DESCHUTES RIVER FALLS
The fall came as I was
exiting the pool at the “nena” boat ramp, an “Easy wade”; nice little place that should have held a couple of trout—and probably did.
I landed in sort of a ‘push up’ position in about 2.5 feet of water—heading up-stream so the cold water of the beautiful Deschutes River could make its way into my waders, past the tightened wader belt and all the way down to my wool socks, while soaking everything in between.
Two Nikon digital cameras were tucked into the little pouch at the top of the waders. This is the first time I can remember that the cameras weren’t in a zip lock plastic bag. They didn’t fair well. Electronics and water don’t mix. Write that down so you’ll remember it.
As I tried to right myself from the ‘push up’ position the river gods decided that one more push up was in order---another quick dip.
Our guide started to make a run toward me at the second dunking but saw that I was alright so laughed quietly as I sloshed my way toward shore.
So, after thoroughly soaking myself at the first pool of the day, the guide set out a chair as I stripped down and he went to help Trudy. I sat in the pale sun of the October morning shivering and trying to dry out.
My jeans, the only pair of pants I brought, were soaked as were my shirt, socks, underwear and fleece jacket. The ‘under wader’ shirt dried fairly quickly as its designed to do and the jeans didn’t feel too bad under the waders so we took off for another fishing spot. The guide gave me one of his jackets to use.
Our Guide, Ted Neely—not “THE” Ted Neely who played the part of Jesus in the Broadway, Hollywood and movie hit Jesus Christ Superstar—met us, my girlfriend Trudy and me, at the appointed hour, 8:00, in front of our hotel ready to take us out for a day of ‘walk and wade’ fishing. In the morning we would chase trout and the afternoon would be for hunting steelhead. A good guy who did all of the rigging up, selecting fly patterns, tying them on, checking knots and so forth. I learned that this is what a guide does. Having never been guided, except in Mexico once, I didn’t know exactly what I was supposed to do. So I got out of the way and let him take care of the things that he gets paid to take care of. He did it all very, very well. He also gave us some worthwhile tips about 2 handed casting and showed me a couple of neat knots.
The second fall came at the 4th pool we fished that morning. By this time my jeans, which had felt okay inside my waders earlier, were starting to transfer the cold chill to my skin and into my bones. I was not comfortable—at all!
This fall was more of the ‘face plant’ variety. I was standing on a grassy clump and had fished the pool well. As I reached out to grab the line and fly to secure it to the rod for the walk back to the truck, I took a small step forward onto what appeared to be more of the grassy clump. Wrong move! Under the grass was water and nothing firm to take the weight of my step. Visualize a large construction crane losing its footing and falling forward and you get the picture of me “Going down”. (Where was Ted Neely/Jesus Christ Superstar to help me with that cool water walking trick I’d read about?)
I think I would have scored close to an 8.5 from the judges for style and comedy, had there been any around. I grabbed air, more like flailing at air, then found a branch of a small bush and held on. I was on my way down, had a firm grip on the branch—which gave way quickly and was in a death grip in my hand when I hit the water. I got hold of the grass and pulled myself out; clutching my sunglasses, my regular glasses and trying to keep the rod in the original 4 pieces instead of 5 or 6---all the while trying not to impale myself on my wading staff which was a constant companion since the Nena boat ramp. Lotta good it did me at this pool but it did come in handy to fish out my hat which was lazily floating in the back eddy.
Now I was very cold and very uncomfortable! It was time for lunch so we headed back to town and the fly shop where I bought a pair of pants and used the shop bathroom to change. We had lunch and returned to the hotel where I changed from the wet shirt and underwear to dry ones. I can tell you right now that after wearing a wet shirt on a chilly morning with a slight breeze a dry shirt feels yummy. Yes, I said yummy.
The rest of the day went well except for another fall late in the afternoon. But since I only got one sleeve wet, the entire sleeve, up to the armpit ‘entire’, it’s not worth going into detail about.
Trudy didn’t fall all day. I hate her.
Trudy told me later that Ted said, at another pool, “I hope he doesn’t fall again. I’ve never had anyone fall 4 times in one day.”
It was later, as I was getting ready for bed, that I realized my hearing aid, which was supposed to be in my ear on the right side of my head, was gone. I know where I lost it, at the second fall.
Fishing check list---extra pair of pants, waterproof camera, wading staff with me at ALL times, even the ‘easy wade’ pools, extra shirt, socks and jacket, never wear hearing aids when fishing.
It should be noted here that I live near and fish the North Umpqua River, have for years. The North Umpqua is one of the most dangerous rivers to wade in North America. I haven’t fallen in over 5 years. The Deschutes kicked my butt on this day.
So, other than 2 cameras ruined, wet jeans and shirt and socks and fleece jacket and underwear and lost hearing aid, it was a pretty good day considering we didn’t catch a fish.