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April 2000 Forays
On April 8, I went on the Oregon Mycological Society field trip to the Sandy River Delta. There were very few mushrooms of note, principally Verpa bohemica in various states of decomposition and a few Coprinus micaceus. On an earlier trip, I collected some stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) and boiled them to eat. I found them to be of the same quality as spinach, but with a bit less substance.
Recently, I tried something new: clamming on the Oregon Coast. I went to the Old Coast Guard Pier at Garibaldi and joined other diggers at low tide. I still have a lot to learn about this, and am somewhat concerned with the effects of digging on the estuarine ecosystem, but I also see that it is an important means of foraging. I came away with numerous littlenecks and one butter clam. The littlenecks especially were scrumptious steamed and drizzled with melted butter and lemon juice, so I'm sure I will try this again!
During the past week, certain sections of Powell Butte Nature Park have been blooming with oyster mushrooms, Pleurotus ostreatus. It's amazing how fast they grow and decay. I've had a couple of batches as side dishes; I'm still undecided about how much I like them. Claytonia sibirica makes a good trail nibble and is abundant in the woods at this time of year.
Fall 1999 Mushroom Season Summary
Fall mushrooming in 1999 came in fits and starts. From mid-August to late October, there was very little rain in Western Oregon, and even when the rains did come they didnt bring the same variety of mushrooms as in wetter years such as 1996. Still, there were some high points. 1999 was a very good year for Boletus edulis and Tricholoma flavovirens, and there were lots of chanterelles as always.
Mid-August: Chanterelles were present in limited numbers on Kings Mountain in the Coast Range. Other mushrooms were virtually absent.
Mid-September: I found a few white chanterelles near Mt. Hood, but later in the fall the main flush of this species never came.
Early October: A foray in the Cascade foothills found more than the usual number of lobster mushrooms and a few chanterelles, but most species were absent.
Mid-October: Chanterelles were still present on Kings Mountain and other Coast Range sites. Other interesting Coast Range fungi: Polyporus hirtus, Amanita smithiana, Clitocybe deceptiva, Coprinus comatus and Pseudohydnum gelatinosum. Coastal forays brought huge numbers of Chroogomphus vinicolor and a few Agaricus campestris and Suillus sp.
Early November: Forays in suburban Portland revealed: Lepiota rachodes, Agaricus subrutilescens, Pleurotus ostreatus, Boletus chrysenteron, Agaricus praeclaresquamosus, Geastrum saccatum, Leccinum scabrum, Paxillus involutus, Amanita pantherina and an unidentified large bleeding Lepiota sp.
November 6: A trip to the foothills of Mt. Hood yielded: Pine habitat: 1 white matsutake, a bucket of Leccinum aurantiacum, Tricholoma flavovirens in good numbers, Gomphidius subroseus and several Suillus species. Second-growth Douglas-fir: Loads of golden chanterelles and pigs ears (Gomphus clavatus), Quite a few hedgehogs (Hydnum repandum) and Helvella lacunosa.
November 12-14: Cape Perpetua area of Oregon Coast. Lots of Agaricus subrutilescens and golden chanterelles. A few Agaricus smithii and other typical coastal mushrooms.
November 23: I found a few big Boletus edulis near Tillamook. Preferred habitat seemed to be shore pine and beach grass without a lot of ground cover. In the past, Ive had trouble finding this species in good condition, so I was psyched! Other esculents present in quantity: Lactarius deliciosus and Russula xerampelina. Amanita muscaria were everywhere; supposedly this species is a good indicator for B. edulis. Other colorful but inedible species: Russula rosacea and Clavaria purpurea.
November 27-28: Florence area. Boletus edulis all over the place, in mixed pine/spruce woods as well as the pine/beach grass habitat. Chanterelles, hedgehogs and Agaricus subrutilescens were popping as well, along with a few Tricholoma flavovirens, Lactarius rubrilacteus, Leccinum manzanitae, Agaricus smithii and Gomphus clavatus. Not a matsutake in sight, but the Boletus edulis made up for it. One thing I cant complain about this fall is the coastal weather. Bad weather at the coast seems to happen only when Im not there!
Lest anyone think differently, I am about to describe a great trip. I hiked over eight miles, saw some great familiar scenery and found many choice mushrooms. My first stop was Yachats, not for mushrooms but to view the pounding surf and the Spouting Horn and stretch my legs. After a bit of this, I hiked along the Oregon Coast Trail between Cummins Creek and the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center. The main mushroom bonanza here consisted of many young and awesomely tasty Agaricus subrutilescens, still in the button stage. A large, mature Agaricus augustus also appeared. I was disappointed in not finding any hedgehog mushrooms, and the chanterelles and Lactarius deliciosus were all old and waterlogged, but in general the trail was full of fungal color from the ubiquitous Russulas to some temptingly large but disgustingly rank Clitocybes.
My big stop for the day was the Threemile Lake Trail alongside the dunes. Three miles of pure hiking delight, in almost complete solitude. Birds and squirrels and trees and wind and dunes and creeks and lakes. And mushrooms? Chanterelles and hedgehogs and matsutakes, oh my! Someone had been working my favorite matsutake patch, but there were still some for the taking. Chanterelles were everywhere, many in good condition. Hedgehogs were confined to a small area along the trail, but there were plenty. Three nice buttons of Agaricus smithii, a sweet-smelling and tasty mushroom, made an appearance, along with a couple Boletus mirabilis. And, as always, there were humongous fly agarics to look at.
The fall days are short, and when I emerged from the woods it was time to drive home. Tired and happy as hell was I.
At around the 3000 foot level, there was a nice mix of white and golden chanterelles. These will all rot quickly with the moisture, but this weekend they were still in prime condition. I also picked a couple of yummy lobster mushrooms and some pig's ears (Gomphus clavatus), and left a few small puffballs that wouldn't have made much of a meal. Fungal diversity was still not up to par, but should be soon.
I only found two mycelial patches of chanterelles, and only one of these contained fresh mushrooms. It was big enough, however, that I gathered plenty. The old standby patch at 1 mile trail length had only a few moldy fruiting bodies, but as I trudged past the summit I found a bunch of nice chanterelles amongst a salal thicket. Persistence paid off again!
The summer did take its toll on the huckleberries, which were mostly long-gone. There were plenty of ripe salal berries for a trail nibble, though. I found out just how out of shape I was; as a matter of fact, I am still finding out as I write this. The ascent is exhausting, but the descent is harrowing, especially with tired muscles and the loose gravel on the trail. I don't remember slipping quite as often in previous years. The view from the top was nice, although there was a bit of haze and the leaves haven't really changed yet. A large clearcut was visible to the south; I think it is an old one that has been enlarged recently. Boo!!!
After getting my fill of fishing, I picked a half-gallon of blackberries near Haldeman Pond. The berries are in their prime right now, and there are lots of them. Yummy!
Fishing on Cedar Island was slow to develop. Boats were plying the good structure areas, with no apparent success. After a couple of hours, my efforts had grabbed me a 9" bass, two pumpkinseed sunfish, and a 14" carp. Not that I was choosy or anything. I took a walk and did some exploring, then came back after 11 a.m. The fishing had suddenly turned on, and in the next half hour I caught 6 crappie between 8 and 10 inches, along with another pumpkinseed. The boats were doing fairly well, too. Then everything died down and I didn't get a bite. The timing of the feeding frenzy corresponded with the arrival of high tide. Hmmm...I'll have to try that again sometime. I also know another little secret about this period of activity, which I won't reveal here. By the way, don't even think about fishing Clackamette on a weekend afternoon, as I did. Jet-ski city!
I headed to Haldeman Pond, but it seemed to be overpopulated with stunted perch and sunfish. So, I took a short walk to Webster Pond where a fisherman was just leaving with a bucket of catfish and sunfish. After catching a couple of bluegills, I went to the opposite side of the pond and caught five catfish (8-9") and a small perch before my worms ran out. Back at Haldeman, I picked some blackberries. I am happy to report that both the blackberries and the fish (including the catfish) tasted excellent.
There is one very nice stretch of the Oak Grove Fork below Timothy, close to the road yet not too easily accessible. I caught fish in several of the holes here, but spent most of my time fishing a single large pool at the base of a cascade. This place produced a seemingly endless procession of 7-11 inch trout, all cutthroats except for one brookie. The best producer was a size 14 Adams, either skittered across the surface or weighted and drifted as a wet fly. I also caught fish on a spinner and an ungodly-looking bass streamer I tied years ago. The Oak Grove Fork is limited to flies and lures only, with a limit of two trout. I found an empty package of bait hooks there from someone who didn't heed the tackle regulation, which makes it even more amazing that there were 20 or more fish in this one pool.
The island is a short walk from Mary S. Young State Park. A bridge connects the mainland to the C-shaped island, and most of the fishing is concentrated inside the "C". There are several fishing platforms on the shore, which are probably more useful in high water. Presently, the water is down, and most of the shoreline is accessible to walk around. My first fish was a 4" pumpkinseed sunfish: very pretty but very small, and a couple of others followed from casts into shoreline structure. Letting a worm sit in open, deep water produced a 12" bass and, much later, a 9" yellow perch. The perch was a pleasant surprise, but after that I went a long time without a bite (except for little sunfish striking my bait as I was reeling it in). For some reason, there were a lot of dead and dying catfish along the shore.
I had no further action until I worked my way into a rather inaccessible portion of the lagoon. There, with some structure around, I caught a bunch of small perch, a couple of small bass, and a few chub. In the end, the fishing was sort of fun, but too much time and work for the size, number, and quality of fish.
My first stop was the Bradford Island visitor center. On the bottom floor is the fish viewing area, where shad could be seen moving through the windows almost continuously, with a fair number of sockeye, steelhead, and a few chinook and lamprey. Fishing on Bradford Island appeared to be slow. I saw one angler with a couple of shad, but most appeared fishless at the time. I watched a sturgeon angler fight a large one for twenty minutes before losing it, and saw a couple of small sturgeon caught. Finally, I decided to make a go of it for shad, and rigged up with a chartruese crappie jig below a 3/8 oz. weight. My first cast was rewarded with a strike, and after a nice battle I landed an 18-inch female shad. I missed a few strikes before catching another, almost identical silver rocket. Then the fishing slowed down as the wind came up hard from the west, making casting and staying out of other anglers' lines difficult. My neighbors took one or two fish, and soon I caught another shad, a 14-inch male that I released.
Slightly upstream, one of the sturgeon fishermen was into a big one, and most of us shad anglers took a break to watch him try to bring the monstrous fish in. The fish was 100" long, well over the legal limit, and had to be released after a trophy picture.
Someone stole my spot while I was over looking at the sturgeon, and while I didn't begrudge them the spot or the couple of fish they caught there, my new standing place had some snags in bad places, and I depleted my terminal tackle. I did catch a 10-inch rainbow trout, and much later a squawfish, but the shad bite seemed to be on the decline. I watched another sturgeon angler lose a 9-footer that had briefly smashed the surface of the water, and that other lucky fisherman get his fourth sturgeon of the afternoon, an oversized one of 87".
The rain finally came with a vengeance, and on my drive home I encountered several ferocious downpours. When cleaned, both of the shad yielded voluminous egg sacs in addition to the meat (the eggs from one of the fish weighed nearly one pound!), allowing for several fine meals.
On the way home, I stopped by Wilsonville Pond for the first time. This pond had been crowded earlier in the afternoon, but everyone had left on account of the weather. Wilsonville is a deeper, colder pond with different aquatic vegetation. I didn't run across any actively spawning bluegills, although I saw some likely beds. I caught one large pre-spawn female, but the water will have to warm a bit more for good bluegill action. This looked like good catfish water, and I did see a dead one in the shallows.
I arrived at Cullaby at around 10 a.m., and began hitting the weedlines around the docks. Cullaby's shores are mostly lined with lily pads, so fishing from the bank is limited to a few patches of open water. I used my traditional rigging for perch, a 1/64 ounce white mini-jig tipped with a piece of nightcrawler. My first casts were unsuccessful, but in one of the smallest pockets of water I caught and released a 10-inch bass. I kept fishing that same little pocket for about two hours, and ended up with a nice mess of perch from 6-9 inches, using both the jig and a bobber/worm set-up. Afterwards I headed around the shoreline to a place where fish were rising. I discovered that all these fish were small bass, ready to hit the worm with vigor. Larger fish splashed from time to time in the lilies, but I couldn't get them to bite even when I placed my casts well. The trail along the lake edge turned into a wilderness of sorts as I moved on, munching on some very sweet salmonberries. After fighting through the brush, I finally reached a prime pocket of water. For some reason, I wasn't getting any bites. Then, I saw a school of minnows scattering, with an ominous "V" wake behind them. A huge bass! I cast a worm out, and landed it right on top of the wake. The bass instantly broke the surface and grabbed the worm before moving into the weeds. I knew the bass was probably more than a match for my 4-lb. test line, and would use the weeds to its advantage. I fought it out of one patch, then into another. My drag croaked as the bass took out line, shooting across the open water area. Finally, it must have found a stick or something to wrap my line around, as while fighting the fish through some more weeds my line went limp and I saw that the fish had broken off. Maybe I should bring an outfit with heavier line, just for these situations. I caught a couple of bluegill and some more perch to add to my dinner collection, and ate a few more salmonberries. Then the rain started, and with it the fish stopped biting. Utterly stopped biting. My luck was over for the day. I tried Sunset Lake across the highway, where I had caught some nice perch in the past. Alas, the only fish that I could raise were little sculpins, but because of my success at Cullaby I went home with a cooler full of delicious fish and yet another story of a big one that got away.
Stropharia rugoso-annulata, a species I first noticed on campus last spring, had a massive fruiting in several areas of campus.
Salmonberries (Rubus spectabilis) are turning ripe along the banks of small local streams. In areas with more sunlight, osoberries (Oemleria cerasiformis) and red huckleberries are also ripening.
I pulled in to Fay Lake in the Big Meadows area. My plan was to hike to Fir Lake, then return and fish Fay and the North Santiam before retiring for the night. Although I hiked a trail littered with fallen logs and patches of snow, I was not alone at Fir. Three other anglers were there, two of them in boats. The fish were very reluctant to bite; I saw one small brookie follow my lure, but got no strikes. I couldn't raise a fish at nearby Pika Lake, either.
When I got back to Fay, the rain had stopped. The water was high, and the lake looked very "fishy". After several casts, I caught an 11-inch brookie, and after several more I got a 12-incher. Very surprising, since my only previous success at Fay had been a batch of small rainbows in 1993. After this, I walked halfway around the lake without a strike. Because of brush around the edges of Fay, bank angling requires a lot of log-walking, and I got myself into a number of precarious positions. Out on one log, I got four strikes in succession in different directions, and managed to lose all four fish. Even after resting the area for a while and changing to different lures and worms, I was only able to get one fish, a 10-inch rainbow.
I then moved to the upper North Santiam, a fast-flowing meadow stream. I had great fun here two years ago with small cutthroats and brookies, but the fish were few and far between in the section I fished this year. The blooming wildflowers made up for the slow fishing, and I fell asleep at night to the rush of the water.
The next morning, I planned to hit Daly Lake, then move on to Parrish and/or Don Lakes. Daly is a very fun lake to fish, with lots of little inlet streams and enough shore access that you don't have to climb on logs if you don't want to. It is also a blue jewel with views of snow-covered ridges in the distance. Using a spinner, I caught 12 brookies and cutthroat in the 6-10 inch range.
Time flies when you're having fun, and I never made it to Don Lake, which has often been the most productive for me. I wound up going to Parrish Lake, another gem with a catch: a marshy island separates it into a deep section and a shallow section. On this occasion, I was able to walk a log to get out to that island. Plant life out there was incredible, dominated by white-flowered buckbean and insect-eating sundew. Fish were rising all over, but most were small, in the 6-8 inch range. They hit anything and everything with wild vigor. I found a few places where slightly larger fish hid, places that most anglers wouldn't think of fishing. As I released all of my fish, I hope to have even better fishing on a future trip--perhaps when some of this year's brookies have grown a bit.
The shad run is happening on the Willamette River at Clackamette Park. My first trip was a bust, but I caught one fish and lost several more on each of my subsequent trips. The fishing runs hot and cold here; I haven't hit a hot period yet, but it's just a matter of time. To brush up on shad basics, read last year's report.
The most exciting event was when the fellow next to me hooked a salmon. The fish ripped line off, headed downstream, wrapped the line around a log, and turned up the Clackamas, as this guy stood there ignoring us when we told him to go after the fish. I went downstream and started retrieving the line hand-over-hand, and soon the still-hooked fish was free of the log. The lucky angler finally came down and after much effort was able to land and release the chinook. (Salmon season is closed on the Willamette.)
Portland's shrooms took a dive for a while due to cold weather. Still, the LC parking lots have been producing some amazingly humongous specimens of Amanita pantherina, and the Russula xerampelina crop just keeps going and going...
The actual mushroom hike, on October 26, went to some timberlands in the Coast Range and came up with an incredible array of fungi. Cantharellus cibarius and Russula xerampelina were present in good quantities, and there were also a few Agaricus subrutilescens. We saw more than 30 species in all, a good introduction to the fungi even if most were inedible.
The following day, I made my annual pilgrimage to the Fall Mushroom Show and Festival in Eugene. Afterwards, I headed east to Hills Creek Reservoir for an overnight fishing/mushrooming expedition. I chose this place wrongly over Fall Creek to the north. The fishing was virtually nonexistent, although I saw some other anglers catch a few small bass. The night was cold and foggy, and the next morning's mushrooming was relatively unremarkable. I found a grand total of one golden chanterelle in good condition, as well as some winter chanterelles (Cantharellus infundibuliformis group, see my edibility ratings for comments on their attributes). After this, I decided to spend the rest of the day at Fall Creek, and to concentrate on fishing before mushrooming. On the way, I stopped at a county park to pick up some nice Agaricus campestris and a few Marasimius oreades. Fishing at Fall Creek was fun and reliable: native rainbows and cutthroats from 6-10" on worms. I released a bunch and then took my limit. Mushrooms were considerably more common than at Hills Creek: A bag of chanterelles, some Pleurocybella porrigens that turned out to be a bit bitter, a few Russula xerampelina, and a single Boletus mirabilis. As I prepared to head home, it started raining. Good timing!
My next stop was in a higher elevation forest closer to Mt. Hood. I parked right next to a pair of young, healthy _Boletus edulis_, and jumped out of my car expecting to find more. Unfortunately, it was not to be. The fungi of this area included _Suillus lakei_, _Russula brevipes_ (all maggot-infested), more _Suillus punctatipes_ and _Chroogomphus tomentosus_, and a single _Tricholoma magnivelare_ button that the maggots had really enjoyed.
My last productive mushroom foray came along the Laurel Hill trail. This area had very few mushrooms, but the highlight was an incredible grouping of young _Boletus mirabilis_ on several adjacent logs. Usually, I would have to hunt through a whole forest to find that many.
In addition to the mushrooms, I had a good astronomy observing session, found a few berries, and caught one 8" rainbow in Trillium Lake. This was one of the few fish in the lake with the good taste to fall for a fly; the one angler who was having a lot of success was using PowerBait. Yuck!
Other mushrooms that made an appearance: Agaricus praeclaresquamosus, Boletus chrysenteron, Lepiota naucina, Lepiota rubrotincta, and Suillus caerulescens.
After these setbacks, I continued south towards Ripplebrook, aiming to reach successful foraging grounds chronicled in my Foray Report from October 22, 1995. I found white and yellow chanterelles in prime condition, just coming up. No other mushrooms were present in any quantity, although hopefully Lyophyllum decastes and Coprinus comatus will show up within the next couple of weeks! There was no shortage of chanterelles; I left plenty of them out there. At one point, I saw a movement above me in the trees and came face to face with a Northern Spotted Owl! Not having a mouse handy, I threw a white chanterelle on the ground, and I'll be damned if the silly bird didn't fly down right in front of me for a closer look! The owl wasn't frightened at all by my proximity, and even insisted on following me through the forest as I picked.
It was late afternoon by this time, and I proceeded to Timothy Lake to get some fish to go with my mushrooms. The rise never really took off, with only a few fish jumping near shore. Nevertheless, I ended up with three nice brook trout. The first one fell for a spinner, and the others were taken on a topwater wet fly presentation that began as accident rather than design. I didn't have fly floatant handy, and couldn't get my elk-hair caddis to stay dry (fishing it behind a floating bubble). So, I cast near rising fish and retrieved just fast enough for the trailing fly to make a wake from below the surface. An 11" brook trout came completely out of the water and splashed down on the caddis, and I was hooked (so was the fish!) I caught another nice brookie as well as a little guy, and missed a few more strikes. As the twilight grew deeper, I could hear the splashes of rising fish throughout the lake, all of them beyond my casting range, but exciting still as they played a symphony of varying tempos and volumes.
Berries are still ripening here. Salal are in prime condition, just luscious. I also had some Smilacina racemosa, a red berry with a burnt sugar/fruity/caramel taste. Of course, there are plenty of Himalayan blackberries (Rubus discolor) around as well. A very nice natural snack bar!
The first mile of the trail featured a lack of mushrooms, with the exception of one old clump of puffballs. After one mile, chanterelles began to appear. The ground was very dry, and most were in excellent condition. Because of the dryness, however, the cap color was very dull. This made finding them a challenge. Retracing my steps, I always seemed to find mushrooms I had almost stepped on. From one mile to 1.5 miles along the trail (1000-1500 ft. elevation), chanterelles were pretty thick off to the sides of the trail. Cantharellus cibarius was the only mushroom species I found, aside from the aforementioned puffballs, some polypores, and several bedraggled Russulas. The chanterelles seemed to prefer eroded, disturbed ground. In the same area where I found most of the chanterelles, elk sign and tracks were prevalent.
After 1.5 miles, the chanterelles stopped appearing as the trail climbed through rocky and exposed areas. At the viewpoint just past the 2-mile mark, I picked a couple hundred red huckleberries. Many berries were dry and shriveled here, so I continued on to the summit. After signing the register, I proceeded to the secondary summit and ate lunch among the gentians. The sky was mostly clear; I could see Mts. Hood and Adams, but the top of Mt. St. Helens was clouded out. Just a few feet from my lunch spot, the first in a long line of loaded red huckleberry bushes beckoned to me. I picked over a pint. There were a few Vaccinium membranaceum, but I get the feeling that this is borderline habitat for the species.
On the way down, I picked some nice, ripe salal berries. I also found more chanterelles that I had overlooked on the way up. In order to increase my chances of perception, I adopted a standard procedure. I wandered around slowly until I saw a chanterelle. I then sat down next to it and gazed out over the duff. It's amazing how many more you can see from ground level. For the uninitiated, chanterelles typically grow in loose groups, so when you find one you'll usually find at least a couple more nearby.
I ended up with a very nice haul of chanterelles, and they are now being put to use. (Killer omelette: 2 or 3 farm-fresh eggs, freshly sauteed chanterelles and onions, and pepper-jack cheese.) After descending, I fished a bit in the Wilson River but got only one bite. On the way home, I stopped by Dorman Pond at the junction of Highways 8 and 6. It appeared to contain mostly stunted bluegill and bass, although I did catch one nice crappie.
Later in the afternoon, I hiked the Shellrock Lake trail and picked some huckleberries. The two main species were Vaccinium membranaceum and V. ovalifolium. Some of the berries, especially the V. ovalifolium, were dried up. In this condition, they tasted like very sweet blue raisins! The V. membranaceum varied in flavor from plant to plant; when I found a plant with lots of delicious berries, I picked on it for awhile. Gaultheria humifusa, the little berry with the big taste, was also around.
I was too late for the evening rise back at Timothy; the fish were jumping
but I only had a few minutes of legal fishing time. Someday, I'll figure
those trout out...
I've got a light spinning outfit I use with 4# test line. This can be pretty hairy with the shad, which average 15-20 inches. I've lost a couple of behemoths that completely overmatched me. To complicate matters, shad have very soft mouths, and more often than not the hook pulls out before you can land the critter. Those with heavier outfits may land a greater percentage of fish, but they still lose a lot of them. Shad make sudden, line-popping, hook-dislodging runs, usually punctuated with a jump or two. A light drag setting is advised. The initial run may be directed right at you, but shad have an extreme dislike for the shoreline and will fight their hardest just a few feet from the bank. This is usually where the hook pulls out. Just keep hanging on; there are more fish out there.
The traditional end of the shad run is July 4, but the fish were still there in numbers today. Even the pros weren't hooking them on every cast, but there was plenty of action. Anglers at Clackamette stand shoulder to shoulder, which can be unnerving for someone used to solitude. The crowd is generally very friendly, however, and the fish seem to travel in groups. If your neighbor connects with a fish, you are likely to have a bite within a couple of casts, and vice versa.
Shad for eating should be thoroughly cleaned, scaled, and skinned. I also remove the strip of oily red meat along the lateral line. Try soaking the fish in salt water for an hour immediately prior to cooking. The recommended cooking method is to slather them with butter and onions, seal in aluminum foil, and cook in a 300 degree oven for four to five hours. Note: For your information, studies of some game fish in the Lower Columbia River Basin have shown elevated levels of carcinogens. Shad were not a part of these studies, but should be comparable to other anadromous fish. The risk is probably minimal, especially for moderate consumption, as these fish do not spend much of their life foraging in the polluted waterways. The long cooking time is essential to break up all of the tiny bones. The bones will still be visible, but are crunchy rather than dangerous. Roe from female shad can be dipped in eggs and flour, and fried. Some people rave about it; I found it interesting in texture but lacking a distinct flavor of its own.
Shad fight just as well as trout of similar size, and light tackle really brings this out. Those who look down on shad should know that the shad runs on the East Coast were in trouble for many years due to dams and pollution, the same menaces that face Northwest salmon and steelhead today. New Englanders are probably jealous of us, as we have a virtually untapped run of millions of shad right in our backyard!
The bumper crop of oyster mushrooms just keeps going and going. A tree I found early in the season broke off, and from the stump sprouted a very nice clump. I found several other fruitings, but most were old. In Tryon Creek State Park, I saw a very large tree covered with thousands of oysters. The tree was neither accessible by trail nor legal to harvest from, but definitely spectacular to look at from a distance.
Salmonberries (Rubus spectabilis) are coming along pretty well, though most aren't ripe yet. It will be a while before any thimbleberries (Rubus parviflora) or osoberries (Oemleria cerasiformis) are ripe. Sweet-cicely (Osmorhiza sp.) is all over and makes a nice trail nibble/breath freshener.
I had a much better outing on Memorial Day. Two streams flowing from the Cascades east into Upper Klamath and Agency Lakes are Threemile Creek and Sevenmile Creek. Both provide excellent small-stream fishing for small brook trout, but each has its own special character. Threemile rushes quickly down the mountain; its only holes are small waterfalls and occasional log pools. These fish-holding spots had been completely rewritten by the winter's floods, and the fish were scattered. Many holes contained no fish, and none was big enough for more than one fish. I really labored for my five fish, but it sure was fun. Incidentally, a gut check of Threemile brookies always reveals a diet consisting of terrestrial insects, mostly ants with a few beetles.
Sevenmile Creek, on the other hand, is a slow and meandering stream. The brookies here hide under cutbanks and feed on nymphs and other underwater morsels. The pools are large and can hold many fish. Sevenmile Creek was in pretty sad shape for a while, with damage from the drought and logging operations causing high water temperatures. Now that the water level is up and the banks are vegetated, the fish are starting to grow to fit the size of the holes. I caught 15 fish in less than an hour, many of them in the 8-10" range.
On June 2, I checked out the Sprague River, my "home river" in Chiloquin. It still was muddy and out of shape, but the fish were there. Nice trout jumped every now and then, but there didn't seem to be a consistent feeding pattern. I got four bites, but didn't land a fish.
I was much luckier on June 4. The Williamson is considered by many to be one of the best trout rivers in the state. True, it has a lot of big fish in it, but I always preferred the Sprague because of the easier access and uncrowded conditions. I made an unplanned stop on the Williamson near Chiloquin and wound up staying for awhile. I cast a salmonfly imitation out, and a 13" trout hammered it. I lost that fish, but another one jumped near a rock just a few feet from shore. I let the fly drift from far upstream, and a rainbow I estimated at 16" slammed it. After a few jumps, it threw the hook. I failed to connect on a couple of other bites, but then I caught an 11-incher. I moved downstream and caught a 9-incher before I suffered a fatal backlash. After eating supper and respooling, I went back. I soon caught a 10-incher, and lost another pretty large one. The fish were hitting salmonflies, but not with enough vigor to stay hooked. I debarbed a 1/8 oz. Green Roostertail, my old standby lure, and worked it near the shore. On my first cast, I connected with a large fish and was in for a good tussle. With 4-lb. line, I couldn't horse this fish, but it stayed hooked and eventually I pulled in a 17" rainbow. The fish was a bit tired, but I soon revived it and watched it swim away. I cast the lure again and was immediately doing battle with an even larger fish. This one tried to take me around rocks, and forced me to let it rest at times. After one desperate surge straight at me, it came into shallow water and under control, my largest landlocked rainbow ever at 23". I flipped the hook out and the deep-bodied, powerful fish thrust its way back into the current. I made two more casts before losing my lucky lure to a rock and calling it a day.
The weather dried out for a few days in early May; in order to keep some immature oyster mushrooms from drying out, I gave them a few sprinkles of water. It worked splendidly, and last week I harvested a couple of nice clumps. More may be coming soon with the rain we've had this week.
Hopefully, I am sharpening my observation skills with each new walk through the woods, and will start seeing more of the mushrooms I would have missed before!
I camped overnight at Threemile, and after collecting a few mushrooms on the way out decided to do some non-mushroom activities. Evergreen huckleberries (Vaccinium ovatum) were quite plentiful along the Siltcoos River, so I picked some. On the third day, I went inland a bit, but stayed within the zone of Sitka Spruce. I was rewarded with more chanterelles and hedgehogs. Some interesting Amanita species were also sighted, as well as Gomphus clavatus and a peculiar Agaricus (=A. lanipes ?) which stains orange-red at the base of the stalk and on the very surface of the cap.
The Central Oregon Coast is a varied environment, with lots of opportunities for birdwatching and beachcombing. If you plan on collecting mushrooms there, check with the Siuslaw National Forest (which also oversees the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area). They have some rather severe restrictions on personal collecting (over 0.5 gallons of mushrooms requires a paid permit), and the permit conditions specify a list of mushrooms which may be harvested. The mushroom list incomprehensibly leaves out many plentiful coastal edibles such as Agaricus smithii and other Agaricus species, Russula xerampelina, Lactarius deliciosus and L. rubrilacteus, Armillaria mellea, and Boletus mirabilis.
Surprising 'shrooms: The flush of Lepiota rachodes seems to be over, with no new fruiting bodies being produced. Agaricus augustus is turning up in some new areas on campus, although I have found only seven individuals within the last week. One specimen of Cantharellus cibarius showed up in the woods, only the second chanterelle I have found on campus in four years of 'shrooming. Russula xerampelina, previously unreported from campus proper, has shown up in a couple of parking lot dividers, and the specimens have been huge. Lycoperdon pyriforme, usually uncommon here, has been found on wood chips and at the base of tree trunks.
Prolific fungi: Amanita gemmata and A. pantherina are all over campus. In Tryon Creek State Park, huge fruitings of Armillaria mellea have occurred. Clitocybe nebularis has been ubiquitous in both places.
Future fungi: With the rain, we may get a fruiting of Boletus aereus, which has not been seen on campus since 1992. Pleurotus ostreatus is also likely to make an appearance.
For more on mushrooms at Lewis and Clark, check out Operation Fungus Among Us, my comprehensive list of fungus species on campus.
After hanging out at the show for a couple of hours, I drove east to Fall Creek. This is another place rich in memories. I hoped for both mushrooms and fish, and I was not disappointed. Boletus mirabilis and Pleurocybella porrigens were both present in gatherable quantities, and the whole place was lousy with Boletus zelleri and Amanita pachycolea. Most of the lobster mushrooms (Hypomyces lactifluorum) were past their prime, but I managed to salvage a couple.
As for fishing, I just wish I had more time. I caught and kept a small
cutthroat and a slightly larger rainbow, and released a beautiful 13" redside
rainbow. I had an even larger fish break my line when I was too cavalier
about my knot. Too bad it got dark so quickly. Fall Creek is beautiful,
with lots of deep pools. It may get its name from the waterfalls, but in
my mind it will always be associated with the season of Fall. The fish
take readily, and the creek isn't crowded with swimmers. On the last weekend
of trout season, it felt good to be back.
While mushrooms were my main focus on this trip, I also stopped to sample
some red huckleberries near the Oak Grove Fork.
After coming down from the mountain in the late afternoon, I drove a bit farther west to the Wilson River just below the Jones Cr. bridge. I have hunted chanterelles here for the past two years, but the place is now gone. I saw signs saying "Timber Sale Boundary", and soon saw the awful truth: A clearcut was in progress on this land! The area near the road had already been devastated, and trees littered the ground closer to the river. There were a few Boletus zelleri and Suillus lakei in the uncut area near the river, but the bulk of the area will not produce mycorrhizal fungi for years. I don't know what they wanted with 40-year-old trees. Pulp for paper, maybe? I guess I'll have to find another area, but this trip was ruined.
I drove to Timothy Lake on US26, admiring snow-coated Mt. Hood against the clear blue sky. When I reached the lake, it was clear that no fish were active, so I hiked the north shore trail with mushrooms on my mind. Most of the mushrooms were left over from the previous rain a month ago, and few were in any condition to collect. I did find one tasty Boletus mirabilis, but there were many more which had long since been maggotized. Most of the fresher mushrooms were unpalatable/poisonous (Ramaria stricta and Amanita smithiana for example). I also found a single specimen of Amanita alba, the first time I have found this species. A few old matsutakes and chanterelles were around, but all were rotten.
I decided to head for Buck Lake, which is about 5 miles from Timothy. The trailhead sign and many road signs had been torn down, so finding it took a little map work. I also donned a blaze orange vest for the hike, on account of the numerous hunting rigs I encountered on my way there. The short trail to the lake runs along the edge of a clearcut, providing a view of Timothy Lake. A forest fire was also in sight, as were more clearcuts. The trail then ducks into the woods, although the ground is rocky in places. Buck Lake is clear and a beautiful sapphire blue, but it was also dead as far as fish were concerned. Even with the sun up, it felt 20 degrees cooler than at Timothy, so the fish probably were ensconced in deep water. The fungi I found were not spectacular, although I salvaged pieces off a couple of matsutakes. On the way back, something made me take a detour off to the side of the trail, and I stumbled on a loose patch of about 15 matsutakes. One was a nice, firm button, two were mature but still in good shape, and the rest had been maggotized. Still, I had plenty for a stir fry plus several soups.
I drove back to Timothy Lake. The evening rise did materialize, but there weren't as many fish as two weeks ago, and these just weren't hitting. They would jump out of the water as if to laugh at me, or take a mayfly on the surface just after I pulled my fly off. Gunfire from hunters rumbled in the distance as I trudged back to the car. Oh, well. I returned via the scenic route of Highway 35 to Hood River and down the Columbia Gorge to Portland, catching skip from faraway radio stations and looking forward to future forays.
After returning to my car, I did a little mushroom picking around Hideaway Lake. The only abundant edible was Rozites caperata. There were a lot of these, some in good condition. Mostly, however, the ground was overpopulated with sordid Russulas. There were a few Boletus mirabilis around, but unfortunately they all had been maggotized. This area really needs a rain to become productive for mushrooms. As for berries, Gaultheria ovatifolia was all over. These are delightful to pop in one's mouth, just full of sweetness!
I was still sore over the bad fishing, so I drove to Timothy Lake. Along the way, I threw a few casts into the Oak Grove Fork of the Clackamas, but didn't have a bite. I arrived at Timothy with a couple of hours of daylight left. Fish were just starting to jump. They wouldn't touch a worm or a spinner. I got a couple of bites on parachute flies (the fish were taking large mayflies), but I couldn't hook them. I finally got a 10-inch cutthroat (which fought like it was about 13 inches) on a wet fly tipped with a worm. I'm still not up to snuff as far as fishing goes. I think I need more practice. I was concentrating on fishing at Timothy, but I did notice a nice cluster of Amanita smithiana. These are pretty white mushrooms, but definitely not on the list of edibles!
I could see lightning painting the clouds to the south as I rolled out
of Timothy and onto US 26. The Big Dipper hung in the sky to the northwest
as I went over the pass. Then, I descended into the fog and rain that told
me I was headed back to Portland.
The hike to Pyramid Lake is a little over a half mile of no-problems trail. There were salmonberries, strawberries, and several Vaccinium species represented near the trailhead. As the trail neared the lake, mushrooms began to appear. Most of these were nondescript Suillus species and Russulas, but I also found Gypsy mushrooms (Rozites caperata). Throughout my hiking, most of the fungi I found were insipid, such as:
On the better side of the edibility scale:
Tricholoma magnivelare, only one specimen
Armillariella mellea, a nice cluster
Dentinum repandum, a few young specimens
The big hit of the outing was the huckleberry/blueberry crop. The most common species were Vaccinium ovalifolium, V. alaskense, and V. parvifolium, the latter being more common along the paved roads off 224. V. uliginosum (which I don't particularly care for) and V. membranaceum were also present. A delightful little bonus was Oregon tea-berry (Gaultheria ovatifolia). If you haven't tried these, then check them out. They're really flavorful!
Fishing at Pyramid Lake was less than fantastic. I ended up with one 6" cutthroat, which I released. I had a lot of strikes on flies both wet and dry, but I doubt that any of these fish were much larger. Oh, well.
Unfortunately, Pyramid Lake and the surrounding areas are not open to the picking of mushrooms under the Mt. Hood National Forest permit system. However, there are a lot of other pickable areas in the vicinity. Make sure you pick up a mushroom permit and harvest area map from a ranger station before picking in the Mt. Hood National Forest.
Mushrooms gave way to berries as I reached the summit. An artificial timberline was present just below 3000', where burn reforestation had largely stopped. I picked over 1.5 pints of Vaccinium parvifolium (red huckleberry) from the summit area. Also present were salal (Gaultheria shallon) and the less-tasty maple-leaf currant (Ribes howellii). Vaccinium myrtillus was also present; I tried some but it wasn't that good.
All in all, this was a fun and successful trip. It was foggy, so there was no view from the top (it looked like one could jump off into oblivion). I started out a bit late, so I was in a rush to get back down. This was facilitated by the steep slope. Hopefully, there will be more mushroom diversity when I go back later in the fall.
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