Dry Flies, Wet nymphs

Tara and I just returned from a trip to Oregon. It was good to visit with family and friends, and I did get a little bit of fishing done. We met up with one of my childhood friends at the Oregon Country Fair (NOT to be confused with a county fair) where we watched a band perform The Beatles entire Abbey Road album. Somewhere between “Octopus’s Garden” and “I Want You” we got onto the subject of fishing. Jared is one of the most accomplished outdoorsmen I know, so it didn’t surprise me to learn that he was re-exploring fly fishing, something he hadn’t done much since he was a kid. Not one to pass up such an opportunity to fish and catch up with an old friend, I made arrangements for an afternoon of fishing on a small trout stream near town.
We fished through the afternoon into the evening. The fish largely ignored our nymphs, but when the sun dropped behind the trees, the trout started rising to the big dry fly that Jared was using as an indicator. Joining in the fun, I also tied on a dry fly and we fished several riffles as the dusk deepened. I landed a few small rainbows. Jared hooked the fish of the day at the head of a deep pool, but alas, the wiggly fellow managed to throw the hook.
I’m pretty comfortable fishing smaller streams but big water, like the Blackfoot in Montana, or the McKenzie in Oregon has always given me pause. I’m never sure where to start on a bigger river. The riffles seem so large and powerful It’s hard to believe any fish would choose to rest in one, and the pools can be so deep it seems like you’d need a hunk of lead just to get your fly deep enough.
This trip I spent two mornings fishing a big run of riffles on the McKenzie River and finally had some success. I decided that on bigger water I should try a bigger indicator and rig it farther up my line – in this case a large white Thingamabobber all the way at the top of my 7ft. leader. This seemed to work pretty well. The first morning I had fish taking my unweighted nymph on the drift while on the next morning they seemed more interested in the retrieve. In a total of maybe 4 hours on the water I hooked about ten fish, but landed only one.
My brother Noah had requested fresh fish for lunch so this unfortunate little hatchery fish went straight from the river…

onto the grill!
Fresh fish delish!

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