Dear Chris, Ellen, Ada and Biscuit,
I wrote this story last year (2012) after a three-day float from Trout Creek to Harpham Flat with my dad and few of our friends. I was the only kid. I thought I lost the story because I did not save it on my dad’s laptop, but he recently found it. He said I should send it in to you guys and maybe you would enjoy it. Anyway, here it is.
If there is one thing worth skipping a day of school for, it’s going trout fishing on Oregon’s most famed and enjoyable desert river – the Deschutes River. I love its hidden canyons, majestic views, and swift water, only occasionally interrupted by a real serious rapid. The rush of adrenaline as a rapid approaches, the excitement when water sprays all around you, and the song of a gliding songbird is sweet – I love those red-winged blackbirds. But most of all, when you fight a trout, swirling around at the end of your line. These, and more, are the reasons I love this river, this state, and this sport. By the way, I like using commas.
To miss school, for a fishing trip, you better come back with a good story but I’m still learning the code, “Early to bed, early to rise, fish like hell, and make up lies.” So, to make sure I wouldn’t need to make up lies, we had to find a good fly. Luckily, for this trip, the first fly was the charm, and that fly was a Chubby Norman – I call it Chubby like everyone else does. That salmon fly thing worked so well, my dad had to use my rod to catch fish. The only thing we didn’t have to worry about was fishing like hell, I did that for sure. My dad and I stopped at about 15 spots the first day, spending a long time at each. But this story is mainly about the fly, and how it, before the trip, had no meaning to me. I didn’t even know what a salmon fly was, yet now, in the aftermath; it has a special place in my life. I can say, with multiple witnesses, that I used a single fly throughout an entire three day trip.
I can’t take full credit for my fishing success though, I have to give credit for my dad’s incredible rowing, especially when he hit that rock in Whitehorse – that really made me thankful for those times when we were floating along smoothly. But seriously, my Dad seemed to know where every trout would be waiting for my Chubby. It was super crowded so my Dad said we would have to really fish the hard spots if we wanted to catch fish. I had no idea he had planted all of those stinging nettles and poison oak plants just to keep people away from his favorite spots! He worked pretty hard to get me into places that gave me the ability on the first day, to land over a dozen fish, six of those coming from one spot, with my own rod, and that Chubby.
I also have to give credit to John Tyler and Terri Pinterelli, who set a great camp at a place called Whiskey Dick (I still don’t believe that is the name for that place) while giving up some opportunity to fish along the way. I guess it worked out for John because the next day he caught some really big trout while I was eating Cracker Jacks – and then he even tried to score some of my snack after he poached those trout. He is quite a guy – JohnTyler! JohnTyler! JohnTyler!
Another thanks to Karl Anuta who made an amazing dinner that first night. Karl makes the best garlic chicken pesto pasta thing in the world.
He also baked a pie that he served for dessert.
Apparently, my dad forgot to bring the vanilla ice cream – something he is famous for doing in the past – like during the Cold War or something. Unfortunately, even Karl’s good deeds could not prevent him from being soaked by an all-night desert rain. My Dad said he invited Karl to join us in our tent but Karl just mumbled something about his 1970’s-era tarp keeping him dry and anyway, Karl did not recall that invitation the next morning. Maybe it all worked out for Karl because he did land the biggest three fish of the trip.
But really and truly, the biggest thanks goes out to Chris Conaty, dad of my longtime friend Ada, and fellow fisherman, but also a great fly tier. I don’t know if Chris is the exact person who tied the exact Chubby that I used the entire trip, catching dozens and dozens of fish, but whatever, he is the one who invented it and told my Dad about it! By the end, it still stood up to the challenge, and now has been saved in my Dad’s famous fly museum. This fly museum is very famous but very secretive – it has all of the magical flies ever used to catch a fish – he writes little notes about them and then hooks them into a big block of white Styrofoam – it is not very fancy but it is famous.
Chris is an expert fly designer, tier and fly fisherman. He has worked in the fly fishing industry for longer than I have been alive – which is kind of a long time. I can recommend Chris’s Chubby Norm without hesitation to anyone who wants to catch a dozen wild trout, by themselves, with one fly, and to anyone who wants their fly to last for a long time – even when the trout gobbled it up all day long – even when they weren’t hungry – and even when you need a fly you can yank out of the alder branches all day long in my Dad’s “secret” places. My Dad said he tied it on 8 pound Maxima so I would not lose it. He is smart because that worked. I did break it off in a tree once, but I was able to rescue it and tie it back on. That Chubby is like a cat with nine lives. I guess Chris would rather people lost more flies – kind of a business thing – but that fly worked so well I would buy a ton of them so I would never run out.
You might be thinking I’m promoting the Chubby Norm because I am friends with Chris. Well, that’s part of the reason, but really, it’s because I am hoping Chris’s fly company could sponsor me as fishing pro so I fish all of the time and my parents would not have to pay for my college. That would be cool. Seriously, his company should consider sponsoring me because then all of the young kids who are just learning to fly fish would ask for his flies – because believe me – their flies work! Plus, the Chubby lasts, it catches fish, and they are fun to use because it always floats and you can see it. I caught more fish than the nymph fishermen and more fish than people using other salmon fly patterns. Maybe that was because they were helping me net my fish the whole time. Whatever.
I hope to go on more trout trips soon! Thank you, everyone I named, again for making my first salmon fly hatch the best Deschutes trip I’ve ever been on. In the meantime, I will be waiting for my Dad to pick out a summer steelhead fly that works as well as Chris’s Chubby Norm.