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BLUE COLLAR STEEL

Eastern Oregon is a place unto itself, an inherently unique landscape where arid Western deserts meet the steep terrain of the Pacific Northwest. A beautiful scene in its own right, the environment hosts wildlife galore, and every season beckons the river’s native sons—steelhead. When photographer Jed Conklin speaks of viewing southeastern Washington’s Grande Ronde River and its anglers for the first time, he notes: “The river’s isolation burned a lasting impression. And the characters who pack into Boggan’s Oasis (with the nearest gas station 50 miles away) are attracted to the cold beer and great food. Blue-collar patrons of the Ronde who share great stories and eagerly pass along their knowledge of spey roads, fluorescent flies, and proper ways to bounce bait and corkies with a spinning rod.”

The Grande Ronde, fed by tributaries filled with spawning fish in mere inches of water, and the eccentric personalities who ply its rugged landscape have become the epicenter of Conklin’s steelheading experience…

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