Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Visit with Lee Spencer

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 are big.

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 both free.

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.”
Pat Mc

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