Apr 4th, 2019
Umpqua Basecamp, Summer
Oregon’s North Umpqua River is the quintessential Cascadian river– steep, swift, crystal clear, and incredibly beautiful. It is also an iconic American classic that has captured the souls of countless anglers and drawn them back year after year to test their skills against one of the most challenging and rewarding races of steelhead in the world.
The North Umpqua’s 32 miles of “fly only” water are among the most radically regulated waters in the West and prohibit the use of weight throughout the prime summer months. For those who seek the challenge and rewards of catching a steelhead on a dry fly, this is the ultimate playing field, and now we have the ultimate program here centered around a comfortable tent camp tucked away in the woods.
To share this marvelous venue we’ve teamed with Dillon Renton of Renton River Adventures. Dillon is not your average steelhead guide. At 27 years of age, he is younger than many but when you factor in that he caught his first steelhead on a fly at age eight and began professionally guiding at 16, it doesn’t take long to figure out that he has had more practical experience than many guides twice his age. Dillon grew up in an outfitting family and following in the footsteps of father David, along with mother Debbie and younger brother Knut, the Renton family have created Renton River Adventures through hard work and true attention to detail.
For more information please contact Andy at 800.552.2729
Top reasons to go:
1. To walk in the footprints of generations of renowned anglers on the most legendary wild summer steelhead river in the world.
2. The chance to fish for and connect with a wild summer steelhead on a waking dry fly.
3. To witness what many feel is the most scenic venue for wild summer steelhead found anywhere.
4. To enjoy an aggressive split day schedule centered around fishing the best runs at the best time of day.
5. To improve one’s skills and enjoy a unique and comfortable tent camp experience.
Where is the lodge?
The camp is located approximately 45 miles east of Roseburg, OR and is set in a wooded area a few hundred yards from the river. It is in the heart of the fabled fly fishing only waters of the North Umpqua River.
How do I get there?
Guests fly into Medford or Eugene OR, rent a car and drive 1.5 to 2 hours to camp.
When should I go?
July and August are the prime months for the wild summer steelhead of the North Umpqua.
Where do they fish?
Angling takes place in the 32 miles of designated fly fishing only waters. Your guide will drive to access points along the river. From these points you will hike down over rugged terrain to wade fish.
Who is best suited to the destination?
Any anglers that want to improve their steelhead game, their dry fly fishing technique, and anyone who enjoys a true angling challenge are perfect for this program. Guests who are in decent shape, have good balance and enjoy rugged walk and wade fishing will thrive on the North Umpqua.
What are the accommodations and meals like?
Guests will sleep in double occupancy canvas spike tents on wooden platforms. Cots and pads are provided but guests will need their own sleeping bag. There is a kitchen tent where you host will prepare meals along with a covered dining area. The centrally located fire pit offers a chance to relax after a long day and sip your favorite adult beverage while sharing tales of your angling adventures. There will be an on demand hot water shower set up and an outhouse close by.
Describe the atmosphere and style of the lodge?
This is a comfortable yet simple tent camp, best for guests with a love of the outdoors. The atmosphere is very casual.
Is the owner on-site? Who is the point person?
Dillon Renton is the head guide/outfitter and point person. All guided trips on the North Umpqua’s “fly water” are run under a special use forest service permit held by the outfitter.
Is there internet and cell service?
No, there is no internet and its best not to expect cell service. There are limited places on the 32 miles where a cell phone may work. If you need to connect or call, you can travel downstream to find a cell signal.
How do they fish?
All fishing is traditional down and across swing fishing and both single hand and spey rods are employed. Most angling is done with floating lines and the first pass is typically made with a waking fly. You may experience some unique techniques that have been created, tested and proven here. On occasion a sunk fly or even sink tip will be used to follow up or if the sun is on the water.
What fish will I catch?
Wild summer steelhead are the target although a stray hatchery steelhead may be encountered on occasion. The river hosts cutthroat trout and a few brown trout too. Most summer steelhead here are 5 to 7lbs but each season fish in the mid teens are encountered. The steelhead here are typically strong and athletic.
How many fish will I catch?
Having an opportunity each day is considered good. Anglers that are in decent shape, wade well and can efficiently cover water will typically see the most opportunities. The holding spots here are well known by the guides and if one can cover 10 or more of these lies in a session, chances are you will see a steelhead move to your fly.
Will we see other anglers?
Yes. The North Umpqua is a well known river. With that said, the fly fishing only designation, the river’s structure and the mandatory walk and wade approach offers anglers the ability to fish their occupied spot with no interference. The etiquette here is strong and anglers fishing a known piece of water are left alone.
Is there wade fishing?
Yes, all angling is done while wading. The wading here can be challenging in some places and its best to have felt soled boats with studs. Adding a wading staff can offer a bit more security.
How long does it take to reach the fishing grounds?
The camp is located only a few hundred yards from the river. There are 32 miles of water to explore. The drive from top to bottom can take nearly 45 minutes if one were not to stop. Expect to get in and out of the vehicle several times each session.
What are the guides like?
Dillon Renton is a very experienced young guide and has been mentored by some of the best, namely Tony Wratney who took him under his wing at a young age and showed him a healthy respect for these waters and its fish. He was also raised in an experienced outfitting family and guided his first trip at age 16. He gained one of nine special use permits on the North Umpqua at age 21 but was fishing these waters for well over a decade prior with Tony and his father David.
Does the lodge provide equipment?
The guides will have all the needed rods, reels, lines and flies. Guests will need their own waders and boots. It is best to have felt with studs or aluminum stream cleats.
What is your favorite rod(s) for the trip?
For skating flies I prefer a short spey rod or switch rod in the 7 weight class lined with a scandi head. 7 to 8 weight single hand rods with floating lines can be handy for shorter casts and a 6 or 7 weight spey rod for sink tip work is a nice addition. I have fished a Sage 7119-4 TCX switch rod for many years here and its my favorite all around stick for the summer months. More recently, the Sage 7130-4 X has become a favorite on this river.
Are there other activities?
Crater Lake National Park is about an hour drive upstream and well worth the visit. There are many hiking and biking trails here, many leading to spectacular waterfalls, scenic views and even hot springs. Down the valley there are several wineries one can tour. The upper river also offers some of the coolest whitewater rafting in the state.
What are the physical demands?
This is a river where walking and wading is mandatory. Some of the wading is difficult and the hike’s up and down to the river can be steep and on uneven ground. This trip is best suited active agile anglers.
Are there other special skills required?
No, although good casters and those that are physically fit will get the most of of this venue.
Dangers and annoyances?
Tough wading, traversing steep riverbanks and poison oak are common. Also the schedule tends to very rigorous with very early wake calls in the dark.
What is your favorite memory of this trip?
David Kalinowski: My first angling attempt on the North Umpqua came after a call to Joe Howell at the since closed Blue Heron Fly Shop some 15 years ago. I asked Joe the simple man’s question of “what fly do you suggest”. He was polite enough to answer, a Silver Hilton. I hitched a ride to the river with a buddy and on a midday break, peered off of Mott Bridge and spotted a steelhead holding below. I approached the water and proceeded to lengthen my casts to where it held. That fish ate my Silver Hilton and after a long tug of war managed to land a wild steelhead of about 7 lbs on a 7 weight single hand rod. To say I was lucky is a true understatement as it was many more visits before I came tight to another. That encounter triggered a love affair with this river that will never end.
Andy Archer: My first trip to the North Umpqua was with Dillon Renton at age 17. I remember stepping into my first spot ever on the river and being awestruck by the beauty of the run I was fishing. It was a greasy tailout full of incredible bedrock structure and I felt like a steelhead could eat my fly at any moment. Later that evening, I watched a large, powerful steelhead absolutely crush Dillon’s skated dry fly. It was as if someone had thrown a bowling ball on top of his fly in the river. After a minute of battling this incredible specimen, the fish shook the hook free. Dillon and I looked at each other and started laughing; celebrating the unforgettable moment that we had both just experienced.
Does this trip combine well with other trips?
The North Umpqua Summer Basecamp combines well with an overnight Deschutes River float trip or a visit to the Williamson Fish Shack.