So after this entire week of non-stop driving and meeting people I decided to take a couple days and just chill out somewhere. It so happened that on my way out of the Jackson Hole, I pulled over to check the oil in the rig and Derek Young from Yakima Headwaters TU and Emerging Rivers Guide Service pulled off the road to see what I was up to. A plan hatched to meet up in Ontario and fish the Owyhee.
So I have heard and seen a lot of pictures of this place, and this would be the first trip out there. Having a box of flies that hasn’t let me down yet, and a pretty solid grasp of the target species – I was feeling pretty confident.
This tailwater is pretty spectacular if you have never visited it. It reminds me of the Crooked at times, but it has a unique flavor all it’s own. That high desert feel along with a steppe structure to it.
After dialing in the campsite real quick, we tested the water – yep it’s perfect wet wading time!!! Air temps in the 80’s and the cool water with bugs popping all over the place. Just a matter of identifying the bugs and the behavior of the fish.
Lo and behold the light sipping action on the water and not a lot of splash was the giveaway… PMD hatch!
The first few fish of the evening were of average size and the wading was a bit deeper than I planned for in shorts, but all in all it was a successful start to the camping. There’s really nothing like sight fishing to big brown trout other than the nights meal.
Derek and Erik know how to throw down a camp meal I tell you what!! Me? I’m stoked if the food is hot! But these guys – the don’t screw around. We’re talking steaks, fresh veggies, hot beans, and garlic bread galore. I have experienced this once before with them when I visited the Yakima to come speak to their newly formed Chapter of TU, and it was great to see this is just how they get down.
We talked late into the night about all things fishing and really had some good insights to share about the TU Western Regional meeting we attended. It’s great to hear more people like these two are taking steps to be leaders not just in their professions, but also when it comes to giving back to the resources that provide them and their families income and precious memories.
They have also take great efforts to be inclusive as possible in what most would consider a dog-eat-dog type of industry. They rallied other guides, outfitters and shops together toward a common goal. To protect their resource and actively engage in the processes which prevent them from becoming places of memory. Passion, collaboration, and a true altruism for their shared resource – that is what appears to be driving this new Chapter of TU in the Headwaters of the Yakima, and I for one am proud to have been included in their vision.
The guys decided to pack it in the next morning and head back to Washington, and grabbed a few fish on the way out. This left me in the camp to wander and explore, which Dannyboy and I have become increasingly good at.
Having most of the stretch to ourselves for many hours, I found fish throughout the area and took some time to notice some of the more unique things of this camping area. First, there seemed to be a porta-john just about every campground out here. Even more impressive for how remote it – there were large garbage receptacles for people to use as well.
That being said, it was little wonder that I did not find a whole lot of human impact in the area other than the standard trail abuse. Not a lot of garbage around the camps, on the road, or in the water. While this area does see more than it’s fair share of Oregon and Idaho angler traffic with fly rods and gear fishermen – with beers being cracked just about every 50-100 feet – people appear to be packing it out on a regular basis.
The rest of the day was spent exploring more of the canyon, catching fish, playing with the dog and eventually settling in for the night with the clear skies and sounds of sipping trout just out the window of the Bus. There’s not a lot more one could ask for from a trip like this. I have had a great opportunity to start a process I hope becomes infectious.
I have found that businesses, individuals, colleagues and complete strangers when given the opportunity to hear my story have all been very supportive of it. Some of them even wish they could do things like this in their lives when the kids move away and have the time. I say to all of you that you can start doing it today. Please start doing it today. Take the time to do something, anything within your busy lives to help however you can.
I have chosen this path and don’t expect anyone else to take the risk I have with this adventure. I just hope along the way some of you decide that there are things I have shown you or said that may inspire you to create a path where your actions define you. Not your wealth, not your house, not your job – your actions.
Take action now.
Become a member of a group that does the hard work that keeps our resources safe, clean and full of wonder for the next generation. This is the legacy you should leave for them.
If you so choose I would suggest the group that has become important to me which of course is Trout Unlimited. Here’s a link for you to sign up at a discounted rate for the first year: TU MEMBERSHIP If you choose to become a member at the introductory rate, please note that $15 of that $17.50 goes direct to the Chapter you select and is used locally.
Give to any of your local groups however you can. Your time is precious and sacred, and for most the best you can offer at this time is a financial stake in their programs. Maybe that’s all that’s needed now. Perhaps in the future you will have more time to help lead these groups with your wisdom and experience.
All of us have something to contribute no matter what it is. Make cookies, bring coffee, organize a cleanup, help raise funds, do their social media, build a website, greet members, or even just bring a new perspective and diversity to the group. Just take the time to make sure you don’t miss out on your life along the way. Mine’s been pretty good so far and I hope I can share more of it with all of you for years to come.