Oregon is just under 100,000 square miles. This makes Oregon the 9th largest state in the country. Oregon is an incredible state; featuring several peaks over 10,000 feet, a section of the deepest river gorge in the country, over 1400 named lakes, and hundreds of rivers and streams. The opportunity for outdoor recreation is immense, including the abundant amount of fisheries across the state. You can have your pick. The desert, the mountains, the woods… you name it, and you can find a fishery in your preferred eco-system.
Every fall, I try to take a few days off to explore different parts of the state. This fall, I found myself in eastern Oregon, on an extraordinary body of water. The Owyhee River. This river is indeed no secret, and frankly one of the busier rivers I have fished in Oregon but is still an exceptional place to find oneself for a few days. Fall on the Owyhee River is a fantastic time, great weather, perfectly timed hatches, no cell phone service and fewer crowds than mid-summer fishing madness. Fortunately, my friend Dave was able to join with his friend Steve. We hit the road early on a Monday morning with nothing but fishing and relaxing on the mind. Just about 5 hours later… we were on the banks of the river.
Follow this photo essay to experience what a few days on the Owyhee feels like…
Camp in the canyons. We were able to find a beautiful spot, right off the water. Unfortunately, a dry summer led to fire bans into the fall, so no campfires were permitted. Despite the campfire-less nights, we still had some great times around a lantern.
An active day of fishing begins with a plentiful breakfast. Nothing better than bacon and eggs with a canyon backdrop like that!
After a hearty breakfast, I took a quick walk down to our camp water. The fishing here was excellent! I started out nymphing. Fishing two flies, a small hares ear with a purple Baetis emerger behind it. Fishing 6x fluorocarbon will undoubtedly keep you awake in the morning. However, the results were worthwhile with this good bow.
Speaking of camp water… look at this tasty little run! This fished very well throughout the morning and late afternoon. It was perfect timing for us to fish other sections along the river during the day.
Another beautiful trout that came from camp water. My friend Steve stuck this beautiful brown trout under an indicator as well. He was working on enhancing his nymphing techniques, and this trout came as a special surprise.
Now this run… this is where it started to get really fun. We stumbled upon this run on our first afternoon at the river. It was an extended riffle area that dumped into a long deep pool. At the end of the pool, there were big trout cruising the flats. They were nearly impossible to get a good drift too, given the size of the pool and not wanting to put the fly line and leader over the fish. However, much to our surprise, fish were eating like crazy through the riffle areas. We were in the midst of a blue wing olive hatch, pale morning dun hatch, and mahogany dun hatch. We were in a MAYFLY party!!!
One of many beautiful trout that came from small dries in the aforementioned riffle. We were happy to stick dozens of fish during a mayfly hatch that lasted for 4 hours.
A fantastic day of fishing is accompanied by a few cold ones. We are fortunate to have over 35 microbreweries in Central Oregon. Needless to say, we have our fair share of beverages to choose from.
Desert sunsets… need I say more?
Dave and Steve… thank you for the fun week! Many great memories from a few days in the desert.