As some of you know, I have set a goal to catch a fish on my fly rod in every state of the union, or die trying.
For Oregon, I wanted to fly-fish for smallmouth bass (SMB) on the John Day River. I had read several articles about the SMB experience and wanted to partake.
There was just one problem. To really immerse myself in this endeavor required camping. I don't like camping.
In fact my definition of roughing it is bad room service.
I was faced with this very perplexing situation until I received my 2009 Trek International Safaris travel catalog. Trek is a travel company dedicated to sending fishermen and hunters to destinations all over the world.
Trek's Web site is www.treksafaris.com, and is well worth a look if you are considering a hunting or fishing trip to places you don't know anything about.
Trek was offering a trip to the John Day River for SMB fishing. I couldn't resist. Once I explained my aversion to "roughing it" to the folks at Trek, I was assured that this trip was made to order for me.
They were right. Trek advised me to check out the outfitter, which I did. It turned out the outfitter, Arrowhead River Adventures, has been in business a long time and truly understands that just because you're camping doesn't mean you have to rough it.
Our tents, which you could stand up in, were set up and taken down by the Arrowhead staff. Our cots were assembled, and our packs placed beside them for our convenience.
There was no sleeping on the ground for this old man.
Each meal was expertly prepared for us. The menus included chicken marsala, french toast with strawberry compote, apple pie and their version of surf and turf.
Bear in mind, this old fly-fisherman's idea of surf and turf conjures up memories of canned tuna fish topped with a meat sauce.
Arrowhead's definition is steak grilled to perfection, with a side dish of freshly caught and deep-fried SMB. My best friend and fishing partner (aka my wife) agreed to go on this fly-fishing venture with me, and she loved the whole experience. She also agreed with me that the fly-fishing was unbelievable.
We took 5- and 6-weight fly rods and found them to be perfect. The reels were loaded with weight-forward floating lines, as we used poppers almost exclusively.
Green seemed to be the best color, but the SMBs didn't mind red or black.
I also found they would take large mayflies and elk-hair caddis. For a short period, a streamer had to be used, and a clouser worked best.
The leaders we used were 7½ feet 3X. No other tippet was necessary.
This configuration caught SMBs from 2 to 17 inches, from ounces to pounds.
It also revealed the one misleading statement the outfitter made to us. We were assured a 50-fish day was possible. The actual count was more like 75, for each of us.
My arm and shoulder got so tired and sore, I was wishing for a bottle of Absorbine Jr.
What a great way to hurt.
So, if you like creature comforts, great food, a professional staff and lots of SMB, you should go.
If, on the other hand, you like your naps at home and pain from mowing the yard, by all means stay home and leave the SMB to us outdoors people.
Reach Don Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org