Long-time Steamboater Larry Levine was one of the 10 people
killed while teaching a writing class at UmpquaCommunity College
in another senseless mass murder.
Larry was a gentle, literate man, a dedicated flyfisher, a
passionate baseball fan, a long time guide on the NorthUmpquaRiver, a teacher, a
skilled cook, a man with a strong sense of how he wanted to live.
Larry first visited the NorthUmpquaRiver in the early 80’s
at the invitation of Dave Hall whom he met when they were attending the University of Oregon.Larry immediately fell in love with the River, moved up from southern Oregon, and never left.
A gifted writer and observer, Larry wrote several novels,
none of which were published, but had several stories and essays published in periodicals
including Fly Fisherman and Gray’s Sporting Journal; he also contributed pieces
for the Steamboat Whistle over the years.
A gathering on the River is being planned for later this
fall, and Steamboaters will be notified shortly about time and place.
Yesterday, Becky and I had lunch at Steamboat Inn and then
decided to go all the way up to the Big Bend pool and visit with Lee Spencer.
As you would expect, the conversation revolved around the fish. Lee estimated
there were around 140 fish in the pool and they were all typical North Umpqua
sized fish and he was hoping to see one of the 20 pounders come in as he has in
the past. He said those big fish are not only longer but also really round. The
conversation suggested the potential for some really large fish being in this
river. Those of us who have fished the river for a long time have been lucky
enough to have experienced seeing one of these fish and when you see them, they
I hooked one of those big fish in the Oakie many years ago. I
had stopped to look as I often did and Holy Moly there was one of those big
things. I grabbed my fly rod off the rig and put on my Captain Nemo, a fly of
my own design and that big fish slammed it right after it hit the water. I
couldn’t believe it but, of course, I also thought I was going to land that
thing or know the reason why. We had a hellacious battle but I was sure I was
going to get it one way or the other. I fought it until dark and ultimately it
became clear I was simply not going to land it so I cut my leader and we were
I got to see one up close and wrote about it in a book I wrote a
few years back, The North Umpqua Chronicles, in the June chapter.
“Nevertheless, this is the
beginning of my fishing year. June is a slow month, but that does not mean it
is a waste of time, there is always the chance of something interesting
happening, like the time a few years ago when I was at the “Famous” fishing
from the lower stand on a pleasant spring day. After no more than half dozen
casts there, a huge fish, at least 20 pounds, came porpoising through the pool
like a whale. With majestic head and tail rises it passed no more than 15 yards
out from me…an absolutely gorgeous bright fish with a faint pink stripe along
its broad flank. It set me off on a period of what was perhaps the most
frantically insane fishing episode of my life. I was Captain Ahab wildly
pursuing Moby Dick. For days I relentlessly fished everything upstream, madly
racing between the pools, clambering up and down the banks, flogging the water,
hoping to intercept it somewhere. I never saw it again, but I can see that fish
clearly in my mind’s eye even yet. I am sure a few of these huge fish enter the
river every year, but we seldom have the chance to see them.”
The following is used with permission from Mark Stangeland, North Umpqua Fly Guide. The Steamboaters thought it was an important request. You can follow Mark at http://nuflyguide.blogspot.com.
I appeal to you all to be responsible out there this year. If the water is too warm
in the afternoon don't fish. Carry a thermometer and use it. We may have to make some
hard decisions this year till we get some weather/rain etc. I won't fish if temps won't
allow it. I can't tell you what to do you must let your conscience be your guide.
> As a guide it may mean canceling some trips. I'm ok with that. It's gonna be hard
but it's the right thing to do.........
> And also this year, with potentially warmer conditions overall,how about trying to
tell your fishing stories without fish pictures. It can be done. Take some great scenery
pics of people you fish with and call it good.
If temps are anything over 65 I would caution against fishing. We can't tell people what to do but hopefully strong suggestions will help.
The next week could be critical.
Here are the temps out of Copeland creek that could be used as a guide to know kind off what's happening down lower in the river. When you see temps of high 50's up at Copeland you know it's not good at Baker Park in the afternoons......
As you know, when the river heats up the fish
are forced to use the cold, oxygenated water of the tributaries as they make
their way upstream. I have seen these fish in July & August lying on rock
shelves with their backs out of the water to get oxygen. Unfortunately, some
"fishermen" have discovered this and insist on catching/releasing them, which is
often a death sentence. The fish I found didn't have visible marks indicating
they had been caught and released.
I talked to Tim Walters of ODFW on Monday
about the problem. We both feel that special regulations may be in order to
remedy the problem. We talked about a bubble closure around creek mouths when
the river reaches a certain temp.
******************************************************* If potentially heat stressed fish are observed, you are asked to call Tim Walters with the location - 541-440-3353.