Individual taste in books varies as much as the favorite rod or fly.  With that in mind, we hope to review books and videos from the ever-growing fly fishing world, and share them with you.  Books will be the best of all worlds, new and old.  Many of the old books are now available in reprint, and the wisdom contained is timely today.  Others can be found in second-hand book stores, or by mail order dealers. As we find videos we feel are outstanding they will be included. Be assured, reviews are based on what we have actually read, and due to that fact, may not appear weekly.

July 4th, 2005

Floating and Fishing Oregon's Wilderness Rivers
By Melinda Allen


Reviewed by Benjamin Hart

Floating and Fishing Oregon's Wilderness Rivers
I'm a freak for rivers, and when I had the chance to review Floating and Fishing Oregon's Wilderness River Canyons by Melinda Allen, I jumped on it. I live in western Montana and Oregon isn't that far away so I've had the opportunity to float a few of the rivers discussed in this book. I have tried to float some of the other ones and been downright intimidated by the logistics of a few.

Floating and Fishing Oregon's Wilderness River Canyons is a great reference for anyone who has it in mind to float any of the rivers discussed which are: The Deschutes, John Day, Grande Ronde and Walolowa, Rogue and Owyhee. These rivers are all amazing and for an outsider like me they all epitomize the kind of thing I'm looking for in a river trip, they're remote and beautiful and all of them offer fishing. As a river enthusiast and professional I read this book looking for the kind of information that I want and need to know: river flows, launch information, permitting, gradient, length of float, rapids, difficulty, fishing information. I am used to looking for this stuff in different books and I find this one to be very thorough and well thought out. I like that the author didn't overdo it with the quantity of rivers and went berserk on the quality and depth on the rivers she chose. From clear driving directions, to where to take out and how long the trip will take at certain flows, this book covers just about everything one should know to plan a trip. There are lists of shuttle companies and their contact information for every river, one more thing I don't have to call around or surf the net to find out.

Running unknown water always puts butterflies in my stomach. Will I flip my boat? Will I wrap it? How much gear will I loose this time? There's no excuse for being unprepared for a situation or a rapid that could take your life and even with a book and pictures and descriptions there's no guarantee that you're going to hit that one line that's your only hope. I always want to know the history of a rapid and what it's known to do. The detailed descriptions of each rapid will aid any reader, and comparing those of the Rogue and Deschutes to my own experience, I can say they are right on. There are several pictures of more difficult rapids explaining the lines and exactly how to hit them. Many of these rivers have class IV rapids and some have bigger, so it's wise to listen to whatever anyone says about hitting a certain rapid, or a rock that's known to kill, this book explains many of the more difficult ones well and will increase my chances of a safe return.

There are things in this book intended for beginning boaters too. Chapters explaining equipment and other odds and ends will benefit novice boaters. Many stretches of water will appeal to the beginner, those with little difficulty are easy to reference throughout. There is a whole chapter on "The Basics" which is a comprehensive package that is a great place to start learning the lingo and techniques that could make the difference between a fun trip and a disaster. Safety is stressed throughout which I also like. Nothing can replace training and experience but anything will help and I think this book can help make the right decisions from the start. Beginners won't want to try and run Widowmaker on the Owyhee and it's good to have something that tells them that.

Many excellent photographs and charts help with planning. There's even a "Solitude Chart" that can give you an estimate of how much peace and quiet you can expect on these rivers at different times of the year. There are topographic maps that will aid in driving and shuttling, they are basically USGS quadrangles, only showing the river and general surroundings. Included for each river is the industry standard river log for mileage and landmarks to help you know just how far you've gone and what's around the bend, and if it's Blossom Bar on the Rogue you better heed the advice and scout it first.

The fishing is described reasonably well for each river. I cringed at the suggestion of night crawlers or scented lures as bait during conditions that don't favor fly-fishing. There are many helpful suggestions as far as which stretches of rivers have the best fishing, and what optimal flows are for fly-fishing, but there's not much detail on it. Melina does point out the species and the regulations and a little bit about how to target them with spinning gear, but that's about it. I suggest you start with a black wooly bugger and go from there. The fishing on these rivers is extensively discussed elsewhere and usually not rocket science in these remote places, steelhead excluded. The smallmouth fishing information interested me the most and there are photos to prove that Oregon produces some nice ones.

I imagine this book will end up a dog-eared river companion on trips to come, hopefully on the Owyhee if there's enough water next spring or on the John Day to go after those smallies that I keep hearing about. Amato Publications was wise to put this winner on the shelf. ~ BH (benjo)

Floating and Fishing Oregon's Wilderness Rivers
Melinda Allen
Frank Amato Publications
8.5 x 11 inches, 144 pages, color
ISBN: 1-57188-321-5
Price:$29.95

About Benjamin:

When not suffering serious injuries resulting from romantic mule rides and backcountry snowboarding disasters, Benjamin Hart is on the river. The former owner of a whitewater rafting company, he is now a fly-fishing guide on the rivers in and around Missoula, Montana.

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