Ask anyone who is familiar with Douglas County to list the top three assets the region is best known for and chances are you’ll hear the same things:
That’s in no particular order unless you’re a fishing enthusiast and, then, of course, it’s way out of order. That list looks like this:
Douglas County is an angler’s paradise starting with the North Umpqua River, which enjoys widespread fame as one of the world’s most popular fly-fishing destinations.
The river was first brought to national attention in the 1920s through the writings of Major Lawrence Mott (named the Millionaire Reporter) and famed western novelist Zane Grey.
Grey was a regular visitor and pioneered techniques for catching fish on the river that laid the foundation for current stewardship of the North Umpqua.
Over the years the river’s reputation as one of the most challenging, but also best, freshwater fisheries has continued to grow, making it a bucket-list destination for most serious anglers.
The North Umpqua serves as a habitat for a variety of resident and anadromous fish species, including summer and winter steelhead, fall and spring Chinook salmon, Coho salmon and sea-run cutthroat trout.
Did we mention it’s accessible just 20 minutes east of Roseburg? That’s just the beginning of a 30-plus mile stretch of fly-fishing-only territory that includes both placid pools and frothy currents.
If you fish, you probably don’t need to be told much about the North Umpqua. (You may even have already packed your gear in preparation for testing it.) Suffice to say, it is a fishing destination that shouldn’t be missed.
If you’re going you’ll want to be sure you have time to visit, if not stay at, the fabled Steamboat Inn. Built by the legendary Frank Moore (who founded the Steamboaters conservation group) and his wife Jeanne, the inn is a favorite lodging destination for many fly anglers.
Steamboat Inn is a beautiful 40-mile drive east of Roseburg along the river on Highway 138.
Of course the North Umpqua isn’t the only place to fish in Douglas County. Other rivers, reservoirs, lakes and ponds within an hour of Roseburg offer the opportunity to challenge yourself against a diverse array of species, including trout, crappie, bluegill, bass, shad and landlocked Coho salmon.
If you have just a little more than 60 minutes, you can also try your luck at Diamond Lake (just a few miles west of Crater Lake), Lemolo Reservoir or Toketee Reservoir.
Or head west to Winchester Bay, where you’ll have access to outstanding fishing, both on area rivers or in the Pacific Ocean. Whether you are spin-fishing, fly-fishing or baitcasting, you’ll find a variety of fish here, including albacore, pink salmon, Chinook salmon and Coho salmon.
A trip to Winchester Bay also gives you the chance to commune with, or collect if you prefer, other sea creatures.
Crabbing (Dungeness and red rock) is allowed year-round in bays, estuaries and tide pools and on piers and jetties. And all waters in the area are open for clamming. Mussels, soft-shell, bay, butter, littleneck and gapers can all be had in the area.
This, of course, just gives you a flavor of the water-based fun that can be had in Douglas County. There are dozens of websites devoted to specific activities and locations.
A great start is the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s web page, “50 Places to go Fishing within 60 Minutes of Roseburg“.