No Room to Gripe

Responding to my previous post about removal of the Klamath River dams, a friend of Rivertop Rambles, Tio Stib, responded favorably to the prospect of environmental change and also reminisced about his angling in the Klamath region. One of Tio’s favorite rivers, apparently, is the Williamson in nearby Oregon. I was reminded of a 2008 fishing tour of Western rivers and my words about the Williamson that I included in the book, Sand & Sage, The Trails Beyond (2010). I’d like to share that segment here and add some photos to spice it up. Thanks again to Tio and to all my readers at this blog.

It was wonderful to launch northward out of sweltering California and to swing into semi-orbit around lofty Mt. Shasta. We enjoyed various perspectives of the mountain till we left its cooling gravitational pull and coasted through the Klamath country with its sandhill cranes and its wars over water rights. We camped on the Williamson River where the clear Spring Creek empties its exceptional flow. Both of these premier trout streams were running full and lively.

[Above photos by SummitPost, MI Audubon, and The Fly Syndicate]

Spring Creek is only two miles long, but the stream is home to a strain of Klamath rainbows that can reach 30 inches in length. I saw only one behemoth, probably because the trout population viewed early August as a good time to be elsewhere. But in the green and turquoise clarity of the creek I saw a depth that almost shouted, “What you see is what you get!” I looked at a bedrock blend of gravel, crustaceans, and occasional fishing lure.

The Williamson is often considered to be one of the most difficult Western rivers to fish successfully. I had no luck with it near our Chiloquin, Oregon campsite. This was drift boat water, and the anglers I saw wading in the catch and release section weren’t doing much better than I was. When I did get into range of rainbows feeding on emergent insects, I caught nothing.

Allegheny River, 11/26/22

Next morning, Spring Creek was more forgiving. Even though the storied spawners weren’t available, I had luck with blue-winged olive imitations in the numbing 45-degree water. Six or seven trout rose from a bed of gravel and pumice to nail the dry fly. One fish was a scrappy footlong specimen. It was small success, perhaps, but when you’re new to a pool under blue sky in a stream thousands of miles from home, there isn’t much room to gripe.

Addenda: Still no room to gripe.

Allegheny, 11/26/22
Old South Bend 290 (7’6″)
a wholelotta chewin’ going on
spring feeder
winter seeds… I have seeds of thought about some future trips I hope to be reporting on among these digital pages… It’ll be a while. Stay tuned.
headwaters… I may gripe about the politics, economics or psychology of these days, but not right now in the blur of holidays & early morning hours. Drink another cup of tea or coffee, let it all rise like an old moon thru the trees… be well.

About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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25 Responses to No Room to Gripe

  1. Brent says:

    I remember that trip through northern California and central Oregon! Those spring creek waters were indeed frigid and I remember your commentary on the difficulty of fishing them. We must’ve gone to Crater Lake right afterwards, right? (Or am I thinking of a different trip?)

  2. Jet Eliot says:

    Thanks for taking us to these gorgeous creekside scenes, Walt, sparkling waters, beaver-gnawed tree, winter seeds. Wonderful to see beautiful Mount Shasta, too. I so enjoyed your words here today, my friend, and will think of the moon image and your words often, letting my gripes “rise like an old moon thru the trees.”

  3. Don T says:

    Hello Walt. Enjoyed this post. Hope all is well with you. Hope to get your way this summer.

  4. Hi. Approximately how many distinct rivers would you estimate you’ve fished in?

    • I’ve got to think about that, Neil. Let’s see, I believe there were 18 rivers sampled on just that one long Western trip in 2008. I’ve made a bunch of similar trips since, and those waterways, as rewarding as they were, are a mere fraction of the rivers I’ve fished in the closer regions of this country and abroad, so I don’t know. Hundreds of them. Love to float ’em all in my dreams!

  5. Anonymous says:

    ” It was small success, perhaps, but when you’re new to a pool under blue sky in a stream thousands of miles from home, there isn’t much room to gripe.”

  6. plaidcamper says:

    Excellent to read your post this week, Walt – I need constant reminding to cut down on the griping (I’m good at it, and I rather enjoy it sometimes) and here this was for a morning read!
    Wonderful images, in words and pictures, and I hope you’re enjoying laying plans to explore even more!

    • Glad to know that I’m not alone in my griping (aside from occasional lapses as indicated in the post) because, God knows, there’s plenty in the world to keep us boiling when we want to blow off some steam. Thanks, as always, for dropping by & lending your support.

  7. tiostib says:

    We are blessed to have the blissful memories of fine rivers flowing through our aging minds. Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays!

  8. UB says:

    It’s always great to see that you’ve shared another excursion that you’ve taken – no matter if it was recent or not. I’m quite familiar with the sandhill cranes here in MI. They’re around most of the year as long as the water remains open. However we do not see those sorts of mountaintops! Looks like the Allegheny provided some amusement recently RTR – nice! The picture of the creek-bed – was there a fish hidden in that image? I must be the worst fly fisherman alive with regard to spotting fish beneath waters’ surface! Hope you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving however you celebrate it. If more people would ‘take’ to fishing in a sincere manner I wonder if some of the world’s issues might be diminished. Nice post RTR! UB

  9. Thanks, UB, and belated holiday greetings! I used to think that sandhill cranes were pretty much exclusively Nebraska & far western birds, but around the time of this western visit I also saw a few of them in Wisconsin & closer to your neck of the woods… Yeah the Allegheny seemed alive & well on a recent visit. I don’t know if there was a fish in this particular streambed shot, I was more interested in trying to capture a sense of the reflections there.

  10. Larry Roush says:

    I always enjoy your stories and pictures, especially those related to my old stomping grounds in Northwestern Pennsylvania. The upper Allegheny is one of my favorites.

  11. Emily says:

    A beautiful area to explore for sure. My son lives in Portland and I was able to visit the Metolius a year ago. Can’t wait to get back up there,

  12. Bob Stanton says:

    Glad to see you up and about, Walter, at least to some extent. I hope you are on the mend, as am I. Did a 7+ mile hike today on the short loop of Morrison trail near Rimrock, the first extensive hike since July and the subsequent knee debacle. At some point, I’m going to hit you up via email for some of your insight about a mystery bird from the other night that has me stumped.

  13. loydtruss says:

    Another scenic area filled with nature at its best, just what I needed to remind me why we all love fly fishing— I Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas–thanks for sharing

  14. Kinderhook Bob says:

    Warmest wishes for a happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year.

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