Umpqua National Forest: I’m sitting next to a tributary of the North Umpqua River. The stream runs clear and somewhat high for this time of year thanks to early fall rains. Most of the stream is shallow. I think I could wade it. Here is a magical spot: a quiet pool 15 feet deep. The water is lazy, clear, and green.
For much of the day this portion of the stream lies in cool shadow. A little after 2 PM the sun reached the canyon bottom and now tickles the backs of a thick gathering of steelhead. The steelhead rest in this pool for weeks, waiting for even more rains to bring the creek up and allow the fish to reach their spawning grounds farther upstream. Steelhead are closely related to Pacific salmon. Both are anadromous, i.e. they are born in fresh water, grown up in the ocean and return to fresh water to spawn. They are different in that they don’t die after spawning.