I have been a angler for over 50 years but a steelhead junkie for only about the last 15, so I merely had a taste of what it could be like in Oregon before the populations started plummeting. It was enough. For a few years I even parked a small trailer near Glide all winter so I could leave Bend early Saturday morning, fish my way down the fly water section of the North Umpqua and fish my way back the next day. It was exhausting but always rewarding, even when I did not touch a fish. Of course, the N. Umpqua has been closed recently due to fires and low fish returns so I was interested to see that ODFW announced it will reopen on December 1.
As the press release states, the 2021 summer run was about 10% of average or 350 fish. A depressing return on one of the most celebrated steelhead rivers in North America. I asked the local ODFW fish biologist if he had reason to believe that the winter run would be better. He expects the run will be about the same as last winter, which was well below average, but should be better than the summer run. Not the least encouraging. Do I try my luck to catch one of the few returning fish? I guess I need to watch the counts and see what happens, as ODFW says they will be doing. Here’s hoping for the best.