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Lake in the Dunes

As you descend into the valley and gaze out into the seemingly endless Oregon desert, the white alkali salt pan of Summer Lake appears on the horizon. The directions to the Ranch reflect that you are near, but aside from an occasional farm house and the odd Ponderosa Pine, the landscape reveals nary a hint of green foliage. Closer and closer you get to your destination until finally you arrive, and then seemingly out of nowhere are struck by a lush, vibrant landscape, full of saturated color that make for a photographer's wet dream. Lake in the Dunes sits on 480 acres of private land about 2 hours south and east of Bend, Oregon. The ranch sits on a network of artesian wells that produce an astonishing amount of crystal clear water left over from the last ice age. There is no need to pump this life giving water as it simply bubbles up from the ground, feeds seven lakes, and then enters a marsh where it simply evaporates. This cycle creates a closed system, eliminating the problem of invasive species and thusly supporting a pristine mini-ecosystem. Along with more than 250 species of bird life, and more mammals than you can shake a stick at, my favorite residents are the obese Rainbows in need of a stint on The Biggest Loser. These heavy weights aren't your typical garbage gut, pay to play stockers that subsist on Purina's finest, but run like Jerry Rice and look like The Fridge. While the 30" big boys are out there, their little brothers and sisters may start at 12". You've got the chance at any one moment to hook anything in between which is just another reason you will find yourself laughing like a little school girl. As you wander from lake to lake, opportunities to target lazy surface sippers or spooky hopper addicts abound. I spent one afternoon kneeling in water to my waist shrouded by cat tails and fishing a 15ft long leader with 60' casts. Any closer and they would vanish under vegetation in a flash. Barely making out the shape of a fish from 60' feet away a twitched hopper was irresistible and made for nerve racking strikes from fish moving 15' or more to the fly. After an hour and a half of heart pounding sight fishing an afternoon siesta was sublime. Russell and Toni-marie Scott are your gracious hosts who define the meaning of hospitality. If you appreciate the finer points of blasting away at Pheasant and Ducks then this is also the place for you, including a full outdoor trap shooting facility. The log guest cabin is packed with all of the essentials including a guest book laden with accounts of fantastic stories. The radio is tuned to Oregon's finest country music station and whether a city slicker or not, it just seems to fit. Go to Lake in the Dunes, enjoy a tall glass of their beautiful artesian water, and then string it up, because this place breeds fun. Dylan Rose
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