The Steamboater Whistle
Volume 55, Issue 2
North Umpqua River, Oregon
|Announcements and Club Events|
Please welcome the following new members:
Grady McCrae, Beaverton, Oregon
Ed Kikumoto, Steamboat, Oregon
Spawning signs in the North Umpqua fly water
If you were winter Steelhead fishing in the fly water late this March and early April you probably noticed some new signs hanging around the river alerting anglers of active spawning areas.
The Steamboaters collaborated with the USFS North Umpqua Ranger District Recreation Department to have the signs put out in an effort to alert anglers and all river users where the major spawning areas are with a warning not to disturb spawning winter Steelhead.
These signs were in response to a growing number of anglers fishing to and harassing spawning fish, especially in the upper section of the fly water where the fish are especially visible and vulnerable. We hope the signs have made a positive impact; educating anglers who weren't previously aware, as well as deterring the anglers who know exactly what they are doing and can't help themselves from trying to hook a big buck they can see on the beds.
Special thanks to Janie Pardo and Eric Figura from North Umpqua Recreation who created and delivered the signs, and to Tony Wratney for putting up the signs in the appropriate places.
Thanks to all the members who have paid their dues; we appreciate and need you. However, we have over 30 members who have yet to pay. Please send in your money today and help us continue the important work of the stewardship of the North Umpqua.
51st Glide Wildflower Show
President's Message by Tim Goforth
Good day to all Steamboaters and welcome to another issue of the Whistle. Winter has, maybe, faded into spring here along the North Umpqua bringing densely bloom-packed wild Dogwoods, Trillium, and wild Iris.
The 50th Anniversary Banquet was a success. We filled the Steamboat Inn to near maximum capacity at over 70 people, with eighty being the dining capacity at the Inn. People came early and stayed until I had to shoo everyone out the door at 10:00 pm.
We enjoyed excellent presentations on the theme " Pass Creek Past, Present, and Future". We saw the original "Pass Creek" film with Q&A following led by Frank Moore and Jeff Dose. After dinner, Jeff McEnroe from the BLM spoke about the plans the BLM has for restoration work in that area.
I had the opportunity to talk with many people I hadn't seen for many years and meet some Steamboaters that were new to me. Of course fish stories were wide spread. The auction was also a great success with top quality items donated from personal art and gear collections and fly-fishing shops and industry manufacturers.
So what has the Steamboater Board been doing?
There was a change made in the 2016 angling regulations, which would have eliminated the "Deadline" run in the fly water. ODFW and the State Police painted a yellow line on both sides of the river stating "No Fishing". Joe Ferguson and I contacted the local ODFW Office and Greg Huchko came up and looked at it and informed us that the line was a mistake. I later met Greg at "Deadline" and agreed that the original line across the lower face of the "fall" met the letter of the current regulations. The lines have been removed and the wording will be changed for the 2017 Regulations.
Several of us met with ODFW at the Rock Creek Fish Hatchery to discuss what their plans are for Rock Creek and the hatchery fish that "stray" up river. Hatchery fish are now being caught above Dry Creek. If you catch hatchery steelhead in the fly water, please e-mail me, email@example.com, letting me know where and the date you caught the fish. We are trying to accumulate data on the straying hatchery fish.
Jeff Dose and several other of your board members met with The Umpqua National Forest staff to discuss how the Steamboaters could use the Mitigation Funds from Pacific Corp, which the Umpqua National Forest manages. Jeff, on behalf of Steamboaters, submitted two proposals to them. See his article in this issue of the Whistle for the details.
Rosso Conservation Fund Committee and Board Members met and reviewed two formal proposals for funds that were sent to us in response to the invitation to apply letter we sent earlier this year. We received one from Western Rivers Conservancy to help with purchase of 211 acres along the North Umpqua starting at Swiftwater Park. The amount they asked for was $8000.
The other was from Pacific Rivers Council to continue their snorkeling research up Canton Creek. They asked that we partner with the North Umpqua Foundation for the amount of $5000.
After bringing proposals to the board, there was discussion and then Jeff Dose made the following motion:
To give $4000 out of our General Fund and $4000 out of the Rosso Conservation Fund to Western Rivers Conservancy for the purchase of land on the North Umpqua.
In addition, $4000 out of Rosso Conservation Fund to Pacific Rivers Council to fund research work up Canton Creek.
Both funding proposals passed unanimously.
I want you all to know that we do not spend Steamboater funds frivolously; only after serious consideration over several meetings do we make our final decisions. Steamboater Board members do not get paid and many of us attend meetings in other cities and we are not reimbursed for our travel or meal expenses. We want your annual dues to go as far as possible for the benefit of the North Umpqua River and watershed.
When we were involved in the litigation to remove the electricity generators (the fish grinders) at Winchester Dam a majority of our General Funds were spent. Becoming involved or leading the way in such endeavors takes money. The North Umpqua is not free from potential threats, being bordered by National Forest Land, BLM Land, and private landowners, all which see and use the land and environs differently. There are different regulations for the private landowner. If you have read about the proposed "relaxed" standards to logging on BLM Land and in riparian zones you should be concerned. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and Congressman Peter DeFazio are making this proposal.
We, your Board Members, try to keep up on these issues and work to make our voices heard. At this time there are currently 32 of our 205 members that have not paid their dues. I do not believe that $40 annually is too much to pay to have a knowledgeable and dedicated organization with the potential to protect the North Umpqua.
Please pay your dues and know that they will be well used. If you fish or walk the trails of the North Umpqua you should be a Steamboater. This organization needs you, and you need the organization to protect our river.
Thank you all for your support.
Federal Mitigation Fund Update by Jeff Dose
The Federal Mitigation Fund is one of many articles contained in the Settlement Agreement (SA) that PacifiCorp reached with the various state and federal regulatory agencies as a part of the re-licensing of the North Umpqua Hydropower Project. The primary purpose of the Mitigation Fund, which is completely under the control of the Umpqua National Forest, is to mitigate impacts to resources that could not otherwise be mitigated on-site through changes in operations or facilities. The SA contains numerous articles that address on-site changes to reduce impacts and/or capture opportunities, therefore, by definition, projects funded through the Mitigation Fund should nearly always be in off-site locations.
Impacts to Aquatic Resources
The construction and operation of multiple dams, diversions, canals, roads, and the resultant creation of lentic habitats (lakes) in what was once a free-flowing, lotic system (streams) has dramatically and irreversibly altered the entire aquatic ecology of the upper North Umpqua watershed. This project has profoundly altered all elements of aquatic ecosystem function, as defined in the nine objectives contained in the Aquatic Conservation Strategy (ACS) from the NW Forest Plan including: flow regimes, sediment transport and deposition, nutrient cycling, aquatic connectivity, water quality, and the aquatic biota native to the system. Instead of a fully connected "stream continuum" the project has created a system of disconnected stream reaches, interrupted by dams and diversions where as much as 90% of the flow is diverted, where virtually all the coarse sediment (gravels and cobbles) are precluded from downstream transport, where virtually all populations of native fauna (fish, insects, mollusks, amphibians, etc.) have been eliminated, disconnected and/or isolated, and where the creation of numerous lakes and other stillwater habitats now contains numerous non-native and invasive aquatic species, including a number of fish, some of which are highly predacious. Additionally, despite fish passage facilities, a significant loss of highly productive "hot spot" spawning and rearing areas for native fish runs have been irretrievably lost due to inundated reaches (e.g., under Soda Springs Reservoir) and loss of passage (above Slide Creek Dam).
While societal benefits, such as electricity and increased recreational opportunities have increased with this project, the adverse impact to native aquatic resources has been far greater than to any other resource. Although there have certainly been adverse impacts to native wildlife, such as mortality at canals and altered migratory patterns, there have also been benefits, such as increased habitat for many waterfowl species, raptors (e.g., bald eagles, ospreys), and aquatic furbearers. Also, some of the articles in the SA specifically deal directly with wildlife impacts, e.g., numerous wildlife bridges over canals.
The Steamboaters have been actively engaged from the beginning with the Forest to insure consistency with the purposes of the Mitigation Fund. The Steamboaters have stated that a fundamental objective of planning for the Mitigation Fund is to maintain and (where feasible) enhance the native fish populations in the North Umpqua River watershed. This objective could be best accomplished through providing access to and the protection and restoration of fish spawning and rearing areas in many of the tributaries to the upper North Umpqua River.
Accomplishing this presents a complex restoration challenge that requires the best scientific understanding of the system and what constitutes actual ecological restoration, as opposed to "feel good" band-aids. In addition to the hydropower project, much of the watershed has been damaged as a consequence of past (and on-going) extractive activities and associated road construction, affecting habitat quality for native fish and other aquatic biota. Effective, large-scale (6th Field or larger) whole watershed restoration in tributaries to the North Umpqua offers the best opportunity to achieve this objective. Restoration activities that focus on restoring natural disturbance regimes at watershed and sub-watershed scales are what are needed to achieve all 9 objectives of the ACS, which is both a blueprint and measure of effectiveness for aquatic protection and restoration.
In the past, the Steamboaters have raised serious concerns with some previous activities that have been funded with the Mitigation Fund such as: road repair/maintenance within the project "footprint", tui chub trapping in Lemolo Reservoir, gravel augmentation in the mainstem North Umpqua (which is experimental and in no way mimics natural sediment regimes, e.g., timing, amount, character, etc.), and upland vegetative treatments, e.g., TSI, thinning, planting. While some of these may well be beneficial and desirable, they are not appropriate projects for the Mitigation Fund.
Recent Steamboater Recommendations
In recent correspondence with the Forest Service, the Steamboaters identified three subject areas that should be part of the implementation of the Mitigation Fund. These are as follows: 1) Inventory and Monitoring of aquatic systems; 2) Road Decommissioning where decisions have been made; and 3) Active In stream Restoration, including fish passage where problems exist.
The Umpqua Forest Plan and NU Wild and Scenic River Plan both contain extensive elements that were intended to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of management activities on aquatic resources, including restoration activities. In recent years, due to declining budgets and other factors (greatly reduced aquatic staffing, other priorities, etc.) there has been an extreme lack of emphasis on monitoring/evaluation. A review of annual monitoring reports supports this contention, with only small percentage of aquatic elements of the plan being implemented. If the Forest truly desires a robust aquatic restoration program, it must include a dedicated, comprehensive program of monitoring and evaluation, not an afterthought to other priorities. While appropriated allocations should be included in the funding mix for this program, the Mitigation Fund can and should be used to supplement, as needed, in order to ensure a credible, continuing program. Elements should include on-going, annual activities at certain locations (e.g., stream gauges, water temps, macro-invertebrates, spawning surveys) and periodic, rotating locations, such as Level 2 stream surveys on a 10-15 year return interval. While expensive (both staffing and equipment costs), some highly effective activities such as out-migrant trapping at a few key locations should also be implemented.
There are a number of decisions for road decommissioning that have been made, but not implemented to date. The Steamboaters have encouraged the Forest to move forward with these important restoration activities. Over the years, the Forest has conducted Watershed Analyses and developed a Restoration Business Plan. The Forest also participated in a national planning effort entitled Whole Watershed Restoration Initiative. These, and other planning efforts, have identified a large number of aquatic restoration needs/opportunities. The Steamboaters have strongly encouraged the Forest to use the Mitigation Fund to effectively monitor, evaluate, protect and restore aquatic habitats throughout the North Umpqua sub-basin.
2016 Steamboaters' Banquet
Great company, exceptional food, and fabulous auction items combined to make the 2016 banquet a wonderful evening.
Appetizers and wine were served in the library
John Holing, Steve Evans, and Dave Carlson
Chris Evans, Anne Ferguson, Kathy Hall, and Barbara Burruss
Auction items were many and varied; rods, reels, framed photographs and prints with mounted flies, jewelry, clothing, and guided trips were just some of the items
Teri Holing, Kathy Hall, Dennis Moore, and John Kurtz perusing some auction items
Dave Longanecker, John Kober, Karl Konecny, and Joe Howell
The Inn served up a wonderful dinner
Bonnie Howell and Cathy Tronquet
Jan Moore and Colleen Bectel
Josh Voynick, Jeannie Moore, and Frank Moore; Frank is holding a metal fish sculpture made by Josh and presented to Frank and Jeannie in appreciation for their conservation work through the years.
What the River Means to Me by Jeff Johnson
As I was sitting at the Steamboaters 50th banquet at The Steamboat Inn I couldn't help but think of all the history in that room. It got me thinking about what it is that can draw me 7 plus hours from my home, away from my second home on the Olympic Peninsula where there are plenty of other steelhead rivers. It is the river. This river is so special to so many and that room showed that in spades. It got me thinking about what this river means to me and the others in that room.
First this river means family. This is the river where my dad taught me to fly fish for steelhead. It is the river that I watched my first fly caught steelhead happen out of the Log by my dad on a green butt skunk. It is the river where both my brother and I got our first steelhead on a fly both out of Swamp Creek. I can still see clear as if it happened yesterday coming over the Steamboat Creek bridge one day from fishing some other place and seeing my dad hooked up in The Boat. I don't think I could have gotten there any faster. It is the river where I learned to drive with one eye on the river and one on the road, most of the time in that priority order. It is the river that we have made trips to since I was in Junior High. It is where we used to drag our tent trailer and spend our family vacations at Susan or Bogus Creek. Fishing, riding our bikes, swimming at little falls, campfires, having my mom chastise us for cooking our eggs in bacon grease after a morning of fishing. It is the river where just this summer I watched my brother raise 2 fish to a skater in one pool in 15 minutes. It is the river that I introduced my own family to camping on this last summer. I could go on and on but it means family to me.
It means friends. First off there are 7 of us that tend to gather there either together or separately: three dads, 2 sons, and 2 son-in-laws to fish. I hesitate to call these people friends as they are as close to fishing family as I could get and not be related. Heck, the 2 sons, of whom I am one, have literally known each other since birth. This is an interesting group to say the least. We fish hard, drink too much, eat good food, and tell stories probably way too many times. There are mothers, wives and now kids in this group and they are just as much a part of it, even if they may not be there as we wouldn't probably be there without their support. One in this group is the best steelhead fisherman I will ever know. One is probably one the most intelligent fisherman I will ever know. One is my Dad who has taught me more then he will ever know about taking care of your family and respecting fish. The 2 son-in-laws are crazy and brothers from different mothers. One is one of the most athletic fisherman I have the pleasure to fish with. This is the group that taught me the river pool by pool and pull out by pullout. We have our own fishing rhythm and style. The stories are legendary in our circle from epic falls to epic days on the river when the stars all align. We may not get together as often as we used to but when we do, watch out. There are of course other friends and family that are a part of this group but when I think of it the first thing I think about are the 7 of us.
It means fish. Everyone knows that this is the "graduate school" of steelheading so not sure why this was the river that I was blessed to learn to steelhead fly fish on when there were other "easier" rivers much closer, but I can't be happier that it was. It is the river as I said where I took my first steelhead on a fly out of swamp creek, as did my brother. It is the river I got my second fish the next day out of Wright Creek. It is the river I raised my first fish to a skater at Caretaker. It is the river I tied flies for all summer to go to spend my week on in high school. It is where I learned to wade and wade right. It is where I learned to fall and embrace it. It is the river where I learned to cast. It is the river where I still fish a single-handed rod most of the time in the summer because that is how you do it. It is the river that every time I think I have the fish figured out it teaches me a lesson that I don't.
It is history. If everyone in that banquet could have stood up and told one story about the river I am sure that you would have heard a pin drop while they were talking. No matter what, there is a history on the North Umpqua that is there, alive, and needs to be respected and told. I will never know the river the way many in the room do but I can tell you that I respect the history of the place more than I could ever put into words and hope I can love it as much as most in that room. I can hope to do some of them proud by how I introduce it to my family and friends. I hope the stories keep to be told.
It is about the future. The river needs many friends for it to have a future. I am not the young generation on the river anymore but I am not the older one either. I am somewhere in the middle. I now get the pleasure and joy to introduce the river to my wife, young son and daughter. It is something that I am looking forward to, I feel is my obligation to do, and I can only hope that they fall as deeply in love with the river as I have and want to protect it and see it thrive as I have. I know we are all needed to protect the river and fish of a place that we all love.
Goodbye Earl by Averi Wratney
In loving memory of Earl,
A North Umpqua fishing dog to remember.
March 2002 - March 12, 2016
Many of us have had that one special dog that was always at our side on the River.
Earl was one of those dogs. Earl came to the North Umpqua and landed with Tony Wratney Jr., a North Umpqua fly fishing guide, by chance . . . an old girlfriend showed up with the pup as a gift. Unable to refuse the charms of one of the cutest puppies ever, Tony accepted the ball of white fur and teeth. Not being able to decide on a name at first, the boys at the guide house called him Puppy Puppy for a while, until Tony finally chose a fitting name, and so Earl's 14 year journey as a River Dog had begun.
Now for those of you who know Tony Wratney, you know how many hours he spends on the river fishing. For those of you who don't . . . let's just say, . . . it's a hell of a lot!
So as soon as he was big enough to handle the currents of the river, he would accompany Tony fishing. Like most Labradors, Earl had a healthy (and sometimes, unhealthy) retrieving addiction. He learned early on that if he sat quietly by Tony's side while he fished the pool he would soon earn his reward of a few rounds of stick tossing and swimming. It got so he would just hop out of the truck, run down the trail to the river directly to the casting station to sit and wait for his turn for fun.
The running joke at the Summer Run Guide House was when everyone else was booked and a client wanted to hire a guide to go fishing, we would say "Book Earl! He knows the pools just as good as Tony does!" Earl found lots of mischief to be had out on the river as well. Exuberently jumping on hikers that don't like dogs with muddy paws, rolling in and eating as much rotting salmon as possible; then puking it up, and of course, the fine selective hearing that dogs have when they have found some poop or dead thing that is much more interesting than coming when called to go to the next pool to fish.
In the last two years, his age really caught up with him and he could no longer navigate the rocky steep trails and had to stick to only fishing the Boat Pool. He became an elderly guy and had to stay home when the other dogs got to go out on the river to play. He was still his normal happy easy going self and would light up like a puppy if you had a stick or tennis ball.
Like what will happen to all of us, he slowly deteriorated, had a hard time walking and couldn't keep any weight on. We knew his end was nearing and did our very best to make sure he was comfortable and knew he was well loved. March 12th was a fateful night because during our normal nightly outing he just disappeared into thin air. He was there one minute and gone the next. We looked for him for countless hours and enlisted our neighbors, who luckily had their son's boy scout troop over for a sleepover that night. The scouts jumped all over having a search party and we looked tirelessly for 3 days. Nothing. We live right above the Mott Pool now and the river was running quite high and cold. The only thing that made sense was he caught a wiff of dead salmon or otter poop and in sneaky Labrador fashion went down to check it out. He couldn't have gotten far because he was really having trouble walking by this time. Even though we will never know for sure, we believe he slipped into the river and was no longer strong enough to swim out of the rapids he used to so easily play in. Although it has been a heartbreaking loss, and it feels like a piece of us is missing when we walk along the River, we like to think this was the way he would have wanted to exit this life . . . one last big swim.
Earl the pup with Tony Wratney Sr.
"The Partnership of Fly Fishing" by Arnold Gingrich
From the Steamboat Whistle - July, 1968
Thank you, Ben Hammond, for this priceless bit.
I hesitate to be unkind
But the salmon has a one-track mind.
Once every season, full of fire
He swims upstream, higher and higher.
From dawn to dusk, and dusk to dawn,
From morn to night, and night to morn,
Up rocks and rills,
Up streams and hills
Up high cascades,
Up grassy glades,
Up canyon steeps,
Through water deep,
Up stones and rocks
Up dams and locks,
From day to night,
From dark to light,
Until at last, on one bright dawn
He gets there - just in time to spawn.
Now having done his salmon duty
Now having wooed his salmon cutie
And weary from the trip uptown
In quiet shallows he will drown
Pondering with his dying bubble
JUST WHY IS SEX SO DAMN MUCH TROUBLE!
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 of the Federation of Fly Fishers.
Board of Directors
Tim Goforth, President
541 496 0780
Jeff Dose, Vice President
541 673 2665
Averi Wratney, Secretary
541 496 2248
Lee Lashway, Treasurer
541 953 4796
Josh Voynick, Board Member
541 496 0077
Dillon Renton, Board Member
Chuck Schnautz, Board Member
541 688 4980
541 747 4917
541 863 6213
541 496 4222
541 496 0493
541 673 2246
PO Box 41266
Eugene, Oregon 97404
To join The Steamboaters go to:
and download the application