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The Fish Whisperer

You would think this river had fish in it. You would be wrong.

I’ll let you in on a little secret.  I’ve been dreaming of a big one.  A fish, that is.  So this past weekend I took a trip down south to catch that elusive big one.  It just so happens that during the day I work in the sporting goods department in one of the stores of a regional retail chain.  Technically, I’m the department manager.  But don’t let the red vest fool you.  I have no authority.

This puts me in a position to hear every big fish story that comes down the river.  I take what I hear with a grain of salt.  Every fisherman has their story and they’re usually bullshit.  But this time, I thought I’d take a chance on a guy’s claim and take a trip down south to the Ana River.

He swears by it.  But just to be sure, I did a little more research.

We sell a lot of books in our department and few of them are worth the money you pay.  There is one exception: Fishing in Oregon, 10th Ed., by Madelynne Diness Sheehan.  It’s been around a long time and covers every body of water in the state.  It spoke well of the Ana River, pointing out that it wasn’t fished often.  I’m big on that.  I like the solitude.

I left Friday morning and drove for more than 3 hours, over the mountains and out in to the Oregon outback.  Central Oregon is high desert: sagebrush, lava rock, and cedar trees.  It’s an extension of the same chaparral country that runs west to the Cascade range of Western Oregon from the Snake River valley and the Continental Divide of Eastern Idaho where I grew up.  You can get lost out here.  Every hill looks the same as the last one you just crossed.  Dust devils whirl and grind their way across the low-growing brush.  Rattlesnakes hide among the rocks.

Out in this country, you can drive down a gravel road for hours and never get anywhere.  And that’s exactly what I did.  The maps I had sucked.

After scouring the desert for a river that didn’t seem to exist, I finally found it slowly meandering its way across open the open country.  I’m not unaccustomed to this type of terrain.  The rivers and streams of central Idaho make their way through similar topography, cutting down through the basalt rock leaving a winding trail of trees and greenery along their banks as they flow.  You can look across the prairie and see where the river is by the line of trees and brush.

But not this time.  This was odd country.

I finally found the river, such as it was, and set up camp.  The wind was blowing down from the buttes creating a respite from the desert heat.  I found a patch of grass along the riverbank to pitch my tent and then set about my quest to land a big lunker.

I covered several miles of river by nightfall and pulled up nothing but moss.  I was beginning to see why there were no other fishermen on the river.

By nightfall, the wind had picked up to the point where I had to park my car as close to my tent as possible in order to create a windbreak.  The wind blew stronger as the night wore on until about two or three in the morning.  And then the coyotes started their racket.

At sunrise, after about two hours of sleep, I came out of my tent and stepped in to an army of mosquitoes.  With no wind, they were out in force.  I was getting eaten alive while I hurriedly broke camp and packed the car.  I wasn’t going to stay around any longer.  The only decision left was which way to go: further south to Klamath Falls or north toward Bend.

I chose north.

I decided to loop around the north end of Crater Lake and make a stop at Diamond Lake.  You can easily rent a boat at Diamond Lake and the fishing along the north end near the edge of the reeds is world class.

Driving back up in to the mountains on my way to Diamond Lake, the rainstorm rolled in.  I didn’t have any rain gear and didn’t want to spend the day in a rowboat getting rained on after trying to sleep through a windstorm.

So, in the end, I just drove home.

My cooler was empty.  My arms were sunburned.  My gas tank was empty – to the tune of about $75.  But hey, I got a few pictures and this very engaging story to tell.

And oh yea, when I see that guy again (you know, the guy who told me about how wonderful the fishing was on the Ana River?) I’m going to get him a nice fruit basket.

Full of moss.

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