July 20-29th 2012
Every summer we make a short annual pilgrimage to the Umpqua River from our home in the shadow of Shasta to search for summer run steelhead. The Umpqua has one of the few remaining runs of wild summer fish in the lower 48 states that supports angling. The fish are also surface oriented and getting one to tip up from a deep emerald pool for a skated fly can be one of the most magical moments in our sport.
This season, our longtime friend Ed Filice, owner of La Filice Winery joined Craig and Jerri for a week of perfect weather, great food, phenomenal wine, ideal water conditions and outstanding fishing. Ed is an exceptional wine maker, fly tier (check out his flies @ http://dragginflys.com/), tournament spey caster, and a delightful guy to spend a day on the water with. He started off the trip in stylish fashion, hooking and landing a bright buck on his sixth cast! Ed caught the fish on a fly he tied specifically for the trip, a beautiful Birrell’s “Soft Water Sedge.” It is a sparse waking/wet fly muddler style that attracted interest from some other fish during the week as well.
Most mornings started off quite cool, and though not a morning person, Craig was encouraged by Ed and Jerri to make some early starts to fish the more popular runs before other rods had been through. Evenings were warm and we wore shirtsleeves until it was too dark to fish. Steelhead seemed to be scattered throughout the river from Deadline all the way through the Camp Water and above.
One afternoon we visited Lee Spencer on Steamboat Creek where he serves as interpreter and “fish guardian.” Lee confirmed the fish were not concentrated in the Camp Water as the creek had been running high and many fished had moved up into the creek where they are protected. The hole where is is stationed to guard them was holding about 500 wild steelhead, an amazing site to see!
After raising eight fish in the first four days, Craig finally landed one while he and Ed were on a guided day with Rich Zellman who is one of the finest guides we have had the pleasure to meet. With catch rates on the Umpqua so low on average, it can be a challenging venue to please highly expectant anglers. Rich does an outstanding job of providing anglers of every experience level some opportunities at fish while advancing their knowledge and skills. To see Rich in action on his home water check out the following video: