Simple pleasures on the Metolius

Central Oregon's Metolius River offers easy summer days, mellow nights -- and a lot of trout

Bonnie Henderson

When the warmth of July starts to ramp up toward the oven of August, our thoughts turn to the town of Camp Sherman, where the eastern slope of the Cascades tumbles down to central Oregon ― the piney edge of the high desert.

Not that it's any cooler here than anywhere else; it's hotter than a lot of places in the Northwest. But Camp Sherman has shade, and it has the Metolius River, and on some summer days, the Metolius is as good as it gets.

Forty-eight degrees, give or take, year-round: That's the temperature of this clear, swift, free-flowing river when it bubbles out of the base of Black Butte 2 miles from Camp Sherman. In the 7 to 8 miles of accessible river stretching north from Camp Sherman, it doesn't have much of a chance to warm up, notwithstanding input from side creeks and springs.

It's this pure, cold water that has made the Metolius a magnet to fly-fishermen who catch and release year-round.

In summer they can be lined up almost elbow-to-elbow here, casting golden stone flies and grasshoppers onto the riffled water, teasing brown trout and redband rainbows onto their barbless hooks.

It's this same cold, clear river that draws us non-anglers in summer to walk among the pines and incense cedars and Douglas firs lining the banks, to sit on the porch at an old-fashioned riverfront resort cabin with a cool drink and a good book, and, at night, to listen to the music of the river through open windows as we drift off.

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