Sunday, February 24, 2013


Known as the fish of "1000 casts", the elusive steelhead is one of the most sought after sport fish in the northwest.  A fish that begins its incredible journey, is born in freshwater, spends its adult life in saltwater, then returns to freshwater to spawn. 

This month I met a very good friend of mine for a long overdue girls fishing trip.  With her in California and myself in Oregon, we opted to meet on the beautiful Rogue River in southern Oregon and try our best to find one of these elusive creatures.

After making my way over the mountain pass, I made a stop at the Cole M. River Hatchery near Shady Cove at the base of Lost Creek Dam.

Constructed in 1973 by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Cole Rivers Hatchery is used for adult collection, spawning, egg incubation and rearing of spring and fall chinook salmon, coho salmon, summer stealhead and winter stealhead, and rainbow trout.

To the right of the spillway is the fish ladder. 
It is one of the last obstacles of the long journey where the fish make their way back to their native waters to spawn. 
The Rogue River has two steelhead runs, winter and summer.

Arrival at Valley of the Rogue State Park in Gold Hill.

The very popular 'yurt'. 
Yurts have been a distinctive feature of life in central Asia for at least 3000 years.  In the early 1990's, Oregon became the first state in the nation to start using yurts in their state parks.  Made of a rubber-like material wrapped around a wood frame, not only are they portable, but they come furnished, are a reasonable price to rent, and are used as year round camping facilities.  Oregon is very fortunate to have many of these unique camping structures, most of which are located in a majority of its state parks.

One of my most favorite rivers...the beautiful Rogue River.
Located in southwestern Oregon, the Rogue River begins at Crater Lake and makes its 215 mile long journey where it dumps into the Pacific Ocean 11 miles east of Gold Beach on the majestic Oregon coast.

Ahhhh...the 'Silverbox'.

Great view from the campsite.
Valley of the Rogue Park is nestled along three miles of the Rogue River. 

A relaxing environment while waiting for my fishing partner to complete her trek from California.

After six hours of travel, she made it!

The next morning, the new crew arrived to join us.

Deb's parents rented one of the yurts in the park for a comfortable two nights of camping.

Believe it or not, this is considered traveling light for Debbie's folks for two days of camping. 
If it wasn't for the yurt, their normal logistic arrangement is in two vehicles.  One for the food and one for the sleeping arrangements and the other camping comforts!

Gear...oh how I love thee. 
Morning gear check before the first fishing outing.

I would be hard pressed to find something better than the smell of a river.
This is the site where the Gold Rey dam was recently removed. 
At river mile 125, was the site of a defunct hydroelectric dam facility, standing 38' high and 360' long.  Constructed in 1904, the power house was permanently closed in 1972.  After years of burdening the taxpayers of Jackson County, and years of hardship for the passage of the salmon and steelhead, the dam was finally approved for removal in 2010. 
Today, the salmon and steelhead are already seeing better return numbers due to the easier access upon reaching their final destination. 

Scouting the water.



Our onsite camera crew and moral support.

Finally!  A girls fishing trip!

After some fishing, we took in some local sites and some history lessons. 
This is where I attended the first half of my first grade year in elementary school. 
Due to the age and dilapidation of the building, it was ruled unfit and we were transferred to the newer grade school a few miles away.
Today, after a huge remodeling project, this is a privately owned home.

Built in the late 1800's/early 1900's, Sams Valley School remains an icon in this simple community.
The Sams Creek School District was named after Chief Sam, a leader of the Rogue River Indians and a signer of the Treaty of Table Rock in 1853.

Back to my roots. 
The old bell above me was the same old bell located in the old Sams Valley School (in the previous picture).  At six years of age, I can remember getting to ring the bell when recess was starting. 
The big pull rope to ring the bell was located in a closet in the middle of the school. 
The bell now resides at the current Sams Valley Elementary where I spent my first through sixth grades of elementary school.

In 1853, after the Indians of the Rogue River Valley put up a fierce resistance to the superior numbers of the federal and state governments, the leaders of several Indian groups called the former governor Joseph Lane, commander of U.S. Forces, to negotiate a peace treaty.

"The chiefs agreed to give up most of their lands (roughly 2000 square miles) in exchange for a 100-square mile reservation and $60,000, a quarter of which would be used to pay for the war waged against them.
The peace however, did not last long.  
The wars between the whites and the Indians lasted until 1856.
During that year, the Rogue River Indians were forced from their lands, including their new reservation, in exchange for a new reservation to the north.  By the end of the year, more than 2000 Rogue River Indians were forcibly relocated to the Coast Reservation, which later became the Siletz Reservation."  -- The Oregon History Project.

Fishing at Touvelle State Park.

Sunday afternoon, Debbie and I made a trip to Diamond Lake Resort to meet my husband and pick up our lab Katie.
Located in the Umpqua Nationl Forest along the junctions of Oregon Route 138 and Oregon Route 230, Diamond Lake is well known for its year round multitude of recreation activities including cross country skiing, ice fishing, and snowmobiling in the winter, and fantastic fishing and hiking in the summer.

At an elevation of 5,183', the frozen lake is a common site in the winter.
Yes, that is a person on the lake on the left of the picture.  Depending on the thickness of the ice, it is typical to see snowmobilers riding across it.

Katie on her first camping trip. 
Our little puppy is not so little anymore.

After a "FRAP" (Frenetic Random Activity Period) of several minutes around the riverbank, she unexpectedly jumped in the river over her head. 
Before this, she had never been in water past her knees.

Taking our annual group camping photo, Katie thought Ed needed some freshening up.

Like the steelhead, I felt a little piece of home visiting my native southern Oregon.  Great times with great friends and family always make the trip worth it.  Although we weren't lucky enough to catch one of these creatures, every mile driven was worth it.  Reflecting into my childhood and making new memories of today, the Rogue River will always hold a special place.

"I need this wild life, this freedom." -- Zane Grey

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Marnie! It felt great to be outside in the fresh air . . . sunny but crisp! Thank you for including us in your adventures! We loved it!