Autumn on the Grand Ronde: it is what I dream about all year. For Peter, Dave and I it has become an annual tradition and it never disappoints. September can be glorious: the steelhead have typically not made there way up and the flows are low. This tends to keep fishermen away so we often have the river to ourselves. In 2017, we were fortunate enough to take trips in both September and October. Ten days total on the river and we saw zero other boats.
Our September trip brought glorious weather: warm days in the 70s to 80s, cool crisp nights, mist in the morning, a star studded sky at night. October was cold, but in a welcome way. Frost coated my sleeping bag each morning (I slept outside on my cot every night), and we took to making fires in the morning as well as night. In October, we got a glimpse of a rutting bull elk crashing through the brush as we floated past, his presence heralded by a haunting bugle.
Fishing was good but not epic. Plenty of rainbows, some of them impressive. A smattering of Bull trout. Dave outdid us all when he landed a solid steelhead after a raucous fight. We had stopped at a nice looking run, which I generously let him take the first shot at, secretly thinking that I could mop up and have a better chance at scaring up any steelhead holding there. Mild regret outweighed by seeing the absolute joy on Dave’s face.