Memories of Fishing on the Rogue River: An Endangered Species

Memories of Fishing on the Rogue River: An Endagered Species

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White Alder trees create a covering over the road much like a rain-forest with only slivers of sunlight passing through. We drive the curves at 25 miles an hour, wind blows my hair into a tangled mess, and our black lab whimpers as we turn off Jerry’s Flat Road and hit our gravel road. When the last week in May finally arrives, I am ready for the fishing, monopoly, books, and the quiet escape of the cabin oasis. The sandbox, fireplace, ugly yellow suede recliners, and an assortment of duck decoys and fishing lures tell me I am at Grandpa’s once again. I am back to relaxation, back to comfort, back to a second home. I came to Gold Beach for the first time still in my mom’s belly, fishing on the Rogue River has been in my blood since before I was born. Morning comes early.  At five o’clock my dad comes in, shakes my shoulder silently in order not to awaken my sister, “Sarah it’s time to get up” he whispers. Giddy, I dress quickly, all my layers:  white tank top, dark blue t-shirt, gray sweatshirt, teal raincoat, blue jeans, green fuzzy socks, blue tennis shoes, cozy green and black blanket, and of course my camouflage hat. On my hat are two bronze pins, they each represent catching a salmon weighing more than thirty pounds. Dad matches me in his hat which holds five pins. It’s dark and foggy we only have moonlight and the white rocks we lay out each season to show where to put the boat in. The river changes each year, making it hard to fish the same spot twice. My dad uses his ability to read the river to find where we will fish, I have no idea how he is able to decide which spot is plan A, B, or C. This is the time I regret waking up so early, the sky is drizzling, I can see my breath, and I am starving. Curled up by the heater I sit and wait for what could be minutes, hours, or an endless wait to catch a spring Chinook salmon. Dad is at the back of the boat putting the lines together. The tackle box is much like a jewelry box, it holds all that is bright and sparkly. The spinner is used in place of bait to attract the fish, my favorite one is green and shimmery. Dad has all the lines out within fifteen minutes, then we are fishing. After a while I hear “click, click, click” as the line starts running, Dad yells “fish on” and I’ve never been more awake. We bring in all the other lines, release the anchor and we’re off to fight the fish. My reward for getting up so early is that I get the first fish, so I reel down and pull up on the rod as my dad follows the line in the water, directing my grandpa steering the boat. I put all my force behind my arms and reel as hard as I can, at the thirty minute mark with sweat on my brow, dad stretches out the net and captures the fish we will eat for dinner tonight. Fresh salmon topped with butter, confetti rice, and a warm sourdough roll are within my grasp. Having fish for dinner was once a guarantee but now it’s a risk to not to get an extra nights worth of burgers, as a backup plan. The Rogue River is ever changing; every day, every month, every year, so it looks different but also the same to me from age seven to nineteen. The supply of spring Chinook salmon are in decline and have been for the past few years. Fisherman like my dad and grandpa say it’s the hatcheries not releasing as many fish. Curious, I called Jeff Lottis, a guide at Five Star Charters in Gold Beach, he says the creation of Lost Creek Dam has blocked the spawning habitats of spring Chinook salmon. This dam took away twenty miles of spawning habitat for the wild Chinook salmon. In response to this the Cole M Rivers hatchery was put in just below the dam by the US Army Corps of Engineers; however this has not improved the number of wild salmon spawning. In 2000 there was a malfunctioning pump at the hatchery which caused approximately 1.3 million one-inch salmon, about sixty-five percent of the population, to die. Putting in the hatchery is not a solution with immediate results. It takes three to five years for the salmon to return from the ocean to spawn, which is why the river is still recovering from both of these events. Staying in Gold Beach isn’t just about fishing on the Rogue River; it is about playing cards, board games, watching movies, snuggling on the couch, completing puzzles, looking at old family pictures, making dinner together, and spending time with the people I love. Looking forward into the future though, if the spawning habitats are not restored to their previous glory, the spring salmon fishing I have grown up with will not be a possibility for my children. About the author: Sarah Walling is a freshman Business student at Chapman University. She is staying in a state which is foreign to her but is able to find bits of home here in Orange County.



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Sol-phil-cal-dom: Meaning a warm, homey oasis, filled with people you love and care about, in a beautiful place of nature.

The root “sol” comes from the Latin root Solari, meaning comfort or soothing. I chose this root to add to my word because it represents the calm and silence that my house in Gold Beach has.

The root “phil” comes from the Greek word Phillia, meaning love and friendship. I chose this word because whenever I am in Gold beach I am surrounded by people I love and my closest of friends.

The root “cal” comes from the Greek word Kalὀs meaning beautiful. I chose this word because the area surrounding the house is all beautiful. The cold rushing river, the bright and dark green tree leaves, the gray, red, green and black rocks which make up the gravel bar, and light wood colors of the inside of the house are all beautiful.

The last root “dom” comes from the Latin word Domus, meaning house. This word represents the house at Gold Beach. This house is not like any I have stayed in before. It is more than a house, it is a home, a place of comfort, a place to show who my family is and what we are all about.

To use this word in a sentence one might say: The house along the river has a sense of solohilcaldom about it.

A house is a building with rooms and doors.

A home is a refuge filled with memories:

My first fishing trip,

My first experience with a racing river,

My first overnight trip,

The grand parties thrown by my grandma on Memorial Day weekend,

The warm afternoons spent with my cousins,

The creation of ice cream sundae shops in the sand box,

The fresh salmon for dinner,

The wandering bear along the gravel bar,

The cold rainy nights in front of the fireplace,

The days of monopoly and card games,

The time spent with my family.

These are the memories that a home holds deep inside,

My home within Gold Beach is like nothing else.

It is solphilcaldom.

 This word belongs in the English language because it encompasses a feeling that is not described by any one word in the English language today. This word sums up a cultural concept of my Grandpa’s house in Gold Beach Oregon. Solphilcaldom is the only way I am able to describe what it feels like to stand inside the house, looking out the large glass windows out onto the Rogue River.


IMG_9177I open my eyes, grab my phone, check email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. I close my eyes again. Another day, another early morning, another Spanish class to dread. I get up, put some clothes on, brush my teeth, straighten my hair, apply my makeup, eat my yogurt, and sit on my bed once again. I do this every day. Every single day of my freshman year of college starts the same. Today though is different. Today is the last time I will do this. It is the last morning of class, the last early Spanish class to dread, the last day.

Looking back those mornings weren’t so bad, yeah they were early but I will never get to do this again. There is no repeat freshman year, it’s over. ALL OVER. The memories I made this year I won’t forget, these are the stories I will tell my daughter the way my mom tells me. I imagine I will talk about my roommate and how by pure luck she became my best friend. I’ll probably tell her about how many days in a row I ate French fries and ranch for a meal in the caf. I will talk about that time I laid on the floor with my roommate watching and singing along to old Disney movies with a bowl of ice cream or a slice of pizza in my lap. The little things I never really noticed were the best parts, those are what I will tell my daughter about my freshman year of college at Chapman University.

Good Life -OneRepublic

I chose this piece of music because it exemplifies being happy with where you are in the world. It talks about knowing what you have and being grateful for it. My favorite verse is, “When you’re happy like a fool/Let it take you over/When everything is out/You gotta take it in” to me this paints a picture of a giant smile while I’m doing my most favorite thing or a newly found favorite. This piece belongs on my blog because it takes what I am feeling and puts lyrics and sounds to it. Enjoy it for all it is because we can all have a good life if we choose to.

My theory of writing

The Berlin Wall and I have changed in similar ways. I have made observations of the wall that I did not clearly see in the light of day, noticing the changing color of the light on the wall during the night time. This has also happened to me, my professor saw things in me which I had not realized were so important and interesting. She saw the details in the story I was writing, which seemed to me as unimportant to a reader. Watching her eyes light up at the things my mind glazed over made me realize the potential gold mine my experiences were for writing meaningful pieces. I think that I changed more quickly than the wall did because of the active effort being put into finding out about myself and testing new ways of growing as a writer.

This semester, specifically in the last project, I have learned the true potential for rhetoric tools. The idea of using proper nouns, and so much description that seems over the top to really create an image in the reader’s mind. The use of description has been my favorite tool to master, I have been able to take the image from my head using words to transcribe it into the heads of my peers. The unending conversation has also illuminated my writing. Adding other people’s voices to my writing makes it more credible and creates more of a connection to a reader. I have also learned that the drafting process is much more important than I originally thought. When I am able to throw words on a page and then go back and edit them, my final piece is much more concise and better describes what I am looking to create.

My theory of writing about place is to look around at what you see. Then to take what you see and find the story behind it. To tell the story, real or imaginary, as if it were happening right now. The purpose of this is to better understand the surroundings around you, to know why or how this place came to be. As said by Lailah Grifty Akita, “take a grand adventure to a place, learn the rich history and make your own observation about the place”. This still rings true to me today as my theory about writing about place. As is evident in my where I go piece, I found something that was very personal to me but then also found a story behind my own to draw in others to my special place. This is have found is key, as my professor always says (in the nicest way possible) no one cares about you! Meaning of course as a writer you must find ways to get your reader to care without losing all the emotion and personal things that make your story important to you.

In this class I thought I would learn what my professor wanted to teach me. This was not true. I learned what was important to me, that I am in control of what I want to learn. She gave me the tools to choose what would benefit my life and my writing and she was able to teach my about my independence as a writer, which I did not expect to learn. This class has made me both a better writer and a better person. It has taught me what I care about and what I am willing to work hard at to make the best it can be. She has also taught me that life is crazy and in the world outside of my education I can make all my own choices, whether I choose what will get me fired or promoted is up to me but it is my choice. I loved this class and will recommend it to anyone needing to fulfil a general education requirement because it does more than just check a box. This is one of the first classes that has taught me more about myself than the intended content and I love that.

My idea of what orange county is

Here is my final OC in Unison Project along with my artist’s statement

My name is Sarah Walling, I am a freshman at Chapman University studying business. I moved here from Oregon and plan to stay for four years. After that I don’t know where my home will be. This video shows leaving my home and finding another in Orange County.

What the Berlin Wall sees when it looks at us

Hedges are trimmed to perfection,

The grass is cut clean,

The leaves are raked,

And the landscape is perfect.

The sun is shining bright,

the people walk by noisily,

the tour guides point me out.

Hey look at this here, who knows what I am,

No one, really, I separated an entire city?

Caused nearly two hundred deaths,

Still don’t know what I am?

I am the Berlin Wall.

I stand at eleven feet eleven inches and used to separate East and West Berlin.

I tore families apart, I made people take sides, and I was a bother to all.

Now I am strewn all around the world, a piece of me here a piece of me there.

I stood as a barrier for twenty seven years,

Encouraged nearly five thousand to cross over me,

Whether by driving through me,

Hot ballooning over me,

Jumping from windows above me,

Or climbing on top of me.

I caused nations to quarrel,

To send troops,

To put up their guns and fight.

I was a means to an end,

I was a separator and meant nothing to the people who created me.

But now I am a reminder.

I mean something to the community of Chapman,

Of orange,

Of California,

Of the United States.

I inspire learning,

Provoke thinking and inquiring,

I am more than a wall that destroyed lives.

I am a memory of a place no one wants to return to.

I am the story of all those who lived on either side of me,

And the reminder to be grateful you can walk around me.

From the first day in Liberty Plaza in 1998 I saw a different world.

I saw a world with hopes, dreams, and aspirations.

I saw a world with a future within reach,

I saw the smiles of students walking to class,

The grins of professors sharing their knowledge,

The pride of community members walking their dogs on this beautiful campus.

I saw for the first time a world I could be proud of,

A world that was not in turmoil or fighting against each other,

At least that is what I can see from my vantage point.

From where I stand I see hope, freedom, and joy.

Three things I thought I may never see again.