The North Umpqua
In September 1973, I was newly arrived in Oregon and settling in to life and practice in Eugene. Since starting to fly fish at 14 I had dreamed of and occasionally tried, from a knowledge base of ZERO, to catch a steelhead, mostly the more locally abundant winter run types in Washington. I hadn't even gotten close. There was, that month, an article in Sports Illustrated about the North Umpqua and it's then (and now) most famous river-keeper, Frank Moore. My wife was away and I was at loose ends. I looked at a map and determined that the NU was only about 90 minutes away. I threw a rod and wading shoes into the car and drove into the unknown.

Ascending the river from the start of the Fly (only) Water at Rock Creek, wrenching my neck trying to drive and study the river from the road at 40 MPH, I could only note the worn turnouts where cars clearly regularly pulled off and parked. I pulled into one and stepped up to the bank to look down on the river. The overlook flanked a nice pool (picture #22), and virtually as I first swung my eyes through it, a steelhead rolled right where I would imagine it should be. I grabbed my rod and skidded down the bank. On the second cast the fly was slammed and a few minutes later I landed a 12 pound buck, my first steelhead on a fly in 14 years of trying.

I looked around myself in disbelief. I was in shorts rather than the miserable clothing of winter steelheading. The river was beautiful, and heating up into a hot, shade seeking day. Not a person in sight. This incredibly beautiful fish lay on the sand at my feet, and I had caught it on a fly. I was in such a state of disbelief I HAD TO SHOW IT TO SOMEBODY! I threw the fish into the car and drove 90 minutes right back to Eugene to my in-laws.

The North Umpqua and that pool was good to me for the next 2 trips. Then reality set in, I didn't land or even hook another fish on the North Umpqua for more 10 years!

All of that has changed now. I hooked a fish just yesterday, 2-16-05, and talked to Frank Moore as we passed on the Mott Bridge. I release all my fish. There are a zillion stories, about the fishing, about Frank Moore, and about the river itself. And there have already been books by others both textual and photographic. But, in the final analysis, the North Umpqua most eloquently speaks for itself.
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