SUNRIVER — Safely south of challenging Bend traffic, then calmly west past whooping vacationers here, Brother Jim and I shared scenic forest corridors with little traffic as the asphalt wound, then plunged into Oregon’s summer heaven and haven.
Century Drive is the state’s loop around our own Great Lakes — North Twin, South Twin, Lava, Davis, Cultus, Wickiup and our target, Crane Prairie Reservoir.
Here, glass, steel and concrete skylines give way to snowcapped peaks named for Diamond, along with Faith, Hope and Charity (the Three Sisters), Broken Top and Bachelor (a Sisters suitor).
And the hustle and bustle of gridlocked traffic surrenders to quiet rowboats, rafts, kayaks and a 10 mph speed limit across glassy waters so rich in organisms that trout grow 2 inches a month.
Go earlier than we did to hook hungry trout before the sun heats the water, driving them deep.
But even coming late enough to mark the hatch of tiny insects (some in my ears and nose), followed by the arrival of thousands of feeding swallows, we still managed several good bites, some short- and medium-distance conservation releases (my largest was probably between 16 and 24 inches) and landed some cranebows.
Yes, “cranebows,” named for the reservoir’s fat native rainbows.
Jim, a semiretired Methodist minister, rigged us up with dark leeches and small, shiny chironomids on droppers, allowing them to sink off a floating line, then retrieving ever so slowly.
The secret, as he was told by Jeff Perin at The Fly Fishers Place in Sisters, is to keep the boat moving slowly as well to cover as much water as possible. We were a bit too old for that, so we traded patience for wanderlust.
With or without fish, it was an all-Oregon day, far from the frenetic daily urban grind and free from the challenging quest for salmon and steelhead.
It calmed our souls.
Little wonder Jim and his wife, Sue Owen (also a retired minister), like living here.