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New book improves anglers' fish-catching odds

- Dick Mason

The Observer

How do anglers outside Northeast Oregon view this region?

Like a stream filled with jumping trout that are not biting flies — a mystery.

This is the belief of Klamath Falls outdoor writer and fishing guide Craig Schuhmann. The mystery he speaks of is one he hopes to help solve in his new book "Oregon Fishing: The Complete Guide to Fishing Lakes, Rivers, Streams and the Ocean (Moon Books)." Schuhmann devotes a 76-page chapter to Northeast Oregon in his 470 page book.

Schuhmann writes about this region in a way that will pique the curiosity of anglers — if it does not first scare them away.

The author almost makes anglers feel as if passports are needed in addition to fishing licenses.

"... travel here from anywhere other than the eastern border states is going to seem like visiting a faraway world,'' Schuhmann said. "Seven mountain ranges divide the region and 10 wilderness areas, contained in four national forests, are scattered throughout.''

This explains why some see the region as a mystery.

"Northeast Oregon is an enigma to most Oregon anglers: It poses problems of distance, accessibility and knowledge,'' Schuhmann writes.

People reading the book, however, will emerge with a wealth of knowledge about angling in Northeast Oregon. Fifty-five fishing sites, ranging from Wallowa Lake to Oxbow Reservoir and the north fork of the John Day River, are described in detail. Maps and directions to the sites are provided along with extensive information on the fish anglers will find, regulations and the best tactics to use.

Interesting statistics are found throughout the chapter. For example, on page 276 readers learn that about 30,000 kokanee salmon are caught in Wallowa Lake each year.

Schuhmann believes more anglers should be aware of the steelhead fishery on the Grande Ronde River. He notes that people have a chance to land steelhead there from fall through April. Schuhmann said many Portlanders do not realize that they can catch steelhead in the middle of winter on the Grande Ronde.

"This may be the region's biggest secret,'' the author writes.

Schuhmann's book also contains chapters on fishing the Oregon Coast, Portland and the Willamette Valley, the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood, the Southern Cascades and Southern Oregon. The author knows these areas well because he has lived in the Northwest most of his life. He moved to Portland from California with his family when he was 12 and has a degree in theology from the University of Portland. He runs a fishing guide service in the Klamath Falls area.

Schuhmann's book, though, contains more than descriptions of fishing sites. Chapters cover best fishing spots, fishing tips, native fish species, non-native fish species and marine species.

Northeast Oregon is well represented in his best fishing spots chapter. Following are some of those mentioned:

Best for Smallmouth Bass

• John Day River from Service Creek to Clarno Rapids.

Schuhmann says this is one of the best places to fishing for smallmouth bass in the United States.

"The river is the place to go from March through October.''

• Brownlee Reservoir

The author describes it as "...on par with the best smallmouth fisheries in the country.''

Schuhmann writes that more Idaho anglers probably use it than Oregonians because of its location.

Best Family Fishing

• Wallowa Lake

Schuhmann praises the lake for its abundance of kokanee and large trout and excellent camping facilities.

Best Hike-In Fisheries

• Minam River

The author praises the river's larger than average rainbow and brown trout. Schuhmann describes the Minam River area as "Packer County ... where the only traffic you're likely to run into are outfitters, mule trains and a fly-in resort.''

• Eagle Cap Wilderness

The author writes that it has more than 75 lakes, "some of which have probably never seen an angler.''

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