Photo caption. This is not Mt.St. Helens ash, but it could have been.
May 18, 1980. 8:32 AM.
I was on the South Santiam, wearing black rubber hip boots, at Lebanon Dam, fishing for spring Chinook with Mark Wade. I had caught a good one, 22 or 24 pounds. Or 18 pounds. Caught that salmon way up on the South side, in the narrows, by casting a big egg cluster with a little piece of pencil lead about 2 feet above the bait.
Toss it thirty feet out, past the slack water, plop it in the zone between too slow and too fast current. Let it sink about 4 or five or six feet deep. That’s all. No more. The river is twenty feet deep there, but the salmon are only 6 feet deep.
The salmon came to my gaff after what must have been an epic battle. The rod I fished was fiberglass, a yellowish custom rod that Wayne Doughton of Doughton Hardware in Salem Oregon sold. The design was Wayne’s. the glass extended into an aluminum tube through the handle. The rod was a bait-caster. The reel was a Ambassadeur 6500. The line might have been Ande, or maybe Stren. Twenty -pound maybe or 17-pound. Possibly 15-pound. Yes, I think it was fifteen-pound,
Over 95% of the anglers at Lebanon Dam fish in the main pool, standing elbow to elbow. I only knew one other man who figured out this way to fish here. Nd the guys who fished along the north bank rock wall, drifting their baits within a foot of the sheer rock, in the cushion where the current is gentle, with the full force of the river rushing past only inches away. They fish this way over at Shear’s Falls on the Deschutes.
I ducked. Nearly fell off my rock into the river.
Looked up to see if there was a jet, or a mushroom cloud. No iPhones then. No Facebook. No idea what had just happened. I thought it was a sonic boom or something. Considered a nuke but discounted that idea after a while. We had ash on our cars in Corvallis the next day? And for weeks after?
Mark took a photo of that salmon, I think. Doesn’t matter. the photo is gone.
Only the memory remains, and I wonder if even Mark Wade remembers.
I bet there are a few people who remember Wayne. Maybe even a few that remember his custom steelhead drift rods.
The people who remember will be gone soon, all of us. no one to remember his rods and his engaging smile and booming laughter and the moth-balled fly tying materials in the gold ice cream cans and the way he tutored so many teenagers and Willamette valley anglers.
Unless someone finds this blog post.
I think this is the last post I’ll do for awhile.
Too much to attend to.
Thank you all.
This is so important that I decided to add it tot he blog so that no one loses it in the comments section.
From my friend Bill.
Hi Jay, had a similar story. Was fishing with my dad, Warm Springs to TC. My last trip with him before I headed to AK for my 1st summer guiding. Having breakfast that Sunday morning before taking out later in the day. As you said, a mammoth explosion… BOOM!! Dad had been a pilot and we agreed it was a sonic boom.
Later that afternoon took out at TC, and drove up that canyon to Gateway. Looked north, 70,000 feet in the air, there it was. Then we got radio reception and confirmed it was St. Helens.
BTW, I spent my junior HS and HS years in Salem. Took fly-tying lessons from Wayne at Waldo Junior High. Still do it today, still have that Thompson vise. And also have a lot of memories of him and that amazing store.
Thanks for bringing back those memories!!
Be well Jay.
And froom my friend Bob:
Yes, I remember Wayne, what a character.
He had this routine down when anyone would come to the store saying that they were a friend of Jay, and want to see the display case of Jay’s hand tied flies, he would take his victim over to a bowl of cheap Chinese flies and exclaim, Here they are!
In my basement in Bend I still have a case (12) of long handle fillet grills/baskets for back in the day when you could still cook steaks, chicken or fish fillets over the fire.
One could buy short handle baskets in Corvallis, but only Wayne could get the long handle ones
More from Bob: Jay May remember this more accurately, but Wayne had a theory that summer steelhead were not native to the Siletz, but instead had evolved from trout stocking?
Yes. Wayne had fished the Siletz his entire life (born in 1914) and told me there were never any summer steelhead in the river but — lo and behold, they started showing up in the river subsequent to a series of hatchery trout stockings in Valsetz Lake in the Siletz headwaters.
Moore from Jay. Who remembers fishing Valsetz lake? The Timber Company Town in the coast range? They (timber Co.) dammed the headwaters to make a lake for log storage and delivery to the sawmill.
Anyway, Wayne said that sometime after “the hatchery trout planting program, summer steelhead began showing up in the North Fork of the Siletz. I asked the ODFW District biologist, a guy i respected, about this and he discounted the possibility.
Personally, I can see it either way. Could be native wild, or introduced wild.