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A Morning on an Oregon Steelhead River, OR
mini location map2013-07-13
11 by photographer avatarOregon_Hiker
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A Morning on an Oregon Steelhead River, OR 
A Morning on an Oregon Steelhead River, OR
Fishing avatar Jul 13 2013
Fishing3.00 Miles
Fishing3.00 Miles
 no routes
1st trip
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My visit to old stomping grounds in Oregon would not have been complete with out a day fishing on my favorite steelhead river. Best fishing is usually at sunrise during the summer which meant getting up at 3:30am to get to the river by 5:00am. I tried my best but didn't get there until 6:30 am after battling a bout of motion sickness driving in on the long windy mountain road. The section of river that I prefer is accessed on a narrow gravel logging road followed by a short hike down a steep canyon side through thick growths of Douglas Fir, Alder and an occasional cedar tree. This is in the western Oregon rain forest where everything grows fast. It's also heavily logged but trees grow so fast that the time from planting to cutting is probably in the range of 20 years on the faster growing slopes. Another fisherman's car was already parked at my favorite pullout - darn! With the low clear river levels of the summer the steelhead can get spooked by the first fisherman to pass through and take hours to recover. Normally I would have driven on to another spot but not today.

The short hike down the canyon side brought me to a beautiful slow flowing stretch of river with several deep holes where the summer steelhead congregate all summer waiting for their spawning cycle in Dec - Feb. From there I would fish upstream for about a half mile which would take most of the morning with stopping to fish all the likely spots. This requires some boulder hopping, carefully stepping through head high growths of grass, ferns and brush trying to avoid falling into the hidden ankle breaking holes left by beaver, crawling over logs and wading where steep canyon walls force you into the river. A mile of this wears me out. One of the downsides of always hiking with trekking poles quickly became evident. Carrying two fishing rods in one hand necessitated me leaving the trekking poles behind. I soon found that my sense of balance which is so crucial to navigating this rough terrain was dangerously lacking because I had become so use to using my trekking poles to keep me propped up. Fortunately no other fishermen were around to witness my more embarrassing moments of what would have appeared to be a drunk stumbling around in a state of profane confusion.

The steelhead were not being cooperative although several followed my lures to within 10 feet of my rod tip to say howdy before returning to the depths. They could also be seen occasionally swimming by in the larger pools and I saw a school of about 10 lazily holding position in a slow running pool. The entire school took off after my spinner on my first cast but after close inspection of the intruder they returned to their former positions. I was happy to see there was a fair sized run in the river - in some past years the run had been smaller. About a half hour after reaching the river I encountered another fisherman. He had that look of success on his face so I said "you must have one on the bank and are fishing for that second one" (the daily limit). I was correct and he was free with info on how he caught it. The key factor was that he had arrived on the river just before sunrise and had already fished the entire section of river I was going to fish - Darn! He packed up his gear to start the hike out and wished me success. I would not see another fisherman for 3 hours. Not having much success with the fish I turned to the next best thing, taking pictures of the river I have come to love in 15 years of fishing there.
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