Dam Removal Opens New Stretch of Water

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.

There are no take out points between Touvelle boat launch and Gold Ray dam. So, unless you wanted to jump your boat off the 35 foot Gold Ray dam you had to have a motor to make it back upstream.

There was another option besides a jet boat, however. I bought a small one person pontoon boat just so I could float this section. Since the pontoon only weighs 50 pounds I didn’t need a traditional boat ramp. I could row right up to the dam, drag my pontoon through the thick weeds and blackberries and throw the boat into the back of my pickup.

It was an arduous trip with lot of rowing on the flat water caused from the Gold Ray dam backwater. I didn’t do it often, however I was usually successful in landing at least one Steelhead when I did.

Now the dam is gone and there is no longer a barrier to floating from Touvelle to the Gold Ray area boat ramp. This opens up that stretch of water to every kind of boat. Of course this includes my drift boat.

I have yet to float this stretch but plan to in the very near future. It’s exciting to think about all the new riffles I’ll encounter that used to be covered by the backwater. It’ll be like floating a brand new river. I can’t wait to learn all the new spots that fish will hole up in.

This may become my primary fishing ground because it is the closest stretch of river to my house. The put-in is only 10 minutes away.

It’s a six-mile stretch of water which is the perfect length for an all day float or a quick evening float. There’s so much good Steelhead water that you could spend all day and still not fish every spot adequately. There’s also some deep holes which would be good for Salmon fishing in the Spring.

Many folks were pissed about the dam being torn down but I’m certainly not one of them. The dam removal not only will help bring back Salmon and Steelhead to record numbers but it also opens up a whole new stretch of river to explore.

gold ray dam before demolition
Gold Ray Dam

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