Childhood fishing set the hook for life of adventure

Professional guide Frank Amendariz has spent a lifetime fishing on lakes, rivers and oceans. Photo provided

It’s my pleasure to introduce myself to the readers of the Creswell Chronicle. I’m looking forward to giving you the latest and what I hope will be the best fishing report locally available for the southern Willamette Valley and Lane County.
Lane County stretches from the crest of the Cascades to the Oregon coast, and between there are dozens of fishing lakes, rivers and streams plus coastal ports that provide a gateway to the Pacific Ocean. The catch-and-release and catch-and-keep opportunities for bass, trout, steelhead, salmon or other species are as good in Lane County as anywhere in Oregon.
I have always loved to fish; in fact, some of my earliest memories are of being baby sat on the Huntington Beach Pier by my grandfather Manuel. ”The pier” was a popular place to fish in 1950s California, the ocean was abundant with fish species like calico bass, yellow tail and even yellowfin tuna that would cruise the surf line fattening on the bait fish. My grandfather had grown up in Huntington Beach, had many old friends and a day at the pier was as much a social event as it was a day of fishing. Guys would be catching fish, laughing and ribbing each other over the fish that would sometimes drop off the hook as they dangled in the air before being reeled to the deck. My grandfather Manuel was a great storyteller and had many about growing up in what was then very rural Orange County, Calif. Most stories had him on the pier or beach with a rod or toss net and a bucket of fish.
Every morning just before dawn the pier was washed clean of the previous day’s catch, the blood and scales draining into the sea. But even freshly washed, the pier alway had its own scent. I compare it now to a well-used fish box. But together with the people, the sea, and the fish, the days I spent there will always be among my fondest memories. I was taught to fish at a age, and have always felt lucky for that.
In Southern California, the fishing wasn’t just in the ocean. The High Sierra mountain range reaches deep into Southern California and an annual trip to fish the alpine creek and lakes around Bishop was a family tradition. As was an annual deer hunting outing to a family ranch in the high desert near Tecate Mexico. Life was good …
In 1971 I left Southern California to go to college in San Jose, to my good fortune, where I encountered a whole new angling world of adventure. My skills would diversify, too, and I would learn to fish in ”rivers,” not just creeks.
I had read about fishing for salmon, steelhead, and even striped bass, but those fish had been hundreds of miles away. Now I lived just a few minutes form the best striper fishing on the west coast and salmon and steelhead were only a couple of hours drive. Not to mention the trout fishing in the nearby Sierras and the ocean was still out there, too. ”So many places to fish so little time.” I also learned to fly fish not long after moving to San Jose and it is still my preferred method of angling.
As a college student I worked for a very short time in the family business of a buddy, it was a terrible job but I meet the love of my life Tami and we recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. Tami, also form a sporting family has been my partner on some very epic fishing and other outdoors adventures across our nation. You will likely see her in photos on my upcoming weekly fishing report and articles about other activities in Lane County.
A job with a pharmaceutical company brought Tami and me to the Southern Willamette Valley in 1980 and we settled on a rural homestead west of Junction City. Most recently we spent a few years living in Eugene and now live on the Oregon coast in Florence.
Before moving to Oregon in 1980 fishing had been a hobby; shortly after moving here my life set out on a different path when I accepted an offer to join a drift boat manufacturing, river guide and outfitting business. I was now working inside the outfitting industry selling the best river boats and fishing trips on some of Oregon’s best rivers in what was then a blossoming river outfitting industry. I am now close to achieving a four-decade career as a professional river guide. River guiding is hard work, takes a lot of discipline and isn’t for everyone, but if you have the right qualities it can be very rewarding.
I guide mostly fly fishermen on the McKenzie River and when not with customers you are more likely to find me with a fly rod in hand. I’m equally comfortable with a level wind reel and casting rod. To be honest fly fishing isn’t always the most effective technique, I always encourage folk to adapt to the conditions and sometimes that means a different type of rod.
My professional portfolio includes my long time membership in the McKenzie River Guides Association. I can proudly say that I have fished and guided customers on nearly every major trout and steelhead river in Oregon. I don’t guide for salmon but I do spend several days every fall and spring season fishing for them for my own freezer. I also use the cured eggs for my winter steelhead fishing.
I formerly reported for a bass angling magazine and spent a few years tournament fishing. Some folks may also know me as the ”Perfect River Levels” guy, the information I post on my business website has made my site among the most popular for anglers in Oregon and elsewhere.
In addition to a little passion about the sport, my own river guiding experiences and the professional input of some of Oregon’s top local guides. I will draw from all those relationships and experience to give you the best local fishing report available.
You can reach Frank at [email protected].



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