The River of No Deposit, No Return
The Deschutes was once a wilderness river. Actually it has been a wilderness river, or nearly so, several times with intruding periods when it has been raped and pillaged in several ways. The old, old days when the "fishing train" hauled whole families and bathtubs from Portland, stopped anywhere along the bank to discharge or pick up passenger/fishermen reportedly was one low point. It was catch and kill, with essentially no limit. Pack it in...and leave it... was the garbage motto. The trains were stopped, and the Deschutes survived, thankfully.
Then there was the era of the jet boats, when the whole river was open from the mouth to Pelton Dam. John Soreng and Dave Carlson have the distinction of being the only people to ever go down the
LEFT side of Whitehorse Rapids in a jet sled, backwards, with a dead engine, and who wish to/can talk about it. The sleds opened up every inch of that one-sided water between Warm Springs and
Maupin to constant pressure, day after day. But the jet sleds were stopped, and the Deschutes survived.
The latest era of crushing pressure began with a movie, DELIVERANCE, and fourteen or so raft rental concessions operating on the streambank at Warm Springs, or Maupin. Anyone can rent a raft, and does, and nearly anyone can survive White Horse rapids, and usually does. Those that don't aren't talking. At it's peak, I have seen the IMPROVED launching site at Warm Springs so packed
with people, buses, stacks of rent-rafts, etc. that I had to throw in over the bank a mile upstream. I estimated 6,000 people. I probably estimate crowd size when I'm mad less well than I
estimate fish size. I have seen, on a Sunday in July, such a continuous parade of rafts that 15 were y always continuously visible staring upstream from a campsite with
reasonable visibility. No one was able to take a nap due to the noise, talking, yelling, etc.
I have had to give up running out the last four miles, through
Wapanitia and Boxcar rapids because the continuous stream of rafts, which travel out of synch with riverboats. They paddle downstream, we backpaddle upstream. Even if well upstream when entering a rapids, they run you down, laughlingly crush into you, tying up at least one oar, pushing you off your
line. They can laugh. THEY bounce off rocks. It isn't funny.

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