The first rains of fall bring welcome relief from a summer of fires, record temperatures and massive fish kills. Hunting, skiing, snowboarding, backpacking and fishing can all be done within an hour or two drive from the city limits – but without rain, none of it would be possible. Although rain has a stigma attached to it in Portland, it should only reinforce the fact nature is all around us and rain is essential to supporting our ecosystem.
During the fall, salmon and steelhead begin spawning in almost all of the rivers in Oregon. As the rains come, river levels rise and the fish begin their migration upstream to spawning areas sometimes hundreds of miles away. Anglers pounce on these rivers to try and catch fish that range in size from a few pounds to more than 50. Success is based on timing and perseverance.
With this recipe in mind, Portland State students have a unique opportunity to experience fishing at its best. The cost of fishing is relatively low compared to other outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing and mountaineering, with the added bonus of eating the fish. Fishing for these majestic water creatures gives students a unique opportunity to engage with nature but also to bring something back from nature. Salmon tastes good and is very good for you. Rocks and snow and ice taste bad, and falling down onto them is worse.
To begin, the novice fisherman has to buy a rod, a reel and some bait from a local tackle store. A fishing license is also a must – but not to worry: The fees go to restoring fish habitat, funding hatcheries and supporting research of salmon and their environment. The fish that you’re able to keep in Oregon generally come from hatcheries and not from wild natural stocks.
In all, students can be set for a year of fishing Oregon’s rivers for about $50 to $80.
Some of the best rivers for salmon and steelhead are the Sandy and Clackamas, as well as coastal rivers, such as the Wilson and Nehalem.
So why in the world would someone stand out in the rain trying to catch a fish? Because fishing and raining go hand in hand. As a matter of fact, rain and Portland go hand in hand. So why doesn’t fishing fit into the picture? Some people never had an opportunity to fish as children, some have never bothered to care about nature, and some are too busy worrying about how much it rains.
I suggest we embrace the rain and appreciate the life that it gives to Oregon. As Oregonians and residents of the Northwest, we owe it to ourselves to embrace rain. And fishing is certainly one way for us to do that.