My 8-year old grandson, Weston, enjoyed practicing fly casting at the FCO August picnic at the Westmoreland casting ponds. After that experience he said “Pop Pop I want to do some real fly fishing”. I promised that I would arrange such an adventure and scheduled a half-day float trip with Clay Holloway for the last Friday of October.
My son, Matthew, Weston, and I drove from Portland to the Riverview Market near the Hayden Bridge on the McKenzie River. We parked our car and drove with Clay to our launching point at the Hendrick’s Bridge boat ramp. It was a cold, clear day with no wind and the river was in good shape. I was glad I had brought a thermos of hot chocolate to provide some relief from the cool weather.
After loading our gear, we 3 anglers settled on the front seat of the drift boat with Clay manning the oars. Our fly rod was rigged with a large, white indicator fly and a silver, bead-headed Euro-style nymph about 3 feet below. That outfit worked well all day.
Matt started out hooking a few trout and a nice-sized white fish. At first Weston was handed the rod after we hooked a fish. He had a great time fighting each trout as he learned how to maneuver the fish so Clay could net it. After watching Matt and I hook several fish, Weston wanted to try casting the flies himself and setting the hook when the indicator fly submerged. With Clay’s gentle coaching on placement of the flies, when to mend the line and how to set the hook by jerking the rod over the bow of the boat, Weston soon got the knack of how to do this hopper/dropper approach to fly fishing.
After a slow beginning landing smaller trout, things improved as we started hooking larger fish. Clay had a motor on this boat so we were able to return to productive drifts catching more than one large fish in several runs. It was fun to watch Weston cast the line where Clay instructed, manage the line as it floated over the drift and strike when we all yelled “set the hook”. He ended up fighting and landing 3 beautiful native rainbow trout in the 14 to16 inch range. All in all, we landed about 15 trout. It is safe to say that the strong fly fishing genes will continue to reside in the Pyrch family.