Urban fishing with my little Micro fisher

With a little bit of sun out my six year old decided that we should go fishing and have an adventure. There is a small creek just a few blocks away that we have never fished and it makes a perfect trip for a child that wants to explore. And it is not far from home in case of an early fall rainstorm.

Urban fishing

Once we climbed down to the creek we discovered a salmon ladder that had been built into bottom of the tunnel. For those of you that have not seen one before a salmon ladder is a series of gradually stepped down pools. These allow a salmon or steelhead to reach area’s to spawn that they would not be able to. Sadly a lot of small streams and creeks like this have culverts in place that have to steep of drop for the fish to jump and swim farther upstream. This is a large part of the issues with increasing salmon runs in the area. In the last decade there has been an increase in pushing to change out a lot of culverts with tunnels and other fish friendly areas.

Urban creek fishing
Urban creek fishing

Now what kid could resist exploring a tunnel under a road. Well since I watched the IT movie as a kid I would be one that would avoid it. No red balloons anywhere at least. As for fish we were able to catch two while we were fishing the pool. One looked to be a hybrid cuttbow (rainbow/cutthroat trout hybrid) and the other was a small salmon smolt that was close to the same size as the lure.

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cutthroat

Later in the season we will need to come back down and see if we can see any salmon coming up the ladder and video them with the camera.

Urban fishing
Salmon ladder plunge pools

To see our adventures please check out our video on YouTube

Urban fishing with my micro fishergirl

And for the gear we used in today’s adventure

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Fall kayak fishing at Hills Creek Reservoir

Fall in Oregon never disappoints for anyone that is a fan of the outdoors. Fishing picks up as the water temperature cools and the fall mushrooms come up. Instead of hunting this year I spent opening day out on the lake fishing with Jeremy in the kayaks. Since it was a normal fall day here it went from wet and windy to nice and sunny to back to a down pour.

Oregon Kayak fishing
Kayak fishing in Hills creek reservoir

When fall hits and the temperature drops in the local lakes it triggers a feeding frenzy as the fish work to fatten up for winter time. Everything was biting in the top 20 feet of water. When we dropped below the 20 foot mark the bite stopped for both of us. Two weeks ago the surface temp was sitting right at 70F, and most of the fish were down 10′-30′. Today it had dropped down to 64F. Since the fish had been so active I dropped down the trolling camera to catch some video’s of the aggressive fish hitting the lures.

Underwater camera

Sadly I did not get a picture of the largest fish I caught which was a nice 18″ native rainbow. Heavy rain and wind makes it a bit difficult to get good pictures. Hills Creek is a great lake to fish due to the large amount of stocked fish and the many different species of fish that can be caught. The lake contains Rainbow trout, Cutthroat trout, Crappie, Largemouth bass, Brown bullhead, and landlocked Chinook. Bank fishing is very productive on the entire lake. ODFW stocks this lake with thousands of Rainbow trout and Spring Chinook every year. As always when you go fishing please always check the fishing regulations and make sure you are fishing within the law. Currently for trout only fin clipped fish may be kept (including any Chinook under 24″)

Oregon Kayak fishing

If you would like to watch the video of us fishing for the day the link is below.

some useful things we use for fishing:

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Oregon’s invasive Purple Varnish clam

When camping for my birthday on the Oregon coast, I found a nice area that had a very large bed of Purple varnish clams.  What is a purple varnish clam you ask? It is a clam that was first found invading Oregon’s estuary’s in the 1990’s.  The assumption is that it came over in the ballast water of large ships from Asia.  While this clam is an invasive species it is also a very easy one to dig, and the current regulations allow for up to 72 per digger to be harvested. Some studies have shown that this clam able to produce densities exceeding 800 per square meter I don’t think that they are going to get over harvested. Since these clams are high in the inter-tidal zone and in soft sand my toddler was easily able to help me dig these up.  And surprisingly once we cooked them up she wanted to eat all of them.

img_20160816_155831389
A quick limit of clams on a not very low tide

Kayla and I were able to get our limit in less than 30 minutes.  The deepest clam we found was only maybe 12 inches down in the sand.  The area we dug for them was a three foot by three foot section.  It seemed easiest to dig a small hole until you got to the depth they were at then just use your hands to start digging the hole wider.  The shells can be a little sharp so a pair of garden gloves help prevent any cut fingertips.  After the clams are dug you have to let them soak in seawater for 24 hours so the clams expel out the sand they have inside them.  We steamed some up before we realized that, and it was almost as much sand as clam inside them.  To soak the clams all you need to do is fill a bucket up with bay water and put the clams inside so the water is over all of them, just make sure that you have them in the shade so the water doesn’t heat up and kill them.  After the soak we steamed, and dipped them in garlic butter, they were delicious.  Just like steamer clams but a little bit sweeter.  They would probably make a great clam chowder. Which I will try at some point when I have time to make it.

My helper and her clam. They are not a very big clams, but are great eating.
My helper and her clams. They are not a very big clams, but are great eating.

One thing to note for anyone eating these is that many of them have pea crabs inside of them.  If you are allergic to crabs these would be a bad clam to harvest to eat.  A good book to read if you are interested in clamming in Oregon is this book of Clamming the Pacific Northwest or some recipes on how to cook them The Pacific Northwest Seafood Cookbook: Salmon, Crab, Oysters, and More  the cookbook doesn’t have anything specific to the Purple varnish clam but any steamer type recipe will work for them.

Quick little video digging in for purple varnish clams

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Spirit lake

Today was a search of some ripe huckleberries for us and the kids.  We went in search for them at Spirit lake in the western Cascades on the west edge of the Waldo lake basin.  It is only a short half mile hike with very little elevation change.  Making it perfect for kids of all ages.  Granted the youngest didn’t walk, and instead I carried her in the kiddo backpack. I don’t think I could have kept a toddler moving in one direction for that distance.  We didn’t find a lot of huckleberries, but there was enough to have a nice snack of them. The lake has a good population of brook trout in it.  The average size is about 10″  with reports of ones up to 15″ being caught.  I wasn’t able to get more then one bite, but the ones surfacing for mayflies looked to be about a foot long. For more information of fishing at Any cascade lake please check out Fishing in Oregon.  Tons of information in it on almost every waterbody in Oreogn

  • Directions: Proceed east from the Oakridge Ranger Station on Hwy. 58 to Oakridge. From downtown Oakridge proceed east on Salmon Creek Road (24) for about 13 miles to the junction of Road 2422. From here proceed left on 2422 for 9 miles to trailhead on right. Across from the Waldo Meadows Trailhead.
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Recommended Season: June – October
  • Elevation change: 169 feet

Nice easy walk to the lake.
Nice easy walk to the lake.

The view of the lake as you come to the end of the trail
The view of the lake as you come to the end of the trail.

Interesting tree growing in the meadow.  looks like it had fallen down and then grown up from the fallen trunk
Interesting tree growing in the meadow. It looks like it had fallen down and then grown up from the fallen trunk.

Lots of fallen trees in the water
Lots of fallen trees in the water.

Katy all ready to return back to the car for lunch
Katy all ready to return back to the car for lunch.

Several great books for the local areas

Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon: A Guide to the State’s Best Waterfall Hikes

Day Hiking Bend & Central Oregon: Mount Jefferson/ Sisters/ Cascade Lakes

100 Hikes / Travel Guide: Central Oregon Cascades

100 Hikes / Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range

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Jamacian jerk smoked chicken legs

Time for more smoked goodness.  The whole chickens I made last time were delicious, but the chicken breasts didn’t have as much flavor as I was hoping.  So this time I decided to just smoke some chicken legs.  They remind me of making large hot wings.  The original  recipe for this calls for Habanero peppers.  Which would have put them just the way I like them to eat but for all the others in my family they would be too hot.  The jalapeno and Serrano’s made it just right.  They have a nice tingle but don’t make everyone run for a glass of milk

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 2 Serrano peppers
  • 2 lime, juiced
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon dried thyme ( you can use fresh if you have it)
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 pounds chicken legs
  • 1 onion cut into chunks

Use a food processor or blender to make a puree of the ingredients (minus the chicken).  If the mix is to thick add a little water to it.  Pour the puree over the chicken legs and let marinate for 6 hours or more in the refrigerator. Next preheat the smoker (I use Mastercraft Electronic smoker) to 275 and cook them for 60-90 minutes or until the interior of a leg is up to 160 degrees.

Mastercraft Electronic smoker
Chicken legs all seasoned and going into the heated smoker

Mastercraft Electronic smoker
smoked and all ready to eat. Eating them the next day was actually tastier than fresh out of the smoker.

I like the flavor of these but I think a buffalo style smoked chicken leg would be even better.

 

For other smoker recipes and general recipes you can visit the recipe page

 

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Rosemary smoked chicken

Mastercraft Electric smoker
Finished to perfection

Dinner for today will be something new in the smoker.  I wanted to try smoking a whole chicken in the smoker (since they were on sale it is two chickens).  This is an adaption of a recipe by Bobby Flay for his Tuscan rosemary smoked chicken.  He has some of the best smoked recipes out there. The first thing you do with the chicken is to prepare a brine for them

Brine mix:

  • 4 chicken bullion cubes or 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup non-iodized salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
  • 10 sprigs of fresh rosemary(mine were about 3-4 inches long)
  • 1 head of garlic diced/crushed

Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil, and add in all the brine ingredients.  Make sure all of the salt, honey and sugar are dissolved, then remove from heat.  Add in some ice to bring the brine down to room temperature. Pour into a container and refrigerate for 3 hours.  I put mine in a small cooler and added extra ice to keep it cold while it brined.  For a crispy skin rinse dry and let air dry in your refrigerator for 2 hours.  I am not a skin fan so I did not let mine dry before putting into the smoker.  Right before you put the chicken in the smoker rub them with oil.  Preheat your smoker to 275 degrees and then cook for 1.5-3 hours depending on how big the chicken is.  Mine went the full 3 hours.  The wood for smoking is hickory and rosemary stem mixed together.

Mastercraft Electric smoker
After the first batch of wood chips. Already turning color on the skin.

 

Delicious chicken for tonight’s dinner.

To go to the recipes page please click the link

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Smoked trout

Today’s delicious project is smoking up all the fish I have caught this year.  It has not been my most successful fishing year since I had to save them up until I had enough to actually fill up most of the smoker.  I need to go kokanee fishing in a lake that has more fish in them.  Also for this smoke batch I have a Northern Whitefish to smoke. This is a fish that I have never smoked but is supposed to be great smoked.  I am doing a basic sugar brine on these like what we used when I was a kid in Alaska on salmon

brine mix:

  • 1/2 gallon of water
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Brine the trout/kokanee/whitefish for 75 minutes then let dry on a rack to form a pellicle (hard glaze coating) for an hour or so.  Then on to smoking.  They are then smoked at 190 degrees from 90 minutes or until the meat will flake easily and the interior of the fish reaches 140 degrees.  I am using an electric smoker for them so I can control the smoke and temperature more easily.

trout and whitefish on the racks drying to form a pellicle
trout and whitefish on the racks drying to form a pellicle

 

NIcely smoked whitefish
Nicely smoked whitefish

The whitefish is nice and flaky.  Great flavor to it.  I will need to go catch some more.  They are easy to catch and there are lots and lots of them all over central Oregon.

Smoked kokanee look delicious
Smoked kokanee look delicious

Delicious comes to mind when I tasted them out of the smoker.  Now I will need to catch more fish to smoke sense these will disappear quickly.  Maybe i will try to smoke some bluegill or crappie if I can catch some.

Slow cooker pacific mussels and sausage chowder

There are many types of chowder in the world and even more variations of chowder recipes. Over the centuries if it is from the ocean then some one has probably made chowder out of it. After my last trip to the coast to forage I didn’t get any clams but I did get a nice bucket of fresh mussels. Which make a perfect chowder. The only thing that tends to throw people off about using mussels is that instead of the normal white of clams these are an orange color. Using a slow cooker for this makes the mussels nice and tender and delicious.

Tasty bowl of chowder with mussels and sausage.
Tasty bowl of chowder with mussels and sausage.

ingredients:

  • 8 oz chopped mussels
  • 4 sliced chicken sausages
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 6 to 8 medium potatoes
  • 3 c. water
  • 3 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 4 c. half and half cream or milk
  • 3 to 4 tbsp. cornstarch or (instant potatoes)

If you are using fresh mussels like I am you will need to steam them open and then cut them up. Also be careful of the occasional pearl. All of the ones that I have found were small but they would still have chipped a tooth. Cut the mussels into bite-sized pieces after removing them from the shell if they are large. In a skillet, saute sausage and onion until golden brown; drain. Put into slow cooker with mussels. Add all remaining ingredients, except milk and cornstarch. Cover and cook on high 3 to 4 hours or until vegetables are tender. During the last hour of cooking, combine 1 cup of milk with the cornstarch. Add cornstarch mixture and the remaining milk and stir well; heat through.

A link to my handy slowcooker

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Goodman Creek trail

Now that the weather has changed towards spring it is time to do some more hiking adventures.  This is a new hike for us, with a bonus that it is still fairly close to Eugene, and there is a waterfall near the end of the hike. For me this is a very easy hike.  Not so much for Staci.  She didn’t yell at me at least this time. I normally do almost this much during my lunch hour at work.  Granted that is walking on pavement though. The path is nice and wide as it meanders through the forest.  The path was very muddy in spots.  As it dries out this would be a great hike to take kids on.  Not too steep and lots of wildflowers and scenic forest to explore.

interesting to see how the hike plotted out on google maps
Interesting to see how the hike plotted out on Google maps.

 

Goodman creek Trail: A well wooded trail that runs along side an inlet. After a brief climb, the trail crosses a few small creek beds before taking you through tall trees and fern lined views. Just short of two miles in, you will come across a small waterfall, that is very rewarding to your hike. Continue to the right just a few hundred yards to a large log bridge and Goodman Creek. Great picnic spot and turn around.

  • Distance: 4 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 300 feet
  • Difficulty rating (in alltrails): Medium (easy must be flat only)

How to get there: Take HWY 58 off I-5, just south of Eugene. As you approach Dexter Lake, and the small town of Lowell, keep your eyes out for a turnoff between mile post 20 and 21. There is a decent size parking lot to the south side of the road. The trail head is near the road and the sign will read Hardesty Trail, with mileage for Goodman Creek Trail junction as well. After a short hike through the trees, you will come to the junction for Hardesty Mountain going to the left, and a right going to Goodman Creek Trail. The waterfall is before you get to a log bridge across the creek.

I always wonder how old these signs are when I see them.

IMAG0630
Staci walking down the trail. We are almost to the waterfall at this point.

One of hundreds of Trillium blooming along the trail

IMAG0635
The waterfall at the end of the our hike. The trail continues in a loop that can be walked or biked.

Garlic mussels with Yakisoba noodles

Tasty and healthy stir fry of mussels, bok choy, and noodles.
Tasty and healthy stir fry of mussels, bok choy, and noodles.

Once more I have a nice amount of wild harvested mussels to something with.  These are a different type than the bay mussels I harvested last time.  These are the California mussels that live along rocky outcrops all over any rocky habitat throughout the Oregon coast.  And I found a bonus in these mussels.  There were several small pearls that I found while cleaning them.

Lots of mini pearls that were embedded in the mussels.
Lots of mini pearls that were embedded in the mussels.

They are not very big, but it was fun to find them.  For this batch of mussels I am going to stir fry them with some veggies and Yakisoba noodles.  Stir frying is a very quick and easy way to make a quick meal.  The noodles are already cooked so they just need to be warmed up.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of yakisoba noodles
  • 2 cups fresh bok choy
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 8 oz cooked and shelled mussels
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or oil of choice
  1. Saute the garlic in the oil until it just starts to change color
  2. Add in the bok choy and bean sprouts and cook for 2-5 minutes at medium heat or until they are almost cooked
  3. Add in the yakisoba noodles and mussels, then cook until heated completely.  This usually only takes a couple minutes
  4. At this point you can add in any sauce that you like for flavoring.  I am just adding a light soy sauce to the mix.