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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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

If there are any video subjects or articles you would like to see please comment to let us know

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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:

If there are any video subjects or articles you would like to see please comment to let us know.

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Blue Lake

  • Trail name: Blue Lake
  • Distance: 1.5 miles
  • elevation gain: 250  ft
  • Difficulty: Easy

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At the edge of the Diamond peak wilderness you can find this small 20 acre lake. The trail is almost entirely flat the entire way as it goes through the forest and through a couple small meadows.  The pull off is easy to miss for the trail head so watch carefully.  Most of the lake edge is very marshy.  But the north side is fairly dry with a several small spots that you can camp.  As with any wilderness camping if you pack it in, you pack it out.  Always leave as little trace of your visit as you can.  The fishing was very good when I went up last in early 2012.  First three casts each caught a brook trout.  All around 8″  in length.  The largest one i saw swimming around was close to 16″.  I wouldn’t expect anything much bigger then that in there. But at 33 feet deep it is possible for there to be a few big ones lurking in there.   This is a great lake to introduce the younger generation to hiking and fishing. A float tube would be a blast if you wanted to carry one in.

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Directions: From Oakridge drive south on hwy 58 until you see the Hills Creak Reservoir turn off (yes turn off).  Follow forest road 21 all the way around the reservoir and up the middle fork of the Willamette river.  Follow it to where it intersects Forest road 2145. .  Take 2145 and drive about 5 miles to a fork with Forest rd 2149.  Turn east on 2149 and go about 4 miles to the trail head.

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Linton Lake

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  • Trail name: Linton Lake
  • Distance: 3 miles
  • elevation gain: 250  ft
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Fishing: Brown trout, Brook trout

Linton Lake was formed by a Lava flow that dammed up the creek running through the valley.  The lake is about 70 acres in size and rests in a sheltered valley at 4000 ft in elevation. Fish in the lake average 8-13 inches, but there are some monsters that live in there up to 10+ pounds. The best time for fishing the lake is right before the snows hit and most people are gearing up for hunting season. This is a great short hike for a family with small children.  If you hike to the far side of the lake there are several small waterfalls on the incoming creek.

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The trail starts out at a small campground along Highway 242 called Alder Springs Campground.  This small undeveloped campground is a good spot to camp with tents.  The sites are too small for much else in the way of camping vehicles. From your car, cross the road, and look for a set of stairs leading up to a trail sign marking the Linton Lake Trail. This is a wilderness access trail so you will need to fill out a short form at the trail head  From here, travel along the well graded trail under Douglas firs. The route is easy to follow and well maintained. The route comes to a closed off junction, then starts a mild climb up a hill to the right at about 3/4 mile. The trail climbs up the hillside then comes to a flat section with many lava boulders. This is the high point of the hike. The trail now descends in a few switchbacks, than you see your first views of Linton Lake at 1 1/8 mile from the road. The route continues another 3/8 mile descending along the lakes edge to a group of campsites at one of the lakes two inlets Obsidian Creek.

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Directions: From the McKenzie River Ranger Station, drive east on Highway 126 about 2 miles to the junction with Highway 242. Then drive about 11 miles up Highway 242 to Linton Lake Trail head, located to the left as you drive.  The trail head begins at Alder Springs Campground.

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Hidden Lake

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Hidden lake is a great little 11 acre lake up the Cougar valley past the reservoir.  The hike in from the road is a short half mile.  If you are going early in the spring the shore line will be very marshy, and it will be difficult to make it to the lake without getting a bit wet.  The trail ends at the stream outflow to the lake with a nice deep inlet.  The fishing is fairly good all year around in the lake.  Mainly due to the difficulty in getting around the lake due to brush there is a low amount of fishing pressure.  I have never actually ever seen anyone else at the lake.  A float tube or a light pontoon boat would be ideal for fishing the lake.  I am thinking that if I add a detachable wheel to my pontoon I can drag it in to the lake for some better fishing.  Another winter project I need to work on.  The largest fish I have caught from the lake was a nice 12″ cutthroat trout.  The trout in the lake that are easy to catch on lures or flies.  Supposedly there are trout up to 16″ in the lake.  That would be nice to catch on a warm sunny day. Snow is usually on the ground until around June.  This is one of the first high lakes in the area that you can get into.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADirections: From McKenzie highway 126 take the south fork of the McKenzie road up past Cougar Reservoir to Forest road 1980 (1/2 mile past French Pete campground). Drive west 3 miles on rd 1980 to a right angle intersection with Forest rd 231.  Turn onto NF-231 until there is a left turn onto NF-230 which is the hard left at the intersection. There is a small sign on the left about 500 yards before the road dead ends that marks the trail into the lake. Using a forest service map of the area makes it easier to find your way there.  The back forest roads are easy to get lost on if you are not careful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMarshy edge of the lake.

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Several great books for the local areas:

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Crane Prairie camping and fishing

craine prairieOf all the places in central Oregon to go this is my favorite.  When I was a youngster my Grandparents would go camping in the area with my sister and me.  Very few places look the same as they did then but I will always love the area for camping.  The north end of the lake has a nice undeveloped campground called cow meadow (called cow camp years ago).  From the campground north along the Deschutes river, ranchers used to graze cattle along the two mile stretch of meadows along both sides of the river.  This ended after they realized how destructive cattle are to the riparian zone of the river.  I always loved walking up the river and seeing the cattle mixed with mule deer as I fished on the Deschutes.  Early in the summer there is a large amount of frogs that crawl out of the lake and make it seem like the ground is moving as you walk.  PIC_0125

There are three other campgrounds along the Lake.  Quinn River, Rock Creek, and Crane Prairie resort.  There is no boat launch at Cow meadow so if you want to fish the lake you will have to stay at one of these three.  Crane Prairie is one of the most productive lakes in Oregon for growing large quantities of fish.  Rainbow and brook trout are the primary fish caught.  The kokanee have a strong population in the lake but they are the smaller of the two varieties that can be caught in Oregon lakes.  In the last decade illegally introduced largemouth bass have multiplied and become a major part of the catch.  It is not uncommon to hear of some one catching bass up to 10 pounds from the lake.  I am much more of a trout fisherman so I will stick to fly fishing for brook trout and rainbows.  The edges of the lake are extremely shallow and marshy in most areas so the best way to catch fish is to have a boat or my favorite a pontoon boat.

Other Central Oregon places to see

Fort Rock, Crack in the ground