Since we were nearly in Oregon when we caught the Warner Lakes redband, why not hop across the border and pick up a couple more?
We stopped in Lakeview, Oregon to buy license and a gazetteer. The license was no problem at all, but when I asked for a gazetteer at the True Value they didn’t know what I was talking about. Luckily, another customer pointed me to a gas station on our way out of town.
We stopped to get gas, which by the way, you can’t pump your own gas in Oregon. How strange! Regardless, when I asked the gas station attendant if they had a gazetteer his response was exactly: “A gaza what?”. I probably should look elsewhere, and I did with no luck. We decided to press on without the aid of a gazetteer. I had my GPS and I had made very good notes on how to get to the streams.
Turns out we didn’t need the gazetteer. We drove right to the first stream – across 20 miles of washboard gravel road. I strung up the rod first and had my first Catlow Valley redband from the first open pocket.
When I say “open”, I mean in the sense that you can get a fly on the water through the extremely dense trees. Nathan struggled a bit but also managed to pick up his Catlow Valley redband. I was lucky enough to pick one out of the first open pocket and it’s a good thing. This was some of the toughest fishing conditions I have ever encountered. You couldn’t get into the stream, it was that tight and there were very few openings in the brush. It was amazing to even find water, as the only thing we saw going into the stream was sage – NOTHING ELSE!
One of the locals, at the hot springs, told us we could get into larger trout on upstream around the corral. We started to check it out but we wanted to get to the next stream, so we passed.
We managed, again, to drive right to the next stream too. This was a special stream and one we were both looking forward to. This stream happens to contain the only (genotypical) population of the Alvord cutthroat, which up until a couple of years ago was thought to be extinct. I believe Gary is the first individual to validate the existence of the Alvord in this stream.
Gary gave us the exact location of the stream to fish and we immediately started picking up fish, but they were introduced Lahontan cutthroat. I caught a couple of very nice Lahontans, but that was not what I was after.
Nathan did finally pick up one fish that displayed the external characteristics of the Alvord but all I caught was more Lahontans. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice to catch those fish but that’s not what I was after.
I had never caught a Lahontan cutthroat until this year and now I have caught them in three different states (NV, CA, OR).
I fished the stream hard but it just wasn’t meant to be and, besides, we still had 40 miles of rough, gravel road ahead of us to get out of there. At this point I had caught five different sub-species this day and I was then 10 of 12 on my trip list. Nathan had also caught five different sub-species for the day but he was now 11 for 12 on the trip list.
As we got about two miles from where we planned to camp on the Donner & Blitzen River my low tire indicator light came on. I pulled over and sure enough one of the rear tires was flat. Like a veteran NASCAR pit crew we changed the tire with enough time to get camp set up by dark.
The next morning it was up the Donner & Blitzen above the campground for the Harney-Mahleur Basin redband.
I picked up another in a nice little pool, which was covered on both sides by overhanging trees.
Nathan fished hard and finally picked up a couple of decent fish. The count for me was now 11 for 13 (10 new species) and Nathan was up to 12 for 13 (all new).
It is so much fun sight fishing to these guys, as they stick out like a sore thumb.
The Colorado state record for grayling is 17"!
It had been two years since I had been in this area and it was depressing to see the bark beetle had made it north of RMNP.