I finally got on the new stretch of river that was created as a result of the gold ray dam removal on the Rogue river. It was a quick trip in my drift boat to check out the new area and try to catch some wily Rogue river steelhead.
Of course the top part of the stretch is the same as it’s always been with one exception. There were tons of spawning Chinook Salmon. This is the time of year that spawning occurs but I’ve never seen so many salmon in thisstretch of river. It was weird, I literally couldn’t keep from hitting them with my oars. they were darting around like great logs just beneath the surface.
I was perplexed as to why this area was so full of them, but finally got my answer when I got to the area below where gold ray dam was taken out. But first let me tell you about my float.
I’ve done this stretch before but always in my tiny pontoon boat. Now that the dam is removed I can row my drift boat and use the never before accessible boat ramp. For a further explanation see my previous post.
Besides tons of spawning salmon, I didn’t see a change in the river until I was about 2 miles above where the dam used to be. At this point I started seeing some of the silt and mud on the side of the river.
This silt is an accumulation of 104 years of a stopped up river. It was thick, loamy, and black. For many years to come this is the stuff that will run off and muddy up the Rogue with every rise in the river. Hopefully, we’ll have some big rainy winters and get the Rogue to really flush all this shit out of there in one or two seasons. Continue reading Gold Ray Drift→
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→