Northwest Fly Fishing

By Troy B. Jordan

The aroma of bacon wafts around my head and slowly lifts my foggy brain from slumber. I sit up, still hazy from sleeping. My mind clears and I realize the only thing on my immediate agenda is to repeat what I did yesterday: catch mammoth trout on any one of five secluded lakes. But first, I shuffle out of bed and amble toward a long dining table for breakfast and entertaining conversation about fishing. I listen to the yarning while I stretch my forearm, still slightly sore from the powerful battles of yesterday. I’m downright giddy to get back on the water.
   I am 100 miles east of Bend, Oregon, at Grindstone Lakes, a long-standing and well-known private fee fishery virtually at the geographic center of the state. The lakes are engulfed by beautiful high-desert landscape—rolling hills covered in sagebrush and bitterbrush, and studded with old-growth junipers; ridges above forested in pine. The expansiveness of the area is astounding; it’s the essence of central Oregon. There are no power lines in sight and the nearest major road is miles away, yet I’m staying in a three-story fishing lodge with full amenities (thanks to a discreetly placed diesel generator and a propane tank). The spacious lodge can accommodate 18 people. The five lakes surrounding the lodge—Norcross, Blacksnag, Sherman, Grindstone, and Bueker—range in size from 20 to 70 acres and are chock-full of trout. Most of the fish range from 3 to 6 pounds, but some true giants reach more than 10 pounds.
   After a delectable breakfast I fill my thermos with coffee and marvel at the surreal pleasure of stepping out the door from supreme comforts in a remote setting to exceptional lake fishing. The morning air is crisp. It was snowing yesterday upon my arrival at Grindstone, perhaps 3 inches, but it’s all gone now. The sky is wide open and the sun is filling it slowly, hinting at a much warmer day. Time to don the waders, grab the flippers and float tube, and head for the water. I’m not sure where the other guests are heading, but I decide to try Sherman Lake.
   The lakes proffer a wide range of fishing terrain, allowing anglers to use a variety of techniques, from deep water and sinking lines for lurking behemoths to shallow weedbeds with dense hatches for explosive top-water action. Hatches include Chirononmids, damselflies, Callibaetis mayflies, caddisflies, and dragonflies—even flights of water boatmen stir trout to feed on top. It’s all there. If the hatches wane, stripping streamers can be very productive. A simple leech pattern can be all that’s needed.
   I decide to fish from the shoreline instead of floating. I set the float tube down and tie a leech pattern to a stout tippet attached to a sinking-tip line. Perched on a rock, I peel off line and cast. Strip and twitch, strip and twitch. I envision the fly, undulating as it swims, a temptation to any hungry trout. Strip and twitch. Nothing. I double-haul and cast out again. Confident, I repeat the masquerade. A solid grab and I set the hook. The extra line I stripped is quickly taken out. The fish is on the reel. It comes out of the water, splashes down like a bowling ball. I regain some line and a bit of composure, and eventually some resemblance of control. Nearing the net—or so I think—the heavy trout sees me and panics. Like a bullet in the water, it takes all the line I gained and then some. It launches into another acrobatic leap and splashes down loudly. Tension leaves the line, my shoulders drop.
   I tell myself, “I have the empirical data from yesterday to know there will be plenty more today.”
   For more information about Grindstone Lakes, and to book a trip, call Fly & Field Outfitters in Bend, Oregon,
(541) 318-1616, (866) 800-2812,
www.flyandfield.com/guide-trips/the-grindstone-lakes,
or contact Grindstone Lakes,
(541) 633-3120, (541) 678-3805,
www.thegrindstonelakes.com.

 

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