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Oregon and Washington road trip

Mike Mogler author photo,

Article and photos by Mike Mogler
O7/31/15 -- Thursday, July 9, my wife and I headed out for Oregon and Washington on a road trip visiting, kayaking, and fishing several locations in the process. This trip took several months of preparation which included vehicle maintenance and planning various campsites and venues we would like to visit.

Our first stop would be Sisters Oregon for the annual Sisters Quilt Show, a three day event for quilters from around the globe including my wife Dru who quilts herself. We decided to camp at Suttle Lake 15 miles west of Sisters. I have fished this smaller lake for kokenee in the past with some good results. This year the lake has had problems with blue-green algae and warmer water temperatures and a constant wind which added up to a less-than-good kayak fishing adventure.

After camping and taking in the quilt show, we hit the road on Sunday, July 12, with Lake Billy Chinook our next stop. Billy Chinook is a two hour drive north east of Sisters between Redmond and Madras, Oregon, an area I have never been in and I was full of expectations. We made a pit stop for fuel in Culver, Oregon, a small village just east of the lake. After eating a great breakfast at a local diner, it wasn’t long before we witnessed this large lake deep within canyons formed by erosion, and filled by both the Crooked and Deschutes Rivers. We camped at Palisades Campground. Oregon has some really nice state campgrounds which made our time at Billy Chinook pleasurable. The lake's fishery includes both warm water species of bass, large mouth, and smallies, as well as lake and bull trout.

2 kayakers on Bill Chinook, Photo by Mike Mogler
Paddling at Lake Billy Chinook

Two days at Billy Chinook and we were off to the Columbia River Gorge at The Dalles where we spent our first night camping along the river at Memaloose Oregon State Campground. This was our first experience camping at the Gorge. The campground was noisy with the Hwy. and trains that run along both the Oregon and Washington sides of the Columbia. The fishery of this river included many species of fish with several species of salmon being the most predominate species, steelhead, sturgeon, and small mouth bass. Unfortunately, I didn’t fish the Columbia and I hope to return in the future.

Bonniville Dam
Bonneville Dam

We were able to visit the Bonneville Dam. It was impressive with it’s generating capabilities. The facility is operated by the Corp. of Engineers, and was an important part of the WW2 ship building industry. This being said, with the building of the Bonnevile Dam and the Grand Coulee in Washington, both dams impacted the aquatic life of the river which devastated enormous salmon runs, which in turn had other human, cultural, and environmental impacts in the area. The problems that have occurred since the building of the dam have been somewhat eased by the Corp of Engineers and other environmental groups working on restoring these once enormous runs.

The gorge has some wonderful waterfalls that we visited. Horsetail and Multnomah Falls were such a pleasant sight with the air temperatures in the mid-eighty’s. We spent two days in the area camping at Ainsworth State Campground for the night. At this point I would advise reserving Oregon’s State Campgrounds well in advance of your road trip. The sites in these campgrounds were often reserved but we managed when a few sites were open for walk-in’s, but only for one night.

Ok, on the road again in Washington State, headed to Sequim where a friend of mine has been crabbing, salmon fishing, and shrimping in the bays and Straits of San Juan Defuca. I was very interested in the shrimping around Sequim.

Man holding 2 crab, aboard a crab boat, photo by Mike Mogler
Crabbing off the coast of Sequim and Dungeness Bay

John Dach, his buddy Coffee, and Coffee’s son Chris, and I, got together for two days of crabbing, fishing, and shrimping off the coast of Sequim and Dungeness Bay. We worked hard both days and had only a few strikes while salmon fishing, with crabbing, and shrimping topping the list. Spotted shrimp where trapped in 300 feet of water after soaking for two hours. Often these pots, like crab pots, are soaked overnight, which we did not try with our limited time and possible vandalism of the pots. Dru, Cynthia (John’s wife), and I, had some great dinners while we visited with them; great, wonderful people. We are so lucky to have them both as friends.

Shrimp in a bowl, photo by Mike Mogler
Spotted shrimp added to our culinary delights

After three days of shrimp and crab, we head southwest, to the coast of Washington, stopping and paddling Crescent Lake with it’s clear and deep blue water; a must stop for anyone traveling Hwy. 101 south of Port Angeles.

We camped at an RV park in Hoakuim, WA. overnight, with Astoria as our next destination with it’s iconic bridge transversing the Columbia River. While crossing the river, I noticed a few small craft boats fishing the Washington side of the river. Usually this area can be very productive during the spring for salmon.

Sharon Moglr with Salmon, photo by Mike Mogler
Nice Chinook Salmon

After crossing the Astoria bridge, which at one point is very high, we continued south into Oregon and headed to Seaside for possibly kayaking on the bay. Unfortunately, our kayaking adventure was not to happen. We decided to continue our road trip further down the Oregon Coast. The vehicle traffic was horrendous, and we thought it may have been caused by several things; the abnormal high temperatures inland,normal vacation traffic, and road work.

On Monday, July 20, we stopped in Tillamook and toured the cheese factory; fun place with a lot of people, with the same idea. It was interesting, and we enjoyed the tour and fantastic weather. We camped that night at Fred Meyers due to our late arrival in Tillamook.

The next day Tuesday, July 21, our next destination; Yaquina Lighthouse, built in 1872, which is located on a point above Yakuina Bay. This particular lighthouse, as with other lighthouses, not only on the Pacific Coast but around the Continental United States, have been retired from service in one way or another. The traditional prismatic lenses have been replaced by modern day lighting or replaced by modern navigational devices like those now in use at Bandon and Brookings.

Yaquina Lightouse
Yaquina Lightouse

Driving down Hwy. 101, I wanted to stop at Depoe Bay, claimed to be the smallest or shortest harbor on the Oregon Coast. The boast is true! It was high tide with swell headed almost directly into the harbor. Pretty rough for boats entering or headed out.

That night we camped at a small state campground at Cape Perpetua. The campground was small, but off the highway, which made it quiet, allowing for a great night's sleep.

Bandon, Oregon, with its great little bay and port with the Coquille River entering the bay, was a treat. Fishermen I talked with were crabbing and waiting for the salmon opener. The bar at Bandon was a killer, and the tide was increasingly causing the bar to be treacherous. No fishing outside today!

Coos Bay was loaded with boats trying their luck on the salmon runs entering the bay and Rogue River. Reports were good with runs entering the system several times a week. I was approached by a fisherman with a beautiful 34 inch chinook caught fishing near Indian Creek to verify its length.

Scout's Hatchery volunteers, photo by Mike Mogler
Scout hatchery volunteers

While on the Rogue at Indian Creek, I was able to meet-up with the Redding Boy Scout Troop 125, and my grandson Jessie and daughter Krista, who were involved in volunteer work at a local private salmon, steelhead hatchery one-half mile from the mouth of the Rogue. This small hatchery has been around since 1877 and relies on volunteers to maintain the facilities, and the outcome of this work can produce 150,000 eggs. Last spring, 90,000 smolts were released into the Rogue River system. Keep-up the great work!

Volunteers working on the Scout Raceway, photo by Mike Mogler
Hatchery raceway

Next day we landed in Brookings, a great place to visit, and with the opportunity for anglers to fish the salt for salmon, rockfish, and halibut. The Chetco runs of salmon and steelhead are well known to anglers fishing this small river in the fall and winter. Brookings claims the safest bar in Oregon and I believe that is true.

After camping at Brookings harbor for several days, we made a short trip to Crescent City with the wind blowing making kayak fishing difficult. With marine weather reports predicting very windy conditions for the next several days and somewhat lower inland temperatures, we decided it was time to head home.

What a wonderful road trip! Arriving home in Shingletown and going over our road trip, we realized that more planning would have utilized our time more efficiently. At any rate, we met some really nice folks, saw some things that maybe inspired us, and most likely, we will return to a few of those places at another time. For now we’re home planning our next road trip adventure.

Go out there and have a great summer adventure.

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