Kayaking Siltcoos river on the Oregon coast

Some places on the Oregon coast just have to be explored. Through the dense coastal forest or through the windswept dunes adventure always waits. For many of these places you can only see them from a kayak or a boat. Luckily Siltcoos river is one of those places and I have a kayak. The river meanders through the coastal forest and sand dunes for just over 4 miles to finally run into the Pacific ocean.

For todays journey I started at the boat ramp on the main lake to try my luck for some large mouth bass, but there was an algae bloom starting and all I had was just a couple bites. Normally the river section produces a few bass through out but it was such a quiet day I just enjoyed the view going through the trees. one of the best things about floating the river is that no matter how windy it is the river is still always calm and protected by trees and dunes.

When you start at the lake you will first go under a small bridge before hitting the main river section. Then after a short half mile you will pass under the highway 101 bridge. For the first mile and a half the river is actually a dammed section and the it is a true peaceful float. Throughout this sections there are several downed trees that you will need to navigate around or over if you can. As of the summer of 2021 they are doing some repair work on the highway 101 bridge but it is easy to navigate around their work.

Once you get to the dam on the river there is a portage area to move into the lower section with a canoe or kayak. Getting from your watercraft onto the dam is a bit tricky as all you have is a wooden bar on the cement and about three feet of water below. After you are on the dam you then pull your kayak across some plastic rails and onto a lined metal portage that you can sit down in and slide down into the lower river.

Not a very large dam, but it brings the level of the lake up quite a bit from historic levels. To the right side of the picture there is a fish ladder to allow Coho salmon and Steelhead over the dam

The lower part of the of the river is very shallow in many sections and you have to be careful of where you are paddling to so not to get stuck in soft mud just under the water level. Once I hit the lower section I saw a pod of otters playing in the downed trees. Surprisingly this is the second pod of otters I have seen this year. Nice to see them along the rivers. Now if only the beaver population would rebound back up. If you are looking for a nice easy float I do recommend floating on Siltcoos river. You can go all the way to the ocean but during the majority of the year the dune area is closed to getting out of the kayak due to Snowy Plover nesting in the area.

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Willamette river float from Hyak park to Albany for small mouth bass and agates

Some days during late summer nothing sounds as good as a float down a lazy river on a weekend. And of course fishing makes it better. The wife and I found a nice section close to home that looked promising on the map. Hyak park is along Highway 20 between Corvallis and Albany. Floating from Hyak towards Albany has three possible pull out locations. Bryant park and Takena park are both on opposite sides of the river at the northwest side of Albany. But since that was the shorter of the trips we picked the longer spot of Bowman park.

For the first mile it was flat and surprisingly not as deep as I expected. For most of this section I could see the bottom and none of it was over 10 feet deep according to my fish finder. Which made for some poor fishing since there was no structure in the area for any fish. I did have a bite at the ramp but it appeared to be a fairly small fish. Moving down stream there was a nice rock structure towards the middle of the river. As I floated past one side I finally caught my first fish using a swim bait.

By far not my largest smallmouth but it was a good fight and just the one fish was worth the float. Now for my wife this was not a fishing trip but more of an agate finding trip. She cruised the shallows and filled up her kayak with rocks for me to tumble. Most gravel bars along the upper Willamette (and maybe lower) are great places to find agates. My largest find so far over the years was a blood agate up towards Harrisburg that was nearly the size of my fist. From Albany upstream I have mostly found shades of red towards clear along the gravel bars. But from where the Calapooia river meets the Willamette there is a chance to find an agate called a holly blue agate.

For the rest of the trip until we made it to Albany the fishing was slow, but once we made it to the hwy 20 bridge down to Bowman boat launch the river deepened up and the bass were more active. The final count for the float was four small mouth all from 10″ to 14″ There are by far bigger in the river but since it was a float and not really a dedicated fishing trip I didn’t stop to fish as much as I could have. There were several spots by the bridges that I saw some very large carp swiming around. Soon I am going to go back out and attempt to catch one from teh kayak. I imagine it is like catching a salmon from a kayak and it will pull it around a bit. Should be some fun to do before summer ends.

Highway 20 bridge coming into Albany

I do need to try some other floats along the river. From Harrisburg down is a good location for trout and over the years I have caught some very large river rainbows from the bank in that area.

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Fishing beyond the road – Central Oregon’s Crescent creek

Some places just ask to be explored.  Be it the small headwaters of a stream or a remote stretch of a creek far from any roads.  Todays adventure is the later of the two.  For years I have heard my father talk about the canyon area of crescent creek, and the fish that he would catch.  This was my day for a solo adventure of fishing and hiking.  Little did I know what I was getting myself into.

For every trip I take like this I always have a checklist of things to bring with me. For anyone hiking remote areas you should always have a backup plan for emergency. The main three to always focus on are shelter, water, and food. And always in that order. There is no need to buy the fancy expensive hiking ones. But even something as simple as a life straw can mean the difference of being stranded and waiting for help and waiting for help and having any type of intestinal issues from drinking unpurified water.

Crescent creek is a tributary of the little Deschutes river that flows through an assortment of meadows, canyons, and old growth pine trees.  The area I am hiking through is part of the national wild and scenic rivers system. There are three species of trout that call this section of creek home.  The native rainbow trout, and the two non-native brook and brown trout.  From what I have seen the section of river from Highway 58 down to bridge by Crescent creek campground is primarily just rainbow trout.

Such a beautiful spot. I broke out my fly pole for this section of stream. It has been a long time since I have used it and really I should do more of it.

For the first half of my hike and fishing trip all was peaceful and relaxing.  The first two mile of the stream is through a meandering stream bordered by willow and alders. After the first half mile or so all trace of people disappears and you either have to create your own trail or just walk through the water.  For walking in any stream in Central Oregon I recommend tennis shoes and not any type of water sandals.  Most of the streams have pumice and other lava rocks in them and if they get under a strap you will get blisters and cuts from them.  I know this from experience sadly.  About halfway through the meadow I was changing lures and a family of river otters came out of the grass about 10 feet from me.  Once they saw me it was constant hissing from them until they swam upstream.  Cute to see but I am glad they didn’t come out closer to me.

Near where the otters popped out of the grass. Wish I could have gotten a good picture of them before they swam off.

And now for the canyon part of the hike.  Looking in from the edge of the meadow area looked nice and peaceful with a few rapids in view.  Oh, this was so deceptive and so not peaceful.  For the first 100 yards I caught a dozen fish or more and thought it was great.  And then the rocks got bigger and were nearly impossible to go from one to another safely.  No big deal I can just walk the edge around to each fishing hole.  Nope that was not a good idea.  The sides of the canyon are nearly strait up and the entire hillside has soft sandy dirt.  On the positive side it is beautiful with old growth ponderosa pines growing.  With the steep sides and no cell service my first thought was that if I fell and broke something that it would take days to find me.  And then as I was going over a fallen tree, I saw what looked like dried blood on branches and across the log.  What kind of hell did I get myself into?  About 50 feet after seeing the blood I found a pile of fairly fresh black bear droppings.  At least that gave me an idea of where the blood was from.  Possibly a deer that was wounded by the bear.

I loved the beauty of this area, but with all the swift water, Rocks and heavy brush this area is extremely difficult to fish. The areas I could get to the water had plenty of small fish at least.

Finishing up the canyon and getting to an old road was such a great feeling.  I don’t think I have been that tired in a long time.  This was a beautiful hike but really it is a hike for the young.  I am glad I did it once in my life.  But this is the one and only time I will ever hike through the canyon. 

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Fishing beyond the road – Salt creek

Oregon has so many rivers, creeks, and lakes that are just off any road or path and just waiting to be explored. This is the first in a series of hiking off the road, and into wild to find fish and adventures. Maybe this series will even include a float or two using the kayak’s and fishing major rivers.

Video journey through the wilds

The first stop on my journey is to Salt creek. Salt creek is one of many tributaries to the Willamette river. Salt creek can really be divided into two different sections that can be fished. the first section is below Oregon’s third highest waterfall. This steep canyon area has little to no access until the creek comes out miles below and borders the highway. The lower section contains mainly native rainbow trout. For this fishing trip I focused on the area above the waterfall which is mainly meandering meadow areas. I say meadow area but really it is brushy, horribly brushy. The headwaters of Salt creek is Gold lake. The creek outflows the lake, and meanders several miles until it flows under the highway and enters a meadow area that is extremely brushy and difficult to get through. This is the target I picked for the day. yes I know it is a bit crazy, but all the small Brook trout are fun to catch

After several scratch’s I was able to push my way through the brush and mosquitos to a nice tranquil creek. Now the fishing can begin. Salt creek is currently open for the use of bait, with no restriction on size or quantity of brook trout kept. Brook trout preproduce in such high numbers here that they really overwhelm the available food. There are also native rainbows in the stream, but I have rarely caught any due to the large quantity of Brook trout that inhabit this stretch of creek.

Nearly the entire section of stream has heavy Alder and Willow brush. Be prepared to get scratched walking through it.
This section of stream has some deeper holes with lot of fallen logs creating hiding places for the fish.
All the fish I have ever caught in this section are small brook trout.

Over the years that I have fished in this area I have never caught a fish over 10 inches in length. There may be some in there, but they are few and far between to catch. The best way to catch them is to use small spinners or a fly pole. Whichever method you use though the brush along the stream can cause a lot of trouble placing the lure/fly where you want. You can use worms or other bait in this section, but with brook trout they tend to just swallow any food and the mortality rate on release is very high.

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Aluminum roofing raised bed

As I get older I realize that my ability to rototill my garden is going to be harder and harder to do. So in an effort to make my future self not hurt as bad I decided to start making some raised beds that will replace my need to have to till the ground and also just be way easier to work with. After doing a quick measure of my garden I decided to make each bed three foot wide and eight foot long. I could have used the panels at their normal width of 26 inches but that is taller really then is needed. Using a carbide bit saw I cut the panels down to 18″

Step one complete. All of the metal has been cut to size and the 4″x4″ fir post has been cut as inside corner supports. In an ideal world I would have used cedar since it is a lot more rot resistant, but with the high price of cedar in our area I used fir instead.
Step two is to screw in the roofing into the corner supports. I had some left over metal screws from my trailer build that worked well to hold it in place.
Once the corners are in place I built the four outside support frames. The cross pieces are spaced every two feet. Once the frame is in place and all sides are screwed together this frame is strong enough to hold my weight. This should help with planting and harvesting it.
All completed and moved out of the way until I harvest my current years garden.
very very sturdy

Over all this build took right at about two hours from start to finish. I am going to need to make 7 more total and then fill them with soil before I can use them. This will be a good ongoing project and I should be able to have it all ready by next spring. The boards on the bottom are treated wood so they should last a good 10+ years. I made sure nothing on the inside had any chemicals that would leach into the soils and into the veggies. I don’t feel like shortening my life by using treated anything on the inside. With some of these beds I plan on experimenting with a couple different methods of mulch and water retention. But those will be a seperate blog. Below is a short video of the finished bed. I am going to make a video series of making some small beds for a friend entirely out of recycled materials.

Spring small mouth at Lookout Point reservoir.

Sometimes fishing adventures don’t go the way you plan. Todays adventure was supposed to be up into the cascades for a hike into blue lake for some brook trout fishing. But there was still enough snow on the road that we couldn’t even get close. Luckily though our back up plan was to fish lookout point for some smallmouth or whatever decided to bite.

For this time of year all the reservoirs are very very low. Oregon is very much in drought this year.

Have you ever been driving and suddenly find something that just weirded you out and just made you wonder? ON the way back to Lookout we decided to drive the back roads and come around the far side of the lake. About half way there we found a van that looked like it had slid off the road and was stuck. Which of itself was not really that unusual. But this van had a bunch of branches piled up on one side and a wire strung from the back across the road to a fence. This set up had all the markings of someone’s poor attempt to make a person booby trap or some odd zombie style trap. Both of us just looked at each other and said nope and backed up and headed back the other way.

I really was thinking there should be a pool of blood under the wire.

Since we had no plan after turning around we just found a random spot that looked like we could walk down to the water at. With as low as the reservoir is there is not a lot of easy access places. Lots of shear sides to the lake. After a while we found just a simple pull off and crossed th elocal railroad tracks and walked down.

Nice deep channel with rocks on one side. There was a bass boat that went through shortly before we walked down.
Jeremy and his first small mouth of the day.

Mostly all of what we brought with us was geared towards trout. But luckily Smallmouth bass will eat nearly anything, and catching them on ultralight poles is a blast. I will link the random things we used at the bottom. We only spent about two hours fishing beforefore the wind kicked up and made it very hard to cast. Our total for the day was about 10 smallmouth with the largest being just over a pound in size. There are far larger in the lake with my biggest pushing two pounds. I have heard there are some monster crappie and I have lost a large walleye. This is way better to fish with a kayak or a boat. I prefer a kayak just for the quiet, but the winds on the lake can make it a bit of a challenge.

Small spillway that went under the railroad and the highway. Right under the lip was a school of suckers that we spooked when we walked up.
You can see on the edge that the waves were starting to kick up a muddy edge. This happens daily all around the lake.
It is amazing how much of the dirt has washed down since the lake was created in 1953. These stumps are about eight feet above the ground now. And all of that dirt now is at the bottom of the lake.

Overall I would call today a decent day of fishing. If we had brought more gear that was focused towards bass I am sure we would have caught more. Overall it was a nice relaxing day for the both of us. Our next trip will be in the kayaks and try for the elusive walleye and crappie.

Best lures of the day:

Short video of our adventure on YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_3FeuVKEyU

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Fishing Beyond the road – Central Oregon’s Odell Creek

There are so many great places to fish in central Oregon that it is hard to choose where to go. Luckily most of the small streams in the area are managed so that the native fish will not be depleted and people can enjoy to fish in them for years to come. Odell Creek is currently catch and release for all trout and limited to using fly or lures.

For every trip I take like this I always have a checklist of things to bring with me. For anyone hiking remote areas you should always have a backup plan for emergency. The main three to always focus on are shelter, water, and food. And always in that order. There is no need to buy the fancy expensive hiking ones. But even something as simple as a life straw can mean the difference of being stranded and waiting for help and waiting for help and having any type of intestinal issues from drinking unpurified water.

Odell creek is a small stream flowing from Odell Lake down through mostly thick timber down to Davis lake. In low water years like this year is turning out to be the upper end by Odell lake is very shallow with few places for fish. The lower end closer to Davis lake picks up some water and has some decent rainbow trout fishing. The size varies year to year depending on the water levels in the area. In early 2005 a fire swept through the area and the removed all the heavy timber in the last few miles of the stream going into Davis lake. No shade for fishing or to keep the water cooler. Still chilly even without the shade.

90+ temps but still fun
Towards the area outside of the fire burn.

Since I was a teen I have always enjoyed fishing this gem of a stream. In the really hot years once Davis lake gets warm the larger trout can swim up into some of the deep holes in the creek. Sadly the large fish in Davis are not what they used to be. Bass were illegally introduced in the mid 1990’s and that has hurt the trout population. For avid bass fisherman this is a great thing, but for those of us that love the trout it is a sad change. You can still find these bigger trout but since the fire I have noticed less of them going very far up into the creek.

At the edge of the old burn line the smaller brushy river alders are making a comeback
Closer to the lake the banks are still bare of any sized trees. There are a lot of smaller ones coming up now.
A larger native rainbow.

In my last couple of trips to the creek the average size has been around 6″-8″ with the occasional larger fish. I normally spin fish with lures but this is a great creek to fly fish in. Just lots of brush and logs in the water to make it a bit challenging.

Since It was a nice day this last time I also made a short fishing video. Not a lot of fish caught but it is a great hike along the creek.

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Cargo trailer conversion project part one

Since I now have a teen that once in a while expresses interest in Kayaking with me I realized that unless I had some style of toy hauler trailer to be able to haul three full sized kayaks and the little mini one for the 7 year old I couldn’t do it on camping trips Luckily my wife was able to find an older style cargo trailer for fairly cheap. Now for the project of converting it to an insulated trailer for sleeping and just enjoying some camping.

The Trailer is a Tacom cargo trailer from 1975. I cant find any information on this brand so some more research is needed. Last year I built up a small trailer for hunting or just camping alone with my wife. It works great but it only sleeps 2 and even then there is not a lot of room for anything except sleeping.

16 foot dual axle on it
Nice to have a side door so the back end door does not need to be down all the time
Entire inside has a steel frame.
With this style of door it shouldn’t take much to quickly load kayaks and gear in
This back corner is the only real damage I need to fix

Overall there is not a lot of outside damage that needs to be fixed quickly. The back corner is crumpled a bit and the metal sheet ripped. The previous owner used nearly a tube of caulking to patch it. I will add some roof patch to his repair job before I start insulating this area. The front by the ladder has an old patch job that looks like it is just silicone caulk with some old mesh stuff pushed into it. Be best to remove and then also reseal.

Short little walk through

My plan for the trailer is to seal the two spots back up and then come up with a plan for where to wire lights inside. I would like to get the outside repainted before the fall rains start but as long as it is fully sealed and not leaking I am not to worried about that yet.

Unexpected crappie catch from Hills Creek Reservoir

You have probably noticed I fish this lake often for a quick limit of trout. It is heavily stocked and most days the trout will bite nearly anything that is thrown in front of them. Which also makes it easy if you want to experiment with different trolling presentations and are not sure how they would work. As always when I go I bring a trolling pole and my normal trout gear. But this time just on a whim I tossed in some panfish gear I got in a mystery tackle box. I figured that hatchery fish eat anything and panfish gear was no exception. That and trout are fun on ultralight gear.

a bit of wind and a downpour greeted us. 5 minutes after launching it was nearly impossible to see down this section.

Normally When I am up here fishing I follow the old channel of the river since that is the coolest area and the trout tend to be a down about 20+ feet this time of year. Year ago when fishing with my grandfather I remember him talking about when he would troll and circle across the shallower side of the lake he would catch the occasional crappie on his trout gear. Since I brought the ultralight gear (Okuma Celio ultralight trout pole) I put on an underspin jig head and a small curly tail grub. I have not fished for crappie in a long time, and it has been over 20 years since I caught one over 8 inches.

I wasn’t sure about the pink but it proved to be effective

Within 5 minutes of cutting over to the other side I caught a smallish 8″ crappie on the jig. Since it was big enought to eat I kept it and continued trolling. within another 5 minutes I had another bite and had something way bigger on. Since I normally just catch trout I expected a holdover stocker trout. But it was a big 14″ crappie. This ended up being the largest of the trip and at just over a pound by far my personal best. The last largish one I caught was maybe 10 inches and that was when I was a teenager in the 90’s (yes I am old). The fish finder showed several schools in the area so I continued and just kept circling the area for them. Between the grub and a sixth sense crank bait I ended up with over 20 crappie total. Of those 6 of them were over 12″ and I lost several others that were the same size.

First three of the day.

Kept six of them for dinner. Total wight of the 6 fish was 6.76 pounds

Over all even with all the rain and wind it ended up being a very good day on the water. Didn’t catch a single trout but I did lose a bass that was about the same size as the crappie. catching these makes me want to try for more and to see how big of crappie I can find there. I have heard that Lookout point has had some caught up to 16 inches. With a state record of over 4 pounds for a white crappie that would be a fun fish to catch. Hard to imagine one that big though.

Practiced my fillet skills. I am very out of practice and need to catch more crappie, bluegill or bass to practice on.

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Gear used in today’s trip:

Converting a Watersnake trolling motor for a Hobie outback Kayak part 2

After the first test run using the motor there were several things that needed to be fixed to make it easier to use.

  • The cassette is made to be put in only one direction and not both. Some rubber pads would be helpful to prevent kick up every time the motor starts and stops.
  • Adding a DC controller between the battery and motor to give it a variable speed while trolling.
  • The clamps on the motor made it difficult to hook to the controller box. They should be removed and some circle ones installed so it can be screwed down. Same with my connectors from the battery to the controller
  • Add Volt meter to controller box to see how much power is left in the battery
  • At full speed the motor wanted to shift in the cassette and would have to be held to keep it from angling.
  • Removing the motor from the cassette hole is very difficult if the blade is not straight up and down.

The first thing I adjusted was to make sure the motor is facing the correct way for how the cassette fits into the mirage drive hole and then sealing the top and bottom of where the drive post goes into the cassette with waterproof epoxy. This fixes two of the issues I was having. It prevents some of the kick up of the motor when started, and will keep the motor from shifting sideways at higher speeds.

Top section sealed with Epoxy.
And the bottom sealed up

One thing that I saw other people had issues with is the cassette vibrating and making a bit of noise. I did not notice that to much, but as a preventative I filled the cassette with waterproof expanding foam. This also adds some rigidity to the cassette since it is not very thick plastic. Make sure that the foam you get is outdoor spray foam. The indoor variety tends to break down quickly when exposed to the elements. Once the foam has been added and dried cap the hole with some silicone or epoxy so water cannot enter

A small hole drilled into both sides of the cassette to put the straw from the can of spray into.

And now for the control panel. I did not get any pictures of the build but the box is clear and you can see all the connections. I used a sealed Pelican box to hold the controller so that the electronics parts wouldn’t get wet. To keep it sealed I drilled holes in the sides and put a bolt facing out and then used a wing nut to hold it on with a drop of sealant on the bolt head to keep it sealed. One side the clamps from the motor can go on and on the other side O-clamps for wire terminals that the wingnut holds in place. Once turned on the speed can be adjusted by the just turning the nob up or down

I also added a volt meter just so I could do a quick look to see how the charge is

Now to take it on a test drive to see if there is any other tweaks needed. And maybe a video of the next test run.