The thrill of the catch.
Gurgle, gurgle, gurgle…splash!
As I reared back and the fishing rod bent in a tight arc, I thought, “This is a good start!”
And it got better.
Seven casts. Seven fish. And 30 minutes of the best smallmouth bass fishing I’d ever experienced. Five of the seven bass were fat footballs in the 2- to 3-pound range and even the two small fish were solid 12-inchers.
Yet even as I laughed giddily every time another fish blasted my Whopper Plopper plug, I couldn’t help thinking that my “good” and “better” could be another person’s “bad” and “worse.”
Smallmouth bass don’t belong in Oregon’s Umpqua River system. And while they’ve been in the watershed for about 50 years now, there are growing calls and momentum for trying to reduce their numbers in the Umpqua and other rivers to help protect Oregon’s struggling runs of steelhead and salmon.
And that movement has created a dilemma for some anglers who, while they may love fishing for steelhead and salmon, also love fishing for smallmouth bass.
I’m one of them.
I grew up on the lower reaches of South Umpqua and as a kid spent many summer days on the river with my neighborhood fishing buddy Jack. The river was warm in the summer. The winter steelhead run was long over. We caught mostly suckers, bullheads and pikeminnows. Then one day I saw a couple of different-looking fish.
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