The early bird gets the fish. So early one morning we headed to The Hook Fly Shop in the Sunriver village and met up with our professional guide Bryon Salaz. I wondered if his patience was as impressive as his beard, because fishing is not something I’m about to put on my resume when it comes to skills. I had hoped he was ready to step me through everything slowly and maybe a couple of times over. At the shop they fitted us for our waders and our shoes, which I went a size up on for comfort and I felt like a modern day Frankenstein stomping around in those boots for the rest of the day. Though the waders are there to keep the water out, I imagined that I was in for a very very cold day, so my outfit was more of a keep the weather off of me kinda look and not a front page story of an outfitter magazine.
After a one hour drive headed east, possibly south east? We’re not sure and I’m not about to tell you! That’s the thing I respect about what Bryon spoke with us about, if you really love a place that you find, you’re not going to go and post it on the internet for everyone else to go and find. If you want to enjoy this fly fishing trip, you’ll book with Bryon and he will personally take you there. Once we arrived at “the spot” I realized why he brought this subject up. It was a truly unspoiled area, just far enough from the city life and quietly hidden off a side road…or two. Ps. I’m still not telling you where we went.
Once we parked and headed to the edge of the water, I looked up and down the river. There wasn’t another person or car in sight. What a great feeling! We signed up for a tour that not only ended up being a private tour, but we also had the river to ourselves. This lasted for at least another hour, then we saw the first person drive by and then a while after that, another fisherman walked by us, quietly greeting us and continuing on his way. The glorious sun shone down on us and only a couple of times did the wind pick up and I had to turn to hide my face from the cold. It was the perfect day.
The guide stepped us through everything, step by step. Slowly and precisely, but also it felt very personal, he was genuinely excited to get us hooking fish. He looked at our faces to read if we were catching on, then he gave us a couple of examples himself, still talking us through everything. Unfortunately once the fishing pole was in my hands and I was there ready to prove myself, when all of that confidence and the steps from his mini lessons, it seemed as if they had all just floated down the river. It truly took me time and time again to feel almost comfortable doing my own cast into the water, then the mend in the line, then how to point the pole down toward the water, following that with what amount of slack I was supposed to leave before pulling it all back toward me to start over again. I knew I was rushing it, I wasn’t going with the flow and I was attempting to get it all in one try. Bryon was there to reassure me when I had pulled off a cast and when I was mending at the correct times. He was also there to remind me to calm down and just to enjoy myself. It took us only minutes to begin catching our first fish of the day and I knew it would only get better after I stopped flinging my line into the water and if I became more graceful.
So here’s something that really differed from any other fishing that I had done in the past: when the fish bite your line, it is not at all like a tug, but rather something that you really absolutely must be watching very closely. Bryon would say “set!” as in pull back on the pole and I would still be just realizing that that was a fish even biting. It seemed like it could have been the line just slowing down in the water or it getting barely caught on something. But low and behold, I quickly found out I was very very wrong. It’s much quicker than I would have guessed, which is why I think I enjoyed this fishing excursion so much more than any other. Typically I can sit back, pour myself a beer and wait for the whole pole to go diving toward the water. This was a whole nother ball game, which kept things exciting and it kept me focused on what I was doing.
Time actually flew by on our half day excursion. I was worried I was going to be sitting on the sidelines, shivering in the shade, but we were thoroughly entertained the whole time and this is something that we both agreed we would suggest to friends and we’d give it a go again in the future. I highly recommend getting in touch with the shop if you’re ever in or around Sunriver. This would be a fabulous tour for bachelor parties, father and son day trips, you name it! I’m confident that the guys at The Hook Fly Shop will take good care of their customers and the environment that they are taking you in, which we certainly learned more about because of Bryon. It’s important that we are respecting the rivers and lakes that we are fishing in, so please do this smartly! We look forward to our next excursion with this company and we are already pretty set on coming back in 2019, for a full day steelhead fishing trip.