Close encounters with Sasquatch trout – Part I
Fishing and hunting
By Bill Lynch
May 26, 2011 - 01:28 PM
SASQUATCH and I discussed the size of McKenzie River trout over pizza at Ike's in Vida last week.
Dottie and I (and our trusty Lab, Annie) left Sonoma on a cold, wet, stormy Sunday, heading toward Portland, where our son Ryan lives and works for the Portland Oregonian. Our itinerary called for several stops along the way to fish and taste some fine Oregon pinot noir, for which the Willamette Valley is known. Our companions in the adventure were supposed to be Joe and Beth Aaron, good friends, fellow fly-fishers and connoisseurs of fine pinot.
Unfortunately, Joe got some sort of weird bug and was as useless as a whitefish for the first two days of our trip, although on the second day, he bravely crawled out of his sickbed to join us on a drive from our cabin near the town of Merlin to the Roque River's “Holy Water,” a short stretch of a fly-fishing-only stream, just below the Lost Creek Reservoir. Joe was hoping for a cure, but, alas, the waters had no healing power and few fish. I hooked two trout, but saw no others. Joe could barely raise his fly-rod and retreated to the car. The holy water did not bless either of us.
The Rogue is better known as a salmon and steelhead river, and the action is much better later in the season. We plan to return sometime late in the summer or fall for its famed “half-pounder” run of steelhead. On the positive side, we found a great cabin to rent via VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) in Merlin. A former Rogue River lodge, it is now owned by Leo and Cecilia Ramos. It is a classic riverside cabin with plenty of room (sleeps nine to 12), rich in historic decor, and wonderfully cozy. If you are planning a Rogue River fishing vacation and have a group of four or more, this is a great place to rent. You can find it at VRBO.com as listing-number 26413.
On the third morning, as we were preparing to drive up the road a few hours to our next port of call, Joe reluctantly admitted he couldn't make it. Rather than join us and leave him behind for the bears to finish off, Beth decided she would drive him home to Sonoma, where he took several more days to recover.
While our friends headed south, Dottie, Annie and I headed north to the town of Vida, a tiny little village on the banks of the McKenzie River, 24 miles east of Eugene. The gradually improving weather and beautiful scenery helped brighten our mood after our disappointment at the departure of our friends. In Vida, just a few doors from the town's only store (combined with a post office), we rented another VRBO cabin, this one owned by Charles and Kelly Prince (VRBO #343447). Actually it was not a cabin, but a real home, with all the furnishings and features of a home, including a beautiful, expansive back yard that led down to the river. The view off the living room and back deck was gorgeous, and included a small gaggle of Canada geese grazing on the grass, until Annie went out to say hello.
Annie's more of a lover than a hunter, but she was curious and approached them to exchange butt sniffs, only to have them fly off, honking, clearly annoyed. She took a brief dip in the McKenzie, but the water was high and flowing swiftly, so I didn't let her go too far.
We ate dinner at Ike's Pizza, clearly a Vida night-life hot spot, where a nine-foot-tall stuffed “Sasquatch” glared down on patrons enjoying east-coast style pizza and fried chicken. The food was hearty and satisfying, and it was there I learned that we were in the company of Oregon Sasquatch fans. Nearby, there is an annual Sasquatch Symposium, which takes place June 17 to 19. While dining on Ike's pizza, we read the symposium's long list of guest speakers who have notoriety as Big Foot “witnesses.” Some folks are convinced that huge, hairy, mysterious things live among the jungle-like dark forest that surrounds Vida. I was hoping that among these critters were a few “Sasquatch trout,” bigger than life and besting the strong currents of the McKenzie that was running full bank-to-bank, and where we planned to fish the next morning.
More on our adventure next week.
This week, fishing close to home has been hit and miss due to bad weather, so-so tides and high winds. Capt. Rick Powers, of Bodega Bay Sportfishing, finally has his boat, The New Sea Angler, back in the water, and he is taking out clients this week. Salmon are being caught on the average of one a rod, depending on the weather. If Rick gets some flat water this week, expect the action to pick up. Call him at 875-3344 to make a reservation.
Inside San Francisco Bay, halibut, sturgeon and striped bass are all biting, but weather has kept the catch rate down this week. It could break wide open when the sun finally appears and the winds calm.
Bass fishing at Clear Lake, Berryessa and Lake Sonoma has been slow this week. Bass are nesting and not inclined to aggressive feeding. The Department of Fish and Game planted rainbow trout in Napa's Lake Hennessey this week.