NFR 40 Years: Mount St Helens

Rialto

Active Member
I originally posted this on the eruption anniversary in 2010 and again in the thread that was started in 2015.

Steve Raymond was fishing Dry Falls on May 18, 1980 when Mount St. Helens erupted. He wrote about it a couple of months later in Sports Illustrated and included in his book Year of the Trout as "Pages From a Trout Fisherman's Diary". You can read the original article here:

A Day of Fishing Became a Night of Fear When Darkness Fell at Noon
 

Fast Action Freddie

Having a drink in The Buff
I originally posted this on the eruption anniversary in 2010 and again in the thread that was started in 2015.

Steve Raymond was fishing Dry Falls on May 18, 1980 when Mount St. Helens erupted. He wrote about it a couple of months later in Sports Illustrated and included in his book Year of the Trout as "Pages From a Trout Fisherman's Diary". You can read the original article here:

A Day of Fishing Became a Night of Fear When Darkness Fell at Noon
wow brings back memories from my experience just down the road on Park lake. But I was a kid ...alone on the lake with another kid ... not coming up with any logical explanation like “the mountain erupted” to cause pitch blackness and ash fall. It never occurred to me - the mountain was on the side of the state. I was freakin.
 

Greg Armstrong

Active Member
WFF Supporter
My Dad was a pilot and flew his plane up that afternoon and got some really good shots. I haven't seen those old slides in years, probably time to see if I can find them.
 

John svah

New Member
I spent most of my youth on the east coast. and have some Mt. St. Helen's ash from my cousins in Spokane. (Lots of relatives from there to Cut Bank). I swear I remember it was from their yard. Am I correct? Was there that much ash in Spokane?
 

WAS

Member
There was a good amount in Spokane but nothing like Ritzville. It was dark by 2 PM and we didn't see light until the next morning. I think we cleaned up between a quarter and a half inch that week. It was abnormally wet that spring and summer.
 

Coho

Member
OK - I have to chip in here. When I saw the mountain blow, my college flyfishing crazed mind went immediately to steelhead fishing - and my roommate and I immediately got our maps out to try and figure out the impact on our favorite watersheds

We went down a few days later and fished the Barrier dam at the Cowlitz - ALL BY OURSELVES. May is when the Springers come in and there always seems to be a lot of SH as well. It was good. Freaked us out, as the ash was halfway up the wheels of our Jeep CJ, and we were fishing in a lunar landscape. I don't smoke, but probably inhaled the equivalent of 5 years of heavy smoking that day... but it gets better.

We quickly figured out that the Toutle run would have nowhere to go that year, as the NF Toutle, in particular, was wiped out by St. Helens. Where would they go? Best guess was the Kalama - and we were spectacularly RIGHT.

We spent much of the rest of that summer and early fall, (and the next year too) fishing the middle to upper Kalama fly water. I had caught my first summerrun on a fly there the year before, so we knew the water fairly well. The UW biz school was friendly to us as we had no classes on Fridays, so many Thursday afternoons we would head down and stay till Sunday afternoon, camping out and fishing all day, and tieing flies at night.

It was the early '80's and this is what life was like; - No afternoon traffic on I-5, No internet and no one (or very few others) knew what we knew, No one fly-fished back then, and the few guys that did were all much much older than us. We were poor college students and tied all our flies and leaders and even made our own sink tips by splicing together floating and sinking lines. No one else on the river - we rarely saw anyone else. And the best part...

The Kalama was absolutely packed with steelhead! We caught so many fish it strains credulity. Much of the time we were sightfishing and perhaps because there were so many more fish than normal they were extremely aggressive. I can remember several occasions when a fish came up and smashed our leader knots. Wished I would have known about waking back then, but weighted nymphs on a sink tip or floater was all we used and it worked very well. I wish I had pictures/videos to prove it, but if I did - all of you would have probably been down there with us :) Numbers of fish per day - typical was between spectacular to unbelievable.

Have been flyfishing a long time in a lot of places, but that ranks up there as an all-time favorite memory...
 

Rock Creek Fan

Active Member
When the mountain blew the first time it woke me up. I was living in Burien at the time. It sounded like a car went through the garage door and hit the house. How can I say this? I used to live near Seahurst Park and a car missed the corner and did exactly that. I got up went out and checked the garage - no issues. Went back in and turned on the TV ---> Oh Shit!

Several of my sports car buddies and I always went out overnight around Memorial Day weekend. We decided we would go to Ocean Shores since the prevailing winds always went East. Had a great dinner on the beach, more than a few bottles of tequila around the bonfire but do not remember stumbling back to our camping spot. Woke up the next morning and it was raining mud. HUH? Tried to cook eggs inside the tent and it was stuffed with sand. Then we found out St. Helens blew again! We decided to get back home ASAP. When I got back home paint was stripped off the sides of my Datsun 2000. The engine was toast! I made a claim early enough with insurance that they covered it.
 
Last edited:

Coho

Member
Yes, our jeep was toasted - just like your Datsun. Should have opened a paint and carburetor shop back then instead of flyfishing for steelhead so much - oh well...
 

Bowbonehead

Active Member
Neat slides ......... thanks being in Alberta we were a long ways away but I do remember the haze that existed for weeks in our area just like a bad forest fire season .........
 

Milt Roe

Active Member
I drove down there the day it blew. Shortly after that I took a job that required fish, water, and habitat sampling in the blast zone that I continued in for nearly 30 years. Results of that work and my decades of watching the recovery process made me question a lot of the usual assumptions people make about fish and their habitats.
 

Support WFF | Remove the Ads

Support WFF by upgrading your account. Site supporters benefits include no ads and access to some additional features, few now, more in the works. Info

Latest posts

Top