Headwaters of the Row and Coast Fork Rivers
Most of my fly fishing has been on the Row River above Dorena so I will tell you what little I know about the Little River above Cottage Grove Reservoir first. I have fly fished in Little River about 4 times and always caught fish and had solitude. There is easy access to this river and it is small enough to wade just about anywhere. All the fish I caught were native cutthroats about 8 to 10 inches long. I'm sure there are larger trout if you spend enough time above Cottage Grove Reservoir. If someone reading this article should have more information please don't hesitate to email me through the link provided in the website.
The Row River above Dorena has lots of easy access and my largest trout from this area was 15 inches. It was a native Cutthroat. This water above the reservoir is crystal clear, cold and whenever a fly fisherman thinks of small creek fishing he can find this on the Row River and the tributaries that make up this river.
Shoreline Road and the Row River Road meet just a ways above Dorena Reservoir. There is a white covered bridge here. At the covered bridge there is a road on the right side of the river that leads to a summer camp. This road follows the river a short ways and there are dangerous rapids here. I have never fished this short stretch by the summer camp. The road beyond this point past the covered bridge is called Row River Road and it moves away from the river for a short ways. Then you enter a community they call Culp Creek and there is access and fishing in this area. I have never had too much success in this area but it might have changed. If you continue upriver you will pass Sharp's Creek on your right and this is a sizable tributary and it should contain trout. I have never fished this creek but have gone to a beautiful swimming hole near a campground just up from it's confluence with the Row River. And since I am mentioning swimming there are many great swimming holes this area. Even though the water is very cold the temperatures in July and August get into the 90's and the cold water is a welcome friend. There are places with pools and runs, pools and runs, and you can always get a swimming hole to yourself and your family if you take the time to look. And you don't have to look hard.
Past Culp Creek and Sharp's Creek you can either stay on the right side of Row River on Row River Road or cross the river and drive on the other side on Lower Brice Creek Road. In a few miles you will come to Wildwood Falls which is a popular spot for locals and tourists. There are usually swimmers there in the summer but surprisingly no fishermen. This area has been good fishing for me in the past. You can fish below the falls or fish the few miles above the falls to the bridge at Brice Creek which is also good. This is where we caught a 15 inch cutthroat.
A few miles above Wildwood Falls you will come to the confluence of Laying Creek and Brice Creek. This is the beginning of the Row River. This is the bridge where the fish and wildlife department used to plant trout in April many years ago. I would bring my family and fish and camp just upriver on Laying Creek at Rujada Campground. My favorite stretch to fish was from the bridge downriver about 2 miles. If you fish either Laying Creek or Brice Creek above the bridge the fish are smaller but much more plentiful. Camping at Rujada was free 25 years ago and it is a great campground when it gets hot in July and August because it is heavily shaded by big fir trees. The swimming holes below the campground are the best.
As I mentioned earlier this confluence is the beginning of the Row River and it is the end of Row River Road. From here upriver the road next to Laying Creek is Laying Creek Road and the road that follows Brice Creek is Brice Creek Road. If you continue on Laying Creek Road you can go over the mountains and end up in Oakridge. If you continue on Brice Creek Road you will go past a community called Disston and eventually you can cross over to the North Umpqua drainage and end up at either Idlywild Park or Steamboat. There is one place that might be of interest to a fisherman and this is a little pond in the woods called Crawfish Lake. You can see it on a map if you continue past Disston on your right. We have caught cutthroats in this little body of water up to 12 inches. It is full of large downed logs and you walk on these logs as you cast your fly or lure. It is beautiful in this area. Try it.
My son Tobiah fishing at Crawfish Lake. He was about 8 years old at this time - 1986
Ernie McLellan fishes Crawfish Lake in the fall
Well there you have it. There are so many places to fish in the Cottage Grove area and I have only mentioned a few. If I can gather more information I will enter it. I will certainly add pictures as I plan to revisit my old haunts this year. This website making is much more flexible than writing books. I enjoy this and I hope you readers might be able to use this information and enjoy all the outdoors in the Cottage Grove area has to offer. After I rest my writer's brain for a few days I will tell you about the closest rivers that empty into the Pacific nearest to Cottage Grove - the Umpqua and Smith Rivers.
Hideo Tom Harada