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The goatheads on the Deschutes River Trail have been known to destroy many a tire. I had underestimated their severity on our first outing there a few months ago. When I stopped to fix a flat I had no less than 30 per tire. I ran out of patches and didn’t bring a spare tube. I only managed to ride out by pumping up the tires every quarter mile. It made for a long afternoon. Our plan was to ride out to one of the campsites near the old homestead. It had a large flat area for camping beneath some trees and easy river access for fishing. We weren’t exactly the perfect picture of ultralight bikepacking with our Wald baskets and panniers in the rear, but we were carrying a fair amount of fishing and camera gear. Brendan brought along a fly tying vise to make a few streamside flies and I was packing a video monopod. We also had four rods between us: a 5wt, 6wt, and two tenkara rods. We arrived at our targeted campsite in the early afternoon, only to find it had been claimed. There was a full-on camo tarp city set up by two beer-bellied guys who clearly had no intention of sharing the space. We pedaled back a few miles to another site that unfortunately didn’t have as much shade or flat space. The problem wasn’t so much finding free space as it was finding a clearing to setup camp. The grass had grown head high since the last time we were there and we were loath to tromp around for three days in high grass in rattlesnake country. Eventually, we found a little clearing that had space for Laura and I to set up our tent and suitable trees for Brendan’s hammock. After a hastily made lunch, we got down to the business of fishing. Instead of packing heavy wading boots and waders, we were planning to wet wade using neoprene socks and cleated water sandals. For the most part it worked beautifully. The neoprene socks kept your feet just warm enough so you could stand in the

water for hours and the cleated sandals gave you some purchase on the slimy rocks of the Deschutes. We strung up our rods and waded into the water. For me, the first hour or so of fishing is about calming down, settling into the river, and starting to read the water. The water was flowing at a good pace but was fairly shallow. You could walk out about forty feet and still be in waist-deep water. I spotted a few obvious places that could hold fish: boulders that were creating some softer water, a few spots on the bank with low, overhanging trees that made for good cover, and a few slow, dark, and mysterious runs. All the ingredients of good fishing were there, except for any obvious signs of rising fish and perhaps most importantly, the salmon flies. Thinking that we hadn’t quite clued in on the schedule that the fish and flies were on, I tied on a hopper-dropper setup, which involves fishing with a dry floating fly and a small subsurface fly below it. For me, it’s a good searching pattern when I’m trying to figure out a stretch of water. Brendan was fishing downstream, working the bank over with some golden stone fly patterns he had tied the week before. We worked our way up and down the river, occasionally glancing over to see how the other person was doing. It’s not that we didn’t get into any fish, it just wasn’t the white-hot fishing action we were expecting. I got into two medium sized white fish and a third mystery fish that broke off. Brandon got into a few small redsides that he eventually let go. We debriefed over dinner and bourbon and planned the next day’s tactics. That night a storm rolled in that would refuse to leave completely during our remaining three days on the river. Fishing became a Sisyphean task of casting against 20mph winds. It was not exactly the delicate dry fly fishing we had imagined. I resorted to what was the equivalent of carpet-bombing the water.

Bunyan Velo 107

Profile for Lucas Winzenburg

Bunyan Velo: Travels on Two Wheels, Issue No. 05  

Bunyan Velo is a collection of photographs, essays, and stories celebrating the simple pleasures of traveling by bicycle.

Bunyan Velo: Travels on Two Wheels, Issue No. 05  

Bunyan Velo is a collection of photographs, essays, and stories celebrating the simple pleasures of traveling by bicycle.

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