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I switched lines to a shooting head, tied on a sinking tip, and swung flies through wide swaths of water, methodically covering every inch looking for fish. I looked over and saw Brendan, ever the optimist, double hauling dry flies through the wind to the bank. By the end of the second day we were exhausted, having tried everything but chumming the water to get into fish. It was then, when I was leaving the water to go back to camp, that I saw my first rattlesnake slithering across a footpath that I had used over a dozen times during the day. It was a slow and sinewy reminder to not get lazy in the back country. On our final full fishing day we got on the bicycles and rode up and down the river looking for promising water. Everywhere we went felt like a fish ghost town. There were all the structures that make good fishing water, but no fish and no salmon flies. We chatted with some people hiking and fishing the trail who had no luck either. It was as if the hatch had already blown through like a mad tornado of two-inch orange insects a few weeks ago and all the fish were following it like kids and an ice-cream truck. We spotted hundreds of dried-up husks of salmon flies on trees at one campsite that confirmed our suspicions. We took it all with a grain of salt, and plenty of bourbon. That night at camp, Brendan produced an orange and some bitters and made some Old Fashioneds. It’s hard not to get philosophical when you go on a fishing trip and don’t catch very many fish. In fact, it’s probably the only thing you can do and keep your sanity. We all agreed that, at best, we came away catching a few fish. Not as many as we had hoped for (nor as large), but neither of us got skunked. At worst, we had just enjoyed three days biking and camping on one of Oregon’s iconic rivers with nothing else to do but ride, cook over our stoves, and go fishing. Incidentally, we did actually see a salmon fly. As we were packing up on the final morning, Laura said, “I think that’s it. That bug!” I looked over to where she was pointing and sure enough, sitting on my Keen sandal and looking a little worse for wear, was a solitary salmon fly. I pointed it out to Brendan who in a rare instance of losing his cool exclaimed, “Sonofabitch! Let’s throw it in the river!” BV

Bunyan Velo 111

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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