Archive for November 16th, 2008

16
Nov
08

The State of the Salmon Runs in Oregon (An indicator?)

Tillamook, Oregon

Tillamook, Oregon

While parked in Tillamook, I noticed this delivery truck. Isn’t it odd that fish is imported, to Oregon, from Alaska? What does it say about the condition of Oregon salmon runs. They use to be legendary, before over harvesting. Now, they are usually spotty or scattered. Given the immense divide between ODFW and Ecobots, as well as the mismanagement by ODFW, the runs may not recover and the bots may forever thwart any industry rebound. Back to the drawing board.    

16
Nov
08

Chum Salmon (Life ends on a gravel bar on the Kilchis River)

Battered, Finished, Noble

Battered, Finished, Noble

http://thequietpool.blogspot.com/2007/11/dance-of-chum-salmon.html

It is a frequent observation along river’s edges. Dead salmon, salmon wallowing in the shallows, disoriented and listing to the side ready to die; salmon propelling themselves onto the beach as if to get it over with. 

Our focus is most often outward toward the living as we search for the hook up, ‘the moment’. The fix. Every once in awhile though we stop. We look down at the listless, empty eyes. The scarred gill plate. The gnarly teeth that betray the ferocity. The beginnings, the journey, the migration home, the gauntlet, the hopeful perpetuation, then the end and regeneration. Good to stop and look. Stop, envision then continue on. Not all about you…but a little extra added.   

16
Nov
08

Flyfishing the Kilchis R. (a day early and better luck next year)

This is one of those rare accounts not of ‘you should have been her yesterday’ but rather of ‘you should be here tomorrow’.

Traditions are a pleasant, if not sometimes frustrating or bittersweet, endeavor. Each year for the past 22 years, I have tried to venture forth in November to the Tillamook, Oregon area to fish the Kilchis R., Trask R. or Wilson R. The target are Chum and Chinook Salmon. The Chum Salmon is held in low regard by many anglers, but when they are aggressive and fair hookups occur, they are a tough opponent on a fly rod in moving water. All this traditional routine has been shared through the years with my three sons, at varying ages and availability. As I have said before, all three are excellent flyfishers and can fish gear as well. The memories of Chum and beautiful chrome Chinook hooked on flies is sweet. Young pre-teen boys holding on for dear life in swift currents, while held onto wader belts and suspenders and provided advice and eased them down with the fish through the current provides me fond memories and an equal amount of questions like ‘what the hell were you thinking having them out there like that?’

All these trips have been dependent upon two primary variables: available fish and water levels. The fish, over the years have been just arriving or a mix of fresh fish and sore backs that had been in the tidewater waiting and turning a bit too long. Pods of fresh fish moving up in sequence throughout the day, 5-20 fish marching up the river via a serpentine course along the bottom that only they why they follow…edge across river to edge provided excitement and stalking opportunities, if the second critical factor was in sync…the water level.

This past week or so, heavy rains had fallen in NW Oregon. The rivers had risen from late Summer/early Fall slow flows to flood stage in a matter of days. The rivers, in the area Tillamook Bay area, rose 10-12 feet up over the banks, many feet up into the trees and well back into pastures and around homes. The systems moderated and the rivers started to drop, if not clear.

I watched the websites at Westfly and the NOAA for current heights and predicted trends. I have collected heights from the last half dozen years for the rivers we fished and noted those heights if the rivers were just right, almost too low and borderline too high to wade. So, as the rivers dropped, I noted they were still too high by a foot or so, but were trending to be in shape by the day after our intended visit (the only available day for us and a day they close  the river (Kilchis) for escapement purposes). Well, the level was very close. I imagined there would be someplace to wade in and get a fair drift and some hookups. Surely my prior notes and stats could allow for a place for three rods to insert themselves for a memory or two?

Don’t ignore your instincts, especially with many years of written notes. Optimism and Hope ignoring the realities (huh? sounds like a recent election). Anyway, we ventured forth and it soon was apparent that the rivers were off color and ripping. As we left home at 0Dark30, a quick check of the gauges still showed the rivers 1-2 feet above previously recorded ‘max level, don’t bother if above this ht.’ notations. We went anyway…you have to.

Upon arrival, with the new dawn, providing a glimpse, it was evident the Wilson R. was mocha colored, still ripping toward the bay and that it had been up into the trees some 10′ Further evidence, as we neared our intended destination, was Tillamook itself had flooded with residual muck and silt on Hwy. 101, into the parking lots and around businesses. Pastures were flooded and the barbwire fence provided a hint: strands of barb wire were shrouded in debris and the fences listed over away from the current that had been so strong only a few days before. In the trees, 5, 10, 15 feet were clumps of debris encased around branches, which showed how high the river had been. Silt and mud were everywhere and many trees were sheared of low hanging branches or the trees were simply gone along the banks. Pretty strong indicators. Course, we donned our waders intent on finding that quiet water, the edges to fish.

So, we had many laughs, and we stayed amazingly positive and accepting of the realities before us. I was also telling myself that I needed to highlight the river levels for the Trask R. and Wilson R. and emblazon the max. and min. flows and pay attention to those.

Evan Anchored

Evan Anchored

 

We spent and honest seven hours searching, casting, wading against spooky forces and watching casts race by so fast that no mend was possible. 400 grain lines had no time to slice the flow. We did see some more appealing water up and across stream. We considered joining arms and carefully wading across to reach it. But, two steps out and the water hitting the mid thigh we all agreed that we were not willing to risk one of us going down…probably me the old guy.

 

Evan & Tony Muncy, 2008

Evan & Tony Muncy, 2008

 

 

For the Kilchis River (check the Wilson and Trask flows; my stated upper limits are the min. safe limit for wading and efficient fishing on Kilchis R.; the minimum flows are for ethical and efficient fishing to avoid snagging and harassment of fish on redds; minimum flows require floating lines and avoidance of snagging; sight fishing much easier on min. flow):

Wilson RiverMax-4’7″ 1330 CFS  (Upper Limit)    4’1″ 600 CFS (Minimum flow for good FF) 

Trask River, 8′ 1100 CFS (Upper Limit)     7’0″ 500 CFS (Minimum flow for good FF)  

There is not a gauge on the Kilchis R. so my guesswork, that is pretty accurate, (that I ignored) is used from the Wilson and Trask gauges. Of course, this is for the bank bound FF.

Now if these max. flows are ripping along, a guy could sling drift rigs of bigger slinkys and corkies etc across the river, but if you hooked something you have 100′ of line out and will have great difficulty in chasing a fish and a high probability of snagging. 

—————-               

And, another thing: perhaps on the the most obnoxious and mind altering odor was encountered by us as we searched for a spot…highly concentrated manure was being sprayed out over fields, and may I just say this experience reinforced to me that mankind can adapt to anything. This odor was so concentrated and carried so far that our eyes watered and our noses literally burned. Yet, a scant fifty yards away a woman rode a horse up the road way as if on a Sunday stroll and three farmers stood about their p-u’s within a stones throw and chatted. Man can adapt to any amount of shit.

Whimpy Shit Spraying Versions..Believe Me!

Whimpy Shit Spraying Version..Believe Me! The One There Was Heavy Duty

mike-rowe2This brought to mind Mike Rowe from the Dirt Jobs show. We nominate the Tillamook farmer who harnesses collected liquefied cow manure and sprays it out over the fields with a giant irrigation device…while wafting the odor some quarter mile in all directions. These are hardy people, these dairy farmers. They suffer floods, the hard work, and toxic odors so we can have dairy products. Buy Tillamook Dairy Products. And, recruit Mike Rowe to a dairy farm near the Kilchis River for a dirty job segment. His previous dirty jobs, although challenging, would be matched by this waste application process, or whatever you call it. 

Dairy Cow Midwife, Turkey Inseminator, Avian Vomitologist, Worm Dung Farmer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirty_Jobs_Episode_List

http://ahps2.wrh.noaa.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=pqr

http://www.westfly.com/cgi-bin/riverData?region=OR




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