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Chester Allen

Chester Allen, a lifelong fly angler, journalist and author, was the outdoor columnist for The Olympian newspaper in Olympia, WA, for many years. His latest book is “Yellowstone Runners.” Allen also is the author of “Fly-Fishing for Sea-Run Cutthroat.” Allen splits his time between Portland, Oregon and Hood River, Oregon, with plenty of trips to Puget Sound and Yellowstone National Park.

Author Articles

"Wrecking Beauty"

I’m not sure anyone can call a deer-hair bass bug—all bright colors, boogly eyes and dangly rubber legs—a work of art.  Then again, there are the bugs that flow, like an invasion of alien life forms, from Derek Darst’s vise. Darst’s stacked and spun creations are immaculate blends of imagination, purpose and sheer perfection. The densely packed...

"Crazy for the Bug"

My Toyota Tacoma rattled down the gravel road — a century-old railroad grade that saw its last locomotives decades ago. Off my left side, the grade gave way to a steep, rocky slope that plunged toward the blue-green flows of Oregon’s lower Deschutes River. It looked like hundreds of little sparrows were flying drunkenly over the water, but those...

"I Can See Clearly Now"

For most of my fish-addled life, a winter trip to Florida was a sanity-saving jump into summer for a week or so.  I made the jump to Florida the second week of March this year, but I landed into another version of winter. A cold north wind rattled the palmettos around the vacation condo, and I wore jeans, hiking boots and a down vest whenever I ventured...

"Going Small and Going Crazy"

It’s easy to find the true wingnuts in the world of dry fly fishing.  They’re the anglers with worn, chafed spots on their wader knees, boxes of tiny flies and magnifying glasses hanging on lanyards around their necks. I know this because I’m one of them. Yeah, we spend a lot of fishing time on our knees — or peering through lenses to pick out a...

"Winter Hope"

When we first start fly fishing, we just hope to catch a fish. Any fish. Then, if we’re lucky — and maybe a little crazy — we are the ones who get hooked. Somewhere between getting hooked on fly fishing and the rest of our lives, we stumble across a moment that’s all about the fish, and, at the same moment, not about the fish at all. My first moment...

“Don’t Look”

The calendar says winter is still a couple weeks away, but the cold, rain and snow are in Oregon right now. When the Oregon winter arrives, I start going to the Crooked River, a fun little tailwater that flows out of Bowman Dam about 20 miles from the town of Prineville. I always expect three things on the Crooked River tailwater in early winter: lots of...

"Old Dog, Old Trick"

This was my second trip through the ultra-famous Barnes Hole 2 on the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park. The early October chill and fog had melted under a bright, overhead sun, and two trips of cast, swing and step through the 100-yard-long run proved that the big runner brown and rainbow trout weren’t interested in a beadhead woolly bugger or a...

"October Light"

Sometime around the first week of October — and after the first solid rains of autumn — sunny afternoons on Oregon’s Deschutes River conjure up a little magic. The sun rides a little closer to the horizon, and the rays flow down into the deep, desert canyon and light up the clear, slightly greenish water.  During the scorching days of August and...

"Time Flies"

I recently bought a GoPro Session — those tiny, waterproof digital video cameras that you can strap onto your body.  These cameras capture incredibly high-quality video, and the display at the outdoor store shows incredible video clips of surfing, cycling, skydiving, and, yes, fly fishing. Those clips gave me the notion of getting some shots of trout...

"Love and Largemouth Bass"

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I fell in love with my wife long before I knew she owned a string of ranch ponds crammed with big, dumb largemouth bass. I fell for Heather during a long bike ride — and I hate long bike rides — where my front brake came loose and rubbed against the wheel for miles. I have never been so thrashed in my life. “How...