Wine, food and fly-fishing - Part III
A meander through Oregon
LAKE CREEK meanders through wooded acres in which are nestled about 20 cabins and a main lodge/restaurant building that make up Lake Creek Lodge resort, a popular family vacation destination since it was built in 1924.
In planning our recent eight-day meander through Oregon, I told Dottie about Lake Creek Lodge, a fishing resort near Sisters that my folks took me to when I was a teenager.
"It would be a great family-vacation place," I told her, "I wonder if it is still there?"
A quick search on the web (lakecreeklodge.com) revealed it was. In fact, some of the same cabins we stayed in more than 50 years ago are still part of the compound.
We therefore made Lake Creek Lodge, an easy three-hour drive from the Columbia River Gorge, the final stop on our itinerary.
As a boy, I was awed by the beauty and clarity of the nearby Metolious River, which literally bubbles out of the ground from beneath Black Butte, a nearby cinder cone. It was, at the time, the biggest river I'd ever fished, and I caught some very nice trout.
Lake Creek, about the size of the small creeks in Sonoma Valley that I fished in my youth, runs right through the Lake Creek Lodge site. Fully-equipped cabins are nestled in the wooded acres surrounding the creek, and a swimming pool, tennis courts and a fishing pond filled with trout, have been added since my boyhood stay.
Aside from those changes, it was pretty much the same as I remember it. The nearby Camp Sherman store serves as the local post office, gas station and fly shop, as well as stocking food staples and other sundries.
I spent the late afternoon of our arrival day, testing the waters of the Lodge's pond, which covers a little less than an acre and has some picnic tables and benches. Not expecting much, I was surprised when a foot-long rainbow trout erupted under the size 16 parachute Adams I cast not more than 25 feet out from the shore.
For the next hour and a half, I had several more rises, catching and releasing four nice trout, the smallest of which was probably ten inches.
This will be a perfect place to introduce our grandchildren to fly-fishing next summer.
Walking back to our cabin, I noticed small trout in the creek. In my teens, I caught numerous pan-sized fish there, which my folks enjoyed with their breakfast before tackling the larger Metolious, a short drive away.
My son, Ryan, and I fished the Metolious one afternoon with no luck at all. It is a beautiful stream, but gets pounded by hundreds of fly-fishers every week. Since my last visit five decades ago, numerous stream-side campgrounds have been added, along with scores of cabins and an RV park.
The Metolious looks "trouty" as hell, but fishing is a big challenge, which is why many anglers head over to the Deschutes River or the Crooked River, rather than get skunked on the Metolius.
With the able guidance of Dan Anthon, who works out of The Fly Fisher's Place (flyfishersplace.com) in Sisters, Ryan and I had much better luck on the Crooked River, about an hour's drive east of our cabin. In fact, I lost count of the number of trout we caught and released after 30. They weren't big, but they were plentiful. Dan and shop owner Jeff Perin provide guide service for fishing all over that area, including float-to-wade trips on the Deschutes.
One night we also enjoyed dinner at the nearby Black Butte Ranch (blackbutteranch.com), a very nice cabin, condo, golf course complex. While most of the ranch's amenities are reserved for condo renters and cabin owners, the restaurant is open to the public and serves excellent cuisine, with an outstanding collection of Oregon's best wines.
We may live in the "Real Wine Country," but Oregon produces some very fine vintages, especially pinot noir.
Over a glass of 2008 Argyle Reserve Pinot, Dottie and I agreed that not only was this the way to end a perfect fishing meander through Oregon, but Lake Creek Lodge especially, will be the site of next summer's family gathering.