The Steamboater Whistle


               Summer 2013

                Volume 52, Issue 3


North Umpqua River, Oregon


Announcements and Club Events

        The annual business meeting and picnic will be held on Saturday, August 17, 2013 at Susan Creek Picnic Area (same place as last year).  Those interested in the litter pickup meet at the parking strip in front of Bogus Cr. campground by 9:30 AM.   The main purpose of the annual meeting is election of Board members, sharing information about current events and issues we face as an organization, plus getting to see folks that haven't been in our life for a while.

       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.

       Welcome the following new members to the Steamboaters:

                  Simon Delery, Prineville, OR
                  Clayton Holloway, Springfield, OR
                   Matthew Kirk, Eugene, OR
                   Mike McCoy, Roseburg, OR
                   J. Michael Moody, Lake Oswego, OR
                   Emily Standish, Glide, OR
                   Mark Stangeland, Bend, OR
                   Mark Volland, Oregon City, OR
                   Tom Vallier, Roseburg, OR

A correction from the last issue of the Whistle: please rename the featured fly, a "Simple Skater" compliments of its author, Dale Greenley.  A personal note from the editor is appropriate here: if you have ever thought of skating flies for summer steelhead, I suggest you try the "Simple Skater", I've dead drifted it down seams on the North Umpqua and about every trout in the vicinity wants to check it out.  

In This Issue
Boat Pool History
President's Message
Steamboat Ladder Project
Kaufmann Signal Light
Now & Then, Then & Now
Upper and Lower Boat Pool in 1920 Log Bridge across North Umpqua Zeke Allen's fish camp  near Camp Water 
North Umpqua History: Lower & Upper Boat Pool

Prior to the construction of the Mott Bridge people would take a boat across the river to the south side camp where Clarence Gordon built the North Umpqua Lodge after taking over Zeke Allen's lease. The Lodge was on the flat where the houses are now that were apart of the Steamboat Ranger Station, now rented out by Steamboat Inn.  The location of the crossing was  a couple hundred feet below the ledge that forms the Upper Boat Pool.  It was at that location where the old road and trail leveled out after descending from up on the hillside above where Steamboat Inn is now.  Use of a boat to cross the river is how these pools received their names, names still existing today. 


All supplies and people for the south side camp were ferried across at that point. The boat could also be used for access to the south side trail that extended from just below Wright Creek to where the trail joined another trail just above the Glen Echo swinging bridge that crossed to the south side of the river about two miles above Steamboat.   There was another swinging bridge over the river just above where Bogus Creek campground is today.


Frank Moore 


Toby Sprinkle in the Upper Boat Pool,  August 2011: 

Upper and Lower Boat Pool taken in 1920:

  Upper and Lower Boat Pool in 1920



President's Message - Lenny Volland  


I was swinging flies below the house a few weeks ago at a place I call  Gloria's Drift (there's a story behind that name, but that's another time).  The water runs fairly swift being necked down by ledges on both side and the river bottom is made up of gravel  ranging in size from peas to  tennis balls. This makes for enjoyable wading for the North Umpqua, if you know what I mean.  But this morning, the sun wasn't up yet and the wading felt like I was on a cotton mattress rather than river gravel.  With better light I found myself plumb middle of a freshwater mussel bed that stretched over 100 feet in length.  I had one other experience like this and it was also on the North Umpqua up around mile post 32.  I'm thinking these mussels, in this quantity, must be saying something about the water quality of the North Umpqua River.


Add another month to the mussel experience and I'm sitting in a Steamboaters Board meeting where three board members are discussing the importance of providing input into the upcoming O&C land management plan currently being revised by the Bureau of Land Management.  The question on the table was if anything constructively could be done when there is a checkerboard land ownership pattern . The federal portion being managed according to federal legislation and the private portion by state forest practices legislation.  Here we are 20 plus years after the Northwest Forest Plan and we are realizing the need for an ecosystem approach to land management where the individual parts make up a greater whole.  You dink with the parts as separate entities and the whole begins to unravel.  I have this quote under a picture on my desk that says "when one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world".  It came from a Trout Unlimited calendar a couple years ago and might have come originally from Leopold, or someone famous like that.


I retired from the Forest Service in 1992 just before the Northwest Forest Plan became public.  In those days buzz words were landscape perspective and what the hydrologists called accumulated effects.  There was some concern for how much of a watershed could be logged before stream hydrology and site potential began to deteriorate.  So now in a Steamboaters meeting I'm hearing a recently retired fish biologist, Jeff Dose, say he hasn't seen even a few coast range streams that he would call pristine because  of current and past logging practices overlain by a checkerboard ownership pattern of federal and private lands.  Shutting down harvest on federal lands intensified harvest on private ownership so we now see log trucks taking out "pecker poles" off lands  whose cutting rotation is assumed to be 40 years.  Recently the local fish wrapper, The News-Review, stated "since 1990 timber harvest on federal land in Oregon has dropped 90 percent".   This is a systems issue of a greater scale than landscapes or watersheds.  The Wyden-DeFasio proposal to manage the O & C lands suggests even the politicians are perplexed.  We have essentially done it to ourselves.  In an effort to protect one piece of the ecosystem, the spotted owl, we have shifted timber harvest  to another part of the system, the private land base,  where there is less administrative control, which affects another part of the ecosystem, the riparian habitat and the critters it supports.  Maybe we have traded fish for birds, what do you think?


Anyway back to those fresh water mussels.  They are there because much of the higher elevation watersheds  that feed the North Umpqua are in federal ownership.  It's a river compared to no other here in the lower 48.  Take a minute to thank your God that you have a passion for that river.  Make a vow that you won't, under your watch, let it deteriorate like so many other rivers coming off the Cascades or the Coast Range elsewhere in our state. 


Steamboat Ladder Improvements-Laura Jackson, Jeff Dose

In 2009 the first organizational meeting of the Steamboat Falls Fish Ladder committee occurred to discuss potential improvements to the ladder. The group included Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), United States Forest Service (USFS), Michael Love & Associates, The North Umpqua Foundation (TNUF) and the Steamboaters. By February 2010, Love & Associates had a report describing some options for improving the ladder. By September, ODFW had a structural evaluation of the ladder completed to determine if the ladder was sound enough for repairing. Then throughout 2011 the group had meetings to discuss alternatives to improve the ladder and sought funding. The group was successful in acquiring funds from: ODFW's Restoration & Enhancement and Fish Passage Programs, plus the USFS/PacifiCorp Mitigation, TNUF and Steamboaters. In 2012, the plans were approved, funding secured and the repairs made.

The ladder was built in the late 1950's to improve fish passage for summer steelhead. Steamboat Creek is one of the major summer holding and spawning ground areas for summer steelhead in the North Umpqua basin. The ladder also passes some spring chinook, winter steelhead and lamprey. Coho distribution ends ~5 miles downstream at Little Falls.

The ladder contains 20 step pools for fish passage. All of the steps are enclosed within the three stories of the concrete ladder. Fish enter at the base of the ladder and stair-step their way upstream to the fish exit/water entrance ports. The bottom 5 pools at the fish entrance were solid weir walls, approximately 3' tall. These were slotted to facilitate sediment transfer through the ladder. Steps 6 - 18 were already slotted. Steps 19 and 20 were slotted, but there was no weir and the walls extended to the ceiling of the ladder.

Bedload transfer in Steamboat basin is very high. Water flows at the ladder vary from ~40 cfs during the summer to over 18,000 cfs during high flow events. Average winter flows are typically 1,000 to 2,000 cfs. However bankfull events occur every 1.2 to 1.5 years. These flows range between 4,500 - 6,300 cfs and enable gravel and larger cobble-sized bedload to become fully mobile. At these velocities, gravel was transported into the ladder.

The top steps (20 and 19) had the biggest problem since the vertical slot extended from the floor to the ceiling with no "normal" weir wall. Additionally, since the water ports were cut to accommodate both shallow summer as well as winter flows, they extended near the bottom of the pool.  Being set so low allowed more bedload to move into the ladder when high flows caused the gravel/cobble to be mobile. Debris caught in the slots of steps 20 and 19, could cause bedload to accumulate to the point that the ladder was plugged. To correct the problem, the concrete walls in steps 19 and 20 were cut to form a slotted weir. This would allow water (and debris) to flow either through the slot or cascade over the top of the wall like steps 18 to 6. The hatch door also had to be enlarged to accommodate the work. The floor was also raised slightly to provide a downward gradient between steps 20 and 19. This was intended to facilitate gravel transport through these two pools. Likewise to facilitate gravel transport and self-cleaning scouring inside the ladder, the submerged orifices were plugged to provide better directional control of the water flow. The slot at weir 19 also had a "thumb" added to provide better directional flow.

The water control structure at the fish exit/water entrance ports that was originally part of the ladder was not protected during winter flows or flood conditions and was non-functional. The ports were also located where the structure is L-shaped. The natural water flow entering the ladder area comes from the west.  This flow would strike the ladder at the L-shaped structure. This created a back eddy in front of the ports. Thus debris from the back eddy would enter the ladder. If a stick was caught, it would slow the water velocity and cause bedload to settle in the trap. If too much bedload settled in the trap it could impair fish passage. The ladder was plugged by gravel about every 3rd year.
Thus to control water flow into the ladder and the height of the ports, the water entrance ports were modified to have stoplog channel bars that allow raising the water entrance during the winter and lowering during the summer. This would make it more difficult for gravel to enter the ladder during high winter flows when the port entrance levels are raised. The headgate would also allow control of the water flow during routine cleaning and checking of the ladder. To further reduce sticks and other debris from entering the ladder and protect the stoplog area, the concrete in front of the ports was extended about 9 inches. This was intended to decrease the amount of suction at the ports thereby reducing debris and gravel from being pulled into the ladder.  The entire headgate system was designed to be portable to reduce wear and tear.

At flows over 200 cfs, the top of the ladder started becoming submerged and by 400 cfs, the entire ladder was underwater. This created a safety hazard for ODFW staff trying to access the ladder and prevented entrance into the ladder for cleaning until the flows receded in late spring to less than 200 cfs. To increase access to the ladder a curb was added to the NW edge of the ladder and a nearly 5' tall training wall was added to the back end of the ladder to divert water away from the top of the ladder. During winter flows, the ladder would still be submersed, but during the spring, earlier access could be gained to the ladder to perform routine cleaning to ensure fish passage.

Other work at the ladder included replacing the steel plate over the Auxiliary Water System (AWS). The sluice pipe in the spillway was also sealed with a steel plate. Both of these devices were non-functional. The second-story gravel sluice gate was repaired so gravel could be pushed out of the second turning pool if necessary. Additionally the exposed rebar on the spillway and pool was re-surfaced.

Overall the improvements appear to have been successful! The training wall and the new flow control structure allowed ODFW staff to safely check the ladder nearly a month earlier than normal. The concrete extensions at the ports and the higher winter flow setting reduced the amount of debris and gravel that entered the ladder. Likewise the new weirs at steps 19 and 20 and slots from 1 to 5 helped facilitate the transport of sediment through the ladder. Steps 19 and 20 were nearly free of gravel instead of having knee high to shoulder high amounts that would normally accumulate. Throughout the ladder, all the steps were basically clean. As expected, the turning pools still had some gravel, but the pools still had much less gravel than normal and did not hinder water flow or fish passage.

Thanks to all of our partners that helped initiate and facilitate this project! A special thanks also to ODFW Engineer Jean Castillo and Caldwell Construction Company for completing the project.

Laura Jackson                                                        Jeff Dose

District Fish Biologist                                         Fish Biologist (retired)

       Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife             Umpqua National Forest
       Umpqua Watershed  



 Kaufmann Signal Light - Dick Bauer


This is a fly that I am likely to use any time of the year.  Yes, some of you may say it is a little on the gaudy side, but the fish like it, and so do I.  This fly was originally created for steelhead on the Deschutes River but its popularity has grown beyond the shores of the Deschutes.  I have used it successfully on the North Umpqua for some time now.  Give it a try.


        Hook:   your choice

        Tail:       Purple hackle fibers

        Butt:       Florescent red wool

        Body:     Divided into thirds: flame wool 

                                                 florescent green wool

                                           small black chenillle

                                           rib body with oval silver tinsel

Hackle:     Purple

Wing:        Underwing three strands of pearl, wine, lime green and blue krystal                                             flash   (easy with the krystal flash)

Overwing: Black marabou


  Kaufmann Signal Light


Now and Then, Then and Now - Larry Levine

Friday, June 07, 2013


An artist friend andI drove the river highway late in the morning, stopping
occasionally along the way. He needed to inventory his paintings at The Inn upriver, and I needed to get my drinking water from the spring where watercress grows, but actually,anything done on the river is done to be on the river. Along the highway, the Scotch Broom was invasively yellow, and the wild Sweet Peas painted with watercolors. We've both lived here for decades; we're in our sixties; we've got experienced perspectives. We've done this a bunch. I learn from him; he sees more than I do; he's got artist eyes; I've got writer eyes. If memory serves me well, I can't recall a time that we both, in a rush of deep appreciation, didn't proclaim the North Fork to be the most beautiful river in the world and the watershed paradise.   

This claim can and should be disputed by anyone who lives on a beautiful river, or on a moderately beautiful river, even on a pretty or cute little river, because learning the lessons the river teaches is gratifying, and if a place makes you feel as if you're in paradise, you are. Why wait. The lessons can be comforting or terrifying, but, if the learner survives, they're meaningful currently, and, over the course of memory, I can appreciate the progression of my education. The education is ongoing, never complete.  A headstone will be my diploma.

When my artist friend can look out at the river and say, "I remember when..." and 
I'm on the same memory page, that's the essence of sharing. When I stand in a spot where I have stood a hundred times and am still awe inspired, that's way cool, because I've got this personal theory about how awe has the power to transform, however temporarily and however permanently. I see the scene, simultaneously remembering its many manifestations over time, remembering the man viewing it twenty/thirty years ago, and, for too fleeting a moment, the old awe adds intensity to the present. Obviously, the river can also make a person a bit strange and esoteric, but its a fine madness.
Here's how I came to this eccentricity: Over a period of time, an eon ago, the 
river whispered to me so softly as to be inaudible. Little by little, its voice grew louder, until I could decipher the message. Much akin to the lyrics of The Band's song, "The River Hymn," it called, "Son, you ain't never seen yourself / No crystal mirror can show it clear, come over here instead."  It made me an offer to which I put up no resistance, and I've been here ever since.  I like that when it addresses me--and address me it does--it always does so as "Son."  It parents; it taught me to walk its rocky, slippery bottom, taught me to walk its banks; it taught me a language I work to understand, and it gave me hope that eventually my voice would be accepted into the choir that sang the language that I alone could not. I wasn't born to it; I'm adopted, and being here only gets better the more here I become.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Today, I stood where the wide ledge below my house meets the deep part of the 
river. Where the river ran over it, the ledge was the color of wet sand with a patina of moss green highlights. It was ninety degrees; I was summoning the courage to jump in.  As I gazed into the depths, I saw my shadow and rays of light emanating around my silhouette. The light danced to the rhythm of the breeze on the water; it was all in one and magical, and that was what I dove into.

Editors note:  Another piece written by Larry Levine about the North Umpqua occurs in Gray's Sporting Journal, November/December 2011 issue, entitled Doldrums, What steelheaders think about when there aren't any steelhead. Website access is




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