After lugging a Canoe all over Yellowstone and never getting anyone else to go with me, I decided to save some weight and effort and buy a cheap Sit-on-Top Kayak. I had been saving for a Hobie, but I decided that for much less, I could get a kayak and see how I liked it. I ended up getting the Pelican Tidewater 100, a cheap angling kayak that only weighs 40 lbs. I’m going to use this page to track my adventures and modifications. Because no one ever stops tweaking things.

First trip: Simtustus, August 2015

Michelle, Kona and I took a weekend trip to Lake Simtustus while the girls were off camping with Kathy and Dave. It was our Anniversary trip. We got there and it was 101F, so we set up the camper and got in the water. We loaded a cooler bag with dog treats and a few beers, and Michelle and the dog went to the swim dock, and I put the kayak in and paddled around to meet them at the floating dock. I was amazed at how quickly the thing moves. Responsive, light, and quick. Once we got to the swim dock and had worn the dog out, I tested the limits of how far you can rock side to side before tipping. Best to get that out of the way in 70F water. It’s quite stable, and somewhat easier to get back on than a canoe. It did take on some water inside the hull though, and I had to drain it afterwards.

On Sunday, I took the boat up the arm and fished for smallmouth bass. Several fish looked at my presentations (rooster tail and rebel crawdad), and even a few chased it, but no takers. Then, I paddled out to the lake proper and trolled with a gold Sepps dodger and pink hoochie. The combo had netted me 4 Rainbows the day before. I had one strike, but nothing else, and I’d been out for over an hour and was getting tired pulling the 4oz cannonball around. Good first outing, and I learned that if you’re going to troll, you need at least a 6′ rod to keep the line out of the paddle’s way.

Second trip: Crane Prairie Reservoir, August 2015

The family joined Michelle at a conference in Sunriver, OR, and I took my kayak along. The morning after we arrived, I got up at 5am, remembered that I hadn’t packed my waders or boots, looked at the temperature (37F), and stalled for 20 minutes, then got up and drove to Quinn River CG and launched the boat just after 6am. The sunrise was amazing, and the lake is full of dead, standing trees. It’s an eerie sight the first time, and I got the boat set up, marveled at the surroundings. The birds were amazing. Bald eagles and ospreys in perches atop the dead trees. Herons, ducks, coots, songbirds, and more. I even got buzzed by a wood duck when I was out on the water. The launch was fine, and the water was quite shallow. I had followed advice from someone on NWKA forums and tried to find the former river channels and trolled out in to the lake. I was probably 3/4 to 1 mile out, did some big circles, and gave up. The water was covered with the corpses of a huge hatch, and I was still getting slammed by bugs (and a dragonfly or two) and realized the fish probably weren’t that hungry. I headed back in to the trees, did some spin casting with spinners, and moved around to dislodge lures when they caught on trees. I then slowly back paddled towards the landing amongst the trees with a wet fly a few feet below the surface. Nary a nibble. The trip was incredible though, and I was out on the water for 2.5 hours. My back was somewhat sore when I finally reached the landing.

Third trip: Upper Deschutes near Sunriver, August 2015

I escaped from kid duty for a few hours later during the Sunriver trip and had Michelle and co., drop me off at the Spring River bridge. The place was packed with tubers and some intro kayakers waiting for their rentals to arrive. I slipped past the line, got in, fumbled with some barbed hooks, and launched. The water was flat, calm, but quick, and I drifted from side to side, roll-casting wet flies to and fro. There were lots of tubers, so the noise was quite loud, and I didn’t expect to catch anything this late in the day. I had forgotten my rod holder, which was mildly annoying, but so was learning what the downside to not having a cup holder in a boat is.

I dodged the floaters, finished my beer, answered a lot of “catch anything” questions and kept drifting. It was fucking fantastic. The sun was out, the water was cool (~60F or lower) and the mood was good. I followed a SUP rider and some kayakers in to a small channel where I saw a number of trout and tried the wet fly for a bit longer. Then I switched to my smallest rooster tail, and on the first cast, landed a wee trout. It’s jaw was so soft, and I didn’t have my hemostat (waders left at home) and hope I was able to release him to a long life. I had a few more strikes but then switched back to the fly rod trying to work out technique as I floated by the LWD (large woody debris) on the bank near the stables. A family of about 10 tubers was upstream from me watching as I worked the logs and had a strike. A kid in the group knew I had a strike and yelled “He’s got one” at about the same time I realized something was on. I managed to land the 8″ rainbow and release him without having to take him out of the water. It was thrilling – first time catching a fish on a wet fly – with no strike indicator, to boot.

I drifted a while longer, noticed the time, and decided to paddle the rest of the way to the Cardinal Landing, where I waited for my ride (who took 60 minutes).I realized, while waiting, that all three trips so far have been on the Deschutes, so to speak. Two are reservoirs of the Deschutes, and one free flowing stretch. It was a blast, and I already look forward to the next time.

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