Raging River - there's gold in them there hills.

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Derek Young, Jan 12, 2010.

  1. Derek Young

    Derek Young 2011 Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide Of The Year

    "The accounts of the abundance of gold in that territory are of such extraordinary character as would scarcely command belief were they not corroborated by authentic reports of officers in the public service." President James Polk

    I looked up that quote to put my day in perspective and the interactions and experience into words.

    This little stream is no secret, and it's close by. I've got a few hours to hike around and see what's under the rising water. I walk down to water and find a couple panning for gold - a seine in the water, a shovel filling a bucket and transporting it over. They work as a team, and say they've been finding gold lately. Hmmph - I don't know if it's legal or not, and they are digging up the stream bed, but I digress. Are they a young, small family trying to make it? Just kids out having fun? I sit down on a large rock near by and collect my thoughts - yes, I'm looking for gold too, I don't need to keep any fish to sustain myself or my family these days. We're all finding treasures from the land today.

    I fished a few small pools, bouncing a gold bead stonefly nymph off the bottom, checking it when it slows. I think my leader is a bit long for these myriad of seams and pockets, but gambling on the currents to swing this heavy stone into the right spot.

    It started to rain more heavily, and I can see my breath now. The fishing slows, my energy fading in the cold and damp. A few fish today, a good escape from the house and all the planning and scheduling and building out my calendar for the year. Prospecting trips and revisiting old haunts with friends, wondering how slowly these days will go until then. The couple is gone - I wonder if they struck gold today.

    Back to the truck and to reality, the rumbling and air brakes and grinding of gears - sounds like a gold rush. Another gentleman walks towards me, hiding under the brim of a dripping hat and raincoat, a bucket in his hand a seine on his back. "Any luck today" he asks me as we near. "Sure, there's a few surprises down there today" I reply.

    This prospector is looking for his own gold, but his story is likely different from the couple I saw earlier. There are military service insignia's on his truck - this man is a soldier - he "needed to get out of the house today" and wanted to strike gold. I make a lame remark that he's got a good raincoat on, and will need it. "Yeah, he says, "but there is treasure there worth looking for."

    I stumble to thank him for his service but it comes out wrong, I'm humbled by his presence in some way that I cannot play back in my mind as I recall the experience, but I think that a man seeking treasure can be rendered speechless when he finds it.

    Tight lines everyone - Derek




  2. Porter

    Porter Active Member

    nic pic on the fish there. That river does (did) have gold, it was a much bigger prospecting destination many decades ago.
  3. orangeradish

    orangeradish Bobo approved

    Great report! Thanks for your thoughts.
  4. wet line

    wet line New Member

    Emerging Rivers,

    Those are some nice pics and done how, in my opinion, pics should be taken! The fish is fully in the water and not some sort of hero shot with you holding it up or laying in the gravel while you fool around with a camera!

    The Raging is a very pretty little stream though I never fish it anymore. Personally I would like to see it closed but that is not my call.

  5. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

    Nice photo and story. We use to pan for gold in the Yuba River (CA) when I was in Boy Scouts. When fishing was good, we fished, when it was slow, we panned, when someone brought their older brothers Playboy, we did neither:D

    I still have a couple of the little glass viles with some of the findings...use to love to do that. the wife and I bought some pans to carry on trips, but thus far, haven't found the right place...or the fishing was too good!
  6. papafsh

    papafsh Piscatorial predilection

    With the overall economy like it is I suspect that we will encounter more people out panning for gold. I've run into folks doing that, more often lately, on the Sauk. With gold priced at over $1100.00 an ounce, and rising, I'm not surprised at the increase in interest. We will have to get used to it I guess.

    BTW: nice pics Derek, want to get a camera that I can use for underwater shots like that.

  7. Brookie_Hunter

    Brookie_Hunter aka Dave Hoover

    I've seen gold panners in the Summer several times on the Raging River but only above the Hwy 18 Bridge. I've never seen them in the Winter but with gold prices way up who could blame them. Most the panners I've seen also use a little dredge which really tears up the river bottom and puts a lot of sediment into the flow even when it's down to 10cfs late Summer. About a half mile upstream from the Hwy 18 bridge there are usually some make shift panning camps with tarps. They also look for gold on Holder Creek over the Hwy 18 Summit.
  8. Derek Young

    Derek Young 2011 Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide Of The Year

    I did see a few signs of other panners, but overall the river was very clean. I'm still figuring out the new camera - an Olympus 6000. It's water and shock-proof. I like the underwater photographs.
  9. Big E

    Big E Moderator Staff Member

    I used to sluice for gold in a small spring creek in Utah...all I got was a bunch of lead and a sore back.
  10. spanishfly

    spanishfly Steelberg

    My son went to a summer camp in Preston right on the Raging. They taught the kids how to pan for gold. He didn't come home with any gold but had a blast anticipating the possibility of striking it rich.
  11. Beckler

    Beckler Member

    My son and I tried panning there a couple of summers ago but were not as lucky as those folks from the sound of it.

    I believe it is only open Aug1-Sept 15th but I may be wrong. I know they do enforce the rules though, a friend of mine checking out the river was questioned and checked by an officer for equipment out of season once in the early spring.
  12. Gary Thompson

    Gary Thompson dirty dog

    New "Gold and Fish" rules are out.
    Panning in most places is open year round now.
    Nice pics "EmergingRivers"
  13. Derek,

    Thanks, I liked your report. I don't like the idea of folks mineral prospecting while eggs are incubating though. If the Gold and Fish rules were changed to allow that, that's messed up. Also--and I'm surprised no one else has mentioned it--but I respectfully suggest that those beautiful little rainbows could be steelhead parr, which might imply restraint regarding future fishing efforts. But I appreciated your thoughtful report. -Matt
  14. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

    I used to have a buddy that panned the hell out of Olney Creek. He did the snorkel thing. After he got thru with it he told me that there were some big trout in some of the deeper holes. These were not Steelhead as there is a falls on the lower part of the creek that is about 90 feet high. All I ever caught out of that creek were little fish about 6" long if you stepped on them. :rofl:

  15. Derek Young

    Derek Young 2011 Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide Of The Year

    Matt - thanks for the note. I do believe that those fish are indeed Redsides, Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdneri. There is a thread on the subject already - stop fishing for steelhead. The Raging is closed seasonally, but it's a daily-limit situation. I firmly believe that we can protect and conserve fisheries while at the same time respectfully and ethically participating in catch and release - for wild fish.

    That being said, perhaps the Raging is due for protection and a grant submitted to catalog the existing species in the river for further protection.
  16. There's also this thread: http://www.washingtonflyfishing.com/board/showthread.php/49300-Raging-River?highlight=raging river

    Gary, where did you hear about the new Gold and Fish rules being out? I asked the ORA about it. This is their response: "Thank you for contacting the Office of Regulatory Assistance. The Gold and Fish rules are updated periodically, but not on an annual basis (I think the last update was around 1999). As of now, WDFW has no plans to update them for 2010. Please continue to use and refer to the 2009 Gold and Fish pamphlet."

    I think they're wrong about the last update (believe it was more recent) but folks shouldn't be panning in the Raging right now. Re. the rainbows, I guess we'll never know if they're residents or migratory since we can't foretell the future. I think at this point in their life history they still check the "Undecided" box. -Matt
  17. Gary Thompson

    Gary Thompson dirty dog

    Matt, I'll look it up and yes it is 2009, not 2010.
  18. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

    I believe that if they closed that little river down. The people that live on it would fish it anyway. The are one hell of a lot of houses on that little river.. They do this on the Pilchuck river in the summer time. I used to know somebody who fish it.
  19. Derek Young

    Derek Young 2011 Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide Of The Year

    Well, difficult to say. And this is the proverbial chicken and egg argument - would the panners stay away if the fisherman were there? Or would closing it down only lead to illegal access and therefore abuse. IMHO, stewardship of the resource through ethical catch and release - a watchful eye and a careful hand. Can we prove these fish are natives and this seasonal stream is critical habitat? If they are native fish then it should be easy to do.

    Historically, the Raging drops so far in flow that I'd guess few if any redds survive. It's a volatile river subject to extreme flows.
  20. Richard Torres

    Richard Torres Active Member

    Nice post and pics Derek. I almost got the 6000 for christmas but opted for the Canon D10 and i'm still waiting for it to come in the mail:hmmm:

    As for the panners, i've read the rules before and unless they've changed the season is usually very short on the westside rivers, something around 2 months in late summer early fall?

    Looking at that youg fellow sluicing directly into the river, I believe, is also a no no.

    From what I recall is that you are supposed to dig and sluice above the highwater mark and on a gravel bar so sediment from your sluice box doesn't escape into the water (to protect redds).

    Can anybody verify that?