Timmy has been talking about this place for years.
He would talk, and I would sit there riveted, hoping he would slip up and divulge the location of his own private fishing Nirvana. Each time he told the story, he would give a few more bits and pieces, and like any good super fish sleuth, I would make mental notes, and go home and pull out maps trying to find this “needle in a haystack” creek.
It is not like he hadn’t offered to take me there someday, it’s just that each year seemed to pass by, and we just didn’t seem to make it there. Then…. the next year we would eventually drift in to fish talk about “secret creek”, and I would start the whole process of mentally picturing the bubbling springs, wildflowers, plentiful trout, and wild solitude.
Tim had been going to this place since he was “knee high to a chicken”,(do chickens have kneesall) and according to Tim, this place hadn’t changed much since his “Baba” had dragged his sorry butt up and down these Oregon peaks and meadows.
“Nobody fishes this place.” Tim would say.
Then he would tell me of fish after fish after ever lovin’ wild fish, he and “Baba” would catch and release. They would crash through brush, climb over logs, slog through mud and all the while keep looking over there shoulders just to make sure a bear or cougar wasn’t sneaking up on them.
“These aren’t the biggest fish in the world, most are 9 to 12 inches with an occasional 18 incher.” Tim would say.
“And you’ll have to belly crawl and sneak up to a lot of places, and we really can’t fish it until the snow melts and the runoff settles down in mid July.”
“Let’s go.” I would say, emphatically making sure he knew I was of the same ilk as he was when it comes to fishing.
The summer of 2006 was the year.
Plans were made, and I still looked on U.S. forest service maps trying to make last minute guesses as to where we were headed. I half expected Tim to blindfold me like some hostage negotiator being led to an undisclosed location, so as never to find this place again. But, Tim probably figured no one in there right mind would venture into this spot alone.
Tim told me the first day we were only going to scout, just to make sure the water levels were right and had receded enough to fish the creek. We drove high into the mountains, hauling our four wheelers so we could get back easier on the road that led higher and higher into the mountains. Up we went on a goat road, until we came to a spot where a small creek crossed under the road. We stashed our quads in the trees. Then we hiked a mile or so up a creek with no trail. There was a fair amount of water still coming down this high mountain creek, but Tim said, “looks good”.
Of course he also said our fishing spot was still five or six more miles up stream.
I emphasize the part about… no trail???!!!
I stood looking at the creek and peered into the water hoping to see that “occasional 18 incher”, but saw nothing. In fact, as I looked at the series of cascades, drops, and logjams, I could hardly believe this place could hold so many fish. I kept picturing a massive runoff that certainly would tumble all these fish into the larger river miles downstream. Nonetheless, I trusted that Tim knew his Nirvana.
The next day the plan was to take two vehicles. We would drop one “close by” the tail end of our hike out and drive the six or seven miles upstream and fish our way down back to our rig.
We bumped our way up a typical logging road almost to the crest of this steep Oregon range of mountains. Then we again stashed our rig in a place where no one would have a clue why we were there.
Very covert operation…
After making sure we hadn’t been followed, or spied upon, we grabbed our hidden fishing rods and literally-”walked into the woods”.
Timmy is a surveyor by trade, so I felt confident that even though he seemed to be wandering off into an endless forest of spruce, Doug fir and cedars, he knew exactly where he was. We kept climbing and weaving our way in a westerly direction, picking up small deer trails.
Or maybe they were Bigfoot paths!
As we hiked the couple of miles up and down one draw after another, Tim was transported to his youth, and it started to really come clear why this was his favorite fishing spot.
He talked of his deceased “Baba”, a true Oregon homesteading pioneer, who would drink Old Crow whiskey and crow about all these newfangled granola types moving into our area and “screwin’ with it”. He would name off species of trees, point out the sick ones- probably some of the same trees his “baba” had pointed out to him–and talk of a big buck or bear he and “baba” had tracked.
He talked how he and his son had made this same trek, and how Andrew complained about having his sorry butt dragged all over these hills, and then falling in love with this same place like the three generations before him.
We’d stop to unsnag our fishing lines from branches and slide down steep hillsides, climb over logs and you could feel the anticipation in the air as Tim-redescribed- for the hundreth time what we would see when we got to our creek drainage.
And then it was there.
Just as promised, we reached the headwaters of a small mountain creek, somewhere here in the mountains of Oregon. Water bubbling out of the ground from numerous fingers, wildflowers galore, and a giant snow rimmed wall of rocks and trees all around us.
end of part one…..