Last weekend, Lori and I made the trek to Maupin, Oregon for the Native Fish Society annual River Stewards Gathering. As a newbie to the program, I was there to learn as much as possible from the group of stewards and presenters gathered from all over the west coast.
We arrived late on Friday night due to Portlandia traffic and missed the opening night dinner. I ran down to the after-party for a bit to say hello to a few of the folks I know in the organization.
This is the time of year when Spring Chinook Salmon in the Upper Willamette Basin begin to build redds and spawn. On my way to the Upriver Celebration this past weekend, my wife Lori texted me a picture of an expired fish she and our daughter Hadlee found floating in the swimming hole directly below our home. With white sores and blackish body, it was obviously a Springer. Not unusual this time of year, and entirely expected in light of the warmer than usual water temperature.
This past evening I walked downstream to see if the area where prior years redds have been were showing any signs of spawning activity. I was also curious to check on progress of October Caddis in the area. It’s also this time of year that the big bugs seal off inside their cases and begin the process of metamorphosis, turning into winged adults.
When the trail to the river opened up, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Just downstream from the gravel bed was a crude rock dam from one side of the river to the other! It had an inch or two of water flowing over it’s top.
How could this happen right under my nose, literally! The dam is less than 100 yards from our house. It’s construction likely occurred slowly over the summer as recreational swimmers attempted to hold more water in the “deep hole”, as we refer to it.
Now I don’t want to be hypocritical about it. We often (annually) make some minor in-stream modifications of our own. We move some big rocks between the main channels to create an easy wading path across the river to avert stubbed toes, twisted ankles, slips and falls. But we don’t block the entire width of the river!