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Fishing between rain storms a tricky game

 Statesman Journal

Henry Miller, Special to the Statesman Journal
Published Jan. 23, 2018

Right now it’s pouring outside, a regular frog-strangler as my Southern acquaintances would say, while my Pacific Northwest fishing buddies with an agricultural bent would reference the current meteorological situation in terms of large cows and flat rocks.

Ask a farmer about the origins of the latter metaphor, or your grandparents. They could use a good chuckle.

The former reference to drowning amphibians is more self-explanatory.

For anglers, the current scenario is shorthand for a basic conundrum about winters in Oregon.

When I walked Harry the mostly Jack Russell terrier this morning, it was crisp, cold and clear, a perfect setup for hitting a coastal river for steelhead.

As of the past 45 minutes, though, it would be like driving through a car wash on Highway 22 from Valley Junction to Hebo.

Count on it.

During not-infrequent bursts of excessive optimism, unbridled enthusiasm and systematic memory loss, I’ll take off westbound during a patch of blue sky.

Only to arrive after driving the last half-hour in a deluge to find both the Nestucca River and Three Rivers flowing with the velocity of a log flume and the turbidity and clarity of a pumpkin spice latte.

One coping mechanism for fishing coastal rivers is to fish higher up during rain “events.” 
The logic being that the farther up the river, the less inflow, the more narrow the channel and thus a significantly smaller volume of water.

This ancient truism works universally in theory, while almost never in practice because the back roads to get there are clogged with blow-downs, limbs and occasional washouts from the storm.

The kicker being that you finally get to fishable water … about 50 feet beyond the fishing deadline, upstream from which you can’t wet a line.

One reliable rule for fishing coastal rivers is to wait for a day or two (maybe three, depending on the size of the river and the intensity of the storm) until the water drops and clears into piscatorial perfection.

As if that’s ever going to happen.

When I was working full-time, there was a special word that anglers such as myself used to describe the first day of sunshine after a two-day blow: Monday.

And given Oregon’s typical winter weather patterns, clear days are a tease for the gullible, not an invitation for the knowledgeable.

Like now.

Sun’s out.

Oh, wait, big cow, flat rock.

I’ll get back to you.

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