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.
The hole was finicky, you had to hit it between 2400 and 3000 CFS, but that usually happened about 40-50 days out of the year.
If you went to the hole on a weekend you’d see other boaters, but for the most part I surfed that wave/hole by myself or with my brother. It never would get very crowded because it was not the easiest place to play. It was tempermental and could beat you down if you weren’t on your game. It was truly an epic spot which I will miss greatly.
Personal Point Break
It was only a couple minutes from my house so i’d frequent it often. I always considered it like my own point break. It’s gone now, forever relegated to the depths of my memory. I hoped that perhaps when they tore it down, it would leave some other kayaking feature, but no…there’s nothing there, barely even a riffle.
I’m okay with it’s demise though, I really am. It was a dam, a hindrance to the natural flow of a river. The Rogue can live up to it’s name now, it can truly be a Rogue.
The removal will also help the struggling Salmon and may bring the fish counts back up to historic numbers. I’ve lost a kayaking spot, but hopefully will be rewarded with better fishing.
There are other spots to kayak on the Rogue, none even close to as good as Gold Ray, but there are others. I won’t be without boating come Spring, but I won’t go as often. I won’t have my point break.