Every story has to have a beginning; standing on the edge of a river, so many of my beginnings seem to start out standing in a river. This beginning, however, holds to a stronger memory. This is a memory of a new season, on a river of legend, a river that demands your respect. This is a river that has seen the edge of time, that has captured every moment of every living creature in it. That has swallowed the earth, rock and sand that surrounds it; from the tears and sweat of the Indian tribes that first inhabited it, down to us today who look at it’s swift waters in awe, knowing it’s past and future dwarf our knowledge of what is and what will come.

Video of the weekend in a nut shell - By TJ Orton / Hooked On Life 

This, for me, was the beginning point of my involvement with Hooked on life. A concept that Tj Orton breathed into life several years ago and something that has been on my heart for a long time. Needing some solid ideas and direction, we decided to head up north to brain storm directions and ideas. What better place or time to do this than during the salmon fly hatch on the Deschutes River. An event that takes place a short two weeks out of the entire year. It is by far the most surreal hatch I have ever experienced. Coming from my humble streams of the north-east fishing with size 16 sulphers, to a gargantuan fly the size of my thumb was shock enough. Then add in a river twice the size I have ever fished, I was not able to process much past the gripping feelings of awe.

Our good buddy, a Deschutes fishing legend, Brandon Francis and his girlfriend Brittany met us out there for the two day float. several days of trout slurping and munching salmon flies off the water’s surface was just what we needed to get our hearts and minds tuned into God and his perfect design. Salmon flies clouded the air at nights, swarming around, hanging on gear and landing on the water. for those two weeks the trout gorge themselves to the point of distended stomachs, paying little mind to anything else. Even with a lot of bugs on the water, we had to work hard for the few fish we did catch. With clear water and many real bugs to chose from, you had to present a perfect drift on a 10 foot leader just to coax one into slurping down your fly. After some adjustment we were hooking into toads! It is so amazing how those Deschutes river trout fight, pound for pound they fought harder than any rainbow or red band i have caught any other place, 14 inch trout ripping you into your backing

We all had our fair share of hooking into fish, TJ even landed a 20 plus incher that ran him a good 300 feet down river. We were blessed with great weather, tons of flies on the water, great company and some good campsite time to pray and plan for the future of Hooked On Life. It is  on our hearts all the time, to get others to see God’s goodness, grace, and power through the experiences we have shared on the rivers, lakes, and streams of our life. We want to invest into the youth of this country, to pour into them, bless them, and set them free to grow and move forward in their lives with awesome memories to fall back on in times of doubt and despair.


Mark Peterson