When I was growing up in East Medford, I always looked forward to Autumn, not for the cooler days and changing leaves but for the opportunity to hunt the wild Rogue Valley Pheasant.
The field across the street from my house was filled with Pheasant, quail, and even an occasional duck sitting on one of the Pear orchard ponds.
Typically I would wake up long before I had to be at the bus stop, and sit on the porch looking out over the fields. As the sky lightened with the coming dawn I’d hear the crow of Pheasant. I’d decide the area I’d hunt based on where I thought the crowing Pheasant was sitting. Then i’d grab my excited labrador and head out into the field with my 12 gauge on my shoulder.
Most mornings I wouldn’t come up with a Pheasant, but it was mostly because my untrained labrador would jump the thing so far out that the range was too much. Or the Pheasant would lead us on such a wild run through the brambles that by the time it jumped I’d be so out of breath I couldn’t hold the gun steady and I’d miss. That’s right, I’m blaming it on the dog.
Now that field and orchard are gone, replaced with tract housing and mini-malls. Also gone are the Pheasant that used to inhabit the area.
Pheasant hunting was never great in the Rogue Valley, but it was good enough to keep me interested. Now, however there simply aren’t any wild Pheasant left. There’s nowhere for them to nest and feed and do the things Pheasant do, now there are people in those areas.
I was lamenting this sad passing because yesterday I went out to Denman Wildlife Area and hunted planted Pheasant.
The 104 year old Gold Ray dam was removed this summer. It was deemed a huge impediment to migrating Salmon and Steelhead on the Rogue River, and was considered a dilapidated and dangerous structure.
It was removed and now the river runs free. In my opinion this is all good, however there was one major downside to the dams destruction.
The dam and concrete fish ladder created one of the best kayaking play wave/holes in the region. I would go so far as to say the wave was one of the best i’d ever surfed. Any whitewater kayaking trick you can think of could be done at this wave…blunts, ends, splits, loops, whatever your pleasure you could do it here.
Because it was formed by slabs of flat concrete it’s shape was very unique. It had a hole portion, you could throw multiple ends in, a super fast wave portion you could throw aerial blunts in and a nice big eddy beside it for easy access.
Surfing with the Salmon
Since the wave was directly below the fish ladder, surfing in the Spring always brought the unusual experience of surfing with the Salmon. Literally, surfing with the Salmon. Many times i’d be parked on the wave and have a Salmon come crashing over my shoulder in his struggle upstream. There were always dark backs and dorsals beside you as you chucked ends and hit blunts. Continue reading Gold Ray Dam Removal Affects Local Kayaking→
Since 1904 there has been a pour over dam on the Rogue river called, Gold Ray dam. It was built by some locals, C.R. and Frank Ray, before there were rules and regulations about such things.
The original structure was built of logs. The Ray’s dream was to produce hydroelectric power from their makeshift dam. They were successful and were the first suppliers of hydroelectric power to the Rogue Valley.
Eventually the dam was bought and rebuilt with concrete. A fish ladder was also built to accommodate the migrating Salmon and Steelhead.
In 1972 the hydroelectric feature of the dam was shut down. The dam remained and eventually was named one of the biggest hindrances to migrating fish on the Rogue River.
To make a long story short and to get to the point of this post, the dam was removed with federal and local money in the Spring of 2010. The Medford Mail Tribune reported extensively about this process and can be read here.
The nearest upstream boat ramp to Gold Ray dam is Touvelle boat launch. Before the dam was removed you could launch your boat from Touvelle and float this great Steelhead water, but you needed a jet boat in order to climb back upstream to the boat ramp. Continue reading Dam Removal Opens New Stretch of Water→
Summer’s winding down, but don’t think the rafting season is over, because September and October are great times to raft the wild and scenic stretch of the Rogue river.
A permit is still required to run this section of river, (the permit season is from May 15 through October 15th), but you won’t have any trouble getting a permit. Every remaining day of September and October are loaded with unclaimed river permits.
All you have to do is figure out which days work for you, call the BLM office on the link above and grab a permit.
This is one of the greatest times to float the Rogue River because not only are you getting a great whitewater rafting trip in, but you’ll also probably hit some great Steelhead fishing too. Lots of folks choose to bring their Drift Boats instead of their rafts just so they can fish more efficiently.
Summer’s Last Gasp
This time of year in Southern Oregon is what they call Indian summer, in short, there’s not much precipitation and the days are warm. You’ll need a coat and long pants at night, a cozy sleeping bag and probably a tent, but the days can be wondrously warm.
Of course the days are shorter and the nights longer, but you’ll still have plenty of time to get to your next camp without having to work too hard.
If you want to maximize your time on the water and don’t want to camp at all, you can look into booking a couple of nights at one of the lodges in the river corridor. They provide a huge family style dinner, clean sleeping areas and a send you off with a hearty breakfast. Continue reading Autumn Rogue River Trip→
It’s Fall which means it’s time to start thinking about hitting the lower Rogue for the annual half pounder steelhead run.
If you’re unfamiliar with just what a half pounder steelhead run is, let me explain.
Normally Steelhead (basically sea run trout) are born in the river, stay until they’re around 7 inches long then head downstream to the ocean where they stay for 2 to 3 years, getting big and strong.
Half pounders, though return to the river after only a couple months. This is an unexplained phenomenon which happens only on the Rogue the Klamath, and the Eel rivers.
The half pounder steelhead aren’t sexually mature when they come upriver, so they don’t spawn and die, but hang out eating then return to the ocean in the Spring. They return again the next year as fully grown mature steelhead.
What does this mean for steelheaders? It means some amazing fishing. Though they’re called “half pounders” most are more like 2 pounders.
I live in Southern Oregon very near the famous Rogue River; it flows no more than ten minutes from my front doorstep. This may make me biased but The Rogue River is the best whitewater river in Oregon for a family river trip.