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Some Oregon hiking and fishing, August 2016

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Some Oregon hiking and fishing, August 2016

Postby rhyang » Tue Aug 16, 2016 8:34 pm

About a year ago my sister moved her family to the Portland area, and I'd promised to visit. I used to live up there about 20 years ago and still occasionally venture north, but it's been a while. I figured with the amount of fishing up there I could kill several birds with one stone, so to speak. Armed with an Oregon nonresident fishing license and a week off from work I drove up ...

First stop was some surf fishing on one of the beaches in the Bandon / Coos Bay area. I had a book which recommended the area for redtail surf perch, and I spent several hours in the evening and again the next morning. Unfortunately the weather was bright and sunny both times, which as we know fish just love :) It was quiet and remote, and I saw few people and no anglers. I didn't catch anything, but still enjoyed it.

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From there I had plans to spend a few days in the Cascades east of Eugene, near McKenzie Pass. The clouds were looking ominous and the forecast had gone from "slight chance" to "20%" to "30%" over the last couple of days. By the time I got to the trailhead I'd decided to just do a few dayhikes.

Benson Lake
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One lake in particular has cutthroat trout (a species I'd never caught) and is a short cross-country walk from Benson. In the Cascades the cross-country can be through some fairly serious brush and thick forest. There were also many small ponds to navigate around. Even with a map and compass it can be easy to get turned around, and I made use of the GPS app on my phone quite a bit.

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Eventually I made it and headed over to the large talus on the south side of the lake (which on google satellite view I'd mistaken for a beach :lol: ). I could see rises, and soon I had a fish on my 5wt glass fly rod.

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I caught a few more and moved around a bit. Soon a bit of drizzle started, and I donned rain gear. Then it really started to rain.

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Everything I thought I knew about trout fishing told me that I was done fishing for the day, until I saw the rises pick up in intensity. Maybe the rain had triggered a hatch, or more likely the rain was washing insects out of the air for the hungry fish to catch. Normally in the summertime in the Sierra rain and electrical storms go hand in hand, but here it was just a low pressure system blowing in. So I caught a few more fish.

Next day after drying out a bit I drove over McKenzie Pass, admired the lava flows, and took a short walk to North Matthieu Lake in the morning.

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This lake is very popular but does have fish; I could see a few rises as I walked around initially. I should have gotten an earlier start though, as by the time I was fishing the sun had come out and people were starting to stream in. On a Tuesday, too -- I have no idea what this place was like on a weekend :)

During the afternoon I headed back to Benson Lake and wandered around the other end to see one of the other cross-country lakes.

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It was nice and I could see rises. The shoreline was not easy to negotiate and the Cascades brush made going slow. These fish were also significantly pickier with the sun now out. I made my way back to the first lake I'd fished yesterday and caught another cutthroat.

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Time to head back. By now the clouds had largely lifted and I got some nice views.

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Wednesday was family visit day. I enjoyed seeing my sister, brother-in-law, neice, and nephew, and hearing tales of the brood Keeping Portland Weird :)

(continued in next post)



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Re: Some Oregon hiking and fishing, August 2016

Postby rlown » Tue Aug 16, 2016 8:43 pm

Thanks for sharing. Nice report so far.. I liked the beach comment :)
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Re: Some Oregon hiking and fishing, August 2016

Postby rhyang » Tue Aug 16, 2016 9:18 pm

Thursday and Friday I decided to visit the Bull of the Woods Wilderness. This area is just a few hours southeast of Portland and access is somewhat remote via logging roads. In contrast to earlier in the week the forecasted temps were in the high 70's / low 80's (even hotter in the Willamette Valley). I didn't get started until almost noon, and was grateful for the forest shade. This was not to last.

On the map the trail runs past Elk Lake Creek for a while before heading steeply uphill. I brought a tenkara rod thinking there might be fishing in the creek. Perhaps higher up near Elk Lake. But on this stretch of trail, access to the creek was frequently difficult except near established campsites.

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Trail junctions were marked with numbers, eg. "559". This place was rugged, steep, infrequently maintained and reminded me a lot of the Ventana Wilderness back home on the central coast (which unfortunately is burning right now :( ). I started up two thousand feet of uphill through a burn area. The sun was hot.

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The words of a Woodie Guthrie song went through my head, "your deserts was hot, and your mountains was cold", as I plowed my way uphill, past blowdowns and switchbacks. I could only hope about the "cold" part :)

Around 4400' I came to Upper Welcome Lake. It looked inviting, and I soaked my hat. The lily pads looked like they would make good habitat for largemouth bass. I saw lots of insect life, but no fish activity. I pressed on.

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Heading up further I was back in the forest and came to a spot which was far above West Lake. I'd read there was no trail and it looked like some serious bushwhacking to get down there.

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Passing another couple of junctions I headed up above 5000' and came to a spot with views of some Cascades volcanoes.

Mt. Jefferson (10,497')
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Mt. Washington and a couple of the Three Sisters (I'd been down that way earlier in the week)
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Finally I came to a small pass at about 5300' and looked down at my destination for the night (~4800').

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The descent was steep and the trail was indistinct. Cool, probably nobody down there. The fishing was good, but the fish were not particularly large. They were tasty little brookies though. I had not eaten any fried trout since my surgery last winter and the soft flecks of fish went down surprisingly easy.

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The night was cool, just enough to discourage whatever mosquitoes had gathered during the evening. In the morning I got an early start, not relishing the thought of thrashing back up to the pass in full sun. I decided to drop down the other way and visit Big Slide Lake (~4200').

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This lake looked quite a bit more popular; lots of trees, several nice campsites around the lake, some fishing access. Trails on this side of the wilderness looked to be in a lot better shape, and the forest there had not been burned recently. The sun was spreading across the lake though and the fish headed towards the shadier side which had dense brush around it. I decided to start heading back.

I decided to go check out a lake I'd skipped on the way up. The trail down was in bad shape -- brush, blowdown, etc. but basically followable for the persistent. The brookies there were cruising the shallows for dragonflies and damselflies. I had a good time roll-casting my 4wt with terrestrials and some new foam damselflies.

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Someone had even built a raft and tethered it to a makeshift "dock". With all the downed wood and brush from the fire I guess it just seemed like the thing to do .. presumably not much wilderness ranger presence.

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Reluctantly I tore myself away from the enjoyable fishing and headed down through the sun-drenched burn area and back to the car, where it was probably in the 80's.

I had to be back at work on Monday, so I had one more day before driving back. I decided to make a break for the coast and blitzed out to Newport. The next morning I got out there before dawn, delighted at the thick fog. The tides could have been better, but I fished anyway.

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By 9:30am I was ready to admit I'd been skunked. Oregon surf perch were apparently safe from me :) Time to head home.
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Re: Some Oregon hiking and fishing, August 2016

Postby giantbrookie » Thu Aug 18, 2016 8:42 pm

Now, that's a nice fishing road trip. Nice report and story.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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