In the heart of Oregon lies a powerful desert river where anglers can walk miles upon miles in pursuit of hard-pulling “redsides” and summer steelhead.
In the early 1900’s, two railroads began the laborious work of building parallel tracks up opposite sides of the Deschutes River Canyon. This construction project sparked the Railroad Wars. Dynamiting, sabotage, and brawls disrupted the long summers and brutal winters. It was no easy task. Thick basalt to blast through, extreme heat in the summer and bitter cold winters required meticulous engineering and tough souls. A surveyor of the Pacific Coast railroad once said “Nature seems to have guaranteed the canyon forever to the wandering savage and the lonely seeker after the wild and sublime.”
The Union Pacific succeeded in completing the tracks on the West side of the river. On the East side, a road and remnants of base camps, and railroad debris still exist. With the tracks in place, anglers without boats have the ability to hike/wade and camp in the midst of premier steelhead and trout runs. Either hiking up river from the mouth, or basing in the rural town of Maupin. Emerald green water with smooth tail outs and cool riffles await a swung fly or dry caddis.
Hiking the tracks require comfortable, stable foot wear. To combat the rigid tracks and sharp, hard, unleveled basalt, I highly recommend the men’s G3 Guide™ Boot equipped with the RiverTread™ platform. In addition, the Vibram® Idrogrip outsoles provide great-grip and are compatible with Simms’ AlumiBite™ Star Cleat and HardBite™ Star Cleat — an absolute necessity for tough wading conditions.
As I wander down the tracks for an evening fish, I often find myself lost in the history of the railroad. Finding original railroad nails and glass bottles dating back to a time when exploring was deep in the hearts of all men and women. For me, the promise of discovering a great piece of water around the next bend keeps the fire of exploration burning and the hopes of connecting to an unforgettable fish high.
Photos Courtesy Marty Sheppard of Little Creek Outfitters.