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Ronan's report

Wednesday 6th August, 2008

Two weeks ago I promised a report on what has come to be known as the Dean River Project. The plan - to get flown in by a friends uncle/pilot and backpack in to fish steelhead for a week. Unfortunately, things didn't work out as we'd hoped.

After two full days of flying the incredible BC coast range, and numerous failed attempts at getting passage to/landing a wheeled airplane at the Dean River due to weather and wind, I felt that continuing on with the original plan to backpack up the Dean for a week was not in my/our best interest. The long-term weather forecast was raising potential issues with getting flown out of the river on schedule had we been able to successfully land there at all. Wild country simply does not understand the idea of having to be back at work on some sort of schedule. This was a decision that I had not expected to confront. Words (at least ones that I know) can’t describe the feelings as I came to realize that I wouldn’t be able to continue on with the plan. We got close to making it happen - within 6 feet of the ground above the landing strip at the Dean - before having to pull out due to some horrendous wind and turbulence that made a landing attempt imprudent.

So, we drove back to Oregon without casting a fly.

Looking back, it is hard for me to imagine a place more remote/beautiful/intimidating than the Dean (in fact all of the central coast of BC). Without airplanes/floatplanes, the only way to access most of these areas is via extended boat trips. As we learned, even with those transportation means, successful arrival at the planned destination is not guaranteed because of the fickle, variable, local weather patterns. I’ve been to some remote places in my short life, but none like this.

I've been trying to look past the disappointment to the bright side. I don’t consider the trip to be a complete failure by any means. Every fishing trip is a new learning experience for me, and on this trip I learned alot about myself and about approaching a DIY, fly-in backcountry trip. I feel confident that we can use what we learned to make the next trip a fishing success. The experience of flying in such a small plane through truly massive and spectacular country was a first for me, and something I won’t forget. I met some great new people, and learned that a Dutch lady can make some terrific Italian food.

Niall’s Uncle doubled as our pilot. His 30+ years experience and skill were/are greatly appreciated. So were his humor and insight. His comment (paraphrased) summed up the trip.

“Fly fishing for steelhead on the Dean seems to be mostly FLY and not very much FISHING.”

Sometimes I guess you just have to laugh to get over disappointment. It's not smart to let yourself get bogged down in the fishing life. When something unexpected happens, you roll with it, and make another cast.


PS - We are submitting the current signatures to the ODFW Commission on August 8th, so act NOW. If you believe that wild & native steelhead are worth protecting, and that without solid science conservative fisheries management is the only answer, please, take a moment to sign the petition in support of the existing regulations that prohibit killing wild steelhead on Oregon's Umpqua River. Over 1020 have already signed online and who knows how many more have signed the paper copies.

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