Sunday, August 19, 2012

743 Steelhead

It's been to long since we have  fished The North Umpqua River, six years to be exact. We made this trip to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary, attend the Native Fish Society river steward retreat, fished with friends, and visit the Big Bend Pool, this time with Tegan. It's always a special treat to spend time at the pool, watching the behavior of steelhead with Lee Spencer and his dog Sis, the keepers of the pool.

Steelhead at the head of the Big Bend Pool. photo by Rob Elam

Lee Spencer has been keeper of the Bend Pool for 15 years. Sis and Lee's seasonal stays at the pool are made possible with per diem supplied by The North Umpqua Foundation, a non-profit organization he believe in and volunteers with.  The USDA Forest Service is also an active and positive partner in this effort.  The Foundation, bless them, also comes up with a stipend so that he can more easily and have the time to transcribe these notes during the five months I am off the pool.  Lee believes  that Sis and him are luckier than he realizes in this fortuitous set of circumstances to be looking over these steelhead.
Tegan and Chloe hang out with Lee Spencer. photo by Rob Elam
"It might be the shovel-scraping-on-asphalt croak of a blue heron or the brilliant complex cascading song of the winter wren, it could be the yammering calls of the kingfisher or the lively guttural chatter of a dipper, in the fall it could be the pure clear whistles of a flock of kinglets moving through the trees and shrubs surrounding my camp that I become aware of as I wake.  It could be the splash or surge of a steelhead turning near the surface in the pool or the rain dropping to tarps.  It could be anything.  I am reasonably sure, however, that it’s the vibrations of my movements toward the front end of this twenty-five-foot Airstream trailer and/or some aspect of the soft explosion of the gas burner under the pot of creek water that wakes Sis, my fifteen-year-old heeler companion who, though happy and spry—still able to take three stair steps at a bound on a good afternoon—has become largely deaf.  Always there is the sound of the main creek as a backdrop, rushing almost booming along if it is in spate, burbling and with musical overtones that remind me of winter wrens when it is slower and low enough for some of the boulders to surface in the riffles above and below the pool. " Lee Spencer  Read the full story here. 

Wild Steelhead. photo by Mia