Fishing the Owyhee

Bob Rees is a hunter and angler, a part-time fishing guide and executive director for the Association of Northwest Steelheaders.

Bob Rees shows off his catch. Photo: Courtesy Bob ReesMy lord do I love fishing. I love it so much that I made it my career. I get to share that incredible feeling of baiting, hooking, reeling in, netting, and finally catching a fish. It’s my only addiction I’ll admit. But, it’s not just the catch – it’s the experience. It’s the solitude, the serenity, and the natural beauty of it all.

I’m a sixth-generation Oregonian, and I’ve been lucky enough to provide for my family guiding fishing all over the Pacific Northwest. I’ve been even luckier to spend most of that money getting out and fishing anywhere and everywhere: Alaska, California, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon are definitely my top 5.

It’d be impossible for me to pin down my all-time favorite place to fish. But I can tell you one of my favorite places – the Owyhee Canyonlands. The Owyhee encapsulates all of the sought-after elements anglers love: It was the experience of being alone, river rushing at your feet, quiet save the birds in the willows at water’s edge. It didn’t take long to admire the diversity of this desert; I saw jackrabbits, coyotes, deer and waterfowl as I casted for native redbands. I got to see a starscape unmarred by urban lights. It was a totality of experience.

The rivers in this region of southeastern Oregon run for hundreds of miles. Some rivers are more fragile than others -- the high desert is integrally reliant on what little water there is. For these reasons, and many more, I’m fully supportive of permanently protecting the Owyhee Canyonlands by any means necessary.

This region is uniquely Oregon, and an underappreciated American treasure. As our lands and waters become more privatized by the hour, special public lands like the Owyhee Canyonlands get more precious by the minute. Oregonians have wanted to protect this place for decades. It’d be a shame to miss such an opportunity to get ahead of industrial development, protecting this area while it’s still filled with pristine rivers, gorgeous hills and profound solitude.