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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-15-2019, 07:44 PM Thread Starter
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Oregon Advice

I'm thinking about my options for some steelheading this year, my usual buddies are otherwise engaged and with the situation on the Skeena it seems like a good opportunity to go and fish some rivers I've always wanted to throw a line on. I've not been to Oregon before and some general advice would be greatly appreciated.

The two main ideas I've got would be to either:
  • Fly to Portland, hire a car and head to the Deschutes for a few days, or
  • Fly to Medford via Portland (bit more expensive), hire a car and aim to fish the North Umpqua (to say I have) and drift across the border to fish the Klamath (mainly because I'd like to see some redwoods)

I'm looking to go in October, but I could easily do November instead if that would be better. At the moment I'm leaning towards the Deschutes option as that would be a bit cheaper and easier (I think).

I'm not after the deep secrets but there are some general questions I'm pondering, like:
  • Is the traffic in Portland really bad?
  • Can you walk and wade relatively easily on those rivers I'm looking at?
  • I love my double-handers but could I get by with a single-hander? (It fits in my suitcase which saves a few £/$ on baggage fees.)
  • Are my timings way out in terms of a reasonable chance of a fish?
  • I like to tie a few flies for a trip - any especially good patterns I should get to grips with? (I understand my B.C. selections might be a little on the large side.)

At the moment I'm thinking I can probably get away for a week or thereabouts, if I had more time (up to 2 weeks) would it be crazy to try and do it all? It's a lot of driving, but I don't mind that when there's fishing at the other end.

For background I'm a thirty-something Brit who likes swinging flies, drinking beer and punk rock. Still very new to steelhead but I've been fishing for, and occasionally catching, Atlantic salmon and sea trout for a fair while.
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-15-2019, 09:47 PM
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I’m sure you will get tons of good advice about that area. Just one thing here: the redwoods are in a fairly narrow band near the coast where they get enough condensation moisture from the ocean during the dry months. There aren’t any redwoods on the Klamath except right near the coast. If you want to see redwoods via a steelhead river a far easier spot to get to would be the smith, about 3 hours drive from the rogue. The really gorgeous Steelhead river in the redwoods is probably the south fork of the Eel, part of which flows south to north through some of the most famous coastal redwood forests in CA. I guess I have gotten a little blasé living in the middle of them the last two decades, but definitely worth a trip to see them.
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-15-2019, 10:06 PM
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Flying into Medford & back to Portland on the return will add about $100 to your air fare, but.....

For starters, there are a hell of a lot less people & traffic to contend with than the Portland area. The top end of the Rogue is about a 30 mile drive from the airport, the lower end about 50 miles the other way. You can get a nice motel in town or stay at a nice motel right on the river in Shady Cove. There is a flies only (not fly fishing, but no bait or lures) season on a section of the Rogue during September & October. Being as how that coincides with Elk season, that thins the crowd down considerably. There are several of us local guys who can show you around. Plenty of guides to choose from. Check the fly shop in Ashland.

If you want to see redwoods, highly recommended, drive from Medford over to Brookings on the coast. Swing down into California & Jededia Smith State Park. Be sure to drive down thru the Avenue of the Giants. Take a camera. Your buds back home won't believe the trees! You have the Smith river just over the border in No Ca. In fact you'll drive along a section of the Smith before you come into Brookings. The Smith gets some big winter steelhead. It is actually as famous, if not more so, than the N. Umpqua, but being on California's Lost Coast, further from any major metro areas, it doesn't get the attention the N.U. does. If the Chetco is still open, that's another option, right there in Brookings. The mouth of the Rogue is right up the road at Gold Beach. You could easily spend a whole week over there on the coast.

The Umpqua is about a 100 mile drive up the interstate from Medford. The fly water on the North Umpqua is easy enough to get to but the accomodatiions in the area are rather sparse. Outside the Steamboat Inn, which is quite nice, it's slim pickings. I'll let others, more knowledgeable on the N Umpqua, fill you in on that option.

As far as I'm concerned, the Smith beats the Klamath any day, but I won't argue with anyone who thinks otherwise. A lot of Oregonian's run down there for day trips.

To my knowledge, the Deschutes does not have a winter run of Steelhead or Salmon. But again, I'll let others comment on that.

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Last edited by JDJones; 02-15-2019 at 10:20 PM. Reason: Rivers of a Lost Coast :-)
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-15-2019, 10:51 PM
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Originally Posted by DarthWader View Post
I'm thinking about my options for some steelheading this year, my usual buddies are otherwise engaged and with the situation on the Skeena it seems like a good opportunity to go and fish some rivers I've always wanted to throw a line on. I've not been to Oregon before and some general advice would be greatly appreciated.

The two main ideas I've got would be to either:
  • Fly to Portland, hire a car and head to the Deschutes for a few days, or
  • Fly to Medford via Portland (bit more expensive), hire a car and aim to fish the North Umpqua (to say I have) and drift across the border to fish the Klamath (mainly because I'd like to see some redwoods)

I'm looking to go in October, but I could easily do November instead if that would be better. At the moment I'm leaning towards the Deschutes option as that would be a bit cheaper and easier (I think).

I'm not after the deep secrets but there are some general questions I'm pondering, like:
  • Is the traffic in Portland really bad?
  • Can you walk and wade relatively easily on those rivers I'm looking at?
  • I love my double-handers but could I get by with a single-hander? (It fits in my suitcase which saves a few £/$ on baggage fees.)
  • Are my timings way out in terms of a reasonable chance of a fish?
  • I like to tie a few flies for a trip - any especially good patterns I should get to grips with? (I understand my B.C. selections might be a little on the large side.)

At the moment I'm thinking I can probably get away for a week or thereabouts, if I had more time (up to 2 weeks) would it be crazy to try and do it all? It's a lot of driving, but I don't mind that when there's fishing at the other end.

For background I'm a thirty-something Brit who likes swinging flies, drinking beer and punk rock. Still very new to steelhead but I've been fishing for, and occasionally catching, Atlantic salmon and sea trout for a fair while.
A few thoughts:
1. i would fly into Portland regardless of which river you choose.
2. You could get by with singles, but a double is definitely the way to go. The deschutes in particular is a large river but you are often fishing up along the bank with little room for a backcast.
3. I'd go in September if you can but definitely october over november.
4. It would not be crazy to do both, even with less than 2 weeks. They aren't THAT far apart.
5. i don't know what kind of flies you use in BC, but flies are going to be on the small side. Floating lines will be the game.
6. Both are very wadable. No boats on the umpqua fly zone. No fishing from boats on the deschutes.
7. Portland traffic can be bad but the airport isn't in the city. Unless you go into the city (you should it is a cool town with great food, beer, and a good punk scene), you should be able to avoid it.
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-16-2019, 03:32 PM
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I agree with everything troutpunk said.
Although I have registered with this Board only recently,
I live in Eugene, and have fished the North Umpqua for over 30 years.
You can certainly fish a single hander on the NU.
I fished one exclusively, a couple of summers ago, and was successful with it.
The Deschutes is larger, and a Switch or full Spey rod would cover the water better there.
My favorite time on both rivers is the end of September, and /or the beginning of October.
As far as places to stay, if you are looking for economical accommodations, there are two places on the NU I would recommend: the "Dogwood Motel" and the
"Swift Water Guest House". I stay in one of those places and sometimes travel
to the "Steamboat Inn" for good meals. All have websites.
If fishing the Deschutes, there are a number of places in Maupin to stay. Research those on the internet. The use of a guide would be helpful, on the Deschutes, for a first timer.
I have had success on both rivers, in summer, using smaller traditional patterns.

Hope this helps.
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-16-2019, 06:30 PM Thread Starter
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This is all very helpful guys, thank you.

I'm not especially tied to the Klamath by any means, so the Smith would work just as well, I like the sound of the Eel too. But I guess if my main focus is to see the Redwoods it might be better to do take some non-fishing time and go and do that. I've read a little about the Lost Coast and it sounds right up my street. I'll do some more research about that.

I definitely like the idea of a few less people about (who doesn't?) while I bimble around. It sounds like southern Oregon might be the way to go, even if I fly into Portland and just drive down from there. That way I can spend some time in Portland and see the sights as well. I've got some Spey and Skagit lines for my single-hander, so I figured on bringing those. I know I'll lose a bit of distance even with a haul, so maybe the Deschutes isn't the one to go for. That's really useful to know.

My B.C. flies are mostly a mix of intruders and Hohs, I quite like the idea of fishing some classic patterns so I'll knock up a few of those and bring a couple of dirty options just in case. The accommodation tips are really handy too, I'll look into those. I might be able to get away in September, it certainly sounds worthy trying to anyway, and if not I'll aim for the early days of October.

Cracking, thanks everyone.
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-16-2019, 07:09 PM
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If you do opt to fly into Portland, although Interstate 5 will be the fastest route to southern Oregon, I'd suggest taking the coastal route. It's a wee bit longer, more sinuous, but the sights, sounds, and food choices are much better. There are a few places in Northwest Scotland with a similar, craggy, rocky coastline.

And I'd second the notion of having a guided trip on the Deschutes. Although most, if not all, of the river is walkable, it's a long one.
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-16-2019, 11:53 PM
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All good advice so far, but one small point of clarification. The Smith really doesn’t tend to get going till later in the season than the other rivers in question. There can be some good salmon fishing lower down in the tidewater area in the early fall, and October rains might bring the river up enough for salmon fishing (possibly an odd steelhead, but not likely). Mid to late December tends to be more when it gets good numbers of steelhead.

I would still recommend a scenic trip through the area regardless! From Grants pass you could drive hwy 199 to Crescent city, then head up the coast to the lower Rogue (worth hitting in September early October , less so in late October/November). That drive will go right through some spectacular Redwood groves and follows the Smith river part of the way, a short detour here or there gets you into some great hiking opportunities and the coastline is pretty special too. If you have one week, I’d probably pick one airport and focus your time on the river and minimize driving a bit. My pick would be southern Oregon, but both areas have plenty of good things to see and do. Two weeks, fly to Portland and enjoy driving around seeing the sights: from the Columbia gorge criss cross the cascade mountains at least once or twice, see the redwoods and the coast, fish the NU, Rogue and the Klamath, and the Deschutes too if you wish. As for traffic; I hate traffic, and really hate Portland traffic... but I still thoroughly enjoy myself every time I visit (same for Eugene).

Flies that work well for me that time frame on those rivers tend to be more buggy, smaller sized hairwing classics (size 6-10hooks). I tend to go slightly bigger on the north Umpqua, but usually not a lot bigger (mostly size 4-6). Skaters and muddlers can be very effective then, sometimes arguably moreso than wets. Timing is variable, weather and water conditions could be ideal or marginal depending...that is also peak time for wildfires, which can affect travel and even close off river access at times. All that said, really anytime from mid September to early December can be really good on at least one those rivers. September might be better for some rivers in question, but can still be very hot at times (more potential for warm stream temps); I’d say October is a safer bet for cooler water temps, cloudy weather, and longer shadows on the water.
Good luck to you and enjoy,
JB
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 12:44 PM
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With few exceptions, there are no direct flights into/out of Medford to/from any major cities. Mostly small turbo prop commuter planes. Everything comes thru Seattle, Portland, San Fransisco, L.A, Denver, Las Vegas. One hour flight from Portland, 2.5 hr drive, if the traffic & weather are good. I wouldn't even consider SF if it meant going outside the airport.

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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 02:49 PM
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With few exceptions, there are no direct flights into/out of Medford to/from any major cities. Mostly small turbo prop commuter planes. Everything comes thru Seattle, Portland, San Fransisco, L.A, Denver, Las Vegas. One hour flight from Portland, 2.5 hr drive, if the traffic & weather are good. I wouldn't even consider SF if it meant going outside the airport.
2.5 hours drive time from Portland to Medford?!?! You’d have to be going about 100miles an hour! I count myself fortunate to make it in anything less than 4.5 hours (factoring in some inevitable traffic along the way, but nothing major).
JB
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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 09:17 PM
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2.5 hours drive time from Portland to Medford?!?! You’d have to be going about 100miles an hour! I count myself fortunate to make it in anything less than 4.5 hours (factoring in some inevitable traffic along the way, but nothing major).
JB
Typo, the 5 is right above the 2 on the number pad. My bad.

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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 10:37 PM
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If you saw JD's car, you might not doubt the 2.5 travel time!!!!

It looks like a yellow version of that one on Back to the Future!
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-18-2019, 12:44 PM
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I know I kind of put the kibosh on the Klamath because of no redwoods, but the Klamath is gorgeous. While there are other places that could be considered comparable within a day’s drive from let’s say Medford, which would be a good central base, in that range the Klamath would probably be one of the best examples of a great river that runs for most of its middle course through an huge area of very low population. Also early to mid October would be a prime moment with (potentially) salmon, steelhead and half ponders, and trout all in the water at once. So for a different reason than redwoods the area up and down river from happy camp would be well worth the time. The Bigfoot Museum and it’s huge Bigfoot statue might be consolation for missing some redwoods.

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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-18-2019, 12:46 PM
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Typo, the 5 is right above the 2 on the number pad. My bad.

Ha, I kind of wondered if it was something along those lines. Hey as long as you’re more accurate with your casting and your driving than your typing
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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-18-2019, 01:01 PM
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side notes

Wild fires: The last two years have been extremely bad. ODFW has since initiated a prohibition on fishing the N. Umpqua after 2:00pm due to rising water temps resulting from lack of shade.

Redwoods: An open top car would definitely be a worthwhile option whilst negotiating the Avenue of the Giants. And no, the yellow car is not.
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