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Catching Speckled Beauties

Joel La Follette - Wednesday, June 28, 2017
The Sunday Oregonian April 28th, 1912

PORTLAND fishermen enjoy a novel privilege. With but a single day of leisure at hand, or even with half a day, the local Isaak Walton is able to put in the day to good advantage on trout stream or salmon pool. For after all the years of arduous fishing the streams hereabouts continue holding up under the strain and yielding fine catches. Although the fishing season has been legally open for the past month the real angling and casting period is just starting towards its zenith. In the course of the next month the sport will come to its very best in a score of streams. It is the impending transition from bait casting to fly casting that rings out the full army of Portland's exponents of rod and stream. With the average city dweller fishing trips are events to be dreamed of and realized once or twice in a year or a decade. While love of rod and stream is bred into hundreds of thousands a majority of these find no indulgence in the sport because of the busy swirl of metropolitan existence.

And here In Portland is the happy combination, a great busy city with trout streams in profusion close at hand. Year after year these streams continue yielding their good catches. Occasionally the fisherman returns with empty creel, but he generally is encouraged by a fair catch and during the season is certain of many exceptional takes if he persists. An hour of travel from the heart of the city, for example, will take the fisherman to the haunt of "minnows" weighing from five to 50 pounds. This "big game" fishing is now excellent and is getting better. The scene is below the Willamette Falls at Oregon City and the game Is the Spring run of Salmon. These big scrappy fellows take a spoon readily and once you hook one there is half an hour or more of an animated struggle.

Big Game Fishing
Every day scores of fishermen are enjoying his splendid sport which never gives out during the season. The supply of salmon seems inexhaustible. Now and then a fisherman returns from the Falls with nothing to show for his outing, but the average catch is from one to half a dozen and when you consider that the average fish there will run better than ten pounds you need not feel the day lost if you catch but one fish.

It is a common occurrence for the fisherman to catch more fish there than he can carry home. Those big fellows, you see, run into weight fast. You get one weighing 40 pounds, an other weighing 20 and a couple of more in the 15 pound class and you will need stout shoulders to tote away your catch. This big game fishing is done mainly from boats. Spoons are cast out and drawn up and down until a Chinook, his curiosity aroused, strikes it "like one dog biting another" as the fishermen say. Then commences the battle. The gamy fish invariably takes one prodigious sheet across the river, leaping several feet out of the water and shaking himself in the process. For the first ten minutes of play the fish fights with every ounce there is in him, darting and thrusting, striking with his tall and dashing up and down. It is not until his splendid strength begins to wane that he gives in to the inevitable and the instinct of self-preservation is rendered nil. Slowly he Is brought up to the boat and as he catches a flash of his tormentors he puts his remaining strength into a final flurry. In the end he is drawn up and "gaffed" and then lifted into the boat.

Comparatively few fishermen go in for this magnificent sport, however. It is the smaller fish of the trout streams that lure the majority. There are half a hundred of these small streams within a radius of 25 miles of Portland and each stream is the favorite place of scores of fishermen.

The Clackamas River is the hardest fished stream in Oregon, if not in the Northwest. You can strike the Clackamas in a run of 45 minutes by auto or streetcar, or you can travel for hours and even days up towards its source. Notwithstanding the inroads of tens of thousands of fishermen during the past 50 years the Clackamas can be relied upon for good catches the year around. It is particularly the standby of the bait fisherman, who is especially busy at this early part of the fishing season.

Big Fish In the Clackamas
Although the fisherman may meet an occasional day of hard luck in the Clackamas, it is unusual to return there from with empty creel. The beauty of fishing in the Clackamas is that it is the haunt of schools of big fish, and it is not at all unusual to get into a likely pool only to have the one and two-pounders begin fighting for first place on the hook. It is not, to be sure, a stream where the unskilled man may go out and get a day's record catch. The old river has been so hard fished that the fish, especially the larger ones, become quite fastidious as to the bait they take. So the man who doesn't know how to drape his salmon eggs, disguise his leader and let his bait fall with the water in a natural fashion, is reasonably certain of failure. It is not an uncommon sight to see two men fishing side by side one with empty creel and the other with a fine take. Until late in the Summer bait fishing prevails on the Clackamas, which has an average width of some 50 yards. In its upper reaches it passes through rugged country that is difficult of access, and here some exceptional sport is to be had fly fishing in August and September.

Among the network of trout streams directly east of the city are the Little Sandy, Salmon River, Bull Run, Clear Creek, Deep Creek, Eagle Creek, Johnson Creek and the North Fork of the Clackamas. West of Portland is a number of splendid early trout streams. The water in these does not run off the icy mountains, and is of a temperature that admits of good catches much earlier than in the typical mountain streams. In the list is Scroggins Creek, Patton Creek on the Tualatin, Gales Creek and Dairy Creek.

Small tributaries of the Columbia also afford much good sport easy of access. The best early fishing is on the Lower Columbia, the streams most fished being Scappoose Creek, Tide Creek, Clatskanie, Big Creek and the Necanicum. When you go into the topic of fishing in Oregon the field is a big one. No better fishing, perhaps, can be found any place on earth than in some of the unfrequented streams of this state. Every county has its renowned trout streams, the most noted fishing places being the McKenzie River, out of Eugene; the Deschutes, in Eastern Oregon, and the Rogue River, in Southern Oregon.
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