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Mark Stangeland - NUFlyGuide
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The Dean River Chronicles Part 5 (Jet Sleds and Judy)

Posted by Mark Sunday, May 1, 2011

The second year we went North things on the Dean were very different indeed. At least from a transportation standpoint.I wont go into great detail on the logistics of the how,what,where and the why, because it took a lot of work.But I will say this,we started running power on the upper river,starting in 2001. Obviously the guides run power and have for many years but they are it. They were not super tickled to see US with power I can say that.

Everyone else floats it as we did the first year, and there are many good reasons for that. Most of those reasons hinge on the fact that it's way safer! As far as I know we are still the only privateer group to have consistently run power in the upper river without dying. A few have tried, most of those have had serious mishaps and failed and needed to be rescued. We had some sketchy moments for sure but we learned the river and never hesitated to pull over and look at things that seemed hairy before we ran them. Both up and downriver. Water levels can raise and lower in hours and runs that had plenty of clearance in the morning may now be a bone yard of exposed rock and near impossible lines. The toilet paper was always handy if ya know what I mean! Not for the faint of heart at all.

In any situation where you are on your own and self sufficient, it is important to remain that way. To be ill prepared or unexperienced in any way is both selfish and stupid. Most of the time on the Dean, if something goes bad you will be totally and completely on your own. People can die and have died on that river.

If a guide outfit or another party has to stop what they are doing to haul your butt out of the river and save you because you were an idiot, it puts everyone at risk. That is IF they are even around to save you.If it is a guide boat that happens to be there,they may have to risk the safety of their clients possibly to help you out. Not to mention the down time that they should have been fishing. The guides on the Dean are top notch and would do anything they could to help you, but you get the point. You would probably get the bill as well and you should.You don't want to go there. We took great pains to never have that situation come up. We were overly careful and took our time until we got the hang of running around up there.Every situation we came up against, we solved. We had everything in the way of repairs, both structurally and mechanically and knew how to fix what we needed to fix. Guess what, stuff broke more than once and we fixed it.

All I can say is, it is a SERIOUS commitment to run power in the upper river. You could die or be hurt in a hundred different ways every day you get in the boat. We respected the danger element and the guides over time, slowly started to respect us.


 Another day in paradise!
Timmy twisting the throttle on another ride in Steelhead Disneyland

Slowly but surely we got to know a few of the guides and they started to soften up a little. Granted it was a shock to have a group like us come in and have the mobility that up until then had been exclusively theirs. They soon realized that we were there for 8 days and that we were not as bad as they thought. We were just 3 guys from Oregon who were going to have some fun. We were gonna fish hard, fast and efficiently and cover a bunch of water.We were gonna get um! 8 days and gone! Just don't follow us through anything!

As we became more comfortable with the boat over the years it was time to have some fun with the guides and other fishermen on the river.We decided that the guides (and clients) needed a good laugh on the way up river every morning and we provided it for them. Enter Judy. She went with us on many trips and created quite a stir on the river and around the guide dinner tables at night. She would became semi-famous in those years we brought her and people would tell of catching a glimpse of her on the river.We had more than a few groups tell the guides to slow down so they could get a picture of Judy on the way by our camp. She usually hung out in camp and fished the campwater when we were gone in the sled.Sometimes we took her with us. While posted up in the campwater,a guided group of Japanese guys actually pulled in within 30 ft or so and were taking video and snapping pictures as fast as they could, pointing and laughing as they did. The ice was broken and even some of the grumpiest guides were now getting a chuckle as they passed. How could you not laugh? They also saw how it made their clients laugh and they couldn't help but go along with the joke.

Judy posted up in the campwater with a good one on!

Well into the backing on this fish!

Twighlight fight

Getting in the boat to follow this one

Judy was a great help around camp.
She cut this all before breakfast, a hard worker for sure.

She loved a good boat ride, you should have seen the looks we got!

Judy admiring Tim as he busts out some string

Judy enjoying the hot tub we built river side. A two man kayak,copper coils, a fire, an electric shower pump and river water on a recirculating system got water temps up to 103 degrees.  
Sitting in this thing after 14 hours of fishing can't be explained.

One of our best river inventions yet,pure Heaven!!

A smokin hot fish taken on a dry fly across from camp at Homestead

 Two stunning beauties from the Homestead campwater

 The hottest fish I have ever hooked(and landed) period!She took on a short line in the "Henshack"across from the Homestead campwater.Before I knew what was happening she was way into the backing and flopping around and sailing out of the water across the river in front of camp,easily 120 yards away.Yes, I know THAT'S A LONG WAY! I wouldn't have believed it if it didn't happen to me. I saw a hundred yards of backing more than once on that river.
The longest and strongest sustained run I have ever experienced by farJust insane!

34 inches of pure Dean LOVE!
Just a perfect fish and battle


  1. Ken Campbell Says:
  2. Breagha

  3. Anonymous Says:
  4. So...what were the "problems" you encountered and what were your solutions?

    Great stories; mant thx


  5. Mark Says:
  6. 1)Problems like cracking a shoe and having a spare and changing it out.
    2)Bending impeller blades and fixing them.
    3)Pulling out gas lines when on step going up river and having to dance around and get the thing plugged back in before going backwards through a class 4 rapid.
    4)Clogged the small return water jet coming out of the back of the motor multiple times which is normal around sand,a small piece of wire fixed that.Not taking care of that issue will not do your motor any favors.
    5)Having to mess with the motor height,raising and then lowering the level slightly until it was perfect due to cavitation issues. The motor weighs a couple hundred pounds and you have to lift and hold it to get it into a new position, good tools helped a lot! We even had some welding sticks and a torch to band aid patch a hole in the metal....thank goodness we never did but we could have!
    6)Realizing at the last minute that the gravel bar we were coming over going down stream was to shallow and lifting the motor clear of the water and oaring through was a better option. This all happened in a 3 person choreographed 20 second scramble that went touchy on the motor and shoe. You just get used to doing things quick when they need to be done quick....not much choice and the alternative is always bad. It's a heads up game for sure. There were more but you get the idea. Things can and do go wrong and break and we were prepared for everything we came across.

    Thanks for reading Greg!

  7. What a great read Mark, awesome stuff! Is that Tracker riveted or all welded?

  8. Mark Says:
  9. That there is a welded boat.

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