The Steamboater Whistle


               Spring 2013

                Volume 52, Issue 2


North Umpqua River, Oregon


Announcements and Club Events

        Douglas County commissioners are considering the sale of the Swiftwater County Park.  The property is currently being appraised.  Refer to an article in News -Review dated April 16, 2013 at website: 

       If  you are a member of The Steamboaters and can only read the Whistle  on our website (, send your email address to the editor: and we'll add it to the Steamboaters email list so you receive your own personal copy.

       Another reminder: if you haven't paid your 2013 membership dues, we'll probably talk about it over the phone sometime this next month.

       The Steamboaters have extended their support to McKenzie Flyfishers in their INTENT TO SUE the Corps of Engineers and ODFW over management of spring chinook on the McKenzie River.  Refer to Peter Tronquet's article in this issue for details.

         Frank Moore is heading back to Normandy this next month.  You can read about the trip and a couple more stories from his life at website:

In This Issue
Surveyor Pool History
President's Message
NU Winter Steelhead Hatchery Program
The Greenley Skater
McKenzie Flyfishers INTENT TO SUE
The North Umpqua Chronicle
Log Bridge across North Umpqua Zeke Allen's fish camp  near Camp Water 
North Umpqua History: The Surveyor's Pool

The Surveyor's Pool received its name in the 1920's when a crew that was surveying the river for potential dam sites camped on the flat on the east side of the pool.  Carl Patchen, who eventually became a good friend of ours, was one of the crew members.  He related how the crew would toss a spinner into the pool and haul out a steelhead or two for dinner, whenever they needed.  Carl said it was 'the' favorite camping spot of the crew anywhere from Rock Creek clear up to where they stopped their survey activity.


In my early guiding days I would love to climb the rock wall on the west side of the pool and tell people where to cast their fly to the fish, as there were always fish holding.  It was very exciting to watch, as it was in many of the pools where I could climb tree to see the fish and watch every movement.


In later years (l960's and early 1970's) Carl became the city manager for Lindsay, California, home of Lindsay olives.  He tricked me into trying my first 'ripe' olive from a tree.  Please take my advice, never eat one, as it took weeks to get the puckers out of my mouth.


The following black and white photo was taken in 1937 soon after Mott Bridge was built.  Some of the trees growing high on the bluff above where Steamboat Creek road comes in today are still there and haven't grown much.


Frank Moore


Surveyor's Pool taken in 1937 :


Surveyor's Pool about 2010 with trail and rock wall on left bank:Surveyor's Pool 2010



President's Message - Lenny Volland  

Even though the turnout for the winter banquet was below average, the presentation was top notch. The Steamboat Inn raffle package (lodging, food, guide service and cookbooks) went to Evan and Nancy Erickson from Winchester, OR (see inserted photo).  In a phone call to the Inn, Pat Lee said they were married at Steamboat, so it will be a coming home adventure for this couple. I would like to thank Jim, Sharon Van Loan and Pat Lee for providing the raffle package. Scott Howell's concluding remarks created a lot of talk following his presentation. He gave ample evidence that the size of North Umpqua steelhead equal or exceed those of any other steelhead caught elsewhere in the Pacific Rim. Scott also questioned the validity of the Umpqua steelhead distribution statistics, based on his own experience and those of his fishing guide acquaintances, which indicates 50% of the run remains in the main stem. He also renounced the taking of wild fish on the Umpqua due to both the issue of their distribution between the main, south and north forks plus the exceptional size of those fish caught.

Erickson's at 2013 banquet  


One of the reasons I joined the Steamboaters a few years ago was to get more definitive information on this wild vs hatchery fish issue. Part of the exposure to this issue is receiving The Osprey newsletter published by the Steelhead Committee of the Federation of Fly Fishers. Avail yourself of the January 2013 issue (no. 74) in which Bill McMillan's lead article compares management of hatchery and wild steelhead programs on the Hood and Wind Rivers (two different state organizations, two different management policies, rivers located 14 miles apart and draining into the Bonneville Pool). In summary he shows it is "impossible to recover a wild steelhead population through hatchery supplementation...and the result is progression toward hatchery induced extinction of the wild population". I visited with Bill at the Albany fly-tying Symposium in early March. He said the North Umpqua steelhead population is one of the healthiest around, partially because the hatchery population is a minor proportion of the total run (about 4% of the winter catch). Subsequent to our meeting he sent graphs of major steelhead rivers from British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, many with data going back to the early 1950's. Of the twenty-two river graphs provided, all except two showed a decline in winter steelhead harvest with implementation of a winter hatchery program.


Steamboater membership has been declining over the last few years, about 10% between 2012 and 2013. Are we taking our local anadromous fish resource for granted? Conservation issues that directly or indirectly affect the North Umpqua River seem to be intensifying in frequency and implication. There is still a push to harvest wild fish from the Umpqua Basin at some predetermined level. We are continually advocating for no hatchery releases above Rock Creek on the North and support the McKenzie Flyfishers efforts to change springer management practices on that river (see P. Tronquet's article). As a result these and similar issues the Steamboaters is evolving from a fly fishing club to a more conservation-focused organization. If you are interested in maintaining and improving the fish resource and the quality of their habitat on this river, than stay involved and continue your membership. I haven't talked to one person on the river or on the street that doesn't admit the North Umpqua is unique in its landscape, river structure and fishery. Consider who is responsible for the management of this inheritance. Some would say our state and federal government, but these organizations really represent you. They need your input, your involvement to stay focused on the task at hand. Responsible management comes from you. For those more spiritually minded I refer you to Psalm 8:4-8.



North Umpqua Winter Steelhead Hatchery Program - Laura Jackson


The 2004 Biological Assessment of impacts to wild winter steelhead in the Umpqua River from the recreational fishery and 2004 angling proposals has a good summary of the history of stocking winter steelhead in the North Umpqua in table 10 (see updated table below).  Likewise the 2006 Umpqua River Winter Steelhead Hatchery Genetic Management Plan summarizes stocking in the North Umpqua. The stockings during the 1960s were from North Umpqua or Mainstem Umpqua brood, reared at Rock Creek Hatchery and released mostly at Winchester, with a couple releases in French Creek, Rock Creek, Cavitt Creek and Fairview.  No releases were done during the 1970's, but during the 1980's there was one presmolt release and unfed fry releases from 1983 until 1992.

During that time period, little was known about the genetic impacts to wild fish from hatchery fish.  In fact, the 1986 North Umpqua River Fish Management Plan suggested using STEP hatchboxes to enhance the wild winter steelhead run. This basin plan was developed with a citizen's advisory committee comprised of representatives from the Steamboaters, Oregon Trout, and the Umpqua Fishermen's Association in addition to ODFW staff.

Unfed fry from wild North Umpqua brood were not believed to pose much threat given the wild genetics and minimal exposure to hatchery rearing. While suggesting the use of unfed fry, the plan also stated that the North Umpqua would be managed for wild steelhead with no releases of hatchery reared fish.  Likewise the plan recognized the importance of maintaining the genetic integrity of the fish, although this was primarily focused on using only in-basin broodstock instead of brood from other basins such as the Alsea.

The unfed fry were released by STEP volunteers under the coordination of the ODFW in Rock Creek, French Creek, Fall Creek, Little River, Fairview, and the East Fork of Rock Creek. An error was found in the 2004 Assessment where a review of the records showed that 45,000 Alsea unfed fry released in 1984 were actually released in the Calapooya basin not the North Umpqua as previously stated. The unfed fry steelhead releases were discontinued after 1992.  Although unfed fry are not fin clipped, the Winchester Dam counts have shown hatchery winter steelhead since the 1960s.  After the North Umpqua smolt program ended, the hatchery fish observed from 1971 through 1995 were likely strays from Alsea steelhead being planted in the South Umpqua. The use of Alsea stock was discontinued after 1993. Then until 1998 a combination of North Umpqua and South Umpqua winter steelhead were used for the brood stock of the South Umpqua hatchery program. Since 1998 (in cooperation with the Umpqua Fishermen's Association, City of Canyonville, Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians, the Umpqua Fishery and Enhancement Derby, plus a variety of guides and other volunteers) the South Umpqua winter steelhead program has gone to 100% South Umpqua broodstock and 100% acclimation of the smolts. This has reduced the hatchery strays into the North Umpqua to about 6% in recent years.

The North Umpqua winter steelhead run has been very strong. Last year nearly 14,000 winter steelhead crossed Winchester Dam. This year, through the end of February, the run is on a record setting pace, with nearly 6,000 steelhead counted.


            Stocking of Winter Steelhead in the North Umpqua River:


Year                 Smolt                      Pre-smolt                      Fry                     Stock
                       Release                     Release                    Release                Origin
1992                     --                                   --                        10,759              N. Umpqua 
1991                     --                                   --                        67,425                   "     "
1990                     --                                   --                          9,882                   Umpqua
1989                     --                                   --                        38,652              N. Umpqua
1988                     --                                  --                         64,303                    "      "
1987                     --                                  --                        168,440                   "      "
1986                     --                                  --                        100,000                   Umpqua
1985                     --                                  --                        157,000              N. Umpqua
1984                     --                                  --                         21,000                     "      "
1983                     --                                  --                         16,000                     ''      "
1981                     --                               22,550                       --                         Umpqua

1969                36,800                                 838                       --                    N. Umpqua
1966                36,700                            15,100                       --                          Umpqua
1965                44,800                            20,500                       --                                "
1964                13,000                              8,700                       --                                "
1963                25,310                             40,090                      --                     N. Umpqua
1962                73,095                             74,425                   43,591                     Umpqua
1961                10,789                             46,000                      --                     N. Umpqua         

Laura Jackson
District Fish Biologist
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Umpqua Watershed  



 The Greenley Skater - Dale Greenley


Once you've seen an excited steelhead swirling all over the surface behind a skater, it is hard to settle for those boring deep water strikes on a sinking line. I now use skaters nearly exclusively, not only for the thrill of seeing the fish, but also for their effectiveness at locating fish. A steelhead that shows to a skater won't always take it, but will often take a follow-up fly skimming just below the surface on a standard steelhead swing. Skaters also often serve as a "wake-up" call to a spotted fish that is glued to the bottom. When you've run out of patterns to show him and he still shows no interest, try running a skater over him a few times. Wait ten minutes and then try a subsurface fly again. You may be surprised how often the fish now shows an interest in your wet fly. 


The other thing I like about skaters is that they are easy and fast to tie. Something I appreciate now that my eyes and fingers don't seem to work quite as well as they used to. Start by selecting a light wire hook with a turned-up looped eye. Not that it makes any difference; it just seems to me that a skater should be tied on such a hook. Tie in a rather long tail, preferably of some artificial non-absorbent material similar to crystal flash. I tie mine well ahead if the standard "barb of hook" attachment site. I don't think a skater needs a long body of expensive foam. Cut a strip of foam about 5/16 to 3/8 inch wide and approximately 2 inches long, depending on the size of the hook. Tie the foam in at the mid-point of the foam strip. Tie in a piece of artificial chenille, something similar to cactus chenille and wrap forward to 1/8 inch back from the eye of the hook. Pull the ends of the foam tight over the chenille, tie down, whip finish, then trim the ends of the foam to the desired height, about 3/8 inch.


Notice that there is no hackle in this pattern. So far, all that I can see that a hackle does is make it look better to the fisherman and absorb unwanted water. With no absorbent material, the fly dries with one false cast and is ready to skate again. If you want to get real bare-bones about this fly, skip the tail and the body. Just use the foam. Several fish on nothing but a chunk of foam assure me that it works fine. All those pretty, glitzy things on a fly are to catch fishermen, not fish.


Now, go out and have fun with a new, lazy way of fishing. No more wielding those heavy sinking lines and cursing the current that lifts them and fishing under the taking fish you are looking for. Just flip out a little skater with a #6 or #7 floating line, do a reverse downstream mend to speed the fly and watch what a swiftly skating fly does to those supposedly "timid" North Umpqua Steelhead.


    Greenley Skater 1   

  Greenley Skater 2


  Greenley Skater 3
Steamboaters & McKenzie Flyfishers File Notice of Intent To Sue - Peter Tronquet 

The Steamboaters have joined the McKenzie Flyfishers by co-signing a 60-day notice of intent to sue the Corps of Engineers and ODFW for violations of the Endangered Species Act. In January, the McKenzie Flyfishers asked the Steamboaters to join their effort to require the Army Corps of Engineers and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to manage hatchery Spring Chinook salmon in the McKenzie River in a manner that does not jeopardize the recovery of wild Spring Chinook salmon. Wild McKenzie River Spring Chinook are listed as threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act.


The Steamboaters normally confine their efforts to the protection and recovery of the wild salmon and steelhead of the Umpqua basin. However, the Mckenzie group was looking for a respected organization with a successful track record of wild fish advocacy. Steamboaters fit that bill. The Board also considered the decision strategically: Would a decision to join the McKenzie group act against our interests at the local level? For example, Steamboater board members serve on the advisory panel for the ODFW multi-species conservation plan, a plan that when approved by the Fish and Wildlife Commission will be hugely important to the future of wild fish in the Umpqua basin. Would signing on to the 60-day notice of intent to sue compromise our ability to work with ODFW?  In the end, we decided that the right decision would have to be consistent with our mission, which includes support of conservation groups that have a common purpose.
The biological situation is more transparent: The only significant natural production of wild Spring Chinook in the upper Willamette Evolutionary Significant Unit occurs in the McKenzie River. Estimates indicate that only 1000 wild Spring Chinook adults have returned to spawn the last few years. ODFW released 1.2 million hatchery Spring Chinook smolts in 2012 from its McKenzie River hatchery (funded in part by the Army Corps of Engineers as mitigation for loss of habitat resulting from construction of federal dams in the Willamette basin).  When these hatchery fish return as adults, many will spawn naturally with the wild fish, called a stray rate. The measured stray rate on the McKenzie is currently 60%.  The science is clear that hatchery fish spawning naturally reduce the productivity of the wild fish, in addition to the risk of genetic changes to the wild fish.  Most recovery plans set a 10% stray rate.

In 2008, the National Marine Fisheries Service prepared a Biological Opinion (BiOp) that included "reasonable and prudent alternatives (RPAs)" for managing wild Spring Chinook in the McKenzie River basin. The 60-day notice focuses on the failure of ODFW and the Corp of Engineers to achieve certain RPAs. These are: 1) take action to meet a 10% stray rate and 2) provide a hatchery genetic management plan (HGMP) approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The 60-day notice simply says to the Army Corps of Engineers and the ODFW: No more procrastination, do what you were required to do in the 2008 BiOp.

If you will permit a short editorial comment, consider the absurdity when the federal agency responsible for the recovery of endangered salmon (National Marine Fisheries Service) rely on legal action by third parties to enforce the Endangered Species Act rather than use their authority to achieve recovery goals. Perhaps the feds, the Corps and ODFW will respond to the 60-day notice with an approved plan to protect the last viable population of wild Spring Chinook in the Willamette ESU. For the Steamboaters, that is the preferred outcome.
The North Umpqua Chronicle - The Fishbum

April 16, 2013  

Yesterday I woke up feeling creative.  Good day to tie some flies and get out on the river. I had some thoughts about flies that might work and I was enthused about getting started.  I had the idea that color is the problem.  Mine don't look very appetizing anymore and they still didn't, until I mixed in some more red and green.  I delve into it... can't wait but none of it looks good at all, why not, they are colorful, good looking flies. They look like Green Butt Skunk colors, but the shape is like crap and my fly tying skills are really atrophying before my eyes.  It looks like hell!  I guess Becky must have sensed trouble was on it's way.....a double barreled, rectified temper tantrum.  Yes, a double barreled, rectified temper tantrum at the fly tying desk.  She knows about these.  It is a good thing fish are dumb, I can still catch them on a fairly regular basis and the grab never fails to be exhilarating.  I have a retina problem and my up-close vision is so poor, even with glasses, I can no longer tie my flies on my leader without help (Becky does it now) so attempting to tie a fly itself is a real challenge.  But, I manage to cobble up something I think they might like, putting into it all the appealing colors that might look interesting to a hungry fish, including a red ponytail.  I finally do get one tied, a gawd-awful thing.  Becky suggests we go fishing.  I tell her I am not sure I am in the mood after all that, but she finally coaxes me into the Fishbum and we head upriver with the new unnamed fly.  

When we reach Baker, it is open and we rarely pass it by if it is.   I fish it.  When I get back in the car I tell Becky there is too much red ponytail.   I am going to trim it before the next pool, but I don't.  

Oh, I should tell you about the big fish Becky saw at Mill Run.   As usual we stop there to see what we can see...and yep there is one.  Becky, looking through the binoculars says it is a big one.  But, I have been lured into going down into the river and fishing over one of those things way too many times.  I believe that the only time I have ever hooked into any of 'em is when I didn't know it was there.....if you do hook one, it will literally drag you down the river until something breaks.  Enough about Mill Run, I am focused on Dry Creek.  

We head to Dry Creek which has become a favorite pool of mine this winter.  But, as we drive upriver it starts to rain...great...and the weather persists with cold rain.  As I head down the trail at Dry Creek, the frustration of the morning is long since gone even though there is now hail starting to trickle down my neck.  After several casts, as the fly swings around into the soft water below, there is an absolutely bone jarring grab as a fish clobbers my new fly.  I get to hear the sweet sound of my Hardy Perfect and after five or six jumps later, it is gone. It is the end of what became a good day. The fly's name....I think I will call it the Dry Creek Special. 

 Pat McRae

About Us
PO Box 41266
Eugene, Oregon 97404

The mission of the Steamboaters is to preserve, promote, and restore the unique aesthetic values, the natural production of wild fish populations, and the habitat that sustains these fish on the North Umpqua River.
The Steamboaters is a charter member club of the Fly Fishers, a member of Oregon Trout and the Pacific Rivers Council.

Len Volland, President                                  Dick Bauer
     (541) 673-2246                                                 (541) 688-4980                                   
Josh Voynick, Vice President                        Joe Ferguson
     (541) 496-0077                                                 (541) 747-4917                    
Chuck Schnautz, Secretary                           Dale Greenley
     (541) 496-0328                                                  (541) 863-6213                      
Lee Lashway, Treasurer                                Tim Goforth 
      (541) 953-4796                                                 (541) 496-0780                      
Pat McRae                                                      Charles Spooner
      (541) 496-4222                                                  (541) 496-0493                    
Peter Tronquet
      (541) 774-9577
Jeff Dose
      (541) 673-2665