Fly Fishing in Central Oregon

A lot of thought goes into curating our monthly collections. When we put a collection together, we think about YOU, and what’s going to inspire you most to get outside. As it turns out, we can’t help but get inspired ourselves through the process. Since one of our April collections was geared toward fishing, we decided to dive a little deeper into what a few of our local fishermen and women love about the sport.

Meet: Kyle Schenk, a fly fishing guide for Fly and Field Outfitters and the Fish Team Manager at BlackStrap Industries Inc., Matt Carter, who has been a guide on the Deschutes River for 10+ years, and Ashley Donohue, who is--simply put--a badass.

Kyle Schenk: Fly Fishing Guide

Kyle Schenk Fly Fisherman

How did you get into fly fishing?

When I was a hospital corpsman in the Navy, I spent several years chasing fish across the country with my conventional fishing rods. I had always wanted to fly fish, but my Marine buddies poked fun whenever I brought it up. More than once I had a fly rod kit in my hand but reluctantly chose to set it down each time.

Being a Northwest native, I knew Oregon would be the place I went back to after leaving the military. With the help of my folks, we landed in Bend, which I love for a variety of reasons, but mostly the abundance of fishing and beer. Within the first two days of living in Bend, I walked down the local fly shop and bought my first rod that I paired with my Grandfather's old Cortland reel. I knew nothing and was eager to learn everything I could. My first year in Bend I clocked over 250 days of fishing and 366 days of beer drinking. I dove in head first and never looked back. I always knew that fishing was my passion, but I never knew how much fly fishing would change my life. I love the industry, the people, and the experiences I’ve had. The learning potential for fly fishing is exponential. Every day is different and every species is different.

What fly fishing gear could you not live without?

  • Simms G3 Waders- It’s very important to have a reliable pair of waders that can endure any weather condition and a daily beating.

  • Korkers Devil Canyon Wading Boots- I am slightly biased but I would have to say that these are hands down the best boots on the market. Easy access is pertinent during winter fishing excursions. These boots are the best for ease and comfort.

  • Smith Optics Guides Choice Glasses- Polarized sunglasses are a game changer on the water. Especially ChromaPop!

  • BlackStrap Daily Tube- Long days in the sun require sun protection. BlackStrap facemasks are UPF 55+, have awesome designs, and eliminate the need to keep reapplying sunscreen. Plus, you look like a ninja on the water.

  • Grayl Filter Water Bottle- Super lightweight bottle that purifies water straight out of the river or lake! It’s essential to keeping you hydrated out there. I discovered it in one of Cairn’s collections and have used it ever since.

Tell us about your best fly fishing memory.

There are so many moments that stand out to me. I would say the top 5 experiences I have had are:

  1. Fishing with my BlackStrap buddies in Jupiter, Florida. We hammered blue runners, jacks, false albacore, and bonita like it was our job! We also stuck a 220-pound sand bar shark on the fly rod!

  2. Walking the flats of Oahu with my old man while chasing bonefish. I went 1 for 5 and stuck a six pounder.

  3. Guiding an eager 10-year-old into his first fish on a dry fly while his family watched from the boat. He was so determined that I would have stayed there until 2 am with him.

  4. I recently went on a fishing trip with my buddy Dylan and his brother Zac Efron.

  5. Anytime I get to be on the water with my beautiful girlfriend and our sweet pups.

What’s the best fly fishing advice someone’s given you?

Never stop learning.

Matt Carter: Fly Fishing Guide

Matt Carter Fly Fisherman

How did you get into fly fishing?

My dad got me into fly fishing at a very young age. He was once a fly fishing guide on the Deschutes. I caught my first fish on a fly rod when I was two years old and have never stopped fishing. There are always more places to fish and more fish to catch.

What fly fishing gear could you not live without?

My favorite piece of fishing gear is a waterproof hip pack. It gives me easy access to my gear while keeping it dry and staying out of the way while fishing and rowing.

What's your favorite place you've ever gone fishing?

Definitely Mongolia. I am lucky enough to guide there for five weeks every year. It’s an amazingly beautiful place with truly giant fish! It's hard to beat 4 ft. Trout eating surface flies! 

Tell us about your best fly fishing memory.

One day I was guiding a father and his 14-year-old son for trout on the Deschutes. The son really wanted to keep a fish to eat. I explained to him that we practice catch and release, so that others will always have fish to catch. He was not happy! Later that day he landed a huge trout. It was the largest fish I had seen in the Deschutes. Upon landing it he said, "I want to let it go! I want to catch that fish again some day! I hope someone gets to catch him again." It was really cool to see! 

What's the best fly fishing advice someone's given you?

"Never just charge into the river and start casting as far as you can! Take your time and pay attention. The river and your surroundings will give you clues to catching more fish, if you take the time to look and listen."

Hit us with your best fishing joke.

What did the steelhead say when it swam into the concrete wall? Dam!

Ashley Donohue: Fly Fisherwoman

Ashley Donohue Fly Fisherwoman

Photo credit: Troy White, @flockaburrrd

How did you get into fly fishing?

My boyfriend was really into it, so I eventually started going with him. I was lucky enough to have a couple friends who were experienced guides show me the basics and take me to places where I could be successful at catching fish when I first started. So I was "hooked" right off the bat. I also enjoy spending as much time outdoors as possible, and fly fishing was another reason to get out of the house.

What fly fishing gear could you not live without?

Probably my OG fly rod. An 8 foot, 5 weight Redington "Minnow." My dad got it for me as a gift when I was first getting into fly fishing. It was the only fly rod I had for about 5 years and it has gone everywhere with me. It is the rod I learned on, and also the rod that has caught most of my biggest fish. It's kind of funny because it is technically a kids model, but it's been perfect for me. I have a couple more rods now, but I still use that one 90% of the time. If/when it breaks it will definitely be going up on my wall as memorabilia.

What's your favorite place you've ever gone fishing?

I think the Deschutes River will always be my favorite, but Glacier National Park in Montana was a pretty incredible place to fish. 

Tell us about your best fly fishing memory.

One that comes to mind was on my birthday last year. My boyfriend and I drove up to one of my favorite fishing spots after we were done snowboarding. There were a couple other people there but no one was really catching any fish except this one guy who was fishing next to me. Everyone was chatting and it eventually came up that it was my birthday. That guy came over, said happy birthday, and handed me a couple flies. I put them on and started hooking fish left and right. It was a pretty awesome birthday gift from a stranger.

What's the best fly fishing advice someone's given you?

"Fish where the fish are."

Hit us with your best fishing joke.

There is a reason it's called fishing and not catching.


Thanks for chatting with us, Kyle, Matt, and Ashley!

Got a favorite fishing memory or a good fishing joke to share? Tell us in the comments!