The Outside Bend

Ryan Chin
4 min readSep 5, 2023

Canyon Therapy — Fly fishing on the Deschutes River during the Stonefly Hatch

Author Photo — Turbulence Rules on the Outside (Listen on Soundcloud)

From the road above, the outside bend appears as churning chaos. Down at the water’s edge, I see the moving windows connecting trout to the skies above.

Outside bends are often overlooked, with their inside-bend siblings drawing all the attention. The classic seams on the inside are proven fish lies. While there is smoothness on the inside, turbulence rules on the outside. I’m unsure why I stopped at this spot, but I was drawn here. The Deschutes River, in general, has a pull that goes beyond words.

Dust settles from a passing car. New plumes swirl in the distance, and I mutter about fair-weather anglers. The winter days of having the canyon to myself are gone. Local fly fishers and traveling fishermen have descended on the river. The big bugs are out.

Although I’ve witnessed trout sip stoneflies, I’m confident there will be violence in this type of water. Again and again, I power the fly against the gusts, slamming it into pockets of promise. Crusty stonefly shucks litter the rocks at my feet. Unlike many mayflies and caddis that utilize an air bubble or actively swim to the surface, stonefly nymphs tumble with the currents and claw their way to land. It makes sense the nymphs are pushed to the outside of bends as they tumble along, looking for an exit to the atmosphere. The inside bends may have too much silt and sand for their tiny legs. This is where I need to be.

Dried grass, sticks, and the occasional faded sandal mark the high water line along the rocky bank: two feet thick and solid in some places and inches thick with underlying caverns in other areas. It all looks the same, so I pick my way across the flotsam testing before I commit. Something I should have done before I busted out a ring and a bumbling marriage proposal.

I come upon a cache of foam and plastics and wonder if I should honor where the flow has taken me — leave my hurt at the high water mark — move on. At some point, nature rules over marital challenges…

--

--

Ryan Chin

Author of The Big Head Diaries, stories of a lab from NZ, and Without Rain, a multimedia memoir. Email:thechinproject@gmail.com