We are back to our regular lives in Honolulu. Back to our cat, our garden, our jobs, and back to the salt – the waves, the tides and trade winds, bonefish and papio. A month away is a long time. Significant things happen in a month, and mundane things too, like old water heaters and broken gutters. Things are lost and gained, friends met or missed, places changed or discovered.
July was a pretty big adventure. A lot happened. I will try to put the best of it into words, especially the fishing, but the memories are already blurring a bit. I can’t help but be reminded of the timeless words of Norman Maclean: “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” Or, perhaps, I am just getting older.
Our cottage on the Columbia River sits between two larger towns, Hood River to the West, and The Dalles to the East. The pulse of Hood River is tourism and the flow of people and money has brought change to what I imagine was once a small, agricultural town. Now, with a population of around 8,000, it has more bicycle shops than Honolulu and more micro-breweries than the state of Hawaii. I have often stopped at the Gorge Fly Shop to pick up supplies, mostly out of convenience because it is the first fly shop on the way from Portland to our house.
Thus far, The Dalles has been spared most of the gentrification that has happened in Hood River. It still feels like a small town, where people live year-round, and work regular, non-tourism related jobs. Despite twice the population of Hood River, the traffic lights still blink on Sundays and you will find the actual owners behind the counter of most of the stores lining the main street.
So I wasn’t surprised to meet owner Paul Anderson when I walked into the Strategies Flyfishing shop. I had an hour to spend while Tara caught a yoga class nearby, but I barely had a chance to look around because Paul was happy to chat about the shop, the area and share some secrets from his decades of fly fishing. Before I left I did pick up a copy of a book called Fishing Mount Hood Country, a fishing guide to the significant tributaries of the Columbia River that flow from the Mount Hood watershed.
My goal was to find a small stream where I could do some tenkara fishing for wild trout, and I picked the East Fork of the Hood River to explore. The little river had a wonderful matte blue color from the silt that it carries from the glacier at it’s source. It was not as easy going as I had hoped but we were able to find access and make our way upstream about a half mile, fishing as we went.
It didn’t help that we came late in the morning. The sun had risen above the tree tops and was shining brightly on the water. We had a few bites but not much luck. I added a small split shot above my pale elk hair caddis, and crept up on a couple of deeper, shaded runs where I found some bolder customers. We finished the day with stops at a u-pick berry farm and a growler fill at the Double Mountain brewery.
I had hoped to do some trout fishing on the Deschutes River, but before we had a chance to visit, much of the area was closed due to wild-fires. I did catch some lovely little fish on a tiny stream that wound deep into the mountains to a breathtakingly cold waterfall, but that place shall remain as we found it, secret and unnamed…