The Steamboater Whistle


          Winter 2017

               Volume 56, Issue 1


North Umpqua River, Oregon


Announcements and Club Events
Please Welcome the Following New Members:

Randy Brewer------------Eugene,OR
Tyler Holloway-----------Springfield, OR
Katie Meyer--------------Springfield, OR
Emily Standish----------Glide, OR
Justin Helm---------------Eugene, OR

Dues Reminder:

I would like to thank the members who have already paid their 2017 Dues. Those of you that haven't, you should have received a postcard as a reminder.
Your dues are important for our continuing care of the North Umpqua.
Please sit down now and take care of this.
Your President and Board of Directors wish to take this opportunity to thank you now.

Reminder: Friends Don't Let Friends Fish Over Spawners

Thanks to Tony Wratney for putting up the signs, as well as thanks to Eric Figura and Janie Pardo from the recreation department at North Umpqua Ranger District for partnering with us to help protect wild winter steelhead on their spawning grounds.

Don't Miss the Glide Wildflower Show, Sponsored in Part by the Steamboaters

The Adopt a Highway Signs are Back!

Thanks to Josh Voynik for patiently working with ODOT to get these signs reposted. We hope to see you all at the annual picnic when we do the clean-up.

In This Issue


President's Message by Tim Goforth

This winter has been a true Oregon winter. I've lived in Oregon all my life, and this winter was like the ones I remember until about 10 years ago. Lots of rain, high winds, and snow seemed to be the norm then, or I could just be getting older.
The river has been high and higher and up and down so much I've grown accustomed to having only five or six places to fish outside of the Camp Water. I go rummaging around in the brush to see if I can get my rod out far enough to flick a fly into that six foot wide by twenty foot soft spot, hoping that it wont get pulled out too fast by the current.  Of course, the current tears it out faster than George Crandall would run between holes.
Carefully I strip in my line, so it doesn't hang up on any tree roots or branches that are half sunk, waving, and grasping for my General Practitioner.  I stick my rod tip out a little further, change the angle slightly, hang the fly on the limb next to me, extricate the fly, get the line further out in front of me, remember the limb above and next to me, shorten my stroke, flick out the "cast", lift the rod tip, slip a little line, drop the tip slowly, hold the rod out, hold it, looking good, and the fly hangs in the soft spot for just a second. Then it is ripped out again. C'mon. I know that fish is there!
I do it again and again a little different each time, lengthening the line, "slow the fly down" ringing in my head. Then a gentle tap and the line tightens, I lift the rod, I begin to reel in, it must be a stick. It comes up along the soft spot, then it suddenly turns, launching itself into the fast current mid river and is gone.
I stand on my tiny perch, exhilarated from 30 seconds of "action" and hope realized, and then that plummeting feeling of rejection. Hope returns! Maybe the fish will come back! Steelheading is an obsession for many of us, and winter steelheading is out on the crazy edge of that obsession.
I want to thank those of you that were able to attend our annual banquet. We filled the Steamboat Inn to capacity and then some. It was great to see many faces I haven't seen for a while and meet new people, especially the younger members.
I hope you all enjoyed the presentation by Yvon Chouinard. To me, it was a call to action. I feel we were very lucky to have him come, at no cost to the Steamboaters, with his limited time. He had one week between trips meeting with the President of Argentina and then going to Chile to meet with the President there to turn over restored land to the Chilean government.  It will be added to the Patagonia Parc National.  This truly shows his dedication to the preservation of rivers and wild fish everywhere.
Huge thanks to Jim and Sharon Van Loan, Pat Lee, and the staff, for the excellent food and service provided by the Inn. I want to thank all those that made donations to our silent auction, with special thanks to Dillon Renton for the donation of a guided fishing trip.
If you fish the North Umpqua you should be a Steamboater. Tell your friends and sign them up. To current Steamboaters, thank you for your continuing support, and hope to see you all on the river soon.


Winter on the River 

Photo by Karl Konecny

Photo by Barb Burruss


Mitigation Fund Projects by Jeff Dose

The Steamboaters submitted Mitigation Funds requests for four projects to Umpqua National Forest on March 6.  Assembled by Jeff Dose, the projects are:

  • Decommissioning un-needed or damaging roads;
  • Continuing the macro-invertebrate census;
  • Beginning a program of habitat inventory/monitoring on all fish-bearing streams; and
  • Improving in-stream, stream adjacent, and aquatic organism passage. 
As part of the Settlement Agreement for relicensing PacifiCorp's hydro-electric facilities in the upper North Umpqua Basin, PacifiCorp provides to Umpqua National Forest approximately a half-million dollars per year to mitigate for the hydo project's impacts.
The Steamboaters have met with Umpqua National Forest staff for the last seven years requesting development of a program for these funds.  Several board members met again in March with Alice Carlton, Forest Supervisor, and Steve Marchi, Recreation, Engineering, Lands, and Minerals Officer, and later with Ron McMullin, the North Umpqua Ranger District Fish Biologist.  We again requested a program of habitat analysis in fish-bearing streams, which would serve as the basis for prioritizing future projects. The Forest Service prefers to operate without the constraints of a long-range plan, choosing projects on an ad-hoc basis as plans are submitted by the Districts and staff.

51st Annual Steamboaters' Banquet

Comments on the Umpqua Salmon and Steelhead Hatchery Program by Jeff Dose

The Coastal Multi-Species Management Plan (CMP) that was adopted by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2015 contained many elements that are related to management direction for salmon and steelhead populations in the Umpqua River Basin.  Several Steamboaters and numerous other interest groups participated in the years-long process.  In addition to open seasons and harvest levels (bag limits), a major topic of discussion was the role of hatchery production and what impacts that may occur from them to wild salmon and steelhead populations.

The CMP authorized significant hatchery production of summer steelhead and spring chinook in the North Umpqua, winter steelhead in the South Umpqua, and fall chinook in the mainstem.  Concerns with potential adverse impacts from introgression (hatchery fish spawning with wild fish) was a big concern with those impacts, particularly the summer steelhead and spring chinook programs in the North Umpqua.  There is some straying of hatchery winter steelhead from the South Umpqua program into the North, but this is considered minor.  Recent research has clearly shown that productivity of wild fish is substantially reduced with even relatively small numbers of hatchery fish in the spawning population.  The mechanism is the relative lack of genetic diversity in the hatchery fish due to unnatural selection in the hatchery environment and the small number and unnatural mate selection of the parent generation, as compared to wild populations.

The measure used to reduce these impacts is the percentage of hatchery origin spawners (pHOS} that is allowed to interact with wild spawners. As an example, a research model determined that a 5% pHOS resulted in a 13% reduction of production of wild fish in the ensuing generation.  As the pHOS increased, the productivity loss was increased substantially - 10% pHOS led to a 24% decrease, and a 50% pHOS led to a 75% decrease in wild fish production.  For the North Umpqua, the CMP objective for summer steelhead and spring chinook was set at 10%.  While the Steamboaters (and several other groups) pushed for a 5% upper limit for pHOS, the Commission adopted 10%. 

In discussions with local ODFW biologists, it was determined that the actual pHOS for both summer steelhead and spring chinook in the North Umpqua has not been accurately determined.  The default mechanism has been counts of hatchery and wild fish at Winchester Dam and some assumptions about where they go in the system and whether the hatchery fish are actually spawning with wild fish.  A working assumption (unproven) is that most of the hatchery fish will eventually return to Rock Creek, where the hatchery is located. This a question that needs to be answered conclusively.  Local ODFW staff have also expressed concern.  It is not uncommon for hatchery fish over Winchester to be equal to, or exceed, wild fish crossing.  The ODFW, like many other governmental agencies, is facing budget problems that restrict resources and staffing to monitor this extremely important metric.  The Steamboaters, and other conservation groups, have stepped up and provided technical support to ODFW, including an offer of state-of-the-art software, to provide the best possible accuracy in counting migrating fish.

Recent information from counts at Soda Springs Dam, at the upper end of the accessible portion of the North Umpqua, is very troubling.  In three of the last four years (the period of record) the number of hatchery summer steelhead crossing has exceeded the wild run, sometimes by a factor of two.  To their credit, the ODFW staff will try to find the resources to better count fish at Winchester Dam, and perhaps more importantly, count fish at Rock Creek during the fall/winter period when summer steelhead move into tributaries to spawn.  Hopefully, this will help answer some of the unknowns with regard to what the pHOS for summer steelhead actually is.  A genetic research study by Dr. Mike Miller (previously discussed in the Whistle) will also provide some vital information to help with sound management of our wild fish resources.

Chilcote, M.W., K.W. Goodson and M.R. Falcy.  2013.  Can. J. Fish. And Aq. Sciences.  70: 1-3.

Tight Lines!

Tony Wratney with the North Umpqua Winter Steelhead we are all out there looking for!
About Us
PO Box 41266
Eugene, Oregon 97404

The mission of the Steamboaters is to preserve, promote, and restore the unique aesthetic values, the natural production of wild fish populations, and the habitat that sustains these fish on the North Umpqua River.

Board of Directors


               Tim Goforth, President               

541 496 0780


Jeff Dose, Vice President

541 673 2665

Averi Wratney, Secretary

 541 496 2248


Lee Lashway, Treasurer

541 953 4796

Josh Voynick, Board Member

541 496 0077 


Dillon Renton, Board Member


Chuck Schnautz, Board Member


Associate Directors


Peter Tronquet

      541 261-5041


                                                                       Dick Bauer

541 688 4980


Joe Ferguson

541 747 4917


Dale Greenly

541 863 6213


Pat McRae

541 496 4222


Charles Spooner

541 496 0493


Lenny Volland

541 673 2246



PO Box 41266
Eugene, Oregon 97404



To join The Steamboaters go to:

and download the application



 Like us on Facebook