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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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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A winter day fishing on Tahkenitch lake

Early morning gloomy day  to start out the day.  It never cleared up on us.
Early morning gloomy day to start out the day. It never cleared up on us.

Today was the day to test out the old Aluminium boat that I had donated to me.  This should make the lakes more easily fished.  I don’t mind fishing from shore, but the big fish just seem to be out reach of my cast.  With all of the reservoirs drawn down for winter the only open lakes I could think of that might have some fish biting was the lakes on the mid-coast. So off we went to Takenitch lake.  The lake was a bit on the murky side when we got there.  The two inches of rain that fell Saturday probably had something to do with that.  We trolled from the boat launch up one of the arms of the lake and only had one bite the entire way.  Thinking that the murk in the water was making trout fishing a bit of a wash out we anchored off in a cove and did a bit of casting.  And once more not a bite.  So to kill some time and maybe catch a catfish we finally opted to use worms on the bottom.  After another 15 minutes of only a single bite we were getting ready to call it a day and I finally got a bite and reeled in a 13 inch cutthroat trout.  After 5 hours of fishing we got one fish!  It may have been a long slow day on the lake but it was a good check of the boat and motors.  No leaks on the boat which is good considering that it had been sitting in the woods for 7 years.  It will need a paint job soon since a lot of paint is flaking.  The electric trolling motor worked great.  It had a lot more power than we thought it would.  The little 2hp gas motor worked well even though it doesn’t go very fast.  A little bit of a stutter to it every 30 seconds or so after it warmed up.  Going to have to check the oil mix ratio.  Might need to add a little more oil to the recommended mix to stop it from doing it.  It was more annoying then anything else.  I now have one fish in the freezer for 2014.  Just need to catch a few more and it will be fish fry time. The boat opens up a lot more fishing areas for us now.  And I can teach Katy to fish a bit easier.

Jeremy and his day glow rain gear.
Jeremy and his day glow rain gear.

The pole that wasn't catching anything most of the day.
The pole that wasn’t catching anything most of the day.

Both of decided to do a panorama at the same time.
Both of us decided to do a panorama at the same time.

Elk Creek trail #3510 into the Mink lake basin

Me at the 4 mile mark hiking in to the Mink lake basin
Me at the 4 mile mark hiking in to the Mink lake basin

A journey for my birthday this year.  Our original goal was to hike all the way into mink lake.  But we only made it to Junction lake before we collapsed from exhaustion.  Next time we will start from a different starting point. There are a lot of mosquitoes in this area so bring lots of bug repellent

  • Trail name: Elk Creek Trail #3510
  • Distance: 7.6 miles to Junction Lake
  • elevation gain: 2000 ft  (2950 to 4970)
  • Difficulty: Difficult

Directions:
From Blue River proceed east for 4 miles on Hwy 126, turn right on Rd 19 (Cougar Dam) and continue for 22 miles, turn left onto Rd 1964 for 2.7 miles, then turn left onto Rd 456 to Elk Creek trailhead ½ mile.

Trail map in reverse direction but it shows the trail well
Trail map in reverse direction but it shows the trail well

The first three miles of the path up from the parking area are the most brutal of this climb.  1600 foot climb in just under three miles.  Well it was brutal for the two of us.  We got passed by a group up near the three mile mark and it didn’t even look like they had even broke a sweat.  After reaching the top of the plataeu the path is mostly small rolling hills for the rest of the way in.

Start of the path up the steep part


The end of the hill climb is in sight

 

Most of the path is flat the rest of the way as it alternates between central oregon dry and western Cascade forests
Most of the path is flat the rest of the way as it alternates between central Oregon dry and western Cascade forests
Mink lake sign
Mink lake sign

Just past the five mile mark you will reach a trail crossing the path.  The intersection has a well marked sign on what is each direction.  The trail to Mink lake is on the northern trail (turn left)

The first lake you come to is Rock lake.  There are no fish in the lake, but it is a nice spot to stop and take a break.
The first lake you come to is Rock lake. There are no fish in the lake, but it is a nice spot to stop and take a break.
Our camping spot for the day ended up being Junction lake
Our camping spot for the day ended up being Junction lake

By the time we made it to Junction lake we were barely moving still.  In hindsight doing a eight mile hike as our first backpacking trip was probably not my best idea.  But it was a good measure of how good of shape we are in and how far we still need to improve.  For me losing a bit more weight will make a big difference. By my 40th birthday next year I want to be in good enough shape to hike up to the top of South Sister mountain.  Which is a 11.5 mile round trip with a 4900 foot elevation climb. There are supposed to be Cutthroat and Rainbow trout in Junction Lake, but we did’t have any bite or see any raising to the surface.  We were on the shallower side of the lake so the fishing might be better around the back of the lake.  We were just to tired to walk around to the other side.

Friendly giant toad we found in the mountains
Friendly giant toad we found in the mountains
Morning on Junction Lake
Early morning camp

Day trips and hiking places in Oregon

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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McKenzie River

The McKenzie river is one of the premier fishing rivers in the entire state of Oregon.  Much of it is open year around to one form of fishing or another. Guided rafting and fishing trips are available all year around.  Much of the river is catch and release for native rainbows so please treat them gently when you catch them.  The ODFW stocks the river heavily in the spring and through the summer with legal size rainbows. In the mild years many of these hatchery  fish survive over the river and can be up to 16″ long on their second year.

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The McKenzie River drains a region of 1,300 square miles (3,400 km2) and is one of the primary tributaries of the Willamette River. Elevations within the region range from 10,358 feet (3,157 m) at the summit of the South Sister, to 375 feet (114 m) at its confluence at the Willamette River north of Eugene. The McKenzie watershed is bordered by the watersheds of the Calapooia, North Santiam, and South Santiam rivers to the north; the Middle Fork Willamette to the south, and the Deschutes River to the east.  The watershed is lightly populated, with more than 60 percent of the land being owned by the government as designated wilderness area. The river, however, is the sole water source for the cities of Eugene and Springfield
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The drift boat is the centerpiece of recreation for the riverfront Cascade communities. In the 1920s Prince Helfrich and Leroy Pruitt crafted the famous McKenzie River Drift Boat. They refined an open-water dory for improved maneuvering in river rapids, launching a design that is still used today. The McKenzie River Drift Boat is recognizable by its wide, flat bottom, flared sides, flat bow and pointed stern. The rower faces downstream. An example of the boat is displayed in the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Adventure Center in Springfield. Since its creation in the 1920’s the drift boat has become the choice for many river fishing around the world

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFishing with fly’s and lures is the most common practice along the river.  Some of the sections do allow bait fishing for those who do not know how to fly fish.  I recommend learning how to fly fish as it is extremely relaxing.  There are trout and Steelhead in the river with an occasional Bull trout caught.  Go and relax on the river!