This past weekend we spent in Eugene Oregon while Mark signed up for his classes and went through orientation. Mark and I had a chance to fish the McKenzie River about 40 minutes outside of town with Tod from the Caddis Fly Shop. I had never fished out of a real McKenzie river boat and I thought it might be wierd fishing two guys in the front, but all went well despite Mark never flyfishing out of a drift boat before. I had a choice to fish for summer steelhead on the Willamette or catch “large numbers” of trout on the McKenzie. I chose the trout fishing for marks sake but regretted it after hearing after the trip that they were pounding the steelhead in town. We caught a few fish but the fish were as Mark commented were all “baitfish” sized. There is a massive hatchery on the river that supplies the majority of fish on the stretch we were fishing but they looked much healthier than California hatchery fish. While drifting the river, i saw houses for sale on the river as low as $177K. With the out of state tuition being aprox 40K more than in state. I should have bought a place on the river three years ago and had Mark work there in the summers floating the river to gain Oregon Residency. The town of Eugene is fantastic. The people are friendly, and there is a Costco, Cabellas, a great Fly Shop, Trader Joes, and Bed Bath and Beyond. They have good sushi and Thai Restaurants. We ate a a BJ’s and there is a great mall within 3 miles of the school. The students are highly supported by the community and the Oregon Ducks Football team is “the main event” in the area. The recreational fields are perfect, and the student health center even has cheap dentistry. There is a great hospital within 4 blocks of the school and you don’t need a car to get around. The deal sealer is that you can catch a steelhead on campus with a spey rod between classes from August to December! Good thing I didn’t go to that school or I would have never graduated. Mark isn’t as crazy about fishing yet so I count my blessing and hope he is a late bloomer–a post degree bloomer.
There were lots of interesting things about U of O, or as some call it The University of California, Eugene. For one, there are not many Asians at that school. In fact I only saw a handful. Also, the level of technology sophistication is very low. So low that Mark was asked by several to sign up as a residential computing aid for the school which he did. If they accept him, he will have a 10 hr a week paid job and will move in a week early for training. Tye at the Fly Shop sais September is PRIME TIME for steelhead and I think I will do a day float for one day while Gina and Mark move in to the dorm.
Turns out that the steelhead run in town is a record run that resulted from a release three years ago. They finally figured out how to get steelhead to hang around town. In the past they had taken steelhead raised up above the town and released them in town. The steelhead in the past would just run by the town and up to the hatchery despite being released in town. By taking steelhead smolt from a completely different river and releasing them in town, they have been able to get a large substantial run to return and linger in town in the Willamette. The average fish is about 7 lbs with 15 lbrs caught. The experts in town say this the beginning of a new age of steelhead fishing in Eugene.