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The Gearboat Chronicles

Trout Fishing on the Grande Ronde


Flyfishing is easily one of the hardest complicated simple activities I’ve tortured myself trying to get good at. It hasn’t been going all that well, but thanks for asking.

I am slowly improving, thanks to Jim Hepworth, who tutored me on the Grande Ronde River last week. Jim kindly (mend!…) offered advice and (mend!….) pointers while observing my casting and fishing attempts.

To mend a flyline is the act of adjusting its position on the water so you’re not dragging the fly across the water. This dragging tips the fish off that what they’re seeing is not food.
Apparently I don’t mend often or well enough. But I’m trying to mend that.

Jim is an English professor I met at Fishtrap, the writing conference held out here in Wallowa County. Here’s why I like the guy and tolerate him yelling at me to mend:

Years ago, I rode along with him while he checked in on local writers who had projects they were supposed to be sending him. Hepworth is also a publisher at a small press, aside from professing English.

So. The publishing industry is tough to break into. No surprise there. Writers try and try to get editors to look at their manuscripts, but many editors prefer manuscripts that come to them via literary agents. Literary agents desire writers who are established. Hence, much banging of heads on walls and talk of Catch 22s.

Getting an editor to consider your book is a coup. Hepworth was banging on the front doors of writers, yelling, “I know you’re in there…I’m still waiting for that book….”

Unheard of.

I should mention here that these were special cases and you should not flood this guy with book proposals. He’ll just tell you to mend, in my experience.

So we had an all-around pleasant float down the Grande Ronde. Oh yeah, and we saw some bears. Water level is getting down there. It was running in the 800 cubic feet per second neighborhood last I checked. That’s on the low end. Beyond that, you start dragging your boat over the skinny spots.

The GR is kind of our backyard river, close to home, and absolutely worth checking out if you haven’t seen the Wild and Scenic stretch with big, forested campsites and fun Class II and III rapids.

I look forward to getting back down there in the fall for steelhead season. And I’ll be ready to mend. Glad we squeezed in one last summer float, though. Thanks, Grande Ronde.