Time to give up stream fishing

Steve Saville

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I'm getting to that point as well. Both knees are shot. I will be having the replacement surgery sometime in August. It will lay me up for a few months and limit what I can do for a while but I will find other things to do in the meantime. Hopefully everything will go well and by January I'll be back to as normal as a new normal can get. Now, I don't fish alone and always wear an inflatable floating device.


A sometimes eternal optimist
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Don’t give up fishing. You can always look for VRBOs on flywater, be it lakes or small streams. Walk out the back door and be on the river. That’s what we do these days. I don’t like doing any hiking anymore and i want to fish on my own terms and not be out for hours and hours so i can go in anytime i want to while my husband stays fishing. PLUS, no car break ins.


Huge Fly Guy
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I'm not anywhere close to the point of being unable to fish streams, but I definitely fish stillwaters (or barely moving waters of the Willamette and Columbia backwaters) way more than previously. Mostly for 'off-brand' species, but it's pretty relaxing to just chill out in my Commander while bobbing around in a lake. Regardless, by the time I'm unable to do the long stream hikes, I'll really have my stillwater routine pretty dialed (already do).


Go Beavs
I do feel your pain, but I encourage you to think a little differently. Get guided a couple times a year and get your river fix in. I am sure you are aware of the awesome nearby or destination fisheries that allow you to fish from the front end of a driftboat. Trout or bass on the McKenzie, Umpqua, John Day, etc., etc... Make the river trips more of a celebration. Go get 'em!


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I'm sad to hear that some of you are having to give up stream fishing at a young age. If you have done it much of your life it is something you are really going to miss. Streams are in my blood and I dread the time I can no longer fish them but it is coming soon. I caught my first rainbow trout on a fly on July 28, 1951-almost 70 years ago, I'll celebrate that milestone next month when Freestone comes over and we fish all of the area streams.

She is a superb fisher person and last year followed me on a stream and caught all of the fish I missed! We did some serious brush busting last year in search of little native fish and at times had to wade right down the middle of the stream due to the dense brush. It is still great fun but about 4 hours worth is enough nowadays-not the 12 hour days I used to put in on the Deschutes.

Lake fishing: As many have mentioned, transitioning to lake fishing is an obvious alternative. This is the golden age of inflatable boats and there are some models out there that are incredibly light and competent. If you have topped 70 it should be obvious by now that you are not going to get any younger and certainly not any stronger. I urge you to get the lightest boat possible that fulfills your needs and take the struggling with a heavy boat component out of the picture. I went from a heavy pontoon boat (50#+) down to an 18# inflatable that I can easily manage by myself. It has carbon fiber oars, a depth finder and a motor mount and really scoots around on a 30# thrust Minn Kota with an AGM battery. I can put as much or as little equipment on the boat as needed for a particular lake and do it piecemeal and not carry a lot of weight at a time. For instance, we will be fishing a lake on Wednesday that is going to require about a 1/4 mile hike in-too much to carry that far. I have a set of modular wheels that attach to the motor mount and will allow me to wheel the boat in with all of my gear on the boat. No motor or depth finder on this trip, just a stripped down boat with fins, fly rods and some lunch. Pretty easy.

The cost of good inflatables is high and I suggest you look at the big picture and prepare to spend a lot to get a damned good one. Remember-you won't be taking any of that money with you and since you have a limited number of fishing days left before the Big Sleep treat yourself well. I have grown weary of guys with a 7 figure net worth whining over spending a couple of thousand dollars on something they would really enjoy but can't because they are pathological tight asses. Don't be that handicapped, there isn't that much time left.....


I'll never quit stream fishing . 72 years old , one triple bypass , 4 failed back surgeries and looking at a neck surgery , . Can barely walk , fall constantly ( mostly from not paying attention ) and I say to hell with lake fishing , wading is in my blood . If I fall and drown , so be it , I cant get out of this alive anyway . I'd rather drown fishing than waste away with cancer which I have a touch of also ( skin so far ) . Anyway , thats my story and I'm sticking to it .


As with Denny, I use a SuperCat and it is a frameless floating device that was actually designed as a backpacking pontoon boat. Mine is short but they do offer one with long pontoons... I've never thought I needed them but I only use it on very slow moving rivers and mostly lakes and ponds. A rowing frame is available for the boat but I can't row worth crap so I never use mine.

For a small pontoon boat they don't give them away but because there are no bladders and instead the pontoons are made from rubber raft material, they last forever. Damned tough stuff.

When it comes to moving water vs stillwaters, when I was 30 years younger I fished both. So if you're an old fly angler who can still manage to wade then go ahead on ! I enjoyed fishing rivers but to tell you the truth, after all the years on stillwater, I'm more partial to flyfishing from my SuperCat than wading rivers. Both would be best but my legs now prefer stillwaters.


WFF Premium
While on the subject of old guys and lightweight boats let's talk about trolling motors for them. I see that some of the new lightweight inflatables have an advertised weight capacity of up to 700#. Let's take that with a grain of salt and assume that 400# is a much more reasonable figure. But even at 400# there should be plenty of margin for a trolling motor and a 35AH battery. The battery is <25# and the trolling motor <20# for a total of under 50 pounds. Add a PWM controller to Minn Kota's smallest trolling motor and you will have all day propulsion with very little effort expended.

Don't be intimidated if you don't know what a PWM is or know much about electricity. Anyone with basic hand/eye coordination, the ability to read and $50 can build a PWM control unit for a trolling motor. When I turned 80 back in 2018 I didn't know a watt from an amp and was totally baffled by electricity. Since then I have learned a helluva lot about it-enough to build my own solar generator and power everything in my Crusin' Casa. Now I have a new Jackery 1000 that is vastly more sophisticated than what I built but a lot of understanding was gained in the process. Embrace electricity-man's greatest discovery!
I'm getting to that point as well. Both knees are shot. I will be having the replacement surgery sometime in August. It will lay me up for a few months and limit what I can do for a while but I will find other things to do in the meantime. Hopefully everything will go well and by January I'll be back to as normal as a new normal can get. Now, I don't fish alone and always wear an inflatable floating device.
I'm now 72; had my right knee replaced last June. Still some pain, but nothing that keeps me from wading. My best advice is to work extra-hard on rehab in physical therapy. No question - the surgery was worth it.


Active Member
Comparing all river/stream fishing to the Deschutes is really unfortunate. The Deschutes has some of the most physically challenging terrain around. If you don't like scrambling up and down rip rap and scree banks sloped as steep as it can be without sloughing off or constantly dodging poison oak, or balancing on sharp-edged basalt, or... You get the idea.

Couple that with the need to climb in and out of the boat every time you see a great spot to throw a line, and you have the makings for non-stop aerobic marathon. I lost 4 pounds this spring on my annual float there (quite literally).

My daughter later said that she was amazed I could actually get up and down the banks like I did. (I'm only 65.) The biggest thing I've noticed about my mobility is that my balance is nowhere what it was. Now if I could only learn to slow my roll just a bit, I'm sure I'd slip less...

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