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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

Making Do with the Wrong Fly Rod

If you’re like me, you own too many fly rods — but you want and need even more. I haven’t taken a formal census of my fly rods — that would take too much time away from actually fishing — but I own a lot of them. I’ve recently embraced trout spey AND Euro nymphing, so I’ve got some new rods in serious rotation. But I still use old-school...

"City Bass"

The other evening, I turned off the television, picked up a fly rod and got into an elevator. Thirty seconds and 14 floors later, I stepped onto the streets of downtown Portland, Oregon. I started walking. Five minutes later, I was standing on the bank of the Willamette River near Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Two minutes after that, an angry, red-eyed...

Getting Soft Hackled

Just about every trout stream on the planet has massive caddis hatches on summer evenings, and it’s great to see fish rising as the sun falls. Yet, catching those rising fish is often kind of tough. For years, I would wait for rising trout — and then tie on a good dry fly, such as an X-Caddis or an Elk Hair Caddis. Those great flies often floated...

"A Fishing Dog"

For 30 years now, I've looked forward to Salmonfly Madness on Oregon's Deschutes River. But I dreaded it this year. I wasn't worried about getting away from the mobs of other anglers — or the long odds against really nailing the perfect day of silly, big trout whacking silly big flies. I was worried about Berkeley, our fishing fool of a Labrador. Berkeley...

"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...