Yellow Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius)

One of the first mushrooms of the fall is the delicious Yellow Chanterelle. A week or two after the first heavy fall rain small little yellow buttons will start appearing throughout the forest. Since this time of year coincides with hunting season in Oregon it is best for anyone out in the forest picking mushrooms to be wearing bright colors so they are not mistaken for a deer. This has always been one of my personal favorite mushrooms to look for, and is one of the easiest to find. But with every mushroom unless you are 100% certain of what you are picking DO NOT EAT IT! Now for a little about this treasure of the forest.

Since I love using Wikipedia for info here is a little bit of history and uses for this tasty treat:

“Though records of chanterelles being eaten date back to the 1500’s, they first gained widespread recognition as a culinary delicacy with the spreading influence of French cuisine in the 1700’s, where they began appearing in palace kitchens. For many years, they remained notable for being served at the tables of nobility. Nowadays, the usage of chanterelles in the kitchen is common throughout Europe and North America. In 1836, the Swedish mycologist Elias Fries considered the chanterelle “as one of the most important and best edible mushrooms.”

Chanterelles as a group are generally described as being rich in flavor, with a distinctive taste and aroma difficult to characterize. Some species have a fruity odor, others a more woody, earthy fragrance, and others still can even be considered spicy. The golden chanterelle is perhaps the most sought-after and flavorful chanterelle, and many chefs consider it on the same short list of gourmet fungi as truffles and morels. It therefore tends to command a high price in both restaurants and specialty store.”

Over the years I have dried, canned, pickled, and sautéed chanterelles in as many recipes as I can. Other mushrooms might be stronger flavored or different tasting, but this one is the easiest to find in large quantities. There are always several small stands of mushroom buyers around that will pay by the pound for these if you want to put in the time to find large amounts. The only thing about selling them that I never liked is that there is a subspecies of chanterelle that are white that the buyers will never take. I can’t tell any difference in taste between the two so that means more for me to enjoy. On a successful day I have found 20+ lbs of yellow chanterelles with only a few hours of searching.

When picking a patch of chanterelles it is best to cut them off at the base with a sharp knife. Pulling them out of the ground can damage the fungal matt that is under the ground. By cutting them you can get several crops out of the same location until the first hard frost hits under the forest canopy. Also alway remember to leave a few mushrooms in a patch so that they can continue to reproduce and produce even more in the years ahead.

For more detailed information please check out this link to the full Wikipedia article. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chanterelle

Some of my favorite recipes:

Some great reference books:

All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms by David Arora (smaller pocket guide that is excellent to use)

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms (National Audubon Society Field Guides) (all inclusive but fairly large)

There are also several E-books that can be found on Kindle unlimited

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Jasper rock tumbling with a Tumler tumbler: loading it up

So you like to wander around and pick up random rocks to bring home. But once you get them home what do you do with them? Or in my case my wife brings me rocks, and then I need to figure out what to do with them. Since our ancient Lortone tumbler motor went out and no one seems to have a replacement in stock I ventured out in the market for a new tumbler to do something with my endless supply of incoming random rocks. And yes I do add to the pile but mine are mainly just agate and jasper.

If you are ever in the market for a new rock tumbler there seems to be an endless amount by different brands out there available. The most common seem to be the small hobby models that hold about three pounds of rocks. For most people this would be the perfect size. But for us we would either need several of those or get a bigger one which is what I did. Thumbler Tumbler has a nice 15 pound model that while a bit spendy it is easy for find replacement parts for if anything wears out. Many of the smaller models are very hard to replace any worn out parts.

To polish rocks you really just need a couple things:

and really that is all you need. Put in rocks, add grit and water. Then plug it in and wait a week for stage two. For this one we are just doing the first stage only. The video below has the full process to load and go for this first stage of rock tumbling.

The model B is nice and sturdy and very quiet to run
My partial pile of jasper to tumble
Sliced and ready to go along with a bunch of smaller rocks

Adventures in lapidary – tile saw for rock cutting

My wife and I decided to branch out our skills for our small business and learn some lapidary skills. Both of us have alway loved to wander around and collect agates and then just run them through a rock tumbler to polish. Normally these tumbled rocks just end up in the bottom of the big fish tank or scattered around shrubs outside. But lately we realized that we have been finding some larger rocks then we can fit in the tumbler. Which brings us to the tile saw

If you look around there are tons of reviews and DIY options people have done all over the internet and forums. Depending on your budget you can get a nice oil cooled lapidary saw that can do some very large slabs on the high end or you can get a small tile saw for the smaller pieces on the low end. Since this is our first rock saw of any kind we decided to go with a 7 inch tile saw that can be used to cut rock, tile or ceramics up to two inches thick. Our local Harbor freight had one in stock that we picked up along with a continuous diamond edge saw blade to fit it.

Both of these two below are nearly identical to what we picked up and at nearly the same size: aka the cheaper route

If your budget allows there are some great reviewed rock saws out there. But they are not what I would call cheap. Or really I am cheap.

For the tile saw we picked up it has the same case, water cooling system, and tile fence on the one from Amazon as the one at harbor freight. So many of these kinds of things are made in the exact same factory and all they do is change a color and stick a different label on it.

These saws are very simple to set up and get going. Ours did not come with a blade installed but all it takes is removing 4 screws from the water guard below and then install the blade and tighten with the included two wrenches and then screw the water guard back on. Push the water tray back on and you are good to start up. From all the videos that I could find on it the preferred way to cut a rock is to turn the saw around and then pull the rock towards you as it cuts. This keeps the water from spraying all over you and if you do get a rock bound up in the blade it will toss it away from you. Also with using a continuous blade there is no chance of it cutting you like a wood blade with teeth would do. Using a continuous blade you might get a little skin rubbed off but nothing bad. I used a fresh pair of garden gloves to increase the grip on the rock and if it did slip and I hit the blade it would just rub off a bit of the rubber coating.

slow and steady. Always let the blade do the work and don’t try to push it through harder then it can grind.
Seam agate cut across into a long slender section
I am actually not sure what kind of rock this is but it may polish up nice
out of all we cut on the first time use this red jasper I found while fishing is my favorite. It is a little larger then the blade can do in a single pass so I had to spin it a bit to get it cut.

As a first try at cutting rocks we had fun seeing what was inside. Our next step is to run them through the rock tumbler with some other jasper and agates and see how that does to make them into suitable pieces to create jewelry out of. Once we get some out in a month of tumbling I will get some more pictures of the results.

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Flooded Oregon – Blakelyville (Eula)

The Willamette valley is home to 13 major dam’s in the Willamette basin. Most of these dam’s are used for flood control, power generation and irrigation. But in the time before these dam’s were built there were many small towns that dotted these area’s and once the dam’s were completed they were swallowed up and lost to time and all that is left is the history of the location and a few pictures that may have been taken.

While out on a fishing trip this January I stumbled across the foundations of what was once the little town of Blakelyville. With a little research it looks like there were five towns at one point under what is now Lookout point reservoir. Carter, Eula, Landax , Signal , and Blakeyville have all been flooded and become one with the mud of the lake bottom. The first settler in the area was John Blakey who was a stowaway on a ship from Ireland at the age of 12 in 1829 to the United States and then settled in Oregon . He found his way to set up his homestead between Lowell ,Or. and Oakridge along the Willamette River in 1867 . The community which he called Blakeyville covered an area of five or six miles. A post office was established and ran from 1910 to 1918 in what was once the general store ran by John Clark. During this time the postal officials renamed it Eula which was the name of the Blakely’s daughter. Later the railroad changed it again to Armet because Eula was to much like Eola located in Polk County.

Old graded area which I used to think was the old road but it was for the old railroad
Really not a lot left that the mud has not reclaimed.
Old fireplace that finally collapsed
edge of what I assume was a boardwalk at the old Armet train station

Just a little bit of Oregon history that is only uncovered in rare low water times at the reservoir. Most of the other 12 reservoirs in the Willamette basin also have flooded areas under them that can sometimes be seen in extreme low water. With as much mud has built up around the remaining foundations in the last 70 years it does not look like it will really be much longer before they are completely covered and lost to history. Hopefully at least these picture and others like them will remain and show a reminder what was once a thriving community.

A longer article on the area with some pictures:

https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/downloads/kw52j8202

And if you are interested some books on Oregon’s history:

Rockhounding adventures: Lookout point Reservoir

Some days the constant fog of winter in the Willamette valley just drags you down into the gloom. Luckily though you do not have to go far to get away from it. And it leads to one of my favorite hobbies that does not involve fishing. Yes I know nearly everything I do somehow involves fishing, but on this adventure I did not even bring my fishing pole.

Oregon is a great state if you like to rock hound. Along every river that feeds into the Willamette you can find some type of rock. My favorites tend to be a variety of different agate and Jasper. Both tumble well and make great jewelry or just polish and add to the fishtank or into a jar. My fishtank is nearly all agate I have found over the years. And since they are polished usually algae cant grow on them. But I am getting sidetracked. Our adventure today was to check out the upper end of the reservoir and the exposed area from the lake being at low winter levels.

First stop of the day was way up where the river is.

For years I have drove by when the lake is at low levels and saw what I thought was an old road along the flats. Today was the first time I have ever walked down to it. Any old flooded town that gets exposed is considered an archeology site and by Oregon law cannot be disturbed. But you can still walk around and explore. What I thought was an old road is actually an old railroad bed. All the tracks and most but not all of the timber has been removed but old railroad spikes are everywhere.

Lots of these old concrete bridges along the old tracks.

On our first stop the rocks looked promising and we found several smaller agates and some green jasper. It looks like the gravel and rocks that were used to construct the railway were all brought in and the agates and jasper were from wherever that was dug up at. Climbing up the edges beyond that we did not find much of anything. After a nice walk and some complaining kids who didn’t like the lack of pretty rocks we headed back to the truck and headed down the road some more.

First agate at stop two.

The next location was much better for some agates and jasper. My oldest daughter found a nice pocket of blue agates exposed on the surface. They should tumble up nice for her. I was finding some nice larger pieces of red jasper. And found enough to run through my tumbler.

Very rough piece of jasper

Overall it made for a nice day out of the fog and into the sun with the family.

Fall fishing 2021 at Lookout point with Agates

If you have been reading my blog or watching my YouTube channel you have probably heard me say that I am not a bass fisherman. But I keep trying and learning more. Today’s adventure was back up to lookout point reservoir. Somewhere in that lake I know there has to be something bigger then the pikeminnow I caught during the summer.

I have realized this year that I need to get more exercise other then kayaking. Even though I love to kayak it doesn’t ever really give you a good workout unless you are going fast which makes it a bit useless for fishing. On today’s adventure we found a random pullout on the road and hiked down to the lake. This time of year the reservoir is dropped down to a low level in case of a massive storm to control flooding. Fun fact of the day before the dams were built in the Willamette basin most of the valley would flood every year. The dams hurt the salmon runs but were very effective on reducing the floods. Sadly they were also very effective in destroying most of the native salmon runs in the water basin.

All along the reservoir there is a lot of tiny pullout spots to park and walk down to the water. Until this trip neither of us realized there is a nice path running along the edge of the high water mark over half the length of the lake. We just stopped at a random spot and walked down along the path.

Not to steep right here

As always walking around on the loose rock and mud you really have to watch you feet. On a bonus note when you are walking and watching your feet it makes it easier to find agates and Jasper. Found a nice piece of a blue agate as we walked along the edge.

Nice blue agate I stepped on while walking

As much as I like to look for rocks to polish up our main goal is fishing for some late fall small mouth bass. Today was a bit of an experiment for both Jeremy and I. I used a jig with a curly tail grub and Jeremy used a larger brass mepps. With as many stumps as there is along the lake we didn’t want to lose a fortune in lures to the stumps.

Fish number one of the day.

After several miles of walking the shore and casting we finally started catching bass. Not that the three total we caught in three hours is really what I would call impressive. But all three were over 14″. I have noticed that walking the shores of the lake produces larger bass then when we troll in the kayaks. My thoughts are that the bigger fish are hugging the shore and the stumps and we are just a bit to far offshore when trolling and hit the schools of small ones that are away from the bigger ones. Something to experiment with next year

My biggest of the day

Sadly this is our last fishing trip of the year. The holidays and wet weather make it a bit difficult to coordinate and get out to fish. My goal for the next year is to get out and fish more and do more blogging and more videos.

DC wiring a Hobie outback to run a watersnake trolling motor

I finally registered my kayak to be able to use the little Watersnake trolling motor I modified to fit into my mirage drive slot. So to make it easier it is time to wire through the hull so that I don’t have wires hanging all over that can get tangled up in a net or a fish. Which happened on my test trolling trip more then once.

Needed materials for the build

For this modification I wanted to make sure that when I am not using the motor that the system has plugs that have a waterproof cap on them. Or if I am using the motor in the rain or heavy swells that it has a tight connection. The best ones I could find were the SAE style of plugs and cables. This entire setup cost me less then $40 to order on Amazon.

My one word of warning on this is that before ever putting holes in a kayak for any reason always make sure that where you cut or drill is where you want them at. Once you cut the holes you cant change your mind to move it around unless you are good at hole patching. For my kayak I wanted a plug in the front that will keep the motor wires away from my feet.

For the first hole I put it up front just below the front hatch. This looked to be a good spot so that the connector from the motor went forward a short distance and should not be in the way to land any fish unless it was a salmon then nothing could be really be out of the way.

One huge thing to keep in mind on using the SAE plugs is to verify that the cord colors match. Going between the two in hull connectors will swap them unless you use an adaptor to swap it back. Which is actually included when you purchase the set of two socket ports.

The second hole that I needed I put just forward of the seat and pointed up. This plug will be used to plug the cable to my pulse modulator and then to my battery. For a watersnake motor it only comes in two speeds and both of those are to fast for trolling. For me high is about 4mph and low is 2mph. But by using a pulse modulator you can turn the motor into a variable speed motor. My original one I built works well, but with the sealed Plano box it is bulky and in the way. So I found one in a metal box that also has an amp meter on one side so you can see the draw coming through. This makes it handy to calculate how long your trolling battery can last. My only worry with the metal box is that it has the vents in the side to keep it cool but that also can let water in. The location I have it setup for is under my leg while fishing but it is something to keep in mind.

Next to find a day where the wind and rain are not to crazy to go out this fall.

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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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