when you work together to set up and break down camp in the rain and spend every waking moment in your waders because it's the only way to stay dry.

After five slow days on the river we got our milkshakes from the Oasis and dropped my brother off at the airport in Bend to start making our way south back to San Francisco. We summited alongside Crater Lake where blue skies turned and we quickly saw our first snowfall of the year. There were dominoes played and beers drank in roadside eateries while enjoying huckleberry pie. We caught one gorgeous day on the Rogue River. I hooked into a monster Steelhead as Jonathan navigated our raft down the river but he spat the hook after a mere 15 seconds. That's Steelhead fishing in a nutshell and it's that glimmer of hope you hold onto on these trips. 

We pulled into 'camp' late one night in the dark and climbed into the back of the truck for some rest. We awoke in the morning to the sound of elk locking racks and got some amazing shots of the beautiful creatures in the misty morning.

The adventure got a bit warmer and sunnier as we finished down in Boggs Demonstration Forest to meet up with a buddy for a couple days of mountain biking. There was great weather and despite some mechanical bike difficulties on the way down, we were able to make it work. On adventures like this it's always about rolling with the punches and knowing that nothing is going to go exactly the way you planned. It was a good time with some great people and that's all that matters…


Keep adventuring,



November 27, 2020

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Kate & Josh near posing next to chopped lumber
November 05, 2020

Starting From The Soil

Words & Photos by: Kate Kavanaugh (@kate_kavanaugh) of Ground Work & Western Daughters Josh and I met eleven years ago....

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