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Sandy River....ghosts of fishing past

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    Sandy River....ghosts of fishing past

    Does anyone fish it anymore? Back in the days of Marmot Dam, and when you could park at Dodge Park and walk down river to the Pipeline Hole and beyond, it was my go-to river of choice for steelhead and salmon. I remember getting there early morning, greeting some familiar faces here and there, making new friends along the way, sharing success and failure stories, even a campfire and coffee with some. The old-timers could tell you where almost every rock, nook, and cranny was on the river and where the fish would be. You never had to worry about anyone breaking into your vehicle, stealing your stuff, fights, etc. Then it seemed like overnight, it all changed...for the worse. Not sure if it's because of how close the river is to the 'big city', or if it's just a sign of the times, but it started drawing a lot of the less-desirable types. People started leaving trash all over, cars were being broken into and sometime stolen, with so few to enforce the law - people took advantage.

    I remember walking down the trail from Dodge Park one day, past the Pipeline Hole, to a hole some called the 'Girl Scout Hole'. There was a waterfall across the river, that emptied into a nice pool, and then a nice tail-out. It was a pretty steep trail to get down to the bank from the trail, but it was worth it. As I got down to the beach, I noticed a couple fishermen fishing the pool and tail-out, so I walked up river around the bend. A few minutes later, I was approached by one of the two, who told me that this was 'their drift". I replied that I purposely moved up around the bend to not crowd them. This time the reply was a bit more angry, and included him pulling his vest open to show me a pistol in a shoulder holster. I apologized and walked back up the goat trail back up to the main trail. When I got to the top, I shouted back down to the two, "You better hope I don't figure out which vehicle is yours in the parking lot, because you're going to have to snag it when it floats past you". Then I hid up in the trees and giggled as I watched these two morons come huffing and puffing up that hill and run down the trail. I waited a while before walking back out, and noted that they were long gone. But that was one of the last times I fished the river alone, or at least without packing. But it never used to be that way. And seriously? Over a fishing spot? I've heard similar stories from others since then, and have seen folks at Dodge Park, the Garbage Hole, Oxbow, wherever, snagging fish and keeping them, without batting and eyelash that anyone else was there. I've called ODFW, even OSP, to report it, but don't know that anything is followed up on.

    Back in the day (gosh that makes me feel OLD), folks used to have more respect for the outdoors, for nature, for our natural resources, and for each other. Anymore, you turn on the news (even if it is fake), and you see it everyday - it's all about 'ME', the entitled society. Even if there are laws, rules, morals, etc., in today's world, everyone and anyone can play and all get a prize or trophy - or else. So maybe that's what happened to the outdoors people, too? I hope not.

    One of these days, I'll drive by one of my old spots, and might get lucky enough to enjoy it again.

    I have fished that area for many years as I only live 7 miles away from Dodge Park. I never considered it a great place to fish because of it's relative ease to reach. Hiking down to the Pipeline Hole or further to the Girl Scout Hole was always a low water event for me. I never went down the trail just waded down from the island. Up river there was the Garbage Hole. Dodge park has always been a pit where you would find all kinds of garbage left on the banks. Some days I would walk the bank and clean up the mess of fishing lines egg cartons and hoof wrappers, that some outdoor enthusiast would leave behind. It just has a lot of pressure as it is so close to the metro area. The Cedar Creek area used to be real combat fishing and I stopped that trip years ago. I have never had any direct person to person problems and actually have met some nice folks there. But I do not consider it a great place to fish. I liked it more as a winter steelhead river by since ODF&W quite using Big Creek winter steelhead the quality of fishing has diminished. That coupled with all the court battles over reducing the hatchery fish in the river has lessened the fishing fun factor. If I do go down there it's only for an hour or two to do a little casting and that is in the winter month and early spring. Oxbow is a better experience perhaps because one must pay a fee to go in, and there is a lot of bank access.


      I agree about Oxbow, and have done well there at times, too. To get away from Dodge Park, I went up by the Revenue Bridge area, but even that was getting some of the run-off 'combat fishermen' from Cedar Creek. So I drove farther up to Brightwood. There used to be a nice hole and drift where the Sandy and Salmon rivers came together. Back in the day, not too many knew about it, except for a few of the locals. But....alas, those days have come and gone, too.

      As I was reminiscing about some of those old favorite spots with my neighbor, he shared one of his recent experiences over on the Clackamas by Eagle Creek. He parked in his usual spot, walked down to his favorite holes, broke a few fish off, but had a good day. Until he walked by to his truck to find his windows broken in, glove box gone through, even his camper window busted in. Since it was his 'work' truck, he didn't really have anything of value in it. But it did end up being a very expensive day of fishing.


        I think as we walk down memory lane we need to stay grounded,although not as fun. I ve been fishing the waters you speak of for almost 40 years. 40 years ago the population was a lot less in these parts. The Sandy/Salmon hole has been know by many for at least that time. Being one of the “locals” I remember hauling bags of garbage out of there after the weekend crowds had went home. Also remember non- locals trying to bully people out of that hole as if it was their own.
        Dodge Park as stated by Irish always had garbage and as I remember combat fishing at its finest.
        Eagle Creek, had my windows bashed out back 1988 while fishing it.
        There still is many of us around that have a deep respect for the outdoors. The problem lies in the pressure that is now upon these areas. There will always be slobs and jerks in the crowd they just stand out so much more. It’s a lot better to look forward to new adventures then look back and dwell on the past.
        Good Day Slo


          I hear you, twout. I, too, got my start on the Sandy back in the mid-70's. And true, there were a lot fewer folks around back then. And yes, I've hauled my share of garbage out of those holes, too. Maybe the old memory cells are starting to fade, or get more selective, as I look back to the 'good ol days', you are right, there was a lot of crap going on even back then. It just seemed a lot less noticeable.

          I guess it did sound like I was dwelling on the past, even if that really wasn't the intent. There really was no intent, other than curiosity if any of this group still fished it, and yes...reminiscing back to some memorable adventures and more enjoyable experiences. Oh well...I guess I'll always have the memories and stories to pass down to the next gens.