Short casts: A year later on the Penobscot, Oregon lakes, advice from Camille Egdorf

Coalition members celebrate the removal of Veazie Dam on the Penobscot in 2013.

A year ago, ocean-going fish in Maine's Penobscot River regained access to some 2,000 miles of spawning and rearing habitat thanks to the final step in a restoration project designed to bring the Penobscot drainage back to it's former glory. With the fish-passage project around Howland Dam completed, herring, shad, striped bass, sturgeon, sea lamprey and Atlantic salmon were now able to move into historic spawning habitat for the first time in two centuries. It remains one of the greatest conservation success stories of this century, and proof that work done to make rivers healthier makes entire landscapes healthier. 

And it's working. More than 2 million river herring are expected to run past the former Veazie Dam site, and more than 200 Atlantic salmon (their returns to the river, pre-dam removal, numbered in the dozens) are poised to make a run into the river this summer. Ocean-going fish have been spotted more than 90 miles upstream of the last former diversion. The Penobscot is on its way back. 

From one future fly-fishing paradise to one that's fully established, here's a reminder that central Oregon, despite a big runoff year, can be a trouty destination for anglers willing to fish stillwater. Rainbows and browns cruise the lakes in Oregon's "mini-Yellowstone" region of active thermal vents and young lava flows, making for some surprisingly good dry-fly fishing. If you're headed west, but worried about blown-out rivers, consider some of the region's great lake fishing. It's worth a shot. 

Finally, if you're new to fly fishing, here's a list of some great advice from angler Camille Egdorf in Outside Magazine. I particularly like the phrase, "painting the sky with a paintbrush in a ten-to-two motion." Poetic, and spot on. It's a handy list of tips that will cut the learning curve a bit and help you have more fun out there with your fly rod. 

Enjoy.

— Chris Hunt

 

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