The 'Sides are Always Redder - Part III
The Far Side
There must be all of two or three fly fishermen in Oregon who aren't aware that there is only one side to the Deschutes river. That is, from Pelton Dam, or more usually, the boat launch just above the Warm Springs bridge, for about thirty miles downstream the western bank of the river and all the land stretching west to the crest of the Cascades is theoretically and in fact the sovereign, independent nation of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. With the exception of a few miles from Dry Creek downstream to a point across from Trout Creek campground, the west bank of the river, and many of the islands are closed to whites for most any purpose, but most definitely closed to fishing.
For any and all fishermen floating the river, this creates an interesting situation. Most of those thirty miles are quite undeveloped, remote, and barely accessible even by four-wheel drive vehicles. There is little evidence of any active use of the land except for some grazing, and even less evidence of interest in fishing, for trout anyway, by the Confederated inhabitants. Given the very restrictive angling regulations on the past few years, and given that the majority of fishermen on the Deschutes right now are practicing pure catch-and-release, the ethical dilemma is only heightened.
Imagine for a moment a fisherman drifting peacefully down an isolated stretch of river. He might be a real purist, a dedicated outdoorsman who has campaigned for years for restrictive, low impact regulations that maximally protect the Deschutes fish. He may have contributed heavily in time and money to preserve in public land the wild and undeveloped nature of the Deschutes riverway. He probably prides himself on low impact camping, cooking, and toiletry, and enforces it among others. He has done this, in this canyon, for years, and is aware that through his efforts, it will forever remain as it is now.
The current happens to push him close to the east bank, and his eye catches the poking snout of a large trout in an accessible lie on the east bank. As he watches, the fish rises again, indicating a steady feeder. He might swing below, stop his boat, walk a few feet upstream and cover the fish, fight it, release it gently, climb back in his boat, and continue downstream. Five minutes, tops. If you were to ask that fisherman what harm he had just inflicted on anyone, or anything, what would he say? Ask a Warm Springs Indian, and you will get a very real and concrete answer. He trespassed on Indian land
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