After pounding the river all winter long and prodding it during the summer, I was beginning to doubt my good friend, the North Umpqua.
Casey and I left Eugene/Springfield at 4:15am on Sunday and drove through the dark to the famous Camp Water section. A few cars in the lot and a headlamp parked in "Station", we decided Casey would go upriver and I would go down.
I asked Casey which runs I should hit and he replied with "Fish Kitchen first and then swing through the Mott Pools. They look fast, but they'll fish." So I headed down the dark path, stepped in at Kitchen and began fishing. A fish rolled across the river just where a piece of bedrock was sticking out of the water. I thought if I was going to catch a fish, it would be over there. Taking my steps down I looked down and small a smaller steelhead of a about 22 or 23 inches swimming up and resting in between the indentions of two rocks. I shortened up and swung over him........no go. Fished through the rest of kitchen with no luck, tried boat with no luck, tried sawtooth with no luck. So I headed back down to fish the Mott pools which another angler had already fished through that morning.
About 6 swings and halfway through the swing, it happened. A slight tug, followed by sharp ripping of the line across the river and the fight was on. I was in disbelief that I was actually hooked up with a N. Umpqua steelhead! Looking around to see if Casey had come down I noticed I had gained an audience. A couple hiking along the path was witnessing this miracle. After a decent fight I was able to slide the fish into some calm water, tail it, and snap a quick photo before the release. Redemption! Now on to the Deschutes.