North Santiam River Report, October 1, 2012

North Santiam River Report

The boat ramp at Shel­burn is a lit­tle dif­fi­cult to pull into from upstream because of two large branch­es stick­ing out in the waves just above the ramp. It is pos­si­ble to see the branch­es from upstream and to row around them, toward the mid­dle of the riv­er, and then to cut back into the boat ramp.

The next ramp is five miles down­riv­er at Green’s Bridge.

Channel Changes: Shelburn to Green’s Bridge

The last high water events had a favor­able result in the two mile sec­tion of mov­ing log­jams between Shel­burn and Green’s Bridge.

  • Two upper entrances to the South chan­nel have been par­tial­ly blocked by trees and grav­el bars.  Now the entrance to that chan­nel is easy to nego­ti­ate. The chan­nel is usable but nar­row.
  • The North chan­nel entrances con­tin­ue to be par­tial­ly blocked and there is not enough water to float the entire dis­tance in this chan­nel.
  • The remain­ing chan­nel, in the left cen­ter of the riv­er, has a clear chan­nel all the way through and is very com­fort­able for nav­i­ga­tion with kayaks, canoes, drift­boats, rafts, and pon­toon boats.

Fish and Wildlife

Will High has been study­ing eagles and oth­er birds in that area for years, and he has walked around all the islands and chan­nels. I enjoyed an oppor­tu­ni­ty fol­low him through around over the past week and hear his com­ments about wildlife activ­i­ty.

On Sep­tem­ber 30, there were still hun­dreds of salmon spawn­ing in the red­ds all the way from Pack­sad­dle to Mehama. Most are in the Pack­sad­dle and Minto Park area, but you will find salmon in many oth­er places.

River Running

The biggest white­wa­ter sec­tion of the North San­ti­am is in the Gorge, which starts half a mile down­stream from the Gates Bridge.  The waves in the four rapids in the Gorge are big and the rocks are many. Dodg­ing them is impor­tant. There is so much water that now there is a straight­for­ward route through all the rapids. It may be dif­fi­cult to iden­ti­fy that safe chan­nel, but once found it pro­vides a good ride and a lot of spray­ing white­wa­ter.

Low­er riv­er sec­tions all have good scenery, plen­ty of wildlife, and lots of tran­quil­i­ty. The boat slide at Upper Ben­nett Dam at Stay­ton Island is easy to use once you under­stand how it works.  I think it’s a good idea to fol­low some­one to watch the process on your first trip through.

The peak of the Fall col­ors is approach­ing, per­haps the most beau­ti­ful time of year on Ore­gon rivers. The riv­er lev­el is good now but will change as the rains come lat­er this month. Check North San­ti­am riv­er flow lev­els on our ded­i­cat­ed page. 

The weath­er is won­der­ful this week and we will have many dry days to enjoy riv­er activ­i­ties the rest of the year. Peo­ple who like sun­shine will do well to plan for trips right away. Peo­ple who enjoy can tol­er­ate a lit­tle rain will have a longer sea­son.

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