BEASLEY AT LARGE — A cutthroat world

A nine-inch cutthroat trout is one of the most beautiful denizens of the Oregon coast, an aggressive but delicate gamefish that deserves a blessing during the breakfast meal.

ROCKY CREEK — The first rule of fishing for cutthroat trout is knowing what you’re grabbing when you slip and fall like a cookbook cake.

It was bound to happen in this jungle of reprod along Rocky Creek where loggers had last worked 20 years ago, and I flinched at the familiar bite of a weird nettled plant that would leave my tackle hand twitching and numb for the next couple of hours.

No matter, because I had hiked too far to be turned back by poisonous undergrowth or whatever was thrashing and grunting in a copse of alders and berries high up the hill. I had returned to this basilica of freshwater fishing after reading Steve Card’s June 5 editorial in the News-Times announcing the City of Newport’s decision not to dam the Rocky Creek watershed and fill its dazzling, isolated gorge with a reservoir.

My dog and I tracked an elk herd on the back side of the creek during the 2018 second season, but I hadn’t fished the stream in five years. Part of the hiatus was due to the gloomy notion that Newport and its partner in the waterworks scheme, Lincoln City, would lay roads, erect a dam, build a concession stand with a floating gas dock and stock the lake with rubber trout.

I could think of nothing more hypocritical than a couple of cities that have banned plastic bags (Newport), transportation of nuclear materials (Lincoln City) and off-shore drilling (both) colluding to eradicate the habitat of a million beautiful critters.

So, I’m grateful to City Manager Spencer Nebel, Councilman David Allen and the rest of city council in Newport, as well as City Manager Ron Chandler and Mayor Dick Anderson of Lincoln City for liberating Rocky Creek from this diabolical notion. Chandler’s idea of bottling and selling treated wastewater strikes me as a reasonable alternative.

Every type of fishing at the coast takes specialized equipment. For cutthroat, a delicate but aggressive fish, the tiniest flies and microbial lures — with hooks de-barbed and burred for flawless catch-and-release — are cast on the shortest pole you can find to avoid the overhanging thickets.

In this claustrophobic rain forest, I use a walking stick to probe the underbrush like a blind man looking for obstacles. A machete, wielded like Indiana Jones, alleviates a lot of the hang-ups. Finally, a gun is recommended, but not required. I made the mistake of packing my .270 rifle because I have a couple of active big-game tags, but ended up leaving it on the abandoned logging road after the wait-a-minute vines jammed my progress. A short-barreled Marlin 45-70 or the Taurus 45/410 would do better in this environment.

Grab your shovel

Grab your clamming shovel, gun and bucket because some of the best clamming tides of the spring are happening this weekend. Razor clamming is currently open from the Columbia River to the south jetty of the Siuslaw River – including the popular Lincoln County beaches. But before you leave the house, be sure to check for any recent closures by calling ODA’s shellfish safety information hotline at (800) 448-2474 or visiting the ODA shellfish closures web page at myodfw.com.

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