Fishing with Frank Moore on the North Umpqua

Last week I had the chance to fish with Frank Moore and Pat McRae on the North Umpqua for summer steelhead. I drove down to meet them at lunchtime and fished the second half of one of the first rainy fall days of the year.

Pat and Frank scout the pool
North Umpqua

As the three of us piled into Frank’s little VW (which has over 400,000 miles on it), I was nervous about the rain spiking the water level, but Frank assured me it would take more than a little rain to affect the North Umpqua after a dry summer.

We wadered up at the camp water, and headed to the first hole of the day where Frank showed me how to skate a fly across the current, and how to cast 100 feet with a single handed rod. Not that I replicated either of those things with much success.

It was a learning experience, obviously fishing with Frank and Pat would be, but the takeaways were life-changing. That is, if you consider changing some of your long-worn ideas about fishing as shaking the philosophical, moral core of your being.

It changed my perspective. This river that seemed so intimidating, treacherous, and devoid of interested fish, suddenly became manageable. Eventually I was pushing out 80-foot sloppy loops, landing the fly near where I was aiming — and the North Umpqua started to seem like a small stream.

A small stream full of huge summer steelhead. I got my first grab on the North Umpqua on that trip, and watched another steelhead come up and take a swipe at my green butt skunk. I’m pretty sure Frank has some of these fish trained.

McRae turns over a huge roll cast
North Umpqua

Pat, Frank and I spent the rest of the afternoon watching the North Umpqua’s giant spawning chinook, trying to roll-cast 100 feet, and hopping in and out of Frank’s rig, till dark.

Other writers, like Scott Richmond at Westfly, have written about Frank’s life and accomplishments, so instead of reinventing the wheel, here is one of Scott’s Q&A with Frank Moore and a write up on what we owe Frank for his advocacy for this river.

I will say that Frank is one of the most entertaining guys I’ve ever fished with. Somehow he makes you feel like a better fisherman (while simultaneously making you look like a chump by comparison). And more confident. And he’s damn funny.

The summer steelhead season is still hot on the North Umpqua, and with the start of the October Caddis hatch, things should get really interesting for folks chasing steelhead on the surface. After my masters lesson with Frank and Pat, I’ll definitely make the trip again this fall, with a lot more confidence.

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7 Responses to Fishing with Frank Moore on the North Umpqua

  1. David Jensen says:

    I met Frank and Jeanne 43 years ago when I was invited to Steamboat for Thanksgiving dinner. What a wonderful couple. There isn’t a day when I am on the Umpqua that I don’t think about Frank. Steamboat is so special, because of the Moores, that I got married there. Despite expert guidance from Frank, and later Jim Van Loan, there have been fishless days. But there have been days when the mighty Umpqua steelhead have said yes. I am glad Matt got to fish with Frank.

  2. gregH says:

    Nice report, Matt… would be interested in future postings where you share snippets of what you learned from a legend… “Frank Gems”. I’m guessing those lessons will translate into other rivers and fish….

  3. Rob R says:

    Glad Frank didn’t crush your hand with his death grip! He’s gotta be one of the strongest people I’ve ever met. So full of life and energy.

  4. Chris Reece says:

    I had the good fortune to be seated next to Frank on a flight over from Auckland, New Zealand to San Francisco a couple of days ago. I can attest to that death grip, even at 87. He ended the flight by inviting me to come stay with him “any time I’m Oregon”. It was a genuine pleasure to meet him.

  5. Brian Peters says:

    I live in Glide, Oregon and a steelhead junkie but just now learning about all the things Frank has done for the Umpqua and other streams. The man is now one of my heroes. Iam so proud to be able to say I fish the same river that he does.

  6. to bricca says:

    Please count me in. Frank is my teacher and I take that home with me. The man is greater than the story. I’m just another proponent of getting into the water and living like Frank.

    And marry well with a woman named Jean.

  7. Greg blodgett says:

    My dads name is bill blodgett and I am going out to Eugene tomorrow to say goodbye to him He is on life support as of to night. I Have so many memories of the umpqua river because of him and of the steamboat in and Frank Moore. Thank you so much!

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