This should probably be called “the Willamette, Clackamas and Molalla” as I fished (or tried to fish) the mouths of Willamette tributaries as well as the main river. The salmon and shad runs are in full swing right now, as attested to by the number of boats on the river, and the two sea lions I saw cruising by Clackamette park. It was admittedly strange to see them over 100 miles from the ocean—the sea lions, not the boats.
The Willamette is the biggest river I’ve fished so far, and it makes it difficult to know where to start when bank fishing a river I couldn’t even cast half way across. Unlike smaller rivers, the Willamette is relatively flat and calm, without the same telltale sign of where the fish may be hiding, so I was basically casting blind and hoping for the best (spoiler alert, no luck this time either). To borrow a boxing term, I thought of it as “stick and move” fishing. With my shiny fancy spinners, I figure that either the fish are in the spot I’m fishing and will go for it, or they won’t or they aren’t. So if I don’t get a hit within the first round of casts that covers a run, I move on. I think my game is getting better though, as I lost five or six lures on the bottom, which means they are getting down deep enough. Now if I just had a fish or two in exchange for all my offerings to the fish gods…
I next stopped at Molalla State Park, and was surprised to find it empty. I found out why after traipsing through the woods for half an hour and still not able to find the mouth of the river. I did eventually make it to the river itself, where I found someone’s raft and lost another lure.
On my way to the next spot I stopped at a small park on the Molalla I’d driven by before. It was also deserted. The water looked perfect: a green-hued run about 100 yards long, a rocky bottom, a cut bank, and water moving at the fast walk. It really seemed like ideal steelhead water, but again, no luck.
My last stop was San Salvador Park outside St. Paul. This stop was definitely part of my “exploring Oregon” theme, but was pretty disappointing. The park is at the end of a dead-end road, and my GPS just gave up once I got out into the country. For the fishing, the bottom is rife with weeds that had me cleaning the hook on every cast, and again bupkis. Another theme that will end up prevalent in my writing: The park was a trash heap. Rusting machinery, bags of bait containers and beer cans and toilet paper were scattered all around. I really don’t understand the mentality that says it’s okay to just toss your garbage wherever. Some people just need a good dope slap I guess.