Wine, food and fly-fishing Part I
MULTNOMAH FALLS, is one of several beautiful sights to see along the Columbia Gorge. It rises more than 700 feet above the river. Steelhead and salmon smolt grow up in many of these little tributary streams (below the falls) before migrating to the Pacific Ocean.
By Bill Lynch
There was a time when I could not walk or drive past a stretch of river (or creek) without wondering if there were trout to be caught there and wishing I had a fly rod in my hand to find out. When the opportunity presented itself, I could spend all day, every available day, casting to real and imagined fish, embracing my obsession with "trouty-looking" waters, forgoing food, drink and other diversions so I could keep on fishing.
Today, that youthful monomania has evolved into an appreciation for a more eclectic approach to a fishing adventure – a meander that includes the excitement of planning a trip, enjoying the drive, the beauty of the area, and stopping to enjoy good food and wine along the way with my best friend and spouse, Dottie.
Dottie enjoys fly-fishing in small doses and loves catching trout (which she prefers to eat rather than release), and over the years, I've learned that if I want her company on my fishing adventures, I must enrich them with other pleasures, including a decent place to stay (with indoor plumbing), fine food, good wine, and preferably some little shops nearby, in which she can spend time while I'm still fishing.
Oh, and one more thing – we travel with our blond Lab, Annie, so our destinations must be pet friendly.
It is in this context that Dottie, Annie and I, just completed an eight-day meander into Oregon that included a night in Ashland to see a play, stops to taste wine at various wineries in the Umpqua Valley, and a delightful stay at the Riverplace Hotel in Portland to visit with our son and daughter-in-law, Ryan and Rachel Lynch, and old friends Priscilla and Jim Maugham.
The Riverplace Hotel is right on the Willamette River. I wondered if there were any trout there, but my fly-rod stayed in the room while we enjoyed our visits in Portland, which has become our favorite West Coast city. We took Annie for long walks along the city's incredible riverside park, shared by many Portlanders and huge flocks of Canada geese. If you are planning a trip to Portland, we highly recommend the Riverplace and two excellent nearby restaurants – Veritable Quandary and East India Company Bar and Grill. The Riverplace is very dog friendly and provides special hotel dog dishes and dog sitting services.
The next stage of our meander was north and east to the scenic Columbia River Gorge, which has sort of a Yosemite type of grandeur, and through which the mighty Columbia drains virtually the entire Pacific Northwest, including seven states and one Canadian province. In places it looks as wild as it probably did when Lewis and Clark passed through in 1805.
We took scenic byways and stopped to enjoy several beautiful waterfalls dropping hundreds of feet over wooded and fern-lined cliffs. We also visited a fish hatchery where tens of thousands of salmon fry are being raised for later release into what was once a seemingly limitless wild salmon river. Today, anglers still fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and its tributaries, but truly wild fish are precious and aggressively protected.
We spent a couple of nights at the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel near the town of Hood River, and fished for steelhead on the Klickitat River, which empties into the Columbia from the Washington State side.