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'The river was cold and clear. ... After a summer-long drought, this river was not hurting for flow.'

William StrideI told Steve, who oversees my "roving naturalist" work at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve, that I wanted a new place to track animals. He suggested that I try the Lee Falls area, up near the headwaters of the Tualatin River. That area was much more populated with wild creatures, he said. I was excited about the prospect of going to this new place with new possibilities for tracking.

The first order of business was to get a Google map of the Lee Falls area. My map told me that I would drive through Patton Valley, then the community of Cherry Grove to a small gravel road called Southwest Lee Falls Road. I would drive that road for about a mile and a half and come to a locked gate. According to the map, Little Lee Falls was about 400 yards in, and Lee Falls was one mile up the road from the gate.

My first time there, I went to Little Lee Falls. The river was cold and clear, with high volume. After a summer-long drought, this river was not hurting for flow. I walked a little way up the road towards the big falls, then turned around and went to my car and drove back to town.

I saw no animal tracks in the areas that I walked because the ground was so dry. On the way back to town, I started thinking about fishing. I decided that I would return the next day and fish Little Lee Falls.

The following day, I drove to the gate and I dug into my trunk for my spin casting gear. I put on a pink rooster tail and walked to Little Lee Falls. I cast over and over the big hole, but no fish were hitting on my rooster tail. I moved upstream a little and continued casting, but the fish were not striking.

I walked up the gravel road to Lee Falls. I must have walked 20 or 25 minutes before I came to it. Lee Falls is a much bigger waterfall, with a very big pool. I thought about stripping down and getting into the water, but I did not. I walked back to the car and drove back to town.

On the drive back to town, I started thinking about fly-fishing. I had not fly-fished Little Lee Falls. Although I did not go there the next day, I did go the day after. Digging into the trunk of my car, I pulled out my fly gear and tied on a larger fly from my box. I walked over to the lower falls and began casting around the hole. There were some fingerlings striking at my fly, but nothing big enough to swallow it. This went on for a while, and then I got into my car and drove back to town.

The following day, I met up with my friend and fishing partner, and we went to a sporting goods store to look at gear. He tried to get me to spend over $300 on a new rod and reel, but I told him I was happy with the rod and reel that I had. We loaded up on a supply of specially selected flies that I could use on the upper Tualatin River.

On my fourth day at Little Lee Falls, I tied on a Royal Coachman fly and began casting. I spent about a half an hour doing this. I got one strike from a big fish but did not hook him.

On that fourth day at Little Lee Falls, I talked to two local fishermen, and they told me about the coho salmon run that was about to begin. I was excited about the prospect of fishing a salmon run for I had never done that. It was time to go back to the outdoor store to get gear for fishing for coho salmon, which I did. All we needed was rain to swell the rivers, and the migration would begin.

William Stride is a "roving naturalist" at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve and an avid outdoorsman. He lives in North Plains.


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