Nov 12, 2013

Larimer Outfitters Steelhead Camp

Early dawn breaks in the Deschutes canyon and you’re wakened by the kind voice of Larimer Outfitters’ camp host Julia Knadler. “The coffee is on and breakfast will be in fifteen minutes,” she tells you through the tent door. It’s the beginning of another day of Spey fishing at Tom Larimer’s steelhead camp.
Photo credit to Craig Strong: Tom Larimer - Larimer Outfitters
Photo credit: Tom Larimer
After a scrumptious breakfast in the heated dining tent, you put on your waders, turn on your headlamp and find your Spey rod in the pile of two-handers leaning against the large tent. It’s cold but comfortable, perfect steelhead weather. Tom is waiting for you down the trail that leads to the beautiful piece of steelhead water in front of camp. You find him surveying the early morning scene and the fading stars. A canyon wren calls from a high perch on the basalt wall above, breaking the early morning silence. It’s almost time.

Tom believes your best shot at a steelhead is the fast riffle at the head of the pool. He walks you into position and gives you a series of instructions including where the fish live and how to fish the pool properly. The coffee is kicking in and your excitement level is pinned at eleven. Tom gives you a smile and a nod -as to say “get on with it”. You make your first cast of the day.

With every Spey cast you lengthen a few feet of line. Tom is behind you -coaching every cast, every swing. Despite the fact that he has probably given this pep talk thousands of time in his life; he is as jacked as you are. The pull of the river on your line is intoxicating. You only hope that if a steelhead does grab your fly you don’t lift too soon. “Let him eat it before you lift, give him the loop of line and wait for the reel to click before you hit him” are the words that keep circling your head. Once you’ve reached your maximum casting distance, you start three stepping your way down river towards your fishing partner who is now just a silhouette in the fog. You can’t help but to wonder how a fish is going to see your fly in the low light. Tom gives you one last piece of advice and wades back to shore. Now it’s just you, the river and possibility.

The pull comes before Tom has even reached your partner. -A light tap at first followed by what can only be described as raw voltage. The loop of line Tom instructed you to “give to the fish” was ripped so violently out of your hand you never had time to screw it up. The first run is blinding fast and crescendos with a jump higher than your head. Now it’s your turn. Tom is back at your side and instructs you to get a lower rod angle. His voice, excited but sharp, calls out like a coach in a prizefight. As you drop the rod down the fish launches a second run and puts your reel into overdrive. The fish’s power and resilience is amazing. After three more jumps and two more spirited runs, the Deschutes thoroughbred is close and exhausted. Tom coaches you through the final moments of the fight and slips the net under the eight-pound wild steelhead. She lays silent, hovering in the mesh bag of the net. Her muscular flanks are silver and her cheeks have a hint of rose. She is magnificent in every way. The barbless hook slides out easy and Tom releases her back into the mysterious darkness of the river. Not a bad way to start considering we haven’t even got into the jet boat.

Photo credit to Craig Strong: "It's going to be a good day."

Photo credit: Tom Larimer

It’s going to be a good day.
This is a typical morning on the Deschutes while fishing with Tom. Of course, some days are better than others. That said, we’re extremely lucky to have one of the flagship steelhead rivers in the Northwest just a short 35 minute drive to the east of the fly shop. Furthermore, we work very closely with Tom Larimer on everything from lining Spey rods to what midge pattern is working for Deschutes trout.

Outside of being one of the most experienced guides on the lower river, Larimer is revered as one of the best Spey instructors in the world. As a product developer for Airflo fly lines, his understanding of Spey casting and the ability to correct your flaws is without measure. Under his tutelage, not only will you get a PHD in two-handed casting, but you’ll also learn tons about swinging your fly and steelhead psychology. -He is a wealth of knowledge on all things fly fishing. More so, Tom loves to share his knowledge of the river’s flora, fauna, history and endless stories from eighteen seasons as a professional fly fishing guide.

Larimer Outfitters Deschutes Steelhead Camp
Photo Credit: Greg Darling
Despite being in the wilderness, his camp is well organized and very comfortable. The guest tents are roomy. The monstrous dining tent is a savior in bad weather. They even have a shower tent with “on demand” water for longer stays. Also, don’t plan on losing weight during your stay. –The menu, which includes lots of locally grown fruits, vegetables and meat, will surprise you. From the moment you step into camp it’s obvious the Larimer Outfitters staff takes great pride in their work.

If you’re looking for a first class experience on a world-class steelhead river from late July through early November, consider spending some time with Tom Larimer on the Deschutes.

2013 Deschutes Steelhead Season in Review

The 2013 Deschutes River steelhead season really surprised me. Prior to August, everyone was saying "If you want to catch a steelhead this year, go north to Canada." - Season in Review

Gorge Fly Shop Team
"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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