Oregon Fishing

Kelley Point Park Mist

I paid a visit today to Portland’s Kelley Point Park, a great fishing spot at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers near the industrial warehouse district that covers the old floodplains of northeast Portland. Sturgeon fishermen were casting lines, and a few drinking brews (hey, this is fishing). Best catch I saw was less than a foot, and it was all catch and release.

Fly fishing in Newberry Caldera, Oregon


I visited Oregon’s Newberry National Volcanic Monument last week. This was one of my favorite finds in a long time. The area includes one of many volcanic peaks in central Oregon, Newberry Caldera.  But on this one, there are two pristine clear, blue lakes (Paulina and East lakes), scenes of volcanic explosions, cool temperatures, and some of the prettiest camping spaces I can recall. Trout and one species of salmon are stocked in the lake, and some fish swim off into some pools that tumble off Paulina Lake into a creek that crashes down Paulina Falls. That’s where I captured this, no doubt, blissful fly fisherman, who bore a striking similarity to noted fly fisherman and current Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber. Made me think of the Norman Maclean quote: “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” (Click on the photograph to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

Sherars Falls, Oregon, a historic Native fishing ground


For those who have never lived in the Northwest or fished, the significance of fishing to the region historically cannot be underestimated. Fishing is a unifying force among many diverse groups, a source of economic development for many small communities, and a cultural and historic legacy for Native Americans.

Fishing rights granted in treaties signed by the U.S. Government with tribes in Oregon and Washington remain in legal force. So-called “fishing wars” and “fish-ins” involved nonviolent and at times near-confrontational encounters among Native fishing activists seeking to reclaim fishing rights granted to them in treaties. These disputes attracted national attention. All of this culminated in the 1974 Boldt Decision that restored those rights in Washington State, and earlier with the Belloni Decision, in 1969, in Oregon. (Click on the Boldt Decision link to get a quick dose on this complex Northwest issue from a paper I wrote a few years back.)

Today, there are fewer fish, mostly salmon, because of decades of hydroelectric dam use on the Columbia River water system and development, but there is also shared management of the fisheries. Sherars Falls, on the Deschutes River, is a historic fishing area managed by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, as provided by treaty rights. I saw lots of tribal fishermen here this week, along with sports fishermen, who pay a daily fee to the tribe. Though developed, with a major railway, power lines, and roads, it is still wild, and the thrashing of Chinook caught on a line is one of the greatest things to experience. And this was really one of the most beautiful places I have visited in a while.

(Click on each photo for a larger picture on a separate picture page.)